Speaking notes for Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Speech

At a Press Conference to Provide an Update on the Atlantic Immigration Pilot.

Moncton, New Brunswick
March 31, 2017

As delivered

Good afternoon everyone. I am very happy to be here with Premier Gallant and Minister Arsenault to talk about the Atlantic Immigration Pilot.

Thank you, and also thank you to Minister Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans; Lena Diab, Immigration Minister of Nova Scotia; PEI Deputy Minister Neil Stewart; Mayor Arnold; government officials and the representatives of many area companies who have joined us here today. I'd also like to acknowledge my Parliamentary Secretary Serge Cormier and Sean Casey, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

You may remember that I was in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, at the end of January 2017 to announce the launch of the Atlantic Immigration pilot program. At the time, the governments of the Atlantic Provinces were beginning the important process of accepting applications from employers who hoped to become designated so that they can hire skilled immigrants under this plan.

I'm very encouraged by the response from employers so far. And I will leave it to Minister Arseneault to provide more details about this key element of his initiative. In terms of my department, I mentioned during the launch that we would soon begin accepting permanent resident applications under three new programs within the Atlantic Immigration pilot program. 

I am extremely pleased to be back in Atlantic Canada to discuss our progress.

On March 6th, we opened application intake for the three programs under this pilot:  the Atlantic Intermediate Skills Program, the Atlantic High Skilled Program, and the Atlantic International Graduate Program, aimed at international students. We will process up to 2,000 applications for principal applicants and accompanying family members in 2017, with a possibility of higher numbers in the following years.

This is 2,000 applications plus their family members, which could be as high as the families are. I'm pleased to say that we're off to a very good start and employers have been keen to get involved and provinces have started to receive applications from employers who wish to get endorsed and participate in this pilot program.

For me, the Atlantic Immigration Pilot program is an exciting initiative because it helps ensure that our immigration system continues to serve the best interests of Canadians, particularly those who live here in Atlantic Canada. This innovative, creative and employer-driven pilot project was developed in partnership with the four Atlantic Provinces, and it's the first immigration program of its kind, considering its flexibility. And it helps to provide a skilled and stable workforce to help Atlantic Canada grow their businesses with the provinces determining which employers can participate. 

This program also has adequate flexibility to address regional labour market and demographic challenges within Atlantic Canada. It is a tremendous example of what can be accomplished when governments and employers work together. 

These new programs provide the Atlantic Provinces with the flexibility to focus on current labour market challenges in priority sectors by including occupations with different skill levels to meet the specific needs of each and every province in Atlantic Canada. All principal applicants will have a job offer from a designated employer and an endorsement from the province.

Also under these programs, every principal applicant will receive a settlement plan for themselves and their accompanying family members. That will help them to get the services that they need to successfully integrate into their new communities and feel welcome in their new country. They will also truly be able to hit the ground running. The Atlantic Immigration pilot program aims to attract and retain skilled immigrants to meet the demographic and labour market needs of Atlantic Canada. 

Because the settlement plan is in place as soon as the applicant and their family  are here, it helps address the retention challenges that have faced Atlantic Canada with respect to retaining, not only attracting, but retaining skilled immigrants. 

I am looking forward to continuing to work with our partners – including provincial governments, employers and settlement service provider organizations as we move forward with this dynamic component of Canada’s Atlantic Growth Strategy. Thank you.


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