By Pacific Economic Development Canada
Newcomers to Canada enrich our country. They also bring valuable skills that help fill labour shortages across Canada.
Finding qualified employees can be challenging, especially for employers in communities outside large cities. In 2020, the Government of Canada launched the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot to help smaller communities attract newcomers. Delivered by local economic development organizations across Canada, this initiative has already helped fill skill shortages in a variety of sectors, including health care, trades, childcare, and hospitality.
Today, the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada, announced $485,410 in PacifiCan funding for Community Futures North Okanagan to expand the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot in the Southern Interior of B.C.
PacifiCan funding will help Community Futures North Okanagan continue the Pilot in the North Okanagan and West Kootenays, while also expanding to include businesses in the Shuswap region. This investment will support training, marketing, and outreach activities to match local businesses with skilled foreign workers.
Funding will also help newcomers access settlement services and mentoring opportunities in their new communities. To date, Community Futures North Okanagan has already helped hundreds of local businesses meet their workforce needs, while supporting newcomers as they establish roots in the region.
This announcement builds on the recent opening of PacifiCan offices in Kelowna and Cranbrook. With new officers living and providing service locally, PacifiCan is more accessible to all communities in the region.
“I have traveled to communities across B.C., and local businesses have expressed to me the importance of attracting the best and brightest talent. That is why the Government of Canada is spreading the economic benefits of immigration to communities outside of urban centres through the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot. Matching B.C. businesses with skilled newcomers is critical to the vitality of our province and to keeping our economy sustainable and competitive.”
– The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada
“Strong rural economies mean a stronger Canada. This pilot program is a significant step forward in addressing critical labour shortages in rural and remote communities across the country. By providing businesses in smaller communities with a pool of global talent, the Government of Canada is ensuring we can retain the skilled workers needed to grow our economy and build our communities.”
– The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
“Our region is challenged with attracting and retaining a stable workforce because of an aging population, our rural location and high competition for skilled labour. The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot assists with not only filling gaps in the labour market, but enhances the area with new immigrants who contribute to the social and cultural fabric of our community.”
– Leigha Horsfield, Executive Director, Community Futures North Okanagan
- Community Future North Okanagan’s Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot has already supported nearly 400 employers to attract and retain skilled workers in the Southern Interior of B.C.
- Over 1,000 newcomers and their families have accessed the initiative and settled in B.C.’s Southern Interior.
- PacifiCan is the federal economic development agency dedicated to British Columbians. PacifiCan works with partners who are building innovative businesses, creating quality jobs, and supporting inclusive growth throughout British Columbia.
- In 2022, PacifiCan opened new offices in Victoria, Campbell River, Kelowna, Cranbrook, Prince George, Prince Rupert and Fort St John, serving businesses and communities across the province.