Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot in Thunder Bay, Ont., a success
A program which hopes to attract new immigrants to rural and northern communities across the country has helped 69 people secure their Canadian permanent residency in Thunder Bay, Ont.
The city was part of the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot, which provides a pathway to permanent residency for skilled foreign workers, who help fill needs in a community's employment gaps.
"We did end up recommending 69 people, some of them do have spouses and children as well, so it's probably more like around 80 or so people that are coming through this program in its first year," said Emily Lauzon, a workforce development officer with the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission.
"We're looking at having maybe a few more next year," she said, noting up to 150 people could take part in the program in 2021.
Nearly half of the participants in 2020 worked in the healthcare field, which includes nurses, personal support workers and dental assistants.
Other occupations highlighted included food service, engineering and transportation.
"Immigration is one of the suggested strategies for helping to grow a community like Thunder Bay," said Lauzon. The city has struggled to grow its population over the past few decades.
"So, we're testing out to see if something like this works. If people will come here and stay here, if they have meaningful full-time employment in Thunder Bay."
Lauzon said the program does not provide any financial assistance to employers, and the program is very different from the temporary foreign worker program, she said.
The program will help attract new people to the city with skill sets in demand, and also make it easier for people already living in Thunder Bay to stay, once obtaining their permanent residency.