Ont. wants more control over immigration

Ontario Immigration Minister Charles Sousa (QMI Agency files)

Ontario Immigration Minister Charles Sousa (QMI Agency files)

ANTONELLA ARTUSO and JONATHAN JENKINS Queen's Park Bureau

, Last Updated: 5:49 PM ET

TORONTO -- Ontario wants more control over immigration but is having a hard time convincing the federal government to let go.

"I've been having discussions with the federal government but I must admit, it's been a one-way discussion," Ontario Immigration Minister Charles Sousa said Monday.

"The Constitution makes it a shared responsibility and we're trying to encourage the federal government to listen to the needs of Ontario."

Ontario has seen its share of economic-class immigrants fall to 52% of all newcomers, while refugee and family-class immigration rises, Sousa said.

At the same time, Ottawa has cut support for settlement services in Ontario and beefed it up in Western Canada.

Sousa said he wants to see economic-class immigrants make up 70% of all newcomers to the province and double the 1,000 people in the Provincial Nominee Program by 2013. Both those require federal approval and so far it hasn't been forthcoming.

NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo said it's impossible for the Ontario legislature to take an in-depth look at immigration when the house has been prorogued by the Liberal government.

"The overriding sad reality is that we should all be back at work and we're not," DiNovo said. "We would love to have a discussion about immigration. We'd love to look at this proposal. We'd love to look at the problem."

The makeup of DiNovo's Parkdale-High Park riding is diverse with many cases of highly trained immigrants - doctors, engineers and other professionals - unable to find work in their field, she said.

"We're ready to talk to Charles (Sousa) any time about immigration. Unfortunately, he's not ready to talk to anybody except other Liberals," DiNovo said. "That's sad."


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