UCP Leader Jason Kenney in a Postmedia file photo.
Darren Calabrese / THE CANADIAN PRESS
Jason Kenney says a United Conservative government would launch an immigration plan that attracts newcomer entrepreneurs to rural Alberta in order to get “the best bang for the buck” on who settles in the province.He announced the broad details of an “Alberta advantage immigration strategy” in Chestermere Monday.Part of that plan would include pairing communities with immigrants who want to own and manage businesses in a small towns. There would be a set of criteria they would have to meet such as net worth and investments. That would be called the rural entrepreneur immigration program, Kenney said.The federal government makes final decisions on immigration applications, but provinces have a say on how immigrants are recruited through agreements with Ottawa.A second part of the UCP strategy, dubbed the rural renewal program, would grant immigrants sponsored by a community extra points in the express entry immigration system, Kenney said. That would also speed up processing under the nominee program, he said.Kenney, a former federal immigration minister, said those programs are based on similar policies in B.C. and Manitoba respectively.“Our goal is to match Manitoba’s success in having 20 per cent of its newcomers settle in rural communities,” Kenney said in a statement.Details of the plan, including immigration criteria, would be decided after extensive consultations, he said.“My goal would be to get a larger share of the federally selected immigrants,” Kenney said. “Newcomers will go to where the best opportunities are.”The UCP has been steadily rolling out platform promises ahead of the spring election expected between March 1 and May 31.Premier Rachel Notley has yet to set the date, but could have dropped the writ as early as Feb. 1 launching a 28-day campaign period.More to come … email@example.com/clareclancy