Diversity is the biggest change when looking at the number of newcomers who have immigrated to Southeastern Manitoba this year. Eastman Immigrant Services Settlement Worker Richard Harder says the numbers for the first six months of this year are in line with what he saw over the past couple of years. “At the end of June we are at 130 families with 383 individuals. The change that we see are there are more diverse countries represented. That is very exciting because a lot of those also bring different skill sets and English. In terms of how they come? The biggest one is permanent resident status with the Provincial Nominee Program, the second one being citizenship as returning Canadians and the third one is work permits.”
He notes the most popular countries of origin have stayed much the same as last year with Germany still having the biggest numbers. “The second one now is the Philippines were in previous years that would have been Paraguay, Paraguay is now in third. Fourth and fifth place could be any body from Russia, India to the UK depending on different year.”
Harder adds there are also new countries added to the list. “For example Bahrain. I had to look it up on the map, where is Bahrain? Other countries like Oman which is more common but people can arrive out of any small country in the world.”
He notes recent changes to Canadian immigration policy are often misunderstood. “Some people come back and say the government does not want to immigrate people anymore. It is absolutely not true. Both the provincial and federal government are very interested in more immigration. So are local businesses because it is good for the economy.”
Harder explains there are some restrictions that have been put into place which will make it more difficult for some people to qualify to enter Canada. As of July 1, anybody applying to immigrate or come with a work permit, the primary applicant has to have at least beginner English which they refer to Canadian Language Benchmark Four.
He says while it is only the primary applicant that needs to do that it will still be a bit of a barrier to some who don’t have that skill. He adds he thinks both governments are still very interested in a successful settlement and entering into the workforce.
Success in this program in the Southeast can be measured in a number of ways including how many immigrants are contributing to our local economy. Harder explains self employment has taken off among newcomers. “There are quite a few people establishing a business. Within a couple of minutes, just off the top of my head, I found 30 businesses that were opened the last couple of years by newcomers. And that is just the ones I know. There are many other businesses we are not in contact with.”
Harder says these new businesses are employing themselves as well as other new Canadians. Another success can been seen in the way some people worship. “We know some groups are very religious and they have built themselves churches. Right now there are two churches in the making and I think that is a success. That makes their own group cohesive and supportive to each other. Some of them might also have their own schools.”
He adds he sees education as another success because they see education as very important and want to bring some of their own values to the table. Harder notes they also have the blessing of the province to do so.