Let’s keep building a diverse province

By Andrew Swan, MLA for Minto

As published in The Metro December 12, 2016

<p>By Andrew Swan, MLA for Minto</p>

<p>As published in The Metro December 12, 2016</p>

Unless your family is Indigenous, it is a fact that either you or your family immigrated to Manitoba.

Our newest Manitobans arrive as refugees, as business owners, as caregivers, and most often as nominees under the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), sponsored by family, friends, or an employer. They soon adapt to our cold climate (as well as any of us can), learn our Prairie customs and habits, and often have to learn a new language.

The results have been positive, with most new Manitobans finding work, buying homes, and putting down roots in our province. Frankly, the biggest challenge has been recognizing the considerable professional and trade qualifications so many immigrants bring with them.

Manitobans’ support for immigration and diversity shines as a beacon in a world which, increasingly, is building walls, closing borders, and closing minds. Welcoming newcomers is not only right thing to do — it is a big part of growing our economy and building our province.

I was reminded of all this at a party to welcome newcomers held at Daniel McIntyre Collegiate on Nov. 4. The Philippine Heritage Council of Manitoba organized a big event in the school gym for all of our newest Manitobans. I met newcomers from many different parts of the world, all here looking for a better life for themselves and their families. The kids — many just learning their first words of English, many seeing snow for the first time in their lives — were just looking for cotton candy and balloon animals. Just like my kids would. Just like yours, too.

We will be hearing a lot more about immigration in the days to come. My views are clear: Manitoba has a tremendous capacity to accept hard-working people. The federal government should see that a hard cap of 5,000 PNP applications per year for our province is too low.

The provincial government should understand that the support of family, friends, and community is a huge part of newcomers’ success. My ancestors, from Scotland and the Ukraine, didn’t have jobs lined up before they first set foot in Manitoba. They arrived and set to work building a new life, just like yours did. Let’s continue to build a diverse province that is a model for the world.