Canada has a pilot program to encourage people to immigrate to rural and northern towns and it has just become more flexible for applicants. In the past, applicants had to have one year of continuous work experience, or 1,560 hours, to apply. But the COVID-19 pandemic has seen many applicants lose their jobs or be temporarily laid off. The new plan will allow applicants to accumulate the required hours over three years. Individuals will still have to meet all other requirements.
In addition, a temporary measure will ensure that applicants will not be penalized for processing delays caused by the pandemic.
Two successful applicants were introduced by Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino on December 14, 2020. Alexander Nangpukin Likilasua and Brilla Mercy Kunjumon, are both working as licensed practical nurses in Sault Ste. Marie, a town in the province of Ontario.
About 1 in 4 nurses are newcomers
“Newcomers have played an outsized role in our hospitals and long-term care homes during the pandemic,” he said. “They also account for roughly 1 in 4 of Canada’s licensed practical nurses—like Alexander and Brilla—and 1 in 3 of our family doctors and pharmacists. The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot and other pilots are helping to get the workers we need to places like Sault Ste. Marie, where we need them.”
The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot program works closely with communities to help them attract the workers they need. These workers are offered a path to permanent residence. One such pilot involves agricultural workers needed in Atlantic provinces.
It is the communities which are responsible for recruiting candidates and recommending them for permanent residence.
The Canadian government calls the pilot program “an example of new community-driven and industry-specific approaches the government is taking to immigration.”