Yesterday’s budget abolished the Canadian Immigrant Investor Program (IIP). Arton Capital – a global provider of immigrant investor programs, and Arton Investments – an authorized financial intermediary for the Quebec IIP, very much regret this decision.
“Though we stand behind necessary modifications to the program and welcome the introduction of opportunities that will ultimately pave the way for improvement of Canada’s economic needs and labor market”, said Armand Arton, CEO, Arton Capital today, “terminating a program that was used as a global example in immigration policies without a broad consultation with the relevant stakeholders and the general public is a move beyond our grasp.”
Over many years, Canada has been a leader in the field of migration policy and a fine example for the world. In various international organizations, such as the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Canada’s voice was once a creative force for good when it came to developing effective and compassionate migration policies. Against a rich backdrop of leadership and innovation in policy making, yesterday’s announcement is a step backwards, both in terms of migration and foreign policy. It is, with respect, a shortsighted decision for three principal reasons:
The decision is an abdication of global leadership
A quarter-century ago, Canada was the very first country to establish an IIP. It offered permanent residency in return for a prescribed, passive investment; it was a popular and successful win-win situation. The Quebec Government followed suit. The number of investors grew successively even though investment thresholds increased quite significantly. The annual pool of funds was substantial and made an appreciable difference in supporting Canadian initiatives. Today, over 20 countries have IIPs, and the list continues to grow, including many economies in the European Union and developing countries. So, why then, given the success of such programs, give up on the IIP now?
If the Conservative Government wanted to strengthen the standards, or adapt to the ever-changing times, we would have absolutely no objections. If there was abuse of the program, as this unfortunately afflicts many public programs, then it would be the rightful obligation on the part of the government to introduce new measures to address and end any such abuse. That would only constitute good governance.
This decision goes against Canadian interests
Out of 250,000 new immigrants annually, only 4,000 to 6,000 are investors. No one can therefore claim that this class of immigrants is overwhelming relatively to other classes; that ‘rich’ immigrants are over-riding the system. What image and message are we sending to the more than 60,000 families who were hoping in the past 4 years to become part of this country and contribute to our economy?
There was no public consultation with Canadians and the relevant stakeholders
The government should have at least and foremost engaged the Canadian public in a meaningful and transparent dialogue. Such a process should have also included consultations with the various stakeholders, in an effort to obtain their views on amending or ending the program, and ultimately broadening the options for potential government action. We wonder, for example, if the Government of Quebec was appropriately consulted and whether they concurred with this decision? Investment intermediaries and immigration practitioners have been involved for years in the process of attracting investors and facilitating their move to Canada. They should have been given the chance to voice their opinions, concerns, and recommendations.
“In closing,’’ added the Honorable Sergio Marchi, Chairman, Arton Capital Board of Advisors, “we do not believe that this is a wise policy decision. Yes, changes to the program where necessary, but why throw the baby out with the bath water? We therefore kindly request that the government revisits its decision, until a proper process of consultation is able to address and comment on all of the relevant issues.” Arton Capital would gladly participate and offer its global experience and expertise in any such exercise.
It is to be noted that this statement by Arton Capital and Arton Investments was released prior to any official announcement by the Government of Quebec.
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