Provincial leaders in Canada convened in Winnipeg this week to discuss common priorities, with a particular focus on areas closely related to immigration.
One of the key concerns highlightedby the Premiers is the need to build a strong labor force. They emphasized that provinces and territories are best equipped to address the requirements of their respective labor markets and growing economies. This includes taking action on international recruitment, credential recognition, and skills training. The Premiers called for expediting existing pathways, accelerating application processing to meet specific labor market demands, increasing the involvement of provincial and territorial Nominee Programs in selecting economic immigrants, and ensuring that any new immigration pathways are developed in collaboration with provinces and territories to align with local labor market needs. They also urged the federal government to establish agreements with provinces similar to the Canada-Quebec Accord, granting provinces the authority to determine their own immigration levels and select economic immigrants.
Healthcare was another area of focus for the Premiers, recognizing that it falls under provincial and territorial jurisdiction. They pledged to take further action to enhance Canadians’ access to qualified healthcare professionals. This includes streamlining credential recognition and licensure processes for internationally-educated health professionals. The Premiers expressed their intent to work collectively and petition the federal government to secure increased funding, hire more healthcare workers, and improve healthcare services. They achieved success in this regard following last year’s meeting, securing a $196 billion increase in health funding over the next decade, including $46.2 billion in new funding.
Addressing the issue of affordable housing was also a priority. With Canada expected to welcome 500,000 new permanent residents annually by 2025, the Premiers acknowledged the shortage of affordable housing. They proposed several measures to address this, such as increasing financial commitments to housing, ensuring funding flows through provinces and territories rather than municipalities, making programs flexible and adequately funded, streamlining approval processes and program management through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and amending tax policies to incentivize the development of new housing, particularly purpose-built rental properties. These measures are deemed necessary in light of the rising cost of living in Canada, including recent interest rate increases aimed at curbing spending and slowing inflation.
Additionally, the Premiers drew attention to the upcoming deadline for applications under the Canada Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) program, expressing dissatisfaction with the federal government’s perceived lack of funding and support for displaced Ukrainians in Canada. They called for an improved support program with a new funding partnership.
Overall, the meeting of the provincial leaders aimed to enhance interprovincial and interterritorial cooperation and foster relations between provincial and federal governments to address shared concerns and priorities.