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North Bay chamber wants northern immigration program extended

The North Bay and District Chamber of Commerce wants the federal government to make the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot project a permanent fixture.

Hotel sales manager Solomon Alexander is just one person to benefit from this immigration program. He came to North Bay from India as a student in 2021. By January of this year, the program helped him get his permanent residency.

“It was a great help in finding a residency and settling into a community that's so accepting," Alexander said.

"They embraced me and settling down here made it so much easier."

The program launched in 2019 as a way to fill gaps in the skilled labour market in smaller, rural and northern communities.

The North Bay chamber is one of 11 groups across the country running it.

“It's been a very positive program for the business community across the country and also in North Bay and area," said chamber president and CEO Donna Backer.

Backer is adding her voice to those calling on the federal Liberal government to make the program a permanent means to address job vacancies in the skilled labour force, citing its benefits to the city.

As of now, the pilot program will end in July 2024. The chamber wrote to Nipissing-Timiskaming MP Anthony Rota.

"This has helped their personal situations, the communities at large and the immigration," Backer said.

"Since it was launched we have had over 300 community recommendations."

Federal immigration officials allow the chamber to make more than 250 recommendations of newcomers for the pilot project in 2023. Backer says so far, this year, over 150 have been made.

"A lot our newcomers that are coming here, they want to stay here,” she said.

“They're staying in the community, whether they're staying with the same employer, we're aware of that, but we know they're staying in the community with their family.” Top Stories

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