Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. Photo: The Canadian Press/Frank Gunn

Eleven communities to attract newcomers to support middle-class jobs

The program includes unspecified West Kootenay communities

West Kootenay communities have been selected as part of the new Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot to invite newcomers to make these communities their homes.

“The equation is quite simple,” said Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship in a news release. “Attracting and retaining newcomers with the needed skills equals a recipe for success for Canada’s rural and northern communities. We have tested a similar immigration pilot in Atlantic Canada and it has already shown tremendous results for both newcomers and Canadians.”

The news release did not specify which West Kootenay communities would be included or how many immigrants the region would be welcoming. The ministry did not return the Star’s calls to clarify this.

Throughout the summer, the government will begin working with selected communities to position them to identify candidates for permanent residence as early as the fall 2019. Communities will be responsible for candidate recruitment and endorsement for permanent residence.

Newcomers are expected to begin to arrive under this pilot in 2020. Communities worked with local economic development organizations to submit an application that demonstrated how they met the eligibility criteria by March 11, 2019.

According to the news release, the Atlantic Immigration Pilot was launched in March 2017, as part of the Atlantic Growth Strategy. The four Atlantic provinces are able to endorse up to 2,500 workers in 2019 under that pilot to meet labour market needs in the region.

Rural communities employ over four million Canadians and account for almost 30 per cent of the national GDP. Between 2001 and 2016, the number of potential workers has decreased by 23 per cent, while the number of potential retirees has increased by 40 per cent.

Other communities included in the pilot are: Ontario’s Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Timmins, and North Bay; Manitoba’s Gretna-Rhineland-Altona-Plum Coulee and Brandon; Moose Jaw, Sask., Claresholm, Alta., and Vernon, B.C.

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