The UCP head, Jason Kenney, tells about the party’s plans should it win Alberta’s spring elections. So what is the party promising? They are promising to revive rural regions of the province by bringing in newcomers and encourage rural entrepreneurship program.
He says that their primary task will be attracting talented newcomers from abroad, welcome businessmen and, in the overall, support settlement in rural Alberta.
Kenney, who was a federal immigration minister from 2008 to 2013, said the plan assumes cutting down the population decline in rural Alberta and resuscitate the provincial economy.
10 Percent Settle in Rural Regions
From 2015 to 2018, a mediate of 10.3 percent of permanent residents that wanted to come to Alberta considered settling in rural areas, according to statistical data from the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). That number decreased to 9.5 percent in 2018.
The rest were going to establish themselves in one of the province’s seven largest population centers: Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, Lethbridge, Wood Buffalo, Grande Prairie or Medicine Hat.
The UCP intentions reflect a recent shift by the federal government tasked to add more immigrants in rural communities throughout Canada.
The federal government is a major body dictating immigration rules, though, other provinces and Ottawa are also given independence and flexibility. As a matter of fact, each province and territory has the right to define their own regulations, but that goes in line with a wider immigration policy set by the federal government.
Alberta Immigration Policy
Alberta has its own immigration programs to reach those foreign skilled immigrants, which can contribute to Alberta’s economy by meeting workforce needs.
The federal government determines a quota of about 5,000 positions in the Alberta nominee program. Usually, a whole family consisting of four people comes for each place, says Kenney. He also adds that the province should make more efforts to reinforce the program, so he calls for partnerships with rural communities to help place immigrants in the provincial nomination process.
He projects that due to these changes, Alberta’s rural regions will embrace 8,000 newcomers. The UCP leader says this plan is based on Manitoba’s system, where 20 percent of newly arrived immigrants now live in rural areas.
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Entrepreneur Program Could Bring 2,000 People in Rural Areas
The UCP would also launch a rural entrepreneur stream for which about 500 positions would be set aside. So newcomers that can invest the minimum amount and meet other eligibility criteria would come to the province.
The party followed the steps of British Columbia. Under the UCP, Kenney promises to increase a share of immigrants outside of the province policy. “My goal would be to get a larger share of the federally selected immigrants by getting our economy back to work”, said Kenney.
Can Rural Communities Attract Newcomers?
Rural communities can attract newcomers and they are already doing that. A lot of smaller and rural municipalities realize that immigration will help their communities. To address the aging population and lack of workforce in northern, rural and remote regions of Canada, the federal government is taking active measures. For examples, recently it announced that it is launching a new five-year Rural and Northern Pilot.
Despite the common perception that there are fewer employment opportunities in rural areas of Canada, there are many positions available in law, medicine, IT technologies and others. In particular, local authorities offer significant incentives for foreign businessmen.
One of our clients from Iraq arrived in Drayton Valley, Alberta (with a population of 7,000) as a foreign worker and got his permanent residency in 2016. He managed to set up his company which provides IT solutions and employs 4 people.
There are many advantages to living in rural areas and I would say rural immigration is like a “window” for many foreigners seeking a better life in Canada.