CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - One of the new intermediary companies approved under Prince Edward Island’s Provincial Nominee Program is not yet an incorporated company.
Western Immigration Opportunities Inc. is one of 12 new and returning intermediaries unveiled by the province earlier this month as part of a revamped approach to the nominee program, known as the PNP.
But Western Immigration Opportunities Inc. is neither an incorporated entity under the P.E.I. corporate registry nor an incorporated federally.
A spokesman for Innovation P.E.I. says the company is listed as "to be incorporated", which was permissible under a section of the tender issued for the intermediary companies.
“This company would have demonstrated their ability to deliver the services under the RFP process. We look forward to working with this new company as we move forward with the changes to our policies,” the spokesman said.
The shareholders in Western Immigration Opportunities Inc. are Troy Bradley, Neil Handrahan and Carrie Ricker.
Bradley and Handrahan are senior partners of the firm Bradley Handrahan Chartered Professional Accountants.
This firm was not the one approved under the PNP, but it does list the “P.E.I. nominee program” and immigrant investment and employment opportunities among its list of services on its corporate website.
The province issued an RFP for new PNP intermediaries, also known as agents, whose job it is to identify and attract potential immigrants to P.E.I. and help them with the application process.
For this work, the intermediaries receive a fee.
Economic Development Minister Heath MacDonald said last week a key factor in the approval of firms chosen as intermediaries was that they have a presence in rural parts of the province in an effort to attract and retain more immigrants to rural P.E.I.
The department spokesman said at least one of the shareholders in Western Immigration Opportunities Inc. has at least three years with direct experience in immigration and that “all have experience in rural P.E.I. or are from rural communities.”
But, Opposition MLA Brad Trivers notes one of the shareholders, Neil Handrahan, is also currently the treasurer of the governing Liberal party of P.E.I.
He says he finds this connection troubling, especially given the controversial history of the Provincial Nominee Program in P.E.I.
“We know that the PNP history has seen a lot of government mismanagement, but we’ve also see that intermediaries stand to typically make a lot of money, and I just want to make sure this isn’t just another case of friends of government becoming wealthy through a government program,” Trivers said.
He says immigration programs like the PNP should be solely focused on attracting individuals and families to settle long-term in P.E.I. to help grow the population and the economy.
“It shouldn’t be about trading companies to funnel funds into the friends of government’s pockets. That would be the red flag, the hairs that stand up on the back of my neck, when I see a new company being incorporated as an intermediary where the current treasurer of the Liberal party is one of the principals. There’s too many dots not to connect them.”
The Innovation P.E.I. spokesman said government would not “debate the merits of each company approved.”
“There were criteria clearly laid out in the RFP and the approved companies met those criteria best.”
In an email to The Guardian, Ricker, who is the company’s president and principal shareholder, said the province “clearly permitted submissions on behalf of to-be-incorporated companies, provided that the prospective company met the RFP requirements,” which was the case for Western Immigration Opportunities Inc.
“I note that the principals of Western Immigration Opportunities Inc. (TBI), as a practicing lawyer and practicing accountants, have prior experience with various aspects of the P.E.I. PNP, which were outlined in its RFP response. Western Immigration Opportunities Inc.(TBI) submitted an RFP response on the basis that a combination of the experience and knowledge of our principals would enable the company to successfully act as an agent on behalf of the P.E.I. PNP,” Ricker said.
Company principals expect to complete the incorporation process within 10 business days, Ricker added.