West Kootenay Region to Participate in Federal Immigration Pilot

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In January of this year, the federal government launched the application stage of a pilot program to facilitate immigration to rural and northern communities. This program is aimed to mitigate the effects that an aging population and youth exodus are having on rural communities. According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the labour force has decreased by 23% in rural communities from the aging population alone. The West Kootenay, which now has the lowest unemployment rate in BC at 3.1%, is an example of a rural region that could benefit from a program to promote the immigration and retention of skilled, immigrant workers.

This pilot program is modeled after a similar program which ran in Atlantic Canada and was considered successful at helping to provide skilled employees in sectors experiencing worker shortages. The program will focus on retaining immigrants in these communities, an issue that has been identified as key for the success of immigration to rural Canada. IRCC plans to work directly with communities and immigrant support groups to provide them with the resources to help newcomers integrate into the communities successfully. The idea is that once an immigrant family arrives and settles in a community with appropriate support, there will be much more incentive for the family to remain in that community.

Several West Kootenay communities decided to apply jointly to participate in this pilot program, and the application was approved last week. The IRCC will begin working with communities in July to identify candidates that match the communities’ labour force needs and the first immigrants in this pilot are expected to arrive in 2020. Taking part in this pilot program will provide a good complement to the BC Provincial Nominee Program – Entrepreneur Immigration Regional Pilot which several West Kootenay communities are also taking part in. The difference between these programs is that the provincial program focuses on immigrants who wish to invest and start businesses in BC, as opposed to providing existing companies with potential employees.

Metal Tech Alley is pleased to be doing its part to support local businesses through participation in both federal and provincial immigration programs!

More information on this Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot program can be found here.

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