Rural immigration program is here to stay

An immigration program which is aiming to solve staff shortages through migration, has been made permanent.

Last week, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) Marc Miller announced that the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot Program (RNIP) will become permanent. Additionally, two new immigration pilots, the Rural Community Immigration Pilot and the Francophone Community Immigration Pilot, will continue to support rural and Francophone minority communities. IRCC will open the application process this spring to select communities who will participate in the pilot programs, and will share more details in the coming months.

Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP is applauding the move, as a way to offset northern Ontario’s aging population.

“We in Northern Ontario, because of our aging population, are in the midst of a significant labour shortage. The labour shortage affects the ability of many businesses to carry on their existing functions, never mind expand, as I know many businesses would like to do,” he said. “Similarly chronic care homes are having trouble finding PSWs, hospitals are having trouble finding nurses, daycares are having trouble finding early childhood educators, and construction companies having trouble finding people in the trades. The RNIP pilot has done a great job of bringing people into the region in order to meet our labour needs. Not only that, the program has begun to rejuvenate our aging communities. This is a great announcement. We are what we are as a result of immigration from places like Finland, Ukraine, Italy and many other countries. We welcome this generation of immigrants who are now shaping the future of Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario”

According to a release from Powlowski’s office, the government sees immigration playing a key role in strengthening the economy.

“The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) has been very successful in filling gaps in the labour market and connecting businesses with the skilled labour that they need to operate and thrive,” stated the release.

As of December 31, 2023, 4,595 newcomers received permanent residence through RNIP, in the fields of health care, trades, service and retail, and others.

“That is why we are making RNIP a permanent program so that communities can continue to benefit and address their labour shortages,” stated the release. It went on to say, “we are encouraged by the support of local businesses and the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce for these programs. We will continue to work in consultation with communities, stakeholders, and partners for both the Rural and Francophone Community Immigration Pilot Programs, as well as for the implementation of a permanent RNIP. We will continue to support remote and Northern communities through these programs to ensure their economic growth.”