The federal government is launching a new pilot program aimed at attracting skilled immigrants to Canada’s rural and northern communities, which are struggling with labour shortages due to ageing population and high number of youth leaving for better opportunities elsewhere.
Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said small and remote communities in Ontario, Western Canada, and the three northern territories are eligible to participate in the five-year federal immigration pilot project.
Interested communities have until March 1 to apply, and those selected can begin identifying candidates for permanent residence this summer.
“Immigration is a central pillar of Canada’s economic success,” Hussen said in a statement. “The economic and social benefits of immigration are apparent in communities across Canada. By creating an immigration pilot aimed at rural, remote and northern communities, we’re looking to ensure that the benefits of immigration are shared across the country.”
The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot is modeled after a similar project for Canada’s Atlantic provinces launched in 2017 as part of the Liberal government’s Atlantic Growth Strategy , said Hussen at an announcement in Sudbury, Ontario.
Under that initiative, the four Atlantic provinces nominated about 2,500 workers in 2018 to fill labour market needs, according to a news release from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC.)
The concept aims to grow local populations by building community ties with the newcomers through employment, education and social programs so they remain in the area instead of moving on to bigger cities like Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver that currently attract the lion’s share of skilled immigrants.