The Department is testing new and innovative immigration approaches that have a regional or sectoral focus.
These efforts complement the Provincial Nominee Program, and allow the Government to respond to specific labour shortages through targeted place-based or sector-focused immigration strategies.
Many smaller centres remain underserved by immigration and stakeholders have asked the federal government for targeted immigration solutions that not only support newcomer arrivals, but also settlement and retention.
In addition, these economic pilots contribute to the Francophone Immigration Strategy and advancing refugee labour mobility through the Economic Mobility Pathways Project.
Regional economic immigration pilots
The Atlantic Immigration Pilot and the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot allow regional partners and stakeholders to align immigration selection with economic and demographic objectives. They are also designed to ensure newcomers arriving to Canada are provided with tailored settlement supports to ease their integration, and ultimately retention, in their new community.
These pilots are testing new and innovative approaches, enabling the federal government, provinces/territories, and communities to prioritize key sectors and occupations to meet their economic development and labour needs. This allows for adjustment to evolving economic realities, and supports economic recovery by filling labour shortages such as those resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
While admissions under these pilots are relatively small compared to the Department’s overall annual admissions, these initiatives are invaluable tools to test new approaches to immigration selection and settlement, and fill gaps not already addressed by core programming. Lessons learned from the pilots inform our core programming, as well as the design of future pilots, including the Municipal Nominee Program.
Francophone immigration supports the development of Francophone minority communities across the country by addressing labour needs in a variety of sectors by welcoming French-speaking immigrants and upholding the bilingual nature of the country.
The regional pilots allow for the selection of French-speaking and bilingual immigrants to come to Canada outside of Quebec, as well as for working with Francophone communities on their economic and social vitality, contributing to the Department’s Francophone Immigration Strategy.
Sectoral immigration pilots
The Home Child Care Provider and Home Support Worker pilots, as well as the Agri-Food Pilot, help to fill longstanding, sector-specific labour needs across Canada.
These economic immigration pilots provide additional permanent residence pathways for experienced workers in specific caregiving and agri-food occupations. Eligibility criteria were developed based on factors associated with long-term economic establishment in Canada, such as language proficiency and completed education.
Launched in May 2020, the three-year Agri-Food Pilot tests a new, industry-driven approach to economic immigration. With a total of up to 2,750 applications processed annually, it is expected that including family members, as many as 16,500 new permanent residents could be welcomed throughout the duration of the pilot.
The Home Child Care Provider and Home Support Worker pilots are designed to provide a clear, direct pathway to permanent residence for in-home caregivers. They remove specific barriers that caregivers have faced in the past, by making it easier for them to change employers, if needed, and by allowing them to bring family members with them to Canada sooner.
Supporting facts and figures
Atlantic Immigration Pilot
Since pilot launch in 2017, participating employers have made over 8,100 job offers in key sectors including accommodations and food services, manufacturing and health care, resulting in over 7,300 permanent resident admissions to the Atlantic region.
In January 2021, 143 newcomers were admitted through the pilot, as compared to 159 over the same period of 2020. In 2020, 1,705 newcomers were admitted through the pilot, as compared to 4,140 over the same period in 2019. These admissions have supported priority sectors and occupations critical to COVID-19 recovery.
According to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) evaluation, the pilot was successful in meeting its objectives in the Atlantic region, with 90% of Atlantic Immigration Pilot principal applicants still living in Atlantic Canada at the time of being surveyed in February 2020.
Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot
As of December 2020, all 11 community partners had launched the pilot in their respective community. In 2020, 276 applications were received for processing under the pilot, with another 16 received in January 2021. To date, over 50 applications have been processed.
In fall 2020, the pilot welcomed its first permanent residents (less than 5 persons). Both are licensed practical nurses who are working at long term care homes in Sault Ste. Marie.
Economic Mobility Pathways Project
As of June 2020, Canada has landed 7 skilled refugees as permanent residents, plus 13 family members, through existing permanent economic programs. These skilled refugees have settled in Manitoba, Nova Scotia, and Ontario, with jobs in the hospitality, healthcare, information technology and skilled trades sectors.
Between May 15 and January 31, 2021, IRCC received 167 applications ready for processing, adding up to a total of 365 persons. It has been 8 months since the program launched and, as of January 31, 2021, no final decisions have been made.
In 2020, the Home Child Care Provider Class became the first Ministerial Instruction pilot program to reach its limit on applications, prompting the need to post a notice on November 2, 2020. The pilot reopened to applications on January 1, 2021.
Atlantic Immigration Pilot
The Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP) is a collaborative partnership between IRCC and the Atlantic provinces to address acute labour shortages and increase newcomer retention across the Atlantic region. Since its 2017 launch, the pilot has been well received, with significant brand recognition across the region and internationally. As a result, the Government committed to transitioning the pilot to a permanent program, based on lessons learned and the evaluation findings.
In February 2021, IRCC published its evaluation of the pilot. The AIP was found to be largely successful in supporting regional labour market needs through its unique employer-driven focus, enhanced settlement support, and federal-provincial partnership model. Recommendations to improve the program will be incorporated into the AIP as it is transitioned to a permanent program.
Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot
Through a community-based economic development approach, this pilot partners IRCC with 11 community organizations in northern Ontario and western Canada, who will recommend immigrants based on local economic development and labour needs.
The objective of the program is to help distribute the benefits of economic immigration to all regions of Canada, including smaller communities.
This community based approach provides flexibility for partners to adjust to evolving economic realities, including those resulting from COVID-19, to ensure that immigration complements the workforce across the country.
Economic Mobility Pathways Project
The Economic Mobility Pathways Project was launched as a research project in spring 2018 to explore whether refugees could access Canada’s existing economic immigration pathways, and to document the barriers/challenges they faced in doing so.
In June 2020, it was announced that Canada will admit 500 principal applicants plus their families to meet in-demand labour needs. Building on lessons learned in Phase I, the Department is working with interested provinces/territories to identify labour market needs and employers interested in hiring skilled refugees. IRCC and the UN Refugee Agency will work with non-government organization partners to recruit skilled refugee candidates abroad for identified job opportunities, offering processing facilitation and settlement supports to help with newcomer arrival and integration.
Municipal Nominee Program
The Municipal Nominee Program (MNP) is a 2019 ministerial mandate letter commitment to introduce a program that “…will allow local communities, chambers of commerce and local labour councils to directly sponsor permanent immigrants (at least 5,000 new spaces).”
The MNP will leverage lessons learned from the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot, the Yukon Community Pilot, and the Atlantic Immigration Pilot by aligning immigrant selection with community economic development priorities, offering meaningful job opportunities with career development potential, and connecting newcomers with settlement services to support their integration into the community.
The MNP is an additional opportunity to engage Francophone communities, and bring players together to better use immigration pathways for attracting and retaining French-speaking immigrants and contributing to the Department’s Francophone Immigration Strategy objectives.
IRCC is committed to working with provinces, territories, and other key stakeholders to design a program that is well-positioned to fill local labour needs, support economic and demographic growth, and contribute to post COVID-19 economic recovery.
The Agri-Food Pilot tests an industry-specific approach to help address labour shortages in the Canadian agri-food sector, particularly in the meat processing, mushroom and greenhouse crop production, and livestock raising industries. It provides a new pathway to permanent residence for experienced, non-seasonal workers in specific occupations and industries.
The agriculture and agri-food industry is an important contributor to Canada’s economic growth and vitality, supporting 1 in 8 jobs across the country. In 2019, agricultural exports hit a new record, reaching $67 billion.
The five-year Home Child Care Provider and Home Support Worker pilots opened for applications in June 2019.
The Caregiver pilots test a new two-step selection approach to provide a clear, assured pathway to permanent residence to caregivers from abroad and their families, while continuing to provide Canadian families with a range of caregiving options. Caregivers receive an occupation-restricted open work permit if they have a job offer in Canada to work as a home child care provider (National Occupational Classification 4411) or as a home support worker (National Occupational Classification 4412) and meet select criteria for permanent residence (language proficiency and education) and admissibility requirements upfront. Once working in Canada, caregivers can start gaining the required two years of Canadian work experience.
Caregivers who already have two years of eligible work experience can apply directly to the program for permanent residence (in one step).
Francophone immigration outside Quebec
In 2019, the Minister of IRCC announced the Meeting Our Objectives: Francophone Immigration Strategy with a goal of achieving a target of 4.4% of French-speaking immigrants outside Quebec by 2023. In 2020, French-speaking admissions represented 3.61% of all immigrants admitted to Canada outside Quebec, an increase from previous years. From February 2020 to January 31, 2021 French-speaking admissions represented 3.47% of all immigrants admitted to Canada outside Quebec.