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Opinion: Don Curry, Newcomers in city relieved that RNIP is here to stay

I can sense a collective sigh of relief from those involved with RNIP, and the newcomers who want to stay and work in centres like North Bay who were hoping the program would become a permanent one.

The long wait is over. RNIP is here to stay.

Federal Immigration Minister Marc Miller, in Sudbury for a news conference March 6, announced two new pilot immigration programs to be launched in the fall, and said RNIP (Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot) will transform to a permanent immigration stream.

That is tremendously good news for the hundreds of newcomers now in North Bay who were not yet ready to apply for permanent residence through RNIP when the five-year pilot ended recently. Locally, the two RNIP coordinators, Heather van Veen and Jill Dupuis, are reviewing applications until the end of July and applicants have until the end of August to submit their PR applications. The North Bay RNIP stopped accepting new applications at the end of January.

The new pilots, the Rural Community Immigration Pilot (RCIP instead of RNIP) and the Francophone Community Immigration Pilot (FCIP) launch this fall.

The present RNIP has 11 municipalities participating, the five major cities in Northern Ontario plus smaller centres in western Canada. The minister said the new pilots will have 15 participating municipalities.

I can sense a collective sigh of relief from those involved with RNIP, and the newcomers who want to stay and work in centres like North Bay who were hoping the program would become a permanent one.

In my work, I talk RNIP every day with clients and I know first-hand there has been a lot of anxiety out there. I have been telling them not to worry, that the government will announce something soon, and I expect RNIP will become a permanent program. Some were skeptical.

As of December 31, 2023, 4,595 newcomers received their permanent residence through RNIP, and many of them are right here. The minister said 87 per cent of those who were surveyed and responded were still in the communities that granted them a community recommendation.

That’s an encouraging statistic, as I, for one, feared there would be those trying to game the program. Move to North Bay from the GTA for example, get a job in the community, apply for PR through RNIP, and once PR was received, move back to the GTA. That may be happening, but not in large numbers.

I have met with more than 350 newcomers over the past few years and I can count on one hand the number that gave me the feeling they wanted to get out of the city as soon as they got their PR. The vast majority love living here. The words I hear are “safe, beautiful, not congested, great place to raise a family.” The negatives are the high cost of housing, which is a universal Canadian issue.

While most of my time is spent with newcomers, employers ask me about the program as well. Just about all the ones I spoke with have embraced the program and hired newcomers, while there are a couple out there who are negative. That’s their loss.

As I have written in this space before, RNIP was modelled after the Atlantic Immigration Pilot, which became a permanent immigration stream. It made obvious sense for the federal government to do the same with RNIP, and now we have the minister on video with journalists in Sudbury saying it is going to become permanent.

What is left is to sort out the details. When does the new program start? What municipalities are participating? Have the criteria changed?

All that will come out over the summer, I expect, and new applications should be accepted at some point this fall.

To quote the federal government news release, “IRCC will open the community application process this spring to select communities who will participate in the pilots and will share more details in the coming months.

“As we work to establish RNIP as a permanent program, these new pilots will help attract and retain skilled foreign workers in rural and Francophone minority communities, contributing to their economic and linguistic vitality.”

Note the words “permanent program.” Can’t get much clearer than that.

Editor’s Note: Don Curry is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant living in North Bay and a member of Bay Today’s community advisory committee.

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Don Curry

About the Author: Don Curry

Don Curry is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant and president of Curry Immigration Consulting and a former journalism instructor
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