A study by the Northern Policy Institute reveals the economic clout of the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot(RNIP)in Thunder Bay, one of the 11 member communities in the economic immigration program, far exceeded simply helping foreign nationals settle into their communities in its first year in operation.
“In one year, the RNIP program in the City of ThunderBay: offered 229 jobs to its applicants; is estimated to have generated 92 other jobs in thelocal economy, totalling 321 jobs, and; is estimated to have generated a total of $11.6 millionin wages in the local economy,” notes the study.
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The latest data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reveals the RNIP is growing at a breakneck pace.
RNIP welcomed more immigrants in first half of this year than in all of 2022
Last year, the RNIP welcomed 1,345 new permanent residents to Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.
By the end of the first half of this year, the program had already surpassed those immigration numbers by almost six per cent, allowing 1,425 foreign nationals to gain their permanent residence in Canada.
The RNIP’s effectiveness has led Ottawa to up the number of foreign nationals allowed to immigrate to at least some of the communities in the program earlier this year.
“I have seen first-hand the importance of this program across our region,” said Sudbury MP Viviane Lapointe. “Not only has the program directly addressed gaps and challenges such as the labour shortages but it also continues to drive economic prosperity for our communities in ways that will have a generational impact.”
“I have heard directly from employers about how beneficial this program has been to attract workers, grow and expand businesses, and create economic opportunities within our communities.”
Through the five-year RNIP, which is expected to be made into a permanent immigration program soon, skilled immigrants are recruited to work in smaller communities with aging populations and labour shortages.
“From my perspective, the Rural and Northern Immigration Program has been an enormous success,” then-Immigration Minister Sean Fraser reportedly said earlier this year.
But evaluating the RNIP’s performance has proven to be somewhat difficult because it was launched just before the pandemic, in 2019.
RNIP likely to be made into a permanent immigration program
“We haven’t made formally a decision to make the program permanent yet, not because we don’t like the program, but because the first few years of the program’s existence happened under very challenging circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Fraser said earlier this year.
At the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce, chief executive officer Debbi Nicholson has said the RNIP program has been a significant contributor to our local talent pool and has helped many area businesses find skilled workers to fill vacancies.
The findings of the Northern Policy Institute report, Community Immigration Pilot MakingEconomic ‘Cents’: How the Rural andNorthern Immigration Pilot is Growing theLocal Economy in Thunder Bay, support that conclusion.
“The RNIP helps to attract immigrants to smallercommunities by providing them with a path topermanent residency,” states the report. “In turn, it gives communities theopportunity to select which workers have the mostdesired skills by their local industries and are the mostlikely to settle and stay in that northern or rural communityin the long term.
“By doing so, the RNIP benefits both skilledimmigrants and smaller communities at the same time.”
In the first half of this year, 895 new permanent residents settled in Ontario through the RNIP. Another 85 settled in Manitoba during that time period, 60 in Saskatchewan, 20 in Alberta, and 365 in British Columbia.
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.
International students with graduate degrees exempted from RNIP work experience requirement
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 compétencelinguistiquecanadiens (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.