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British Columbia

Government of Canada funds program to address labour shortages and attract newcomers in the Southern Interior of B.C.

This innovative initiative will help smaller communities find skilled workers in areas such as healthcare, trades, childcare and hospitality

VERNON, BC, February 2, 2023 /CNW/ – newcomers to Canada enrich our country. They also bring valuable skills that will help fill the labor shortage Canada.

Finding qualified employees can be challenging, especially for employers in communities outside of major cities. In 2020, the Government of Canada launched the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot to help smaller communities attract newcomers. Presented by local economic development organizations Canadathis initiative has already helped to address skills shortages in a variety of sectors including healthcare, crafts, childcare and hospitality.

Today, the Honorable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister for International Development and Minister in Charge for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canadaannounced $485,410 in PacifiCan funding for Community Futures North Okanagan to expand rural and northern immigration pilot in southern BC interior

Funding from PacifiCan will help Community Futures North Okanagan continue the pilot project in North Okanagan and West Kootenays while also engaging with companies in the Shuswap area. 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 helped hundreds of local businesses meet their labor needs while helping newcomers get established in the area.

This announcement builds on the recent opening of PacifiCan offices in Kelowna and Cranbrook. With new officers living and serving on-site, PacifiCan is more accessible to all communities in the area.


“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, Secretary of International Development and Minister in Charge of the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada

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

– The Honorable Sean Fraser, Secretary of State for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

“Our region faces challenges in attracting and retaining a stable workforce due to an aging population, our rural location, and intense competition for a skilled workforce.”

– Leigha Horsfield, Executive Director, Community Futures North Okanagan

Fast Facts:

  • Community Future North Okanagan’s rural and northern immigration pilot has helped nearly 400 employers attract and retain a skilled workforce in southern BC’s interior
  • Over 1,000 newcomers and their families have joined the initiative and settled in southern BC’s interior.
  • PacifiCan is the federal economic development agency dedicated to the residents of British Columbia. PacifiCan works with partners who build innovative businesses, create quality jobs and support holistic growth 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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Toll-free phone number: 1-888-338-9378
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SOURCE Pacific Economic Development Canada

For more 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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