Caitlin Cleveland: Immigration

Ministers' Statements and Speeches

Yellowknife — June 7, 2024

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Mr. Speaker, this Legislative Assembly was clear in its desire to work together to build a strong economic foundation. Establishing a sustainable and truly strong foundation needs to be an all of territory effort, supporting the growth and evolution of all education and skill development sectors from early learning to post-secondary learning and trades economy to care economy. But Mr. Speaker, we know that our economic vision is bigger than just us. Like many jurisdictions across the country, attracting new skilled residents is part of building a strong economic foundation.  Earlier this year, the Department of Education, Culture and Employment engaged with the public, employers, and stakeholders on the Northwest Territories Immigration Strategy. This feedback highlighted immigration growth and trends that will help shape our next steps.

We heard that residents feel immigration is an important economic tool that has many benefits for the Northwest Territories. For example, immigration allows employers to hire qualified staff when there are labour shortages that can lead to consistency, retention, and, ultimately, business growth.

The Northwest Territories Nominee Program is the immigration program delivered collaboratively by the GNWT and the Government of Canada that helps fill these labour shortages by attracting a skilled workforce while supporting foreign nationals with a pathway to becoming permanent residents of Canada through valuable work experience. This program also serves to empower eligible foreign nationals who want to invest in a business in the NWT.

Mr. Speaker, for the first time ever, we are on track to potentially reach the NWT’s federal allocation of 300 nominees this calendar year, exceeding previous annual numbers. Our target, Mr. Speaker, is to increase overall program usage and to hit our maximum allocation in the territory every year.

With immigration, we will continue to attract a skilled workforce and reap the additional benefits that come with immigration, including a vibrant and diversified population. This will help ensure our economy remains competitive with enhanced immigration being a key component to overall population growth and long-term economic development and prosperity.

This is great news, Mr. Speaker, but the engagements also highlighted areas where we can do better.

We want to continually improve accessibility and ease of use of the Northwest Territories Nominee Program. As part of our mandate, this government committed to making GNWT programs and services more accessible to NWT residents through person-centred approaches that prioritizes ease of access for residents over ease of administration. As Minister, I have given direction to both the departments I am responsible for to work together to consolidate immigration services as a single-service window through Education, Culture and Employment. By administering these programs under one roof, we will streamline services, consolidate our human resource capacity, and provide better supports to nominees and business owners alike.

Mr. Speaker, we recognize that there is a need for expanded supports and resources to help newcomers settle and integrate into life in the Northwest Territories. This will require a collaborative effort between the Government of Canada, GNWT departments, community organizations, settlement service providers, and employers to ensure that comprehensive support networks are in place to ensure we are not only attracting new residents to the NWT but supporting them to plant roots that make the NWT home for a long time to come.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.