Eligibility has been eased in the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot program, which allows smaller-sized communities to attract workers through pathway to permanent residence for skilled foreign workers.
The following communities have signed onto RNIP: Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Timmins and North Bay, all in Ontario; Altona/Rhineland and Brandon of Manitoba; Moose Jaw, in Saskatchewan; Claresholm, Alberta; and West Kootenay and Vernon of British Columbia.
Minister of immigration Marco Mendicino announced the changes earlier this month.
According to CIC News, there are two big changes that will facilitate immigration to rural communities. The first is that "applicants [will] no longer need to have accumulated work experience over a continuous period of time. Instead, Canada will count the work experience requirement if it was completed within the three years preceding the application. One year of eligible work experience is still required for the program, but having breaks in employment does not make someone ineligible for the program. This applies to all who have already applied for the pilot, as well as those who apply in the future."
Atop this, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will also newly allow RNIP applicants "who are waiting for a decision on their permanent residence application to apply for a work permit without being penalized due to processing delays."
Mendicino has stated that decision is designed to help smaller communities to cope with the pandemic. ""Newcomers have played an outsized role in our hospitals and long-term care homes during the pandemic," he noted. "They also account for roughly 1 in 4 of Canada's licensed practical nurses—like Alexander and Brilla—and 1 in 3 of our family doctors and pharmacists. The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot and other pilots are helping to get the workers we need to places like Sault Ste. Marie, where we need them. We're going to continue working to ensure that the benefits of immigration are felt in cities and towns across our country."