Manitoba is planning to launch a slew of measures to attract more immigrants to the rural areas of the province. As part of this, Manitoba will bring out a rural immigration toolkit to help the rural communities in the coming weeks. It will help the employers and community leaders in the rural areas of Manitoba to recruit, welcome and integrate immigrants to the smaller towns of the province.
In the past 20 years, 20 per cent of the 130,000 immigrants to Manitoba have settled in rural areas. With an aim to improve that figure, the province has already taken a few important steps that will help employers in rural areas to recruit more foreign workers. These include:
- Giving input to the employers with regard to selecting applicants and hiring them from applicant pools.
- Improving employer access to Labour Market Impact Assessment-exempt work permits under the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP) and thus increase the direct recruitment of foreign workers.
- Conduct international recruitment events and the hire workers on exploratory visits.
- Streamline the recruitment of higher skilled, higher wage workers.
The new measures will include launching a new rural investment immigration stream, similar to that of British Columbia, in collaboration with the federal government. The existing Business Investor Stream of Manitoba is also extremely investor-friendly and the investment requirement is comparatively lower. Moreover, Manitoba gives extra points to the entrepreneurs who plan to invest in rural projects.
Another plan of Manitoba is to implement a formal public commitment to invest MPNP application fee revenues in the integration projects for newcomers, including in rural areas. The province is also planning to modernise the existing Canada-Manitoba Immigration Agreement, signed in 2003. The aim is to prioritize rural economic development by improving flexibility.
Manitoba also wants to move away from what it describes as the federal ‘one size fits all’ approach. The province plans to take efforts to reduce the processing time of applications, as it welcomes 90 percent of its economic immigrants through MPNP. It finds the discrepancy in processing times between federal and provincial candidates as unfair. While the applicants to federal programs receive PR visa within six months, most provincial nominees have to wait for almost 18 months for the same. It affects the arrival of immigrants and employers to its rural communities and unnecessarily delays families joining the newcomers and so, an effective solution to the problem is needed.
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