Politics

Ottawa picks 11 communities for pilot immigration project

The federal government has picked 11 communities from across Canada to kick off a new pilot program aimed at attracting immigrants to rural and northern communities.

Program aims to fill labour gaps from declining birth rate, aging population

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen on Friday will announce the 11 communities that will take part in an immigration pilot to attract newcomers to remote and northern communities. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

The federal government has picked 11 communities from across Canada to kick off a new pilot program aimed at attracting immigrants to rural and northern communities.

The goal of the program is to bring newcomers to regions confronting severe labour shortages due to a youth exodus, declining birth rate and aging population.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen is making a formal announcement today in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

"The equation is quite simple. Attracting and retaining newcomers with the needed skills equals a recipe for success for Canada's rural and northern communities," he said in a news release. "We have tested a similar immigration pilot in Atlantic Canada and it has already shown tremendous results for both newcomers and Canadians."

The selected communities are:

  • Thunder Bay, Ont.
  • Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
  • Sudbury, Ont. 
  • Timmins, Ont.
  • North Bay, Ont.
  • Gretna-Rhineland-Altona-Plum Coulee, Man.
  • Brandon, Man.
  • Moose Jaw, Sask.
  • Claresholm, Alta.
  • West Kootenay region of B.C.
  • Vernon, B.C.

The government will begin working with communities this summer to help them identify candidates for permanent residence as early as this fall. The first newcomers under the pilot are expected to arrive in 2020.

'Continued vibrancy of rural areas'

Communities were selected as a representative sample of regions to lay out a "blueprint" for the rest of the country. 

About 78 per cent newcomers to Canada settle in big cities such as Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver under existing federal economic immigration programs. 

Rural Economic Development Minister Bernadette Jordan said the pilot program will support the economic development of the communities by testing new, community-driven approaches to fill diverse labour market needs.

"The initial results of the Atlantic immigration pilot show that it has been a great success," she said in a news release. "I'm pleased we are able to introduce this new pilot to continue experimenting with how immigration can help ensure the continued vibrancy of rural areas across the country."

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