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Job vacancy rates in the North Bay spur immigration efforts

The majority of immigrants to North Bay since 2001 have a university degree
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The five largest cities in northern Ontario – North Bay, Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Timmins, and Sudbury – are experiencing job vacancy rates between five and 55 per cent in some occupations.

To mitigate the current labour market trends, the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) program has been implemented across all five communities.

See: Rural and Northern Immigration pilot project sees 21 new immigrants settling in this area

In the new series All Roads Lead Home, author Mercedes Labelle lays out current immigration levels and characteristics for each of northern Ontario’s five RNIP cities. This series is part of a larger Northern Policy Institute project to monitor and assess the impact of the RNIP in northern Ontario communities.

North Bay has experienced a decline in immigration since 2010 with a decrease of approximately 26 per cent says the report. The 2016 census counted 3,410 immigrants currently residing in North Bay.

Most immigrants in North Bay immigrated before 1991—the earliest time frame with available data. Since 2000, the time frame with the most immigration to the city was 2006 to 2010 (330). North Bay experienced a slight decrease in the number of immigrants between 2011 and 2016 (215).

The majority of immigrants to North Bay since 2001 have a university degree says the report.

The majority of permanent residents in North Bay that landed between 1998 and 2019 have citizenship from the United States. Other common countries of citizenship for landed immigrants include India, the United Kingdom, the Philippines, and China.

The largest age group of immigrants at landing has mainly been 25 to 44 (an average of 33 per cent).2 In earlier years, starting in 2013, the second largest age group was 0 to 17 but it has shifted to the 45 to 65 demographic.

See the report specific to North Bay here.

A news release from the Institute says to assess the effectiveness of the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot program, decision-makers need a baseline. The papers find that the main immigration stream used currently by permanent residents in northern Ontario’s five largest cities is “economic”.

The most common intended occupations by these “economic” migrants do not, however, align with occupations with high vacancy rates in those cities.

The RNIP program has shifted the focus to more demand-based targeting, but there is still considerable variance between jobs in highest demand and the occupations targeted by RNIP.

“Creating a baseline is just one step of many when it comes to measuring the success of the RNIP program,” said Mercedes Labelle, author and Lead Analyst at Northern Policy Institute. “The work that the five communities have put into the program has been fantastic and we’re excited to see those efforts reflected in future assessments.”

The papers put forward five recommendations to be considered:

  1. Ongoing annual monitoring and assessment of community-level immigration trends.
  2. Community-specific ongoing assessment of the impact of the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) before, during, and after the program.
  3. Expanded analysis to include secondary and domestic migrants.
  4. Strengthening the alignment between labour market shortages, targeted occupations, postsecondary institutional fields of study, and immigrant-intended occupations to maximize economic outcomes.
  5. Undertaking welcoming community initiatives to welcome, attract, and retain immigrants and the existing population.