Updated: Jan 30, 2019
Ahmed Hussen, Canada's Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship has recently announced a new immigration pilot scheme named the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot. This is a five-year scheme that will work with communities and some provincial and territorial governments to access support services for immigrants. The aim is to help new arrivals to integrate into the communities they are joining.
To support the pilot, the Canadian Government will work alongside local communities to:
The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot scheme has been described as very innovative and helpful to Canada's economy. It will test new ways for smaller communities to address the range of needs within their jobs markets. Looking back over the last few years, this is not the only scheme to be implemented to promote Canada immigration. It builds on other initiatives that support economic migrants. These include the Provincial Nominee Program and Atlantic Immigration Pilot. Furthermore, the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot is a chance for the IRCC to support the Canadian government's commitment to enhancing French-speaking communities outside of Quebec.
In many ways, the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot is a natural progression from the successful Atlantic Immigration Pilot. The latter began in March 2017 and helped to further economic growth in Canada's Atlantic Provinces, comprising Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. During the Atlantic Immigration Pilot, the provinces had the opportunity to nominate as many as 2,500 individuals to fill job positions. These provinces have low populations and are not as economically prosperous as other parts of Canada. However, many entrepreneurs are starting businesses there away from the expensive parts of the urban northern Canada area. So, there are numerous employment opportunities for immigrants.
The IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) is looking to receive applications for the pilot from interested communities in Ontario, Western Canada and the territories. It is open to communities in all provinces except Quebec and the Atlantic provinces. Based on these applications, communities will be chosen to take part. Communities wishing to apply need to get on board with their local economic development organisation in order to prepare their applications. As part of this, they will need to show how they meet criteria for eligibility and demonstrate the ways that welcoming immigrants will bolster their economic development.
The application process runs from January 24 to March 1. Only northern and rural communities with 50,000 or fewer people or those places determined to be remote cities by Statistics Canada can apply to be part of the pilot. Communities that comply with the entry criteria must prepare a thorough plan. They will do so in partnership with an economic development organisation, the support of the local community and an organisation that helps to settle immigrants. Minister Hussen estimates that as many as 3,000 individuals looking for jobs will take part. This equals roughly 100 newcomers (and family members) for each community. An announcement about the winning communities will take place in the spring.
This is a positive step for Canada immigration, coming during a federal election year. It will help to counter some of the anti-immigration feelings that have resonated across the border from President Trump's strict immigration stance. Admittedly, in Northern Ontario and some other rural and northern areas of the country, progress needs to be made to get people to support the many benefits that immigration can bring to the region, including the economic and social benefits. Canadians need to feel comfortable with the fact that immigrants can contribute to the economic success of the region and are not simply coming to steal jobs.
On the whole, there is positive feeling about the announcement. It goes hand in hand with the Government of Canada’s commitment to building a strong immigration system. This has been proven through the Canada ETA and Canada Visa programs. The Canada ETA system is still relatively new, having started on March 15 2016, while the various Canada visa options have been up and running for much longer.
Finally, the government's ongoing supportive stance on immigration has its roots in compassion and economic opportunities for all, while continuing to protect the health and security of all Canadians.