Skip to content

Opinion: Immigration pilot good for the North, but program's challenges need to be addressed

Among the recommendations from the Northern Policy Institute are providing more resources for municipalities and better engagement with employers and the public
immigration
Stock image

Trying something new is never a smooth road. There are bumps, rough patches and issues with navigation. The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot Project (RNIP) is no different. In order to study the impacts and areas for improvement, Northern Policy Institute has released the first in a series of reports evaluating the RNIP program.

Just the Tip of the Iceberg: The First Few Months of the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot by Hilary Hagar outlines how the RNIP initially unfolded in the five northern communities.

Launched in 2019, the RNIP program was a tool to help population growth in rural and northern communities. Reflecting considerable preparatory work in many regions of Northern Ontario, five of the 11 communities chosen nationally are located here. NPI is partnering with FedNor to evaluate the program annually.

“Too often we wait to study these pilots until well after they are over.” Says Charles Cirtwill, president and CEO of NPI. “By doing that we miss a real opportunity to keep the public onside and to make adjustments while the funding is still in play. To enhance impacts and promote program continuation.”

This first report found that as the RNIP unfolded in Northern Ontario, it was clear that there was immense value in communities taking charge of their immigration future. Like any pilot project, however, challenges developed that will need to be addressed as the pilot continues.

Some recommendations for both the current pilot and future immigration pilots:

  1. A standard toolkit for municipalities to help curb the initial learning curve on Canadian immigration processes.

  2. Dedicated resources for engagement with employers, community organizations, and the general public. It takes a whole community to run a successful pilot.

  3. Dedicated resources for welcoming efforts.

  4. Clear roles and expectations at the start with partners – government or otherwise – can mitigate confusion down the road.

The report shows that RNIP has successes to celebrate and that this type of program has great potential for increasing diversity and immigration in rural areas throughout Northern Ontario.

Want to learn more, read the report here: https://www.northernpolicy.ca/just-the-tip-of-the-iceberg