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Immigration pilot project beats its Thunder Bay target

2022 is the third and final year of the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot program

THUNDER BAY — The Community Economic Development Commission says Thunder Bay is reaping the rewards of a program designed to bring immigrants to smaller population centres.

The Thunder Bay CEDC is the local administrator of the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot.

It's a three-year program that creates a path to permanent residency for skilled foreign workers interested in settling in Thunder Bay.

The CEDC says it beat its goal of selecting 150 immigrants last year as the result of an increased allotment from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

By the end of the year, 162 applicants had secured full-time jobs in sectors experiencing significant labour shortages.

It was an improvement from 2020, when 69 candidates were recommended for permanent residency, well short of the goal of 100.

According to the CEDC, out of the 162 approved last year, 134 were already living in the city and had strong connections to the community. These individuals and their family members may now apply for permanent resident status in Canada.

Since the program's launch in early 2020, the CEDC says it has helped 113 employers recruit or retain skilled workers, resulting in an estimated 358 newcomers to Thunder Bay including workers and their families.

Workforce Development Officer Emily Lauzon says 80 new organizations registered with the CEDC to participate in the pilot program last year.

She said employers don't receive any special treatment or subsidies, but their efforts "go a long way in helping newcomers put down roots in our community.

"As we strive to increase the local population, we need to establish best practices for newcomer retention. When employers invest in their employees, they are laying a solid foundation for growth in Thunder Bay."

The number of recommended placements in various sectors to date are as follows:

  • accommodation and food services: 71
  • health care and social assistance: 60
  • professional, scientific and technical services: 25
  • retail trade: 20
  • transportation and warehousing:13
  • administrative and support and waste management and remediation services: 10
  • manufacturing: 9
  • other services: 5
  • construction: 5
  • public administration: 4
  • wholesale trade: 3
  • educational services: 2
  • real estate and rental and leasing:1 
  • arts, entertainment and recreation: 1

Lauzon said she anticipates continued progress this year, with the potential for a further increase in the number of participating employers and applicants.

The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot is scheduled to wrap up at the end of 2022.

Thunder Bay is one of 11 Canadian cities participating in the program.

— TBNewswatch