Island municipal leaders say they had no advance notice of significant changes announced Wednesday to the Provincial Nominee Program in Prince Edward Island.
The province announced it's scrapping the controversial entrepreneur stream of the program, partly in response to two separate investigations by Canada Border Services into alleged immigration fraud.
"Like everybody else we were surprised, caught off guard," said Summerside Mayor Bill Martin.
Applications in limbo
Last November the province gave municipalities an active role in the PNP inviting them to officially endorse potential immigrants who could settle in their communities.
Since then Martin said Summerside has conducted interviews with 280 possible immigrants, leading to 260 endorsements by the city.
But only a fraction of those, 80, have actually made it into the PNP so far.
To make it into the program, applications have to be selected by the province, after being endorsed by the communities.
The province has announced it will select up to ten more names through the entrepreneur stream of the PNP before shutting it down.
That will leave a pool of about 500 applications in the old stream in limbo.
The province says those will have to be transferred or re-submitted to the work permit stream of the PNP.
"That's what my staff are currently working on today," said Jamie Aiken, executive director of Island Investment Development Inc., the P.E.I. Crown corporation in charge of the PNP.
"[They're] preparing literature and information to get on our website, to get out and meet with the towns and municipalities as well as our Island agents to inform them of the changes that have been announced here yesterday and help them with the transition of potential applicants to the new stream."
Island municipalities have already found the workload associated with their role in the PNP has been more than they were prepared for.
And some have questioned whether the effort is worth it, given how few of the candidates they've endorsed have been selected.
Final report in the works
Andrew Daggett, CAO for the Town of Montague, said his community has endorsed between 40-50 immigrants, with about 15 of those being selected for the program so far.
"I don't know how it's working [with the changes], we're still trying to get details," said Daggett.
"There's still a lot of clients that we would like to see come," Daggett said of the people the community has endorsed so far.
"The businesses and the people that I'm endorsing, I believe, have a good shot at working in this area."
While municipalities wait for details on the changes announced to the PNP Wednesday, Aiken said further changes are still to come.
He said a final report could be completed by the end of the month which will include more changes to the PNP, including changes to the work permit stream.
More P.E.I. news