Minister Ahmed Hussen after announcing the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot in Sudbury, Ont.. (Image: Twitter)

As part of its constant endeavour to support immigration, the Government of Canada recently proposed a program to support smaller communities. In January, Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), announced plans to set up the ‘Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot’.

The five-year federal immigration pilot will involve communities and selected provincial and territorial governments. It is designed to enable participating communities by way of support to help newcomers truly integrate into their local communities.

“The economic and social benefits of immigration are apparent in communities across Canada.” – Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Hussen said that immigration is a central pillar of Canada’s economic success. He is of the belief that an immigration pilot aimed at rural and northern communities would be a means to ensure that the benefits of immigration are shared across the country.

The project at a glance

  1. The pilot will provide an opportunity for IRCC to support the Canadian Government’s commitment to support the vitality of Francophone communities outside Quebec.
  2. The key aim is to test new, community-driven approaches to address the diverse labour market needs of smaller communities.
  3. It builds on the success of the Atlantic Immigration Pilot launched in 2017 to help drive economic growth in Atlantic Canada.
  4. It will complement other economic immigration initiatives, including the Atlantic Immigration Pilot and the Provincial Nominee Program.

Rural and northern communities encounter several economic and demographic challenges, including the efflux of youth, an ageing population and shortage in the labour market, which in turn hinders economic growth. Additionally, most new immigrants prefer to set base in large urban centres. They miss out on employment opportunities and the quality of life found in smaller communities.

As a means to address these challenges, the Atlantic Immigration Pilot was launched in March 2017. Since then, the pilot has made steady progress when it comes to employers and communities attracting and retaining immigrants with diverse skills sets. Building on this success, the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot aims to spread the benefits of immigration across Canada by empowering smaller communities to attract and retain skilled workers and support community economic development.

“This Pilot will support the economic development of smaller communities by testing new, community-driven approaches to address their diverse labour market needs.” – Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Rural Economic Development Canada

IRCC sought applications from interested communities in Ontario, Western Canada, and the territories to select communities to participate. It will work with communities who expressed interest and were selected to position them to begin identifying candidates for permanent residence in summer 2019. These communities would need to demonstrate their eligibility and how immigration will promote economic development for them.

Communities selected will be announced in the spring of 2019.