McGuinty Government Calls On Ottawa To Meet Its Committment To Newcomers

McGuinty Government Calls on Ottawa to Meet its Commitment to Newcomers
Federal Government Is Over $100 Million Behind on Promised Investments

TORONTO, Nov. 21 /CNW/ – Ontario's new Minister of Citizenship and
Immigration is calling on the federal government to meet its commitment to Ontario's newcomers.

Michael Chan says the federal government is over $100 million behind on payments promised in the Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement, signed two years ago this day.

The agreement committed Ottawa to investing an additional $920 million
over five years in direct payments to Ontario's newcomer settlement agencies.

The agreement was designed to address Ontario's labour market priorities and provide Ontario's municipalities with the opportunity to realize their immigration and integration goals.

Each year, more than 125,000 new immigrants arrive in Ontario – half of all newcomers to Canada. By 2011, immigration will account for 100 per cent of net labour market growth.

“Two years into this agreement, Ottawa has underspent by over $100
million,” said Chan. “This is funding the federal government promised to provide directly to newcomer agencies to provide the settlement and language training services that are vital to helping newcomers find work in Ontario.”

Chan added that the agreement has led to progress in many areas, such as Ontario's new pilot Provincial Nominee Program, which helps the province meet its labour market needs by fast-tracking newcomers with select skills through the immigration system, an area of federal jurisdiction.

Other areas of progress include the establishment of a forum that helps municipalities work with both the provincial and federal governments on immigration and integration priorities.

“The Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement is in the best interest of
newcomers to Ontario,” said Chan. “It has allowed us to make some important progress, but the federal government needs to do more. That's why I will continue to work with the federal government to make sure that these important funds are delivered.”

The Ontario government spends $160 million annually, more than any other province, on programs to help newcomers upgrade their language skills, settle and find work.

In 2006, the McGuinty government passed the Fair Access to Regulated
Professions Act. The first legislation of its kind in Canada, the act is designed to ease the transition of foreign trained professionals into Ontario's workforce by requiring regulated professions to have quick, fair and open registration process.

The act also established the Office of the Fairness Commissioner, headed by Jean Augustine, which is responsible for periodically auditing the regulated professions to ensure clear assessment of academic credentials, timely response to applicants, and reasonable fees.