Mega-reversal: Sask. government bans future immigration applications tied to GTH megamall project


After almost four years of close, enthusiastic cooperation with the developer of a wholesale mall at the Global Transportation Hub, the government of Saskatchewan has announced a major reversal. 

It says it will no longer support immigration applications tied to the Global Trade and Exhibition Centre (GTEC) - a wholesale mall built and promoted by Brightenview International. 

The government made the decision on Nov. 6, just two days after CBC interviewed a senior immigration official. In that interview, CBC explained the results of its investigation into GTEC and the concerns it uncovered. 

Since the project was announced in 2016, Brightenview and its agents have told Chinese nationals that purchasing a showroom unit in GTEC could qualify them for Canadian permanent residency under the entrepreneurial category of the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP). 

Since that time, the Saskatchewan government has enthusiastically supported the project. Premier Brad Wall went to China and spoke at an event promoting GTEC to investors there and the project has been promoted on Saskatchewan government social media sites in China.

That support disappeared last week. 

"Future applications from applicants who are proposing to establish a business out at GTEC would no longer be eligible," said the assistant deputy minister responsible for immigration, Christa Ross. 

In an interview with CBC on Friday, she said the government now believes GTEC's business model is too risky for foreign nationals. 

"We've come to the conclusion that with the reliance on such a business model on immigrant interests and investment and the subsequent dependence then on immigration program decisions at both the provincial and federal level that it's a business model that carries undue risk to the success of the entrepreneurs themselves," Ross said. 

In addition, she pointed out that the SINP is designed to create real permanent businesses in Saskatchewan but the government became concerned that may not be happening with GTEC. 

"It creates risk for their settlement, integration and retention because of a lack of connection with the local business community and economy," said a follow-up email from the ministry. "This puts the overall outcomes and success of the SINP at risk."