West Kootenay Immigration Pilot Helps Kootenay Businesses Address Labor Shortages

On June 14, 150 people attended a rally to celebrate the 211 people (including spouses and dependents) who received permanent residency in Canada through the West Kootenay Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot Program .

The Pilot is a community-driven immigration program that brings skilled workers to rural communities across Canada. The goal is to extend the benefits of economic immigration to communities outside major metropolitan centers.

“In 2019, Community Futures applied on behalf of the West Kootenays to be part of this pilot project to meet the labor needs of our local businesses,” said Andrea Wilkey, General Manager of Community Futures Central Kootenay. “The pilot was just getting started when the pandemic started. Not only did this limit immigration, but it also created a labor shortage. This pilot project came at a good time for many local employers who were able to find workers during this difficult time.

Since the launch in 2020, 114 West Kootenay employers have used the pilot, hiring skilled workers for jobs such as caregiver, truck driver and cook.

In addition to the 211 people who have been granted permanent residence so far, another 233 people have received community recommendations to apply for permanent residence.

“Seeing everyone in the room together is so rewarding, after years of mostly meeting people on Zoom,” said pilot coordinator Erin Rooney, who has worked with the pilot from the start. “It’s a cause for celebration after all the hard work it took for each person to go through the immigration process.”

To learn more about the candidates and employers who participated in the pilot, visit the recently launched site Achievements.

Do you want to hire skilled workers as part of the pilot project? Visit www.wk-rnip.ca/employers

Michael A. Bynum