There is a new Pilot program in Canada to encourage immigration to specific Rural and Northern Communities. This is not a surprise, when we see the success of the Atlantic Pilot Immigration Program, which has successfully drawn foreign nationals to New Brunswick and other Atlantic provinces for the past year. The new program is called the Rural and Norther immigration Pilot, and it is based on the notion that the majority of newcomers to Canada settle in large metropolitan cities, typically Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. In fact, over 85% of Canada’s population lives within 100 miles of the U.S. border, which is why Canada seeks to attract migrants to its rural side. This Pilot aims to help fill severe labour shortages in certain areas and to help economic growth.
On June 14, 2019 the IRCC announced these eleven (11) communities selected as part of the Pilot:
Thunder Bay, Ontario
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
North Bay, Ontario
Gretna-Rhineland-Altona-Plum Coulee, Manitoba
Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
West Kootenay, British Columbia
Vernon, British Columbia
The above list is intended to be an initial "blue print" of the Pilot program for the rest of Canada, which leads us to believe that other areas will be added over time.
Many of these areas are already known for certain key industries and trades. Sudbury, in Ontario, is well known for its strong French population, making it a suitable alternate for immigrants from French speaking countries who are otherwise drawn only to Quebec.
According to the IRCC, Canadian rural communities employ over 4 million Canadians and account for almost 30% of Canada’s national Gross Domestic Product (GDP). About this Pilot, the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada had this to say: “attracting and retaining newcomers with the needed skills equals a recipe for success for Canada’s rural and northern communities.” Our Canadian Law Group often recommends to clients that they aim at less “popular” areas of Canada when looking for employment. We refer to this as “the back door” into a country that has no bad areas to live! Once a permanent resident, or citizen, an applicant can decide to move to other areas of the country. But it is our experience that those who come to rural and northern parts of Canada tend to stay there, feeling both a connection to a place that welcomed them, and experiencing higher appreciation, income or job security than those in the large cities.
Newcomers under the Pilot program are expected to arrive as early as 2020. We are happy that our “back door” strategy is something that IRCC now officially values and that it has materialized itself into a concrete program for immigration to Canada.
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