Home Immigration Successful immigration program becomes permanent, Ottawa says

Successful immigration program becomes permanent, Ottawa says

by Local Journalism Initiative
By Hugh Kruzel | The Sudbury Star

Known as RNIP, the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot has, over the five years of its activity, demonstrated value and success, supporters say, connecting businesses and employers with the skilled newcomers they need to thrive.

Whether it is welding and construction, health care or manufacturing, or addressing any labour shortage, knowledgeable employees are critical to Canada’s long-term growth, the Liberal government says. Their presence strengthens local and regional economies.

Visiting Sudbury on Wednesday, Marc Miller, the federal minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced new projects for rural and Francophone minority communities.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada will work toward creating a permanent rural immigration program from the Rural Community Immigration Pilot and the Francophone Community Immigration Pilot. “Better, stronger, more resilient … more jobs, and creating a pathway to permanent residence,” was the essence of Miller’s message.

The minister made the announcement in Sudbury because of the overall positive collaboration here and the local program’s achievements.

“Yes, I think of Sudbury often. As a sponsor city, RNIP has worked here,” Miller said.

“Keeping the newcomers we attract is also one of the challenges … 5,158 newcomers in the program became permanent residents and roughly 87 per cent of those were surveyed were still in those (rural and northern) communities as of October 2023 … They love it and want to stay.” Retaining talent is the ultimate goal, Miller said.

Statutorily, the original programs have come to the end of their term. Launching in the fall of 2024, the renewed programs aim to ensure that rural communities can continue to access programs that address labour shortages and help local businesses find the workers they need.

It will provide pathways to permanent residence for newcomers who want to work and live long-term in smaller communities.

Geoff Hatton, president and CEO of Spectrum Telecom Group in Sudbury, said 20 per cent of the Spectrum workforce of 100 employees are newcomers.

“We take great pride in having the opportunity to create jobs not just for communities but for those choosing to make Sudbury and Northern Ontario their home.”

Hatton, Sudbury MP Viviane Lapointe and Mayor Paul Lefebvre acknowledged the investment of many groups – including the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce – in making the RNIP program happen and be effective.

Debbi Nicholson, president and CEO of the chamber, recalled the advocacy effort needed to convey the importance of RNIP to the local and regional economy.

“As an initiative, we look on this as a red letter day,” Nicholson said. “Our members identified a problem and we listened. They now have opportunities to grow their business, to expand, to create wealth locally, to hire more people and improve the economy.”

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada will open the community application process this spring to select communities that wish to participate in the pilot projects. They will share more details shortly.

Lapointe praised the program.

“We’ve seen first-hand both the impact and importance of RNIP,” the Liberal MP said. “RNIP has proven to be a great asset to attracting skilled labour and growing the population of Sudbury.

“Not only has the program directly addressed gaps and challenges such as the labour shortages, but it also continues to drive economic prosperity for our communities in ways that will have a generational impact.”

On Feb. 21, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada extended the deadline for current RNIP communities to recommend candidates for permanent residence until July 31, 2024. IRCC also increased the number of candidates that communities can recommend.

“Employers across the region from many sectors have been calling for more ways to build their workforce due to unprecedented skilled worker shortages,” Nickel Belt MP Marc Serre said. “Working hard with our government, we implemented the highly successful RNIP program and now by launching the Rural Community Immigration Pilot and the Francophone Community Immigration Pilot, we will further support a pathway towards RNIP becoming a permanent program.

“This will broaden the scope for employers to build stronger workforces and contribute to our local economy serving residents in both official languages. Bolting on the new programs and making it permanent will double the number of immigrants arriving here. It will bring 500, plus 500 more.”

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