TORONTO — The provincial government has introduced changes to an economic immigration program which may help fill job vacancies in northwestern Ontario.
It has added truck drivers and personal support workers to the list of occupations included in the In-Demand Skills Stream of the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program.
In partnership with the federal government, OINP allows the province to nominate immigrants for permanent residence in order to fill talent gaps and support economic growth.
The amendments add transport truck drivers, nurse aides, orderlies, patient service associates and home support workers and related occupations to the eligible occupations.
In addition, the required work experience for applicants is being reduced.
In a statement, the government says the changes will help businesses and organizations meet labour needs they can't fill locally, "particularly in the north where there are unique challenges when it comes to filling skills gaps."
A spokesperson for Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, said northern communities are disproportionately affected by the labour shortage in these occupations.
Madge Richardson, executive-director of the North Superior Workforce Planning Board, welcomed the announcement, saying the two occupations "certainly are something we have been having a hard time filling positions for."
Richardson said it's becoming more and more important to identify in-demand occupations, "because so many sectors will be competing for that talent pool....the talent pool is not increasing fast enough to meet the needs."
She said the challenges will only get larger as new mining and energy transmission projects add to the competition for skilled workers in the northwest.
Ontario is also reducing the threshold of investment needed from immigrants applying under a program designed for those who want to come to Canada to start a business or buy an existing business.
For immigrants looking to move to a community outside the Greater Toronto Area, the threshold drops from $500,000 to $200,000.
For those wishing to set up a business within the GTA, the minimum investment drops from $1 million to $600,000.