Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

Nunavut, at the back of the pack in terms of immigration to the country

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The Government of Nunavut plans to position itself on immigration in 2024.

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  • Matisse Harvey (View profile)Matisse Harvey
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    Among the provinces and territories in Canada, Nunavut is the only one not to have its own immigration program. Although the housing crisis is a considerable obstacle to the arrival of immigrants, the territorial government intends to look into this issue in 2024.

    The Department of Executive and Intergovernmental Affairs plans to recruit, starting next year, an immigration advisor responsible for identifying Nunavut's immigration priorities and formulating recommendations that will be used to guide a program or a policy on the matter, explains department spokesperson Casey Lessard in an email.

    It's important that we develop a made-in-Nunavut approach that reflects our needs, our context and our values, he says.

    Between 2016 and 2021, 240 immigrants settled in Nunavut, compared to 205 from 2011 to 2015, according to Statistics Canada. These new arrivals were mainly from Asia (105), Africa (70) and the Americas (50).

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    According to Statistics Canada, Nunavut had 445 immigrants between 2011 and 2021.

    The general director of Carrefour Nunavut, Francis Essebou, says the territory has a lot to gain from promoting immigration: It can change a lot of things. Currently, the Government of Nunavut does not directly fund immigration.

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    The French-speaking economic development organization offers, among other things, assistance services to looking for employment, entrepreneurship or immigration in French and English. In 2022-2023, approximately 600 people used the services of Carrefour Nunavut.

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    Carrefour Nunavut is the French-speaking economic development organization in the territory.

    According to Francis Essebou, the majority of people who plan to settle in the territory come from interprovincial migrations to Canada. Most of the people who contact us from abroad come from Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, he continues.

    Francis Essebou particularly wishes creating a career mentoring program that would allow skilled immigrants to train workers in Nunavut communities.

    They [could] transfer their knowledge to members of this community [so that] in a few years, we no longer have to import labor from the South, he says.

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    “We need people who inject money into the economy to allow our territory to grow,” maintains Francis Essebou.

    Due to labor shortages, the Government of Nunavut is currently having to bring in workers from outside to meet labor market needs.

    The labor shortage affects multiple sectors, including education, health, trades and specialized professions.

    En December 2022, a Government of Nunavut report found that two in five jobs were unfilled in the territorial public service. In the healthcare sector, around 51% of positions were vacant.

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    In April, two of the four permanent positions were vacant at the Resolute health center Bay, Nunavut.

    The government particularly associates the labor shortage with the glaring lack of housing. Currently, approximately 3,100 people are waiting for social housing across the territory, according to the Nunavut Housing Corporation.

    Due to the serious infrastructure deficit […] Nunavut's capacity to welcome new immigrants is currently very low, recognizes Casey Lessard.

    The general director of Carrefour Nunavut says that future immigrants who request the services of his organization are made aware of this difficulty.

    When you come here, you have to sometimes learning to share one's accommodation with strangers, that is to say in shared accommodation, affirms Francis Essebou.

    He adds that other problems underlying issues, such as the limited number of daycare spaces, sometimes discourage future immigrants from settling in Nunavut.

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