The auditor general delivered a damning report yesterday about the controversial provincial immigration nominee program.
Critics say the document proves the program, which has been in place since 2003, was a “political misadventure.”
“This is a stunning example of mal-administration,” said NDP MLA Graham Steele after the report was tabled.
Auditor general Jacques Lapointe said the nominee program’s economic stream did not meet its goal, which was to give nominees the mentorship positions for which they paid $100,000.
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Lapointe found that out of a random sample of 16 businesses approved to provide business training programs for newcomers, 14 were not qualified to do so according to the program’s own criteria.
He said the contract for the program between the government and Cornwallis Financial Corporation was deficient, and once implemented, wasn’t well managed by the province, and that there was no system in place to evaluate whether or not the program was a success in attracting and retaining immigrants to Nova Scotia.
Liberal MLA Diana Whalen said she was disappointed Lapointe didn’t include recommendations about nominee refunds in his report, saying everyone, including the newcomers themselves, has waited months for the results of the report in hopes it would recommend their lost savings be reimbursed.
“What appears to me is the government dragged its heels and will continue to do so until the second part of the report,” Whalen said.
Lapointe said the second half of the audit, which will look at the individual experiences of nominees and their mentors, will be tabled sometime in the fall.
He said it wasn’t his job to make recommendations to the government.
“That is clearly a government decision and it’s a policy decision,” he said.