Effort needed to grow our population

One of the defining characteristics of Northwestern Ontario is its geographic size—57.7 percent of Ontario’s land mass to be exact.
However, in that area resides only 6.9 percent of the provincial population.
With this in mind, as well as the combined result of an aging and declining population, it is essential that we identify opportunities to stabilize and grow our population.
Currently 84 percent of Ontario’s new immigrants settle in the Greater Toronto Area, but this soon will change—creating tremendous opportunities to define our region on the international map.
Recently, the governments of Ontario and Canada signed the first Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement. Through this agreement, the federal government will provide $920 million in new immigration funding over five years.
More importantly, the agreement outlines how the two governments will work together in five key areas, including a Pilot Provincial Nominee Program, Partnership with Municipalities, and a Temporary Foreign Workers Agreement.
What does this mean to our riding and to Northwestern Ontario? It signifies the beginning of a new economic opportunity as a potential destination region for immigrants.
The Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement includes a provision to involve municipalities in planning and discussions on immigration and settlement.
This marks the first time all three orders of government have worked together to meet their needs and the needs of immigrants across Ontario.
The Pilot Provincial Nominee Program will provide our region the opportunity to nominate immigrants who will help meet its economic priorities and specific labour market needs.
In return, the nominated immigrants must fulfill several key commitments, including their own financial resources for resettlement, a requirement to remain in the region for a defined period of time, as well as filling critical skill shortages.
With two post-secondary institutions, we also may take advantage of the opportunity to create a venue for foreign-trained professionals to retrain in Canada.
Another highlight of the Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement is the creation of a new Ontario immigration web portal. With federal support for this portal, Ontario municipalities will be able to showcase their communities on the site.
This will become a virtual one-stop gateway for new immigrants to Ontario.
Let’s all make a concerted effort to put Northwestern Ontario on the map to receive more immigrants—and create opportunities to grow our population.

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