New changes to federal immigration programs mean provinces must pick up the slack. Nova Scotia lacks the programs and capacity to do this, and will fall behind other provinces in attracting new immigrants if it doesn’t do something quick.

The federal entrepreneur category has been suspended, and the federal investor category has been reduced to only 700 applications per year. This means independent business people wanting to immigrate to Canada will, by necessity, look to the immigration programs offered by the provinces.

Nova Scotia’s entrepreneur category was shut down in disgrace a few years ago and nothing has been created to replace it. In the meantime, the province has introduced new categories such as “agri food sector” and “non-dependent child of nominee”, which apply to about 2 people per year, as far as I can tell.

Most people who know immigration categories will say that the suspension of the federal entrepreneur program is not a great loss. It was the only category where the immigrant had “conditions” attached to her permanent residency after landing. Meaning, if you didn’t establish a viable business within 2 years of arrival, you could have your permanent residence revoked.

However, since Nova Scotia does not have an alternative immigration category, the federal entrepreneur category was used by people who were serious about starting a business here.  Now that it is suspended (read: done), Nova Scotia needs a proper provincial entrepreneur program. And here’s one more reason why Nova Scotia needs one: New Brunswick has one, and theirs is getting more and more attention.

The federal government has cut in half the number of “independent” skilled workers it will process per year. That category is for those who are skilled in jobs where there are shortages in Canada (for example, nurses), but who do not necessarily have a job to come to in Canada before they immigrate. Cutting this category of skilled worker numbers in half probably means that the federal government wants immigrants to rely more on provincial immigration programs. 

The Nova Scotia skilled worker immigration category is limited to higher-paying and higher skill-level occupations and shuts out a segment of people who are working here now or who are overseas and have confirmed job offers here. I have seen welders, cooks and aestheticians, all who have jobs here, be refused processing by the Province because the skill level does not qualify them for the category or their education is not sufficient, or a combination.

In the meantime, an announcement was made in January that the Province and Ottawa had agreed to make it easier for some temporary foreign workers to work here. It’s been 6 months and nothing is finalized. The program has not started. Other provinces have had such agreements in place for years. 

Hey, Nova Scotia Office of Immigration: you snooze, you lose.

This is easily the worst news from CIC so far this year, disguised as a good news press release. Thanks CIC for waiting until after 5pm on a Friday afternoon to release it.