On Friday June 14, the Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada announced that eleven rural and northern communities, including Thunder Bay, have been selected as part of the new Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot to invite newcomers to make these communities their forever homes. The participating rural and northern communities will have access to a range of supports to test this new innovative, community-driven model that will help fill labour gaps. Local pilot activities will be coordinated through the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission.
Your Chamber has been working towards this for some time and is proud to have been a small part of the community effort to make this happen. Members of the Local Immigration Partnership including the Thunder Bay Multicultural Association, the Northern Policy Institute, the Thunder Bay CEDC, Reseau du Nord, Association des Francophones du Nord-Ouest de l’Ontario (AFNOO) and the North Superior Workforce Planning Board have long discussed the success of a similar immigration pilot in Atlantic Canada and have worked diligently to develop a solution to Northern Ontario’s immigration challenges and to promote this solution to our Federal Members of Parliament and visiting Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries.
In September 2018, your Thunder Bay Chamber led a discussion at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting about the need for a pilot permanent resident program to address labour shortages in small communities across Canada. Our resolution became Canadian Chamber policy and added the strength of the National Chamber Network to our local advocacy efforts.
This is an exciting first step for our community! Our thanks to the CEDC for taking the lead on this initiative and to all the stakeholders who helped in the development of the application including the collection of nearly 100 support letters from across the community. We are so grateful for the exceptional support provided by our MP’s Patty Hajdu and Don Rusnak, MPP’s Michael Gravelle and Judith Monteith-Farrell, and municipal leaders across the region.
The success of the Thunder Bay pilot will require every employer across the city and region to step up by providing their help and support to the CEDC and the Thunder Bay Multicultural Association and by ensuring a warm welcome for all new arrivals to our city. The real work starts now – let’s ALL pitch in to ensure that we make the most of this opportunity.