Small communities and immigrants offer benefits to each other

SASKATOON, Oct. 5 /CNW Telbec/ - Immigration is good for small communities, and small towns have much to offer new Canadians - if immigration is part of a community's long-term economic development strategy. Employers in small communities must show leadership in using immigration to fill labour shortages, but the entire community needs to work together to welcome and retain new arrivals, according to a Conference Board report released today.

"Done right, immigration is a win-win for all sides," said Diana MacKay, Director, Education and Health. "Employers in small towns can attract and retain the workers needed to offset a declining population. With the right employment and community fit, immigrants can find jobs that match their skills and education levels. And they can benefit from the advantages that small towns offer - such as a lower cost of living, less crime and a healthy lifestyle."

Immigrant-Friendly Communities: Making Immigration Work for Employers and Other Stakeholders in Small-Town Canada highlights four communities - Winkler, Manitoba; Brooks, Alberta; Yellowknife, Northwest Territories; and Florenceville-Bristol, New Brunswick - that have been successful in their approaches to immigration. The publication was released today at a meeting of the Conference Board's Leaders' Roundtable on Immigration.

There is no cookie cutter model for small communities (50,000 population or less and located outside a Census Metropolitan Area) to follow. The four case study examples illustrate the variety of strategies that work for them:

    
    -  Winkler, Manitoba - Since 1996, Winkler has capitalized on its
       Mennonite roots by attracting Mennonite families from Europe and South
       and Central America. The initial arrivals and a strong network of
       community support started a "chain migration" that has made Winkler
       one of the fastest-growing rural communities in Canada.
    -  Brooks, Alberta - An influx of immigrants to work at Lakeside Packers
       - predominantly from Sudan, Somalia, and Ethiopia - has made Brooks
       one of the most ethnically diverse small cities in Canada.
    -  Yellowknife, Northwest Territories - The growing diamond industry has
       attracted immigrants from around the world, including countries such
       as Armenia, Mauritius, India, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.
       Yellowknife also has a remarkably high rate of temporary foreign
       workers becoming permanent residents.
    -  Florenceville-Bristol, New Brunswick - McCain Foods Limited has
       recruited foreign information technology (IT) workers for its Global
       Technology Centre since 1996. Collaboration among local stakeholders
       has helped Florenceville-Bristol successfully integrate and retain its
       immigrants.
    

The Conference Board's Leaders' Roundtable on Immigration brings together three key stakeholder groups, business leaders and executives, government leaders and officials, and experts and practitioners to address common issues relating to immigration. The meeting today and tomorrow is being hosted by the Saskatoon Region Economic Development Authority.

SOURCE Conference Board of Canada

For further information: For further information: Brent Dowdall, Media Relations, Tel.: (613) 526-3090 ext. 448, E-mail: corpcomm@conferenceboard.ca


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