OTTAWA — The federal government is launching a pilot program to stimulate immigration in rural and northern communities with a shortage of labour and a decline in the population.
More than two-thirds of all immigrants to Canada settle in the large cities, and the leaders of smaller municipalities are asking Ottawa to do more to help to attract newcomers.
These mayors believe that immigration is essential to help their communities to fill the shortages of manpower, so that more and more people are leaving the small towns to the urban centres.
“It is a matter of routine – the municipal leaders say: “please, we need more people, workers and families”,” underlined the minister of Immigration, Ahmed Hussen, in an interview Thursday.
“Immigration is not the only tool, but it is one of the tools that can be used to address shortages of labour and skilled workers”, he added.
The rural and northern communities who wish to be part of the pilot project of five years will have to prove that they can welcome and integrate newcomers and their families, employers play a key role in this effort. The pilot program is intended for communities located in Ontario, in the Western provinces and the territories.
This pilot project federal is inspired by a pilot Program of immigration in atlantic Canada, launched in march 2017, which has helped to grow the population and better meet the needs of the labour market.
The new federal program should accommodate a little less than 3000 people – about 100 newcomers and members of their family by community.
Mr. Hussen said to believe that a recent increase of the population in Nova Scotia this year was an indication that the program brings its fruits in this region.
However, the retention of immigrants in areas outside of major urban centres was problematic, particularly in atlantic Canada. According to data from the 2016 census, only 16 percent of immigrants who have made declarations of income in l’île-du-Prince-Édouard in 2011 there were still living five years later.
The new pilot project in rural areas focuses on the retention. Mr. Hussen said the communities chosen to participate will have to demonstrate not only that they need skilled workers, but also prove that they have the necessary infrastructure for the establishment of new entrants. This includes language support and employment to establish quickly a foundation for the newcomers.