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Opinion: Don Curry, PM wants immigration pilot expanded

Health care, information technology, financial services, childcare and service industry professionals from all over the world are settling in North Bay and filling jobs in demand
PM Justin Trudeau

There is good news for North Bay and northern Ontario in the mandate letter the new Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Sean Fraser, received from Prime Minister Trudeau Thursday.

Quoting directly from page two of the letter, it says “Ensure that immigration better supports small and medium-size communities that require additional immigrants to enhance their economic growth and social vibrancy.

“This will include expanding the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot, moving forward on the Municipal Nominee Program and making the successful Atlantic Immigration Pilot a permanent program.”

The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) has been very successful in North Bay.

The first step for applicants is to go through the local selection process, led by the North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce and Yes Employment, and obtain a community recommendation. Armed with that, they begin the six to 12-month process of applying for permanent residence.

Health care, information technology, financial services, childcare and service industry professionals from all over the world are settling in North Bay and filling jobs in demand. Those with families are bringing them here and young singles are on the lookout for that perfect someone.

RNIP is a five-year pilot program, so the Prime Minister stating in the mandate letter that he wants to see it expanded is a very good sign.

Expansion can mean a few things. It could mean adding more cities to the 11 that are part of the pilot now, from North Bay to B.C.

It could mean increasing the number of spots available for North Bay, currently at 150 for this year, and for other cities as well. In northern Ontario Timmins, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay are all part of RNIP.

Temiskaming Shores Economic Development Officer James Franks has been lobbying MP Anthony Rota to include Temiskaming Shores in RNIP. It looks like he now has an opening.

RNIP was modelled on the Atlantic Immigration Pilot and Prime Minister Trudeau’s minister mandate letter stating that it will become permanent is good news for the eventual outcome of RNIP. I have written previously in this space that RNIP should become a permanent immigration program.

Northern Ontario, and smaller centres across Canada, need many more immigrants than they are currently attracting. It is well documented that MTV is the main attraction for immigrants—Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.

Programs such as RNIP and the Atlantic Pilot exist to change that a little, and they are succeeding. MTV will always be the main attraction, but these programs help smaller communities attract the talent and diversity skilled immigrants bring.

Hats off to Canadore College for its major role in RNIP. Most successful RNIP participants locally are Canadore graduates. They have figured out the best route to permanent residence in Canada for them is to come as an international student, graduate with a Post-Graduation Work Permit, and then apply for permanent residence.

It is the route dozens of Canadore graduates are following and these talented young people will help our city grow while they are filling jobs in demand.

Don Curry is a Regulated Citizenship and Immigration Consultant living in North Bay and is a member of the Bay community advisory committee.