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Opinion: First step taken toward RNIP becoming permanent program

'It’s really a no-brainer. Pilots by their very nature are built to test the waters and see what works and what doesn’t work. RNIP is working, so the natural progression is from pilot to permanent'
2022 sean fraser
Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Sean Fraser announces changes to the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot at College Boreal on Aug. 26, 2022.Maija Hoggett/TimminsToday

Immigration is a fast-changing field.

Case in point—I was giving international students at Nipissing University a broad overview of the path from student, to worker, to permanent resident, to Canadian citizen and explained the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) program.

But wait, I said. The federal immigration minister, Sean Fraser, is in Timmins as we speak, and within the hour he will be making an announcement on the future of RNIP.

I speculated, accurately as it turned out, that it would be good news because he is holding a news conference after the announcement. If the announcement was negative, it would have been made late on a Friday after most journalists had quit for the weekend. His announcement was scheduled for noon on a Friday—a good sign.

Bay Today reported the announcement August 26.

See: Feds expand immigrant program to help employers hire workers

But in case you missed the news story the minister said RNIP will be extended to August, 2024. More importantly, the minister said the pilot program has the potential to become permanent if it continues to meet the needs of northern and rural communities.

I have written about RNIP in this space before, and expressed confidence it would eventually become a permanent immigration program, as did the model it was based on, the Atlantic Immigration Pilot.

It’s really a no-brainer. Pilots by their very nature are built to test the waters and see what works and what doesn’t work. RNIP is working, so the natural progression is from pilot to permanent.

Other changes announced in Timmins, one of 11 RNIP communities, including North Bay, include allowing doctors who are self-employed to be part of the program, letting a nurse work as a care worker, and making the hiring process easier for the skilled trades.

Some of those are already in effect in North Bay, as I have had many internationally trained and qualified nurses go through the RNIP process with me to obtain permanent residence while working as Personal Support Workers. Their intent is to navigate the Ontario accreditation process as quickly as possible and once again work as a nurse.

RNIP is the perfect vehicle for permanent residence for those working and living in North Bay. My clients ask about the Canadian Experience Class, or the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program, but I tell them if their intent is to stay in North Bay RNIP is faster and has a much better chance of success.

In North Bay RNIP is spearheaded by the North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce, with Peter Chirico signing off on the community recommendation form. The RNIP Coordinator, Yaccelle Thibeault, works at Yes Employment, and other partner organizations are the North Bay & District Multicultural Centre, City of North Bay, and Labour Market Group.

All relevant information on the program can be found on its website.

It is tailor-made for international students who graduate from Canadore College or Nipissing University, because they do not require one year of work experience or settlement funds in their bank account to qualify. All they need is a full-time, non-seasonal job offer from a qualified employer in the North Bay RNIP catchment area. That’s not quite all they need, as they have to have sufficient language skills, police clearances, and many other documents, but the job is the key.

Most employers have embraced the RNIP program, but there are some holdouts. In my view, they simply do not understand the program, which costs the employer nothing. I will use the expression again—employers, it’s a no-brainer. You are crying that you can’t get qualified people and here they are on your doorstep.

If you have questions about the program contact Yaccelle Thibeault at Yes Employment and she would be happy to explain the benefits, whether you are an employer or someone interested in gaining permanent residence.

RNIP helps spread the benefits of immigration to northern and rural communities and the Timmins’ announcement should be the forerunner of it becoming a permanent fixture in Canada’s vast immigration system.

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.