Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC) is calling the inaugural year of Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) an "incredible success," according to workforce development officer Emily Lauzon.
Sixty-nine newcomers to Thunder Bay were working with in a wide range of professional fields with 33 local organizations and are being recommended to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada for permanent resident status.
The pilot is a three-year federal program designed to spread the benefits of immigration to smaller communities by creating a path to permanent residence for skilled foreign workers who want to live in Thunder Bay.
A breakdown of the number of candidates working in each employment sector is as follows:
– 34 healthcare (nurses, personal support workers, dental assistants)
– 15 food service (cooks, chefs, supervisors, bakers)
– 6 transportation and automotive
– 5 engineering
– 3 construction
– 3 geochemical research
– 2 business & financial administration
– 1 education administration (French-speaking)
“The pilot has been tremendously valuable for both candidates and employers," said Pilon.
"It has been a huge relief for businesses to retain their workers or source qualified new hires. We are a leading community of the RNIP and are proud to be administering a project that is advancing our economy so meaningfully.”
The CEDC was granted a maximum of 100 recommendations for Year 1. Rolling into the pilot's second year, the CEDC expects 2021 to be "more impactful" with the potential of 150 alloted recommendations.
Changes to candidate eligibility will soon allow foreign workers employed in a job under any National Occupation Classification code to apply for a community recommendation if they have been living in Thunder Bay for at least two years and hold a valid work permit.
“We are tweaking the eligibility criteria to enable newcomers who have been building their lives here for years but do not necessarily work in what we consider to be a priority occupation,” said Lauzon.
“They are ingrained in our city and now there will be an immigration pathway for them.”
The existing list of eligible occupations has also been expanded to include occupations categorized as management positions, a recently identified labour shortage.