MLA hosts meet and greet with newcomers to Saskatchewan

Meadow Lake MLA Jeremy Harrison (right) shares a few laughs with Mary Ann Tupil (left) and Maximo Ramos while Jennifer Madrid looks on during a special event held at Royal Canadian Legion Branch 76 in Meadow Lake Dec. 11. The event served as a way for the MLA to welcome newcomers to Saskatchewan.

Meadow Lake MLA Jeremy Harrison (right) shares a few laughs with Mary Ann Tupil (left) and Maximo Ramos while Jennifer Madrid looks on during a special event held at Royal Canadian Legion Branch 76 in Meadow Lake Dec. 11. The event served as a way for the MLA to welcome newcomers to Saskatchewan.

by Phil Ambroziak

“We truly appreciate the contributions you bring to this province, to this country and to the community of Meadow Lake.”

Those were the words of Meadow Lake MLA Jeremy Harrison when addressing the small crowd gathered at Royal Canadian Legion Branch 76 Dec. 11 for a special meet and greet featuring the provincial politician, other local officials and newcomers to Canada. Those in attendance were primarily members of Meadow Lake’s Filipino community and they used the opportunity to speak one-on-one with Harrison about such topics as the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program and the Government of Canada’s new Express Entry application system.

“The purpose of tonight is for me to meet with as many of you as possible and to address any challenges you may be having,” Harrison, who also serves as minister responsible for immigration, said. “I know many of you have been in the province for a significant amount of time already, and I thank you very much for choosing to make Saskatchewan your home.”

The provincial immigrant nominee cap set by the federal government will increase to 5,500 nominations in 2015 – a 16 per cent increase over 2014. The 775 additional nominations will help address current labour market shortages and will be made through the SINP’s new Saskatchewan Express Entry category. The criteria for the new category will be announced Jan. 2 in conjunction with the launch of the Express Entry application system. The SINP will begin to accept applications under the category in early 2015.

“Saskatchewan has the lowest unemployment rate in Canada, which I’m sure has helped attract a lot of newcomers in the last six or seven years,” Harrison continued. “We’ve had 120,000 new people come to Saskatchewan in the last seven years – 53,000 of which came from outside of Canada. We genuinely welcome you and want you to stay in Meadow Lake, to build your careers here and to raise your families here.”

Also on hand to welcome the new Canadians was Meadow Lake mayor Gary Vidal.

“Maybe we don’t have some of the things here you’d find in a larger city, but it’s the people of this community who make Meadow Lake,” Vidal noted. “It’s our heartfelt desire to be an open and welcoming community.”

Mary Ann Tupil was among the several newcomers in attendance. She came to Canada from the Philippines 11 months ago and currently works at one of the local Subway restaurants.
“I have concerns about processing my application for residency,” Tupil said when asked about what brought her to the meet and greet. “I also want to know how I can sponsor my family back home.”

She went on to say she enjoys her job and simply wants to be able to better her life.

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