Businesses in Sudbury are worried the pending end of the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) this year will make it harder for them to recruit the employees they need and they want Ottawa to make the immigration program permanent.
In an open letter to local Members of Parliament, Viviane Lapointe and Nickel Belt Marc Serré, the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce urged that the RNIP become a permanent program of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)
“If you talk to any business owner and our members, a big challenge they’ve had over the last few years is finding talented labour and skilled labour and the … program is something that facilitates that,” Geoffrey Hatton, chair of that chamber of commerce and president and CEO of Spectrum Telecom Group, reportedly told CTV News.
“Twenty per cent of our staff (are) international hires, so it’s a big impact for us.”
In the first 11 months of 2023, the RNIP allowed 2,475 foreign nationals become new permanent residents of Canada, putting the program on track to welcome 2,700 new permanent residents by the end of that year.
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That’s more than double the 1,345 new permanent residents the RNIP welcomed to the participating communities which are spread out throughout Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia in 2022.
Lapointe is bullish on the program.
“My northern colleagues and I have advocated for RNIP to become a permanent program,” she reportedly said. “We’ve seen first-hand the importance of this program and how it is a driver of economic prosperity for our communities.
“I am very encouraged by the results so far and all the expressions of support from the local community for the program and expect to hear more about the future of the program soon.”
The findings of a Northern Policy Institute report, Community Immigration Pilot Making Economic ‘Cents’: How the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot is Growing the Local Economy in Thunder Bay, highlight the importance of that immigration program to rural and northern communities.
“The RNIP helps to attract immigrants to smaller communities by providing them with a path to permanent residency,” states the report.
“In turn, it gives communities the opportunity to select which workers have the most desired skills by their local industries and are the most likely to settle and stay in that northern or rural community in the long term.
“By doing so, the RNIP benefits both skilled immigrants and smaller communities at the same time.”
RNIP Helps 11 Communities In Five Provinces Attract Immigrants
To be included in the pilot, communities must:
- have a population of 50,000 or less and be located at least 75km from the core of a census metropolitan area, or;
- have a population of up to 200,000 people and is considered remote from other larger cities, according to the Statistics Canada Remoteness Index.
Here are the participating communities in the pilot program:
|North Bay, ON
|Sault Ste. Marie, ON
|Thunder Bay, ON
|Moose Jaw, SK
|West Kootenay (Trail, Castlegar, Rossland, Nelson), BC
Candidates for immigration through the RNIP must meet both the federal and the community eligibility requirements.
The federal requirements include qualifying work experience or an international student exemption.
Candidates must have one year (1,560 hours) of full or part-time work experience in the last three years but it doesn’t need to be continuous or be with just one employer. It must, however, include most of the main and essential duties listed in the National Occupational Classification (NOC) and unpaid and self-employed hours do not count.
Candidates who are international students are exempt from needing work experience provided they either graduated with a master’s or doctoral degree or:
- graduated with a credential from a minimum two-year-long post-secondary program in the recommended community;
- were studying as a full-time student for the full duration of two or more years;
- received the credential no more than 18 months before the date of application for permanent residence, and;
- they were in the community for at least 16 of the last 24 months spent studying to get the credential.
Those who graduated with the higher degrees must still:
- have studied as a full-time student for the duration of the degree in the recommended community;
- received the degree no more than 18 months before applying for permanent residence, and;
- have been in the community for the length of their studies.
There are basic minimum language requirements for the RNIP with the level required based on the classification of the job under the National Occupational Classification system. Candidates must also have a Canadian high school diploma or an equivalent foreign credential with an accredited Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) report.
The language proficiency can be demonstrated through either the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) or Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens (NCLC) standards.
These results must be submitted from a designated language test and be less than two years old at the time of the application.
Under the program, applicants must demonstrate they have enough money to support themselves and family members while they get settled in their community. This includes family members who may not be coming to Canada.
Candidates already working legally in Canada are exempt from settlement fund requirements.
This money cannot be borrowed from another person and the proof of funds can include:
- bank account statements;
- documents that show real property or other investments (such as stocks, bonds, debentures or treasury bills), or;
- documents that guarantee payment of a set amount of money payable such as banker’s drafts, cheques, traveller’s cheques or money orders.