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February 8, 2019

Immigration in Rural Communities the Focus of IRCC’s New Pilot Program

Posted by Rikhav Shah - Bellissimo Law Group PC

Canada has welcomed a large number of immigrants in recent years, strengthening its economy in the long-term. However, there are some areas which benefit more than others, primarily metropolitan areas such as Toronto and Vancouver, due to a perception among immigrants of increased employment opportunities. While this is true due to the size of these economies, competition from a large number of applicants reduces employment prospects for individual job-seekers.

On the other hand, rural communities have fewer aggregate jobs available, but there is less competition, due to factors such as a lack of awareness and unfamiliarity with the community. This has resulted in many lucrative positions remaining vacant. As a result, the Government of Canada announced the creation of the Rural and Northern Immigrant Pilot on 24 January 2019. It will be a five-year pilot program aimed at increasing the number of immigrants settling in rural communities. It will provide immigrants with employment opportunities and communities with a labour force to grow the local economy. This initiative was implemented based off the success of the Atlantic Immigration Pilot, which boosted immigration in the Atlantic Canada region.

Interested communities must coordinate with their local economic development organization (EDO), which will complete and submit the application on behalf of the community. The application consists of a Community Interest Form, an economic development plan written in the last 3 years, and letters of support from a municipal leader as well as a local or regional immigrant-serving organization. If the community is selected, the EDO will manage the program for the community.

In order to be eligible, communities must:

  • Have a population of 50,000 people or less and be located at least 75km from the core of a Census Metropolitan Area, as defined by Statistics Canada OR up to 200,000 people and be considered remote from other larger cities, as per Statistics Canada’s remoteness index;
  • Be located in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Ontario, Saskatchewan, or Yukon;
  • Have job opportunities;
  • Have an economic development plan;
  • Have a local economic development organization that can manage the pilot for the community;
  • Be able to settle new immigrants in the community by having or developing:
    1. Relationships with local or regional immigrant-serving organizations;
    2. Opportunities to connect newcomers with established members of the community, such as through mentoring or networking;
    3. Access to key services like education, housing, transportation and health care;
  • The community must also have the support of its municipality and a local/regional immigrant-serving organizations, shown through letters of support.

For the initial launch of the program, IRCC will select a small number of communities from the applications received. There seems to be a preference for francophone communities, as suggested by an explicit invitation for such communities to apply and identify themselves as francophone on their applications. Furthermore, one of the selection criteria states that decision makers will consider if communities are able to attract and integrate French-speaking newcomers. This is in line with the Action Plan announced by the Government of Canada in March 2018 to increase francophone immigration to Canada.

If selected, the community will play a lead role in the successful implementation and management of the program (via the EDO), with the Government of Canada playing a supporting role. The community would first need to recruit and identify individuals who would be valuable for the local economy. These individuals would then be recommended for permanent residence. If permanent residence is granted, the community would need to provide services for these individuals to adjust to their new lives in Canada. Finally, monitoring the results of the program will be key, to provide feedback to the Government of Canada on its long-term feasibility. To accomplish all this, a community’s EDO will need to work with employers, immigrant-serving organizations, and other key stakeholders.

The deadline to apply for this application is 1 March 2019 by 11:59 pm PST. Applications can be submitted via e-mail or physical mail.

For more information please contact us.

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