Minister Mendicino announces increased flexibility in Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot and welcomes practical nurses

News release

December 14, 2020—Ottawa—Today, the Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship announced changes to make the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) more flexible for applicants and welcomed the first two practical nurses under the Pilot to Sault St. Marie.

The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot is a community-driven program that spreads the benefits of economic immigration to smaller communities. It helps these communities to attract the workers they need by creating a path to permanent residence for skilled foreign workers.

Under the changes to the program, candidates will no longer have to obtain eligible work experience over a continuous period of time. Instead, they can demonstrate that they have accumulated the required 1 year of eligible work experience (1,560 hours) in the 3 years preceding their application, even if there were breaks in their employment. The policy applies to all applications received under the Pilot, as well as all future applications going forward.

Altering this requirement ensures that candidates are not penalized for short breaks in their employment history, including temporary work interruptions or layoffs caused by the pandemic.

Individuals must still meet all other existing admissibility and program requirements, including the recommendation process in the participating RNIP community in which they wish to settle.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has also introduced a temporary measure that allows RNIP applicants who are waiting for a decision on their permanent residence application to apply for a work permit without being penalized due to processing delays caused by the pandemic.

These measures come as IRCC announces the first permanent residents accepted under RNIP. Minister Mendicino spoke of how proud he was to welcome Alexander Nangpukin Likilasua and Brilla Mercy Kunjumon, who are working as licensed practical nurses in Sault Ste. Marie, and how grateful he is for their service and dedication to their patients during the pandemic.


“Newcomers have played an outsized role in our hospitals and long-term care homes during the pandemic. They also account for roughly one in four of Canada’s licensed practical nurses—like Alexander and Brilla—and one in three of our family doctors and pharmacists. The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot, and other pilots, are helping to get the workers we need to places like Sault Ste. Marie, where we need them. We’re going to continue working to ensure that the benefits of immigration are felt in cities and towns across our country.”

– The Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, P.C., M.P., Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

“Strong economies in rural Canada benefit all Canadians. That’s why our government has invested in universal broadband and rural infrastructure, and so strongly supported our growers and producers. Our government has heard from rural leaders across the country. We have heard the call for growing the skilled workforce in rural communities through immigration. The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot will create jobs and increase Canada’s competitive advantage.”


– The Honourable Maryam Monsef, P.C., M.P., Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development

Quick facts

  • Immigrants account for 1 out of every 4 health-care workers.

  • Immigrants make up 36% of all pharmacists and family physicians across Canada, as well as 39% of all dentists, 27% of all licensed practical nurses and 35% of nurse aides and related occupations.

  • More than 40% of all newcomers to Canada between 2011 and 2016 who were working in the health-care sector were employed in the important areas of nursing and residential care facilities, as well as home health-care services.

  • Participating RNIP communities are: Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Timmins and North Bay, Ontario; Gretna-Rhineland-Altona-Plum Coulee and Brandon, Manitoba; Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan; Claresholm, Alberta; and West Kootenay and Vernon, British Columbia

  • Communities are responsible for candidate recruitment and the recommendation for permanent residence.

  • RNIP is an example of new community-driven and industry-specific approaches the Government is taking to immigration. Others include the Atlantic Immigration Pilot and the Agri-Food Pilot.

  • Please note: Media may access photos at the following link:

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Alex Cohen
Minister’s Office
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Media Relations
Communications Branch
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

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