The British Columbia city of Fort St John is seriously considering a new pilot programme through the provincial nominee programme which would encourage skilled immigrants from all over the world to settle there.
There are currently 57 major work projects proposed in the North East region of BC, with two major LNG (liquefied natural gas) projects which will require more than 5,000 permanent resident workers and up to 18,000 provisional workers.
The project will focus on the attraction, settlement, retention and integration of immigrant families to Fort St. John, and will be used to attract permanent residents with specific skills as identified in consultation with business, industry and the community, rather than look for temporary fixes.
“This project is not the Temporary Foreign Worker Programme,” stated the city’s Mayor, Lori Ackerman. “It is a programme to address a demonstrated need for specific skilled workers as our community prepares for historically high economic growth.”
The regional economic development office has tracked over CDN$200 million in investments that have not proceeded due to a lack of skilled workers over the last year. “There are specific skilled workers that are in high demand in our region and this project is proposed to assist in the recruitment and, just as importantly, retention of those workers and their families,” stated Moira Green, Director of Strategic Services for the City of Fort St. John.
The purpose of the proposed pilot project will be to:
– Address labour market challenges;
– Improve retention of immigrants in the community;
– Develop partnerships in the community to provide support for newcomers;
– Enhance existing support services; and
– Provide a model that can be used in other communities.
Less than 2 per cent of BC’s total immigrants currently settle in the North East region.