Employment and workforce planners in Prescott-Russell are awaiting news from the federal government on yet another program designed to alleviate the local labour shortage.
The Municipal Nominee Program was created by the federal government to match people from other countries seeking work in Canada through immigration. Employment Services Centre of Prescott-Russell Executive Director Caroline Arcand is hoping to find out soon if the federal government will offer a proposal for participation from Prescott-Russell.
“The program really aims at installing a more diversified labour force in rural areas of Canada,” said Arcand.
The present unemployment rate in Prescott and Russell counties is approximately five per cent, Arcand noted. However, the labour shortage rate in the region is 4.58 per cent, which means the unemployment rate is much lower she observed. Arcand estimated there are 1,000 positions in the Prescott-Russell that could be filled by people from outside Canada.
“It’s urgent,” Arcand said.
One of the other contributors to the local labour shortage is a high number of retirements due to an aging population. The Municipal Nominee Program is also aimed at settling immigrants to Canada outside of the more popular large, urban centres.
The Employment Services Centre is the lead organization in the effort to have Prescott-Russell participate in the Municipal Nominee Program. The program is based on the capacity of a municipality to attract and hire workers from other countries to work at private employers within that municipality.
Despite the name of the program, individual municipal governments are not responsible for nominating individuals to come and work, nor are they responsible for providing any financial support for the program. However, the Employment Services Centre has made presentations to all eight Prescott and Russell municipal councils and to the United Counties’ Council seeking their support. All nine councils have approved resolutions endorsing the program.
“Every municipality was very supportive,” Arcand commented.
Local employers, including L’Orignal steel manufacturer Ivaco Rolling Mills are part of the committee and subcommittees involved with organizing support for and participation in the Municipal Nominee Program in Prescott-Russell. Arcand said at least 10 employers are involved. These groups are identifying local needs and the suitability of the local community for foreign workers.
Arcand emphasized that retaining workers from outside Canada who come to work in Prescott-Russell is every bit as important as attracting them. She said the goal is to have people stay and raise their families in the region.