Abrupt changes to Saskatchewan’s Provincial Nominee Program were met with fury and backlash from its resident immigrant community. Bearing Canadian flags and angry signs, protestors marched in front of Saskatchewan’s legislature in opposition to the province’s changes to its immigration rules concerning family sponsorship.
Effective instantaneously, the Saskatchewan government has decided to place a threshold upon the number of applications that can be supported for its family category. Rather than being able to sponsor multiple relatives for a permanent resident visa at once, each household may now only nominate one individual at a time. Further applications may be sponsored only once the principal applicant has been employed in Saskatchewan’s labour market for at least six months.
Other provincial nomination programs as well as the Federal Family Class Sponsorship program exist as viable alternatives to Saskatchewan’s own reunification legislation. Under Canada’s federal immigration rules, sponsors are obliged to financially support their relatives to make certain that they do not seek assistance from the government.
CIC hopes to reduce the burden upon provincial governments’ social welfare systems by favouring those who can sustain themselves economically. To comply with Ottawa’s recommendations at the risk of losing the program altogether and to further communicate its main objective—matching the skills of foreign workers to the short-term demands of its local labour market—only individuals aged 18 to 49 may now be eligible for sponsorship and must also have an arranged employment offer in hand.
The province introduced these changes on May 2nd 2012 without notice or a transition period, much to the chagrin of families who had already engraved plans to come to Canada through the PNP. Immigration Minister of Saskatchewan Rob Norris retorts, however, that the government was afraid that their offices would be flooded with applications if a grace period was implemented—which would have undermined its ability to respond to the needs of employers and created bottlenecks in the program.
Principally, the government also wanted to tighten its Family Reunification Program to discourage abuse of the system and to secure the economic integration and welfare of sponsored applicants.