New immigration pilots to support rural and Francophone minority communities

Photo: Minister Miller and MP Sheehan meet with Nurse Hazel, a RNIP participant from the Philippines, at Sault Area Hospital

Rural and Francophone minority communities are critical to Canada’s long-term growth, and regional immigration plays a key role in strengthening their economies. In particular, the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) has been successful in connecting businesses and employers in remote communities with the skilled newcomers they need to thrive.

That is why today, local MP Terry Sheehan and the Hon. Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, met with local officials and toured businesses in Sault Ste. Marie that have participated in the pilot, including Tenaris, Heliene, JD Aero, and the Sault Area Hospital. The federal government has announced new pilots for rural and Francophone minority communities, as Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) continues work toward creating a permanent rural immigration program.

“I am pleased that our government is continuing to see the importance of the Rural and Northern Immigration program, and that it is now expanding pilot programs to more rural and francophone communities. Since we launched the pilot in Sault Ste. Marie five years ago, I have regularly heard from local officials and business owners about its success in addressing labour challenges and driving economic prosperity.” said,  Terry Sheehan, Member of Parliament for Sault. Ste. Marie and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour and Seniors

In 2019, MP Terry Sheehan joined then-immigration minister Ahmed Hussen in Sault Ste. Marie to announce the eleven pilot communities for the RNIP program. The pilot has proven popular with large and small businesses in its host communities, and the government will now work to establish it as a permanent program. While the government works to make it permanent, the Rural Community Immigration Pilot and the Francophone Community Immigration Pilot will be launched.

Photo: MP Sheehan, Mayor Shoemaker, and Minister Miller meet with City of Sault Ste. Marie officials to discuss the RNIP program and upcoming pilots

The Rural Community Immigration Pilot will launch in the fall of 2024. It aims to ensure that rural communities continue to have the ability to access programs that address labour shortages and help local businesses find the workers they need. It will provide pathways to permanent residence for newcomers who can help to overcome critical labour job shortages and want to live long term in these smaller communities.

“Rural and northern communities face unique economic and demographic challenges. However, through the RNIP, rural communities have been able to attract and retain skilled workers that they’ve needed for years to ensure their economic growth. That is why we will make RNIP a permanent program, and why we are introducing these two new pilot programs. We’ll continue to work closely with these communities, as we work to connect businesses with the skilled workers they need to thrive.” said, Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Modelled on the success of the RNIP and as part of our Francophone Immigration Policy, IRCC will also launching the Francophone Community Immigration Pilot in the fall of 2024. The pilot will focus on increasing the number of French-speaking newcomers settling in Francophone minority communities outside of Quebec and will help ensure the economic development of Francophone minority communities, while also helping to restore and increase their demographic weight.

IRCC will open the community application process this spring to select communities who will participate in the pilots and will share more details in the coming months.

As we work to establish RNIP as a permanent program, these new pilots will help attract and retain skilled foreign workers in rural and Francophone minority communities, contributing to their economic and linguistic vitality. IRCC looks forward to continued collaboration with these communities as we work together to strengthen our immigration programs.

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