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  • Amir Akhtar

Northwest Territories Unveils New Immigration Strategy

Updated: Oct 21, 2023

Up to 36,700 job positions will open up over the next 15 years in the Northwest Territories (NWT), and the NWT government is looking internationally to make sure that the territory continues to build a vibrant economy.

According to the government’s Northwest Territories Immigration Strategy 2017-2022: Building a Skilled Workforce and a Vibrant Economy, 78 percent of these positions will typically require some form of post-secondary education and/or extensive work experience and seniority.

The goals of the strategic include attracting skilled foreign nationals, attracting new entrepreneurs, consolidating administrative processes, and supporting foreign nationals in their integration and settlement in the Northwest Territories.

As such, the NWT government has drawn up an action plan that defines five clear goals:

1. Attract foreign nationals to the NWT whose skills are aligned with current workforce needs.

2. Attract foreign investment through the establishment or purchase of a business by a foreign national, to benefit the economy.

3. Support and be responsive to settlement and integration needs.

4. Support the workforce by educating foreign nationals and NWT employers on workers’ rights and responsibilities.

5. Consolidate administrative efforts between the departments of Education, Culture and Employment (ECE) and Immigration, Tourism and Investment (ITI).

“The Strategy will serve as a blueprint for a territorial approach to optimizing immigration programs in the NWT over the next five years. Beyond the economic benefits, welcoming new people to our territory contributes to the vibrant, diverse cultural landscape that makes the North a unique place to live,” stated Alfred Moses, NWT Minister of Education, Culture and Employment.

The ECE Minister’s words were echoed by his ITI counterpart, Wally Schumann, who added that “Entrepreneurs and small business owners are the backbone of our local and regional economies. Attracting individuals from other countries to settle and invest in our territory will grow and enrich our population and foster and encourage greater economic diversity. It will require a coordinated and supportive approach to immigration.”

Last year, 79 foreign nationals were nominated through the Northwest Territories Nominee Program (NTNP), one of Canada’s Provincial Nominee Programs. These nominees brought with them 46 dependents, resulting in 125 individuals coming to the NWT. The NTNP has succeeded in increasing the number of nominations in each of the last four years.

The NTNP is segmented into two streams. The Employer stream includes the following categories:

  • Critical impact workers, intended to increase the labour pool for entry level jobs,

  • Skilled workers, designed to attract qualified individuals for occupations which require formal education and/or specialized training and experience, and

  • Express Entry for skilled workers, only for skilled foreign nationals who have been accepted into Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada’s Express Entry pool.

The Business stream is designed to attract entrepreneurs with business expertise and investment capital to settle in the NWT and enhance the economic environment of the NWT by purchasing, starting or investing in a local business.

In addition to the nominee program, the NWT may also welcome newcomers through federal programs.

While full details of the plan are not covered in the strategic document, the NWT government plans on diverting resources to marketing of the NWT to the rest of Canada and internationally, promoting the NWT as a place to live and work, streamlining the application process, and improving support for those who move to the territory.

According to the strategic document, ‘the NWT’s rich non-renewable resources provide a solid economic base and diversification across other economic sectors is aimed at reducing reliance on mineral and petroleum exploration. Prospects in sectors such as tourism, agriculture, fisheries and film are presenting themselves and adding to the diversification and strength of the NWT economy.’

To read the document, click here.

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