This week, the provincial leaders of Canada gathered in Winnipeg to deliberate on shared objectives. During the meeting, the Premiers emphasized several pressing matters, including immigration. Three key areas that closely connect to immigration were as follows:
- Cultivating a robust labor force
- Enhancing healthcare services
- Tackling housing requirements
Since 2003, the Premiers have been meeting annually as the Council of the Federation to foster collaboration among provinces and territories. This platform aims to strengthen interprovincial and interterritorial cooperation while promoting relations between provincial and federal governments.
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Enhancing Healthcare Services
The provinces have expressed their commitment to taking additional measures to enhance Canadians’ access to competent healthcare professionals. As healthcare falls under the jurisdiction of provincial and territorial authorities, it is their responsibility to attract, train, and retain qualified healthcare professionals. The provinces have supported further initiatives to expedite the recognition of credentials and licensure for internationally-educated health professionals.
The provinces have agreed to collaborate and present a joint petition to the federal government to secure increased funding, bolster the healthcare workforce, and enhance healthcare services for Canadians. This collaborative approach has yielded positive results in the past, as evidenced by the successful outcome of last year’s meeting. Following that meeting, the provinces secured a $196 billion increase in health funding over the next decade, including $46.2 billion in new financing.
Cultivating a Robust Labor Force
The provinces and territories emphasize their best positioned to address the demands of their local labor markets and growing economies. They highlight the importance of taking action regarding international recruitment, credential recognition, and skills training.
The Premiers have appealed to the federal government, urging support for their initiatives in addressing skills gaps through immigration. These initiatives include:
- Facilitating existing pathways and expediting the processing of applications to meet specific labor market needs, including issuing of necessary work permits.
- Increasing the allocation of economic immigrants through provincial and territorial Nominee Programs.
- Enhancing the involvement and responsibilities of provinces and territories in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
- Ensuring that any new immigration avenues are developed collaboratively with provinces and territories to align with local labor market requirements.
Furthermore, the Premiers have called upon the federal government to establish agreements with provinces similar to the Canada-Quebec Accord. This accord grants Quebec the sole authority to determine its immigration levels and select economic immigrants.
All provinces and territories, except Quebec and Nunavut, operate their own Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs). These programs allocate nominations that enable provinces to select candidates who will best contribute to their provincial economy and labor force.
Tackling Housing Requirements
Canada aims to welcome 500,000 new permanent residents annually by the end of 2025; however, the availability of affordable housing remains a pressing issue. To address this concern, the Premiers have made several recommendations to enhance housing affordability for Canadians. These proposed measures include:
- Increasing financial commitments to housing, encompassing support services, operational funding, capital funding, and incentives that encourage the creation of new housing supplies.
- Directing funding through provinces and territories rather than municipalities.
- Ensuring that programs are flexible, adequately funded, and aligned with the unique needs and priorities of provinces and territories.
- Simplifying approval processes and program management by leveraging the expertise of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
- Modifying tax policies to incentivize the development and retention of purpose-built rental properties, with a specific focus on fostering new housing options.
These measures are regarded as essential due to Canada’s escalating cost of living. Notably, on July 12, the overnight interest rate in Canada increased by 0.25 basis points, reaching 5%. The Bank of Canada asserts that these rate hikes are necessary to temper spending and mitigate inflation.
As interest rates rise, borrowing money from other financial institutions, such as the Bank of Canada, becomes more expensive for banks. Consequently, this increased cost is passed on to consumers who require mortgages or other loans.
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Enhanced Support Program for Displaced Ukrainians
The Premiers have highlighted the approaching deadline of July 15 for applications under the Canada Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) program. They have expressed their concerns regarding what they perceive as inadequate funding and support from the federal government for displaced Ukrainians in Canada. As a result, they are advocating for an enhanced support program incorporating a new funding partnership.