Student Population Growth In Manitoba Schools Fuelled By Rural And Northern Immigration Pilot

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Growth in the number of students attending Manitoba schools is being fuelled by immigration through the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) to participating communities.

In southeastern Manitoba, the Altona/Rhineland which is partly served by the Garden Valley School Division, participates in the RNIP – and its student population is booming.

In a CTV News Winnipeg report, Garden Valley superintendent Dan Ward chalked growth within the district’s schools to students coming back to class after being homeschooled during the COBID-19 pandemic and to immigration.

“One factor is students coming back after the pandemic that were homeschooled and the other factor are newcomers,” Ward reportedly said.

“We have quite a few newcomers in the Winkler area and based on that, we’ve seen some fairly significant growth in our school division.”


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The latest Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) data reveals immigration to Manitoba spiked 30.7 per cent in 2022, rising to 21,660 last year from 16,575 in 2021.

During that time frame, the number of new permanent residents arriving in the Prairie province through the RNIP jumped from 50 in 2021 to 150 last year. In the first three months of this year, the RNIP welcomed another 45 new permanent residents, putting it on track if the current trend continues throughout the rest of the year to welcome 180 newcomers in 2023.

Last year, Manitoba welcomed 51.8 per cent more new permanent residents through the Temporary-to-Permanent Resident Pathway (TR-to-PR) with 1,640 newcomers under that pathway in 2022.

The province also welcomed more than twice as many refugees last year than it did in 2021 with 1,790 coming to settle in the province in 2022 compared to 845 the previous year.

And Manitoba saw a slight increase in family sponsorships as loved ones rejoined their families in the province. The number of new permanent residents through family sponsorships in Manitoba rose to 2,780 last year from 2,340 in 2021.

With that strong growth in immigration in Manitoba, its schools are seeing more students in their classrooms. In its recently-released Enrolment Report/September 29, 2022, the provincial ministry of education reveals total enrolment rose 2.4 per cent last year.

Immigration Minister Hints That RNIP Could Become A Permanent Program

The return of children who were homeschooled during the pandemic to classrooms represents slightly less than a third of the increase in school enrolments. The total increase in enrolments was 4,893, of which 68.9 per cent, or 3,373 students, were students going to schools for other reasons, including being newly-arrived immigrants.

The RNIP which boosted immigration in those areas with the highest increases in school attendance in Manitoba is expected to become a permanent immigration program or at least continue in some form beyond its slated end date of August next year.

“From my perspective, the Rural and Northern Immigration Program has been an enormous success,” Immigration Minister Sean Fraser has reportedly said.

“The only critical feedback I’ve received is that the communities that benefit from the program would like to bring more people in through the program.”


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Through the five-year RNIP, skilled immigrants are recruited to work in smaller communities with aging populations and labour shortages.

But Fraser has cautioned that evaluating the RNIP’s performance will be somewhat difficult because it was launched during the pandemic.

“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,” he reportedly said.

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.

Fraser’s suggestion that the RNIP would continue in some form beyond next year has been music to the ears of participating communities’ mayors.

“I’ve heard first-hand from employers that had it not been for the (RNIP) program, you know, they might not have been able to stay open into the next year,” Timmins Mayor Michelle Boileau reportedly told the CBC.

“So, it’s having a very positive impact on our business community.”

There are currently 11 participating communities in the pilot program. These include:

Community Community website
North Bay, ON https://northbayrnip.ca/
Sudbury, ON https://investsudbury.ca/why-sudbury/move-to-sudbury/rnip/
Timmins, ON www.timminsedc.com
Sault Ste. Marie, ON www.welcometossm.com
Thunder Bay, ON https://gotothunderbay.ca/
Brandon, MB www.economicdevelopmentbrandon.com
Altona/Rhineland, MB www.seedrgpa.com
Moose Jaw, SK https://www.moosejawrnip.ca/
Claresholm, AB www.claresholm.ca
Vernon, BC https://rnip-vernon-northok.ca/
West Kootenay (Trail, Castlegar, Rossland, Nelson), BC https://wk-rnip.ca/

 

Under this pilot program, candidates must meet both the federal and the community eligibility requirements.

Applicants Under The RNIP Need A Year Of Full-Time Work Experience In Past Three Years

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.

Candidates Already In Canada Do Not Need To Prove Settlement Funds Under RNIP

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.
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Colin Singer is an international acclaimed Canadian immigration lawyer and founder of immigration.ca featured on Wikipedia. Colin Singer is also founding director of the Canadian Citizenship & Immigration Resource Center (CCIRC) Inc. He served as an Associate Editor of ‘Immigration Law Reporter’, the pre-eminent immigration law publication in Canada. He previously served as an executive member of the Canadian Bar Association’s Quebec and National Immigration Law Sections and is currently a member of the Canadian Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Colin has twice appeared as an expert witness before Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. He is frequently recognized as a recommended authority at national conferences sponsored by government and non-government organizations on matters affecting Canada’s immigration and human resource industries. Since 2009, Colin has been a Governor of the Quebec Bar Foundation a non-profit organization committed to the advancement of the profession, and became a lifetime member in 2018.