Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay immigration pilot delayed

The launch of a pilot project that hopes to attract more skilled foreign workers to Thunder Bay has been delayed.

CEDC working out final details with federal government, launch expected in coming weeks

An example of a Canadian permanent resident card. Foreign workers who meet the criteria for the Rural and Northern Immigration pilot project will have the opportunity to apply for permanent residence. (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada)

The launch of a federal pilot project that hopes to attract more skilled foreign workers to Thunder Bay has been delayed.

Thunder Bay is one of 11 Canadian communities taking part in the Rural and Northern Immigration pilot project, which aims to help those communities attract and retain skilled workers, who can fill jobs that employers are having difficulty filling locally.

"We were hoping to launch before the end of 2019," said Emily Lauzon, workforce development officer with the Community Economic Development Commission, which is overseeing the Thunder Bay pilot.

"We are just in the final stages of finalizing the community criteria details of our agreement with the IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada)," she said, adding the program should be ready to accept applications in the coming weeks.

Lauzon said every participating city gets to determine what criteria participants must meet in order to get a community recommendation.

"What we're looking for is a person's intention to reside in Thunder Bay, what type of connections they have in the community, and what skillsets they're bringing with them," Lauzon said. "Once they receive that recommendation, and they also have a job offer in Thunder Bay, they can submit for permanent residency."

Job offers, she said, must be full-time, and come from within the Thunder Bay census metropolitan area. They must also be for work in specific occupations.

"What we're really trying to with that is we're trying to recruit individuals who have the specialized skillsets that will help fill some of the vacancies that we have here in Thunder Bay," she said.

Lauzon didn't have a specific date as to when the pilot will be up and running, but said it shouldn't be a long wait.

"The federal government is working on multiple communities, so it's hard for us to predict when our feedback will get back to us," she said. "I can say that it is in the final stages, so there shouldn't be many revisions that are coming after this."

"We should be seeing that ready to go very soon."