Eleven rural and northern communities across four Canadian provinces have been selected as part of the new Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot. These communities, some of which already have populations of more than 100,000, will be able to invite newcomers to make these communities their new homes.
The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot was announced in January 2019 as a Canadian immigration initiative to address the labour market needs of smaller communities
As the Canadian population ages and the birth rate declines, rural Canada’s workforce has seen a significant decrease in available workers. The Rural and Northern pilot will help attract people that are needed to drive economic growth and help support middle-class jobs in these communities. The new Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot is a five-year initiative aimed at testing community-driven approaches to address the labour market needs of smaller communities.
Rural and Northern Pilot communities
The selected communities are: Thunder Bay (ON), Sault Ste. Marie (ON), Sudbury (ON), Timmins (ON), North Bay (ON), Gretna-Rhineland-Altona-Plum Coulee (MB), Brandon (MB), Moose Jaw (SK), Claresholm (AB), West Kootenay (BC), and Vernon (BC).
See the interactive map below to see the locations of these communities. Click on any of the pins to learn more about a specific community.
The participating communities were selected as a representative sample of the regions across Canada to assist in laying out the blueprint for the rest of the country. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will now begin to work with selected communities to position them to begin identifying candidates for permanent residence.
Why a Rural and Northern Pilot?
Building on the success of the Atlantic Immigration Pilot, the Rural and Northern Pilot is designed to help participating communities gain access to a range of support to help newcomers settle in as part of the local community. So, if you’re looking to move to a smaller community in Canada, the announcement of the new Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot may mean there is a new Canadian immigration program that’s just right for you.
While rural and northern communities face specific economic and demographic challenges, including out-migration of youth, aging populations, and labour market shortages, most new immigrants settle in large urban centres, missing out on labour market opportunities and the quality of life found in smaller communities. The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot will help these communities identify candidates for permanent residence who can fill gaps in the local labour market.
“The equation is quite simple. 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,” said Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen.
Rural Economic Development Minister Bernadette Jordan added: “Removing barriers to economic development and promoting growth in local communities across the country is a priority for the Government of Canada. This pilot will support the economic development of these communities by testing new, community-driven approaches to address their diverse labour market needs. The initial results of the Atlantic Immigration Pilot show that it has been a great success. I’m pleased we are able to introduce this new pilot to continue experimenting with how immigration can help ensure the continued vibrancy of rural areas across the country.”
Eligibility criteria for interested communities
Communities looking to participate in the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot must meet the following criteria:
- have a population of 50,000 people or less and be located at least 75 km from the core of a Census Metropolitan Area
OR up to 200,000 people and be considered remote from other larger cities (using Statistics Canada’s index of remoteness);
- be in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Ontario, Saskatchewan, or Yukon;
- have job opportunities;
- have an economic development plan;
- have a local economic development organization that can manage the pilot for the community; and
- be able to settle new immigrants in the community by having or developing:
- relationships with local or regional immigrant-serving organizations,
- opportunities to connect newcomers with established members of the community, such as through mentoring or networking.
- access to key services like education, housing, transportation and healthcare.
Communities must also have the support, shown through letters of support from the municipality (local leaders) and a local or regional immigrant-serving organization.
The government encourages communities with French-speaking populations to apply and identify themselves in their application.
How to apply to the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot
IRCC states that details on how to apply to a community will be available later in 2019. For now, you can research the different communities and find out more about them. Use the map above as a guide.
Quick Facts on the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot
- 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 which demonstrated how they met the eligibility criteria (outlined above) by March 11, 2019.
- 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% of the national GDP.
- Rural Canada supplies food, water, and energy for urban centres, sustaining the industries that contribute to Canada’s prosperous economy.
- Between 2001 and 2016, the number of potential workers has decreased by 23% percent, while the number of potential retirees has increased by 40%.