The Ontario communities of Chatham-Kent, Cornwall and Belleville/Quinte West have been selected to participate in the province’s new Regional Immigration Pilot, which will launch in 2020.
The two-year pilot is the newest addition to the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP), which allows the province to nominate a set number of Economic-Class immigration candidates for permanent residence each year.
The Government of Ontario said the Regional Immigration Pilot is designed to spread the benefits of economic immigration across Ontario and address labour shortages in rural and small communities in the province.
“The Regional Immigration Pilot … will be an opportunity for businesses in the three communities to fill talent gaps and support economic growth and a pathway for skilled foreign workers to become permanent residents,” the province’s Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade said in a news release.
The vast majority of immigrants to Ontario currently settle in and around the Greater Toronto Area and only 20 per cent settle in other parts of the province.
This concern for “regionalizing” immigration is not unique to Ontario. It is the focus of several similar pilots across Canada, including the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot and the Atlantic Immigration Pilot.
Ontario’s Regional Immigration Pilot is the product of feedback from stakeholders in several small and rural Ontario communities, including municipal governments, businesses, economic development organizations, settlement organizations, universities and colleges.
“Communities were chosen based on their specific skilled labour challenges, the ability to help newcomers get settled and interest from community stakeholders,” the ministry said.
“Outcomes of the pilot will help inform further efforts to regionalize economic immigration in Ontario.”
The OINP will allocate approximately 150 nominations for the pilot through the three immigration streams of its Employer Job Offer Category, which allows foreign workers and/or international students with an eligible job offer in Ontario to apply for a provincial nomination for permanent residence.
Ontario said new manufacturing occupations will be added to the list of eligible National Occupational Classification (NOC) codes under the Employer Job Offer Category’s In-Demand Skills Stream in 2020.
The OINP advises immigration candidates to explore opportunities to move or work in three communities by visiting their websites:
- Municipality of Chatham-Kent
- Cities of Belleville and Quinte West
- City of Cornwall