Government of Canada funds program to address labor shortages and attract newcomers in the Southern Interior of BC

This innovative initiative will help smaller communities find skilled workers in sectors such as health care, trades, childcare and hospitality

VERNON, BC, Feb. 2, 2023 /CNW/ – Newcomers to Canada enrich our country. They also bring valuable skills that help fill labor shortages across Canada.

Finding qualified employees can be challenging, especially for employers in communities outside large cities. In 2020, the Government of Canada launched the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot to help smaller communities attract newcomers. Delivered by local economic development organizations across Canadathis initiative has already helped fill skill shortages in a variety of sectors, including health care, trades, childcare, and hospitality.

Today, the Honorable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canadaannounced $485,410 in PacifiCan funding for Community Futures North Okanagan to expand the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot in the Southern Interior of BC

PacifiCan funding will help Community Futures North Okanagan continue the Pilot in the North Okanagan and West Kootenays, while also expanding to include businesses in the Shuswap region. This investment will support training, marketing, and outreach activities to match local businesses with skilled foreign workers.

Funding will also help newcomers access settlement services and mentoring opportunities in their new communities. To date, Community Futures North Okanagan has already helped hundreds of local businesses meet their workforce needs, while supporting newcomers as they establish roots in the region.

This announcement builds on the recent opening of PacifiCan offices in Kelowna and Cranbrook. With new officers living and providing service locally, PacifiCan is more accessible to all communities in the region.


“I have traveled to communities across BC, and local businesses have expressed to me the importance of attracting the best and brightest talent. That is why the Government of Canada is spreading the economic benefits of immigration to communities outside of urban centers through the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot. Matching BC businesses with skilled newcomers is critical to the vitality of our province and to keeping our economy sustainable and competitive.”

– The Honorable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada

Strong rural economies mean a stronger Canada. This pilot program is a significant step forward in addressing critical labor shortages in rural and remote communities across the country. By providing businesses in smaller communities with a pool of global talent, the Government of Canada is ensuring we can retain the skilled workers needed to grow our economy and build our communities.”

– The Honorable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

“Our region is challenged with attracting and retaining a stable workforce because of an aging population, our rural location and high competition for skilled labor. The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot assists with not only filling gaps in the labor market, but enhances the area with new immigrants who contribute to the social and cultural fabric of our community.”

– Leigha Horsfield, Executive Director, Community Futures North Okanagan

Quick Facts:

  • Community Future North Okanagan’s Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot has already supported nearly 400 employers to attract and retain skilled workers in the Southern Interior of BC
  • Over 1,000 newcomers and their families have accessed the initiative and settled in BC’s Southern Interior.
  • PacifiCan is the federal economic development agency dedicated to British Columbians. PacifiCan works with partners who are building innovative businesses, creating quality jobs, and supporting inclusive growth throughout British Columbia.
  • In 2022, PacifiCan opened new offices in Victoria, Campbell River, Kelowna, Cranbrook, Prince George, Prince Rupert and Fort St. Johnserving businesses and communities across the province.

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SOURCE Pacific Economic Development Canada

For further information: Haley Hodgson, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Pacific Economic Development Canada, [email protected]; Jillian Glover, Communications Manager, PacifiCan, [email protected]


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