A program aimed to provide needed skilled labour through immigration is beginning to benefit the Shuswap.
In October 2022, Community Futures announced the federal government’s Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) program, which launched February 2020 in the Vernon-North Okanagan area, would be expanding to include Salmon Arm, Sicamous and other Shuswap communities.
According to Community Futures Shuswap RNIP coordinator Jenny Kucy, eight candidates have already been recommended through the program to employers in the region.
Co-presenter Rob Marshall, Community Futures Shuswap’s executive director, said successful candidates are able to bring immediate family members to settle with them.
“The employer has to offer a job for a one-year period of time, and during that time all of their family members come with them, have temporary work permits,” said Marshall. “Once that applicant gets a permanent residency, every one of those family members also (receive permanent residency), so that also brings all this other labour pool into the community as well.”
The RNIP program provides an expedited path to permanent residency for immigrants with permanent work. Marshall said he suspects the program was expanded to the Shuswap in response to the interest from employers.
“I think they heard about this program running in the North Okanagan and were wondering why they couldn’t tap into that opportunity,” said Marshall.
RNIP began operation in the Shuswap on Oct. 17. Kucy was hired as its Shuswap co-ordinator. Her term will end in October 2024 when the pilot has concluded.
Kucy said seven Salmon Arm businesses have been served so far through the program, and 30 have already taken part in the mandatory training.
“We’re just seeing more and more every day,” said Kucy.
Marshall said for 2023, the program is expected to process 25 applicants per month for the North Okanagan-Shuswap. A committee has been formed for the Shuswap that once a month will review applicants who have been processed through the RNIP system.
“We do the official approval to get them through that process,” said Marshall. “So it is… a very defined process that the applicants and the employers need to go through to link up.”
Kucy said 75 per cent of the people taking part in the program are already in the country.
“They’re already here, they’re on a work permit of some sort,” said Kucy. “So employers can say they want a face-to-face interview.”
Marshall said it is hoped with the success of RNIP, the program will become permanent. He said in the three years RNIP has been running across the country, more than 40,000 applicants have put their job posting on the RNIP website and hundreds of employers have registered through the related employer portal.
For more information, visit rnipnorthokanaganshuswap.ca.
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