Ontario’s Northern Regions look to make their communities more welcoming

The “Come North” initiative sets out a plan for population growth in Northern Ontario.

Communities in rural and northern Ontario came together to lay out short and long-term plans to grow their population.

This includes the “Come North” 10-point action plan released in January 2021.

Northern Ontario is facing labour shortages as well as an aging and declining population. For this reason, more than 300 people representing over 100 organizations came together for two conferences in February 2020 to address northern Ontario’s population issue.

They discussed how to make their communities more welcoming to immigrants and other Canadians. The two conferences were held in Temiskaming Shores and Thunder Bay.

The communities identified that they must work together, develop a plan and a brand as well as update the plan every year.

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One main point in the action plan includes focusing on becoming more welcoming to newcomers as well as current residents in the communities.

Another point focuses on combatting racism; those who combat racism and those who promote immigration need to work together with newcomers to minimize racism and promote reconciliation with Indigenous people.

These conferences were held pre-pandemic. The effects of the pandemic only amplified the need for addressing the population issue and welcoming more immigrants to help with economic recovery.

Immigrate to rural communities in Ontario

If you are interested in immigrating to rural communities in Ontario, there are two pathways you may wish to consider: immigrating through the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) or through the Rural and Northern Immigration Program (RNIP).

Ontario recently invited 1,186 Express Entry candidates in the first Tech Draw of 2021 through the OINP.

The OINP allows skilled workers, international students and other foreign individuals to apply for a provincial nomination for permanent residence in Ontario. It also has a Regional Immigration Pilot that focuses on increasing immigration to rural communities in Ontario. The pilot works under the OINP’s Employer Job Offer streams.

To qualify for one of these streams, you will need to have a full-time job offer from an employer in one of the eligible communities. A total of 150 nominations are available for 2021.

The RNIP is a federal immigration program that works with small and remote communities across Canada. There are currently 11 communities participating in the RNIP, five of which are in Ontario:

  • North Bay
  • Sudbury
  • Timmins
  • Sault Ste. Marie
  • Thunder Bay

If you wish to immigrate to one of the eligible communities, you must receive a recommendation from one of the communities. You must also have either graduated from a post-secondary institution in the community, or have one year of continuous work experience in the past three years.

In addition, you must have a job offer from an employer in the community, meet language requirements and have enough money to settle and support yourself and your family.

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