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No time to dawdle

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In order to ensure the long-term viability of our rural area of Ontario, we must begin to develop strategies to attract immigrants to fill the jobs that exist here.

Last week, for instance, more than 50 jobs seeking both skilled tradespeople and professional persons were promoted on various mediums in Rainy River District—a number that has been constant for months.

The district remains challenged to attract or train people for the jobs that are available locally.

It is worth noting that less than five percent of newcomers to Canada make their homes outside of urban areas, according to Prof. Wayne Caldwell of the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development at the University of Guelph, leaving rural communities challenged with maintaining jobs, health, and long-term care.

His study, released in 2017, identified several areas of community strategies to make immigration to rural Canadian communities easier. It should be required reading for all rural communities.

This past Friday, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada minister Ahmed Hussen announced the creation of the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot. In his remarks, he noted, “Immigration is a central pillar of Canada's economic success.”

Quite frankly, it has been part of the success of Rainy River District for more than a century.

Municipalities have to apply to take part in this pilot project and their applications must be submitted by March 1 of this year. This innovative economic immigration pilot is aimed at testing new, community-driven approaches to address the diverse labour market needs of smaller communities.

We urge the council of the Town of Fort Frances to make application to be part of this pilot.

Being part of this pilot project will be extremely valuable in attracting and training workers for the potential start-up of the paper mill here, as well as attracting immigrants to work in the mine and other businesses right across Rainy River District.

Now is not the time to dawdle. This is a competition for funding and to attract immigrants.

—Jim Cumming

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