Business owners and community leaders in Canada are hungry for the proposed launching of the Municipal Nominee Program to give communities a greater ability to attract and retain immigrants.

“Business managers across the country are facing challenges finding the workers they needed,” notes the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) on its webpage. “While it’s easier to hire a Canadian for the job, sometimes there just aren’t enough willing or qualified applicants. The immigration system can help businesses fill both temporary and permanent positions.”

The organization, which represents about 110,000 small and medium-sized businesses across Canada, has long been an ardent supporter of economic immigration.

Dan Kelly, the CFIB’s president, has gone so far as to say: “Economic immigration has always been the sources of Canada’s economic success and has played a major role in the building of our great nation.”

In the wake of a roundtable discussion with Canadian business owners and community leaders, Canada immigration Minister Mendicino was pleased recently by the support Ottawa is receiving for its newly-expanded and extended Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP).

Under that program, employers in Canada can completely skip the Labour Market Impact Assessment part of other economic immigration programs.

Instead, employers in the four Atlantic Canadian provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador who want to hire through the AIP are asked to meet a set of criteria before making job offers.

To be nominated to hire through the AIP, employers need to:

  • Be in good standing;
  • Have been operating in the Atlantic region for at least two (2) years, and;
  • Work with a settlement service provider organisation to help applicants get settlement services.

The pilot, extended for another two years and expanded in scope, allows employers to hire through three programs.

The Atlantic High-Skill Program, one of those under the AIP, is targetted at skilled workers with management, professionals, or technical/skilled job experience. That program requires job offer last at least one year.

The Atlantic Intermediate-Skill Program is for employers seeking candidates with at least a high school education or job-specific training for permanent jobs.

Employers seeking candidates with more education, a diploma, degree, or another credential from a publicly-funded institution in Atlantic Canada, and trying to fill a job position for at least one year can apply under the Atlantic International Graduate stream.

All of these programs require employers to have a Settlement Plan to help new employees and their families settle and integrate into their communities.

That, notes the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, can be expensive.

“Many business owners ease new hires into their community by assisting them find accommodations or offering additional language training,” the business organisation notes on its webpage. “However, outside urban centers, it can be difficult or expensive to access services that can support a new immigrant in settling into their new community.”

Earlier this year, the CFIB asked Canada to make that settlement process much easier for employers. As part of its advocacy work, the organisation requested the Canadian government to put in measures to improve awareness and accessibility of services to help in the settlement of temporary foreign workers in their new communities, including improving access to language training.

Enter the Municipal Nominee Program (MNP). The program is expected to try to increase economic immigration.

“While immigration may benefits Canada as a whole, but not every community – including those experiencing acute labor shortages – is able to make the most of the contributions newcomers can bring,” the Liberal Party states on its website.

“To ensure that communities of all sizes are better able to attract new Canadians, we will continue with a Municipal Nominee Program,” the Liberals said. “This program will allow chambers of commerce, local communities, and local labor councils to directly sponsor permanent immigrants.”

That program, which is still under development but is expected to allow at least 5,000 spaces, the same as would exist under an expanded AIP, according to the Liberal pledge.

Although details are still scarce, the Municipal Nominee Program is expected to complement the existing Provincial Nominee Program.

The Canada immigration minister has said Canadians can expect to see details of the MNP released soon.

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