B.C.’s Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation Pat Bell highlighted the B.C.Provincial Nominee Program during a media call last week, a program which has infused millions in the economy, he said.
The program provides accelerated permanent resident status to qualified workers and entrepreneurs based on labour market and development priorities, the ministry stated in a media release.
Essentially that means that it allows the province to fill gaps in the workforce over the course of the next decade.
Pat Bell said that over the next 10 years the government is expecting 1.1 million jobs to open up, many in highly skilled positions. B.C. will only have 600,000 high school graduates in that time.
Stikine MLA Doug Donaldson said it’s good to be looking at how to fill the skills gap but suggests more should be done to promote education and combating the drop-out rate.
“I think [they should put] more resources into making sure the people who live here have the opportunity to fill those skills gaps rather than putting energy into programs that attract people from outside our jurisdiction.”
This program was created from negotiations between the federal and provincial governments and Bell hopes to increase their capacity to fast-track immigrants through the program.
He said currently the province is entitled to nominate 3,500 people, a number he wants to see go up.
A report on the ministry’s website, titled BC Provincial Nominee Program Evaluation Report, outlines the project and its benefits.
Included in that is that over a five year period that the report covers, from 2005 to 2010, over $423 million has been invested and 1,100 jobs have been created thanks to the nomination program.
Bell is happy that there is a large component of people who don’t just settle in the Lower Mainland either, but they will work in increasing numbers for the rest of the province.
“Of course we’re keen on making sure that investments are spread around the province,” he said.
According to the report, the Mainland and Southwest compose 75 per cent of the overall destination of worker nominees. Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Cost are the second most popular worker destination with 9 per cent of the overall nominations.
Work still needs to be done to encourage people into some northern regions. The North Coast and Nechako, according to the report, has not been the destination for any nominee for the program.
“I know in communities such as Mackenzie and Burns Lake, certainly in the medical professions we’re looking to add skilled workers,” said Bell. “We are looking at options on how we can expand that [program] out and have them locating across the province.”
The United Kingdom, China, and the Phillipines round out the largest source of immigrants through the program.