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The Liberal Party of Canada has proposed a new Canadian immigration pilot — the Municipal Nominee Program (MNP). The Liberals state that the MNP "will make it easier for communities to welcome the workers they need most."

The MNP was included in the Liberals’ 2019 federal election platform, which was published in September, 2019 in anticipation of the October 21 election. The Liberals go into the election having held office in Ottawa since 2015.

Municipal Nominee Program (MNP)

The Liberal platform states, ‘While immigration benefits Canada as a whole, not every community – including those experiencing serious labour shortages – is able to make the most of the contributions new Canadians can bring. To make sure that communities of all sizes are better able to attract and support new Canadians, we will more [sic] forward with a Municipal Nominee Program. This program will allow local communities, chambers of commerce, and local labour councils to directly sponsor permanent immigrants.’

So, why a Municipal Nominee Program? While the Liberal platform was short on details beyond the quoted text above, it has been clear for some time now that immigrants to Canada have tended to settle in Canada’s largest cities, such as Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, with other large cities such as Calgary, Edmonton, and Ottawa also attracting newcomers.

The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), now the fastest-growing program of all Canada’s economic immigration programs, has for more than 20 years brought a variety of newcomers to Canada, chosen by provincial governments for their potential to settle into the provincial economy and society. However, settlement patterns reveal that the majority of provincial nominees and their families settle in the largest city of a given province.

For example, while the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP, part of the wider PNP) has been successful in bringing more than 130,000 people to Manitoba over the past two decades, most of those newcomers gravitate to Winnipeg. That’s great for the Winnipeg economy, but other municipalities may miss out on this bounty of new international talent, and those local economies find it more difficult to realise their potential as a result. A Municipal Nominee Program may ring-fence a quota of spots for such municipalities, giving them more leverage in their efforts to attract newcomers. Similar patterns have been apparent in other provinces.

Like the recently-launched Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot, designated municipalities may be able to identify potential immigrants who fit specific criteria, typically entailing a job offer or other connections. The actual review of qualifications would then be done by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), a federal government department. It should be noted, again, that this procedure is speculative at this point; it is based on recent precedent, and how the Municipal Nominee Program would operate in reality may be slightly different.

Moreover, at this point it is not known if municipalities already designated by the Rural and Northern Immigration and Atlantic Immigration Pilot would also be eligible to participate in the MNP.

Want to know more?

You’ll have to wait. First, the Municipal Nominee Program is the brainchild of the Liberal Party, which may or may not emerge victorious following the October 2019 federal election. Second, like in pretty much every country, ideas laid out in election platforms do not always come to fruition, even if that party wins.

The surest way to stay up to date on developments in the potential roll-out of the Municipal Nominee Program and Canadian immigration more broadly is to register a Moving2Canada account and sign up for our newsletter. We’ll keep you posted.

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