Premiers also recognize that there are many other opportunities and markets important to Canadians and Canadian businesses and committed to continuing to work together to build relationships with other key global markets such as Mexico and the Americas. Premiers noted that Canada’s diversity and infrastructure also offer advantages to accessing these markets.
Premiers reiterated their call for an effective partnership between federal, provincial and territorial governments to ensure the best outcomes for immigrants and communities to build a prosperous Canada. Canada’s immigration programs must be adaptable and responsive to diverse regional needs and demographic pressures. Provinces and territories are in the best position to assess the needs of their communities and regional economies and integrate settlement and integration services with other human services including education, health, social services, and labour market services.
Premiers agreed that growth in immigration levels for 2012 and beyond is essential to create a flexible, responsive and effective economic immigration program. Provinces and territories must have an equal role with the federal government and call on the federal government to remove arbitrary application ceilings in the Provincial Nominee Program combined with higher levels in the Federal Skilled Worker Program and jointly set overall immigration levels that will sustain economic growth. Jurisdictions must also have a direct role in managing federally funded settlement and integration programming. A number of Premiers expressed an interest in building on the success of devolved models in Québec, British Columbia and Manitoba. Premiers would be pleased to work with the federal government on how to address processing backlogs and the capacity to absorb immigrants into provinces and territories.
Québec is already responsible for selecting immigrants and settlement services in Québec under the Canada-Québec Accord.
Premiers also endorsed an International Education Marketing Action Plan, which supports the goals of Canada in the Global Economy. The Action Plan identifies opportunities for federal-provincial-territorial collaboration on marketing aiming at:
- Increasing the number of international students studying in Canada;
- Increasing Canada’s share of the international student market;
- Providing more opportunities for Canadian students to study abroad as appropriate;
- Retaining a greater number of international student graduates as permanent residents.
The recent federal budget committed $10 million over two years to promote our broadly recognized quality education systems. Premiers welcome this commitment and encourage the federal government to assist provinces and territories in the implementation of their International Education Marketing Plan.
Provinces and territories will work with Citizenship and Immigration Canada to explore ways to enhance visa processing operations in key markets building on the success of the Student Partners Program. In 2008, international students spent $6.5 billion in Canada and created over 83,000 jobs. By 2025, the global demand for international education is predicted to quadruple from 1.8 million to 7.2 million students.