Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot
Amidst a high job vacancy rate across Northern Ontario, Sudbury businesses urge the federal government to make the RNIP a permanent program.
Sudbury is one of the communities participating in the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot Program (RNIP). Following the success of the pilot in the northern Ontario city, community members are hoping the federal government will make the RNIP a permanent program.
Last week, Minister of Public Services and Procurement, Filomena Tassi, met with local Sudbury politicians and business owners to gather feedback on the government’s newest budget. The main point of discussion revolved around Sudbury’s labour shortage, and how the RNIP can help attract new Canadians to fill these gaps.
The RNIP allows foreign workers with a job offer in Sudbury and other rural and northern regions in Canada to apply for permanent immigration status. For Sudbury, the program has helped to increase the population and stimulate economic activity.
The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot Program was launched as a way to help fill labour shortages in rural and northern Canadian communities. The pilot helps attract skilled workers and their families to participating communities.
The program is open to applicants who have a job offer in a rural or northern community. Applicants must also either have qualifying work experience or have graduated from a post-secondary institution in the community. As well, candidates must meet federal requirements and any additional requirements set by the community they are applying to.
The pilot program was introduced in 2019 and will run for five years.
The rural and northern immigration pilot program has proven to be beneficial for both the immigrants and the communities in which they reside. Some of the benefits of the program include increased immigration, job creation, and economic growth.
Immigrants who participate in the program are able to fill labour gaps and strengthen the local economy. The program also provides a pathway to permanent residents for candidates with qualifying connections to one of the participating communities.
The program is also beneficial for foreign workers that may not have otherwise been eligible for permanent residence program. Compared to the federal Express Entry program, a competitive, points-based system, the RNIP is relatively less demanding. An applicant living in Timmins, Ontario, described the program as a “straightforward” and “short process”.
One challenge that Sudbury is currently facing is a lack of affordable housing options for immigrants. Many of the available homes are too expensive for low-income families, and there is a shortage of rental units,
“You need the talent to work in the jobs to develop the housing, so if any one of those pieces is missing, then the table or the stool has two legs rather than three,” Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Debbi Nicholson told Sudbury.com.
Rising housing costs and future shortages have been linked to a shortage of skilled workers. Therefore, to lower housing costs and fill labour gaps, Sudbury employers are advocating for the RNIP to receive permanent funding.
Programs like the Rapid Housing Initiative have also helped to create affordable housing and reduce some of costs involved with buying a home.
“The labour shortage is a concern, so a real focus on looking at what we have done as a government to support labour and ensuring we’re making the proper investments to invest in workers,”, said Minister Filomena Tassi.
Sudbury isn’t the only community that wants the pilot made permanent. Other participating communities have expressed the RNIP’s ability to promote economic growth. Five of the largest cities in northern Ontario are experiencing job vacancy rates as high as 55 per cent in some occupations. With declining birth rates and an ageing population, these communities rely on increased immigration through programs like the RNIP.
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