Immigration pilot project helps Vernon businesses cope with labor shortages – Lake Country Calendar


Participation in an immigration pilot program has paid off for three Vernon businesses facing labor shortages.

Worker shortages have been found to be more common in a world with COVID-19, and the North Okanagan is not immune. But SilverStar Mountain Resort, Kingfisher Boats, and Interior Homecare Solutions have all benefited from hiring international workers through the Vernon-North Okanagan Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP).

The three local employers are now sharing their stories of hiring foreign nationals via video to encourage other employers to consider taking advantage of the program.

Through the pilot project, skilled workers were hired from India, Morocco, the United States and other countries.

Over 33,000 foreign nationals are ready to apply for permanent full-time jobs through the Pilot Project, which is one of the fastest ways to obtain permanent residence in Canada. Since the pilot’s launch in February 2020, it has already recommended 132 employees from 36 countries with jobs in the North Okanagan for permanent residency. Once they arrive with their families, they receive support from the Vernon and District Immigrant and Community Support Services Society.

“This is exactly the kind of success we were hoping for in our region as many businesses needed skilled workers to support their growth and long-term viability,” said Leigha Horsfield, Managing Director of Community Futures North Okanagan, which hosts the pilot project. We are grateful to the employers and employees who shared their stories so that other local employers can see the benefits of using the RNIP Pilot Project to meet their workforce needs.

SilverStar used the pilot project to hire cooks with temporary work permits who wish to apply for permanent residence and stay in the community.

The Interior Homecare Solutions video describes the challenges facing the healthcare industry amid COVID-19 and how the RNIP pilot project has contributed to the hiring of nurses with advanced qualifications from other countries.

Kingfisher Boats noted that adding an employee from another country has created many positive benefits for the company, while the employee hired appreciates how this job helps their family find stability through the permanent residence in Canada.

The RNIP is one of 11 pilot projects of its kind in Canada and covers an area that includes Vernon, Lake Country, Armstrong, Spallumcheen, Coldstream, Lumby, Enderby, the Okanagan Indian Band and the Splatsin First Nation.

Interested employers can contact the Ward Mercer Coordinator at 250-938-1066 to learn more about how to connect with candidates through the RNIP jobs database.

Brendan Shykora



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