Canada Seeing Early Success In Attracting Immigrants For RNIP In 2021

An economic development commission in northern Ontario is reportedly seeing early success with the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) program launched barely over a year ago.

Recently, Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission workforce development officer Emily Lauzon reportedly commended the RNIP in an interview with CBC News.

“We did end up recommending sixty-nine (69) people. Some of them do have loved ones as well, so it’s probably more like around eighty (80) or so people that are being admitted through this program in its first year,” Lauzon said.

In 2021, she is expecting up to 150 applicants to take part in the pilot program that offers permanent residency to skilled foreign workers who settled in rural and northern communities across Canada.

First rolled out in mid-June in 2019, the RNIP pilot program initially comprised eleven (11) rural and northern communities, including:

  • Thunder Bay;
  • Sault Ste. Marie;
  • Sudbury;
  • Timmins;
  • North Bay;
  • Gretna-Rhineland-Altona-Plum Coulee;
  • Brandon;
  • Moose Jaw;
  • Claresholm;
  • West Kootenay, and;
  • Vernon.

To be included in the pilot program, communities had to have a population of 50,000 or less and be situated at least 75 km from the core of a Metropolitan Area or have a population of up to about 200,000 people and be considered remote from other bigger cities, according to the Statistics Canada Remoteness Index.

As the Canadian population ages and the birth rate decreases, rural Canada’s workforce has seen a significant decline in available workers. The RNIP was developed to tackle those labor shortages, drive economic growth, and help sustain middle-class jobs.

In Thunder Bay, about fifty (50) percent of the newcomers have worked as personal support workers, nurses, and dental assistants. Others have experience in engineering, food service, and transportation.

“Immigration is one of the recommended strategies for helping to grow a community such as Thunder Bay,” Emily Lauzon reportedly said. “We are trying out to see if something like this works – if immigrants will come here and settle here, if they have meaningful, full-time employment in Thunder Bay community.”

When the RNIP was introduced, Rural Economic Development Minister Bernadette Jordan compared it to the highly-successful Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP).

“I’m delighted we are able to launch this new pilot to continue experimenting with how immigration can help sustain the vibrancy of rural areas across the country,” she said.

Sault Ste. Marie MP Terry Sheehan believes that even a small number of new immigrants with the proper skills could produce great results for communities like the Soo.

“The jobs of tomorrow for the middle-class coincides with economic development and filling key sectors with skilled talent from around the world,” he said.

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