REGINA – Some members of Saskatchewan’s immigrant community are predicting another exodus due to the changes in the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program.
The program was created back in 2009 as a means to speed up the immigration process for several categories of people, including skilled workers and family members of immigrants.
Those seeking to bring over family members had to have resided in Saskatchewan for at least a year.
Then in May the province agreed to make some changes to SINP at the behest of the federal government, tightening some restrictions in order to prevent abuse of the program.
Part of the problem was that families were moving to Saskatchewan, bringing over any number of family members, and then immediately leaving the province for larger cities elsewhere in Canada.
NDP immigration critic Cam Broten says some immigrants who were at various stages of the program feel betrayed by the change.
“The change really has turned many lives upside-down and they feel as though the rug has been pulled out from under them.”
He says hundreds have reached out, insisting the changes shouldn’t apply to them if they were here before May.
That includes Afzaal Siddiqui, who arrived in Canada 14 years ago and was drawn to Saskatchewan when the program was announced.
“I was doing my business in Ontario and I had a job, so I gave away my business and decided to move to Saskatchewan,” he says.
He says family is the most important thing to many immigrants and he had hoped that the SINP would allow him to bring his sister to Canada.
The mechanical engineer says neither he nor his wife, who is a doctor, have been able to find work in their chosen field.
But they were happy to try and make ends meet with lower-paying jobs because Saskatchewan offered the promise of bringing their family back together.
“Many, many, many families are planning to go back,” he cautions.
“They’re selling their homes and giving away their jobs.”