Kenney outlines Alberta immigration plan

Kenney, a former federal immigration minister, said if his party were to win the spring election, it would immediately begin consulting on a new immigration approach and implement it in 2020.

He said it would include ways to reduce red tape and bring in more entrepreneurs and other job creators.

The United Conservatives would also create two programs to help rural areas stay economically viable. One would set aside 500 certificates for entrepreneurs willing to live and work in smaller centres.

“The biggest challenge facing rural communities … is population stagnation and decline,” said Kenney. “When the owner of the local hardware store in a small town decides to retire and no one buys it, that hardware store is not coming back. Those services are vital to the future of our rural communities.”

Kenney said about six per cent of immigrants to Canada settle in smaller centres.

A second program would be modelled after a similar successful venture in Manitoba, he said. Smaller communities that took time to recruit newcomers to fill jobs would have their needs prioritized, he said.

Kenney said the goal would be to bring in about 40,000 newcomers over the next four years under the two programs.

“Alberta has the least innovative provincial nominee program in Canada,” he said. “We’re one of the only provinces that does not proactively recruit top talent from around the world.

“We’re one of the only provinces that does not encourage entrepreneurs to come and create jobs through a provincial nominee immigration program.”

Gray said the province is always looking to improve the program, but there are concerns about focusing on job creators.

“I’ve heard from newcomers in Alberta that they’re concerned about people buying their way to the front of the line, that all of a sudden the super-wealthy will become the high-priority targets.”


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