Interior Homecare Solutions is one of three Vernon employers that have benefitted from workers hired through the Vernon-North Okanagan Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot. (RNIP image)

Immigration pilot helps Vernon businesses address labour shortages

Three local employers share stories of how they’ve benefitted from the RNIP immigration pilot

Taking part in an immigration pilot program has paid off for three Vernon businesses experiencing labour shortages.

Worker shortages have proven 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 by video to encourage other employers to consider taking advantage of the program.

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

More than 33,000 foreign nationals are ready to apply for full-time permanent jobs through the pilot, which is among the fastest ways to obtain permanent residency in Canada. Since the pilot launched 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 type of success we were hoping for in our area as many businesses needed skilled workers to support their growth and long-term viability,” said Leigha Horsfield, executive director for Community Futures North Okanagan, which is hosting the pilot “We are grateful for the employers and employees who have shared their stories so that other local employers can see the benefits of using the RNIP pilot to meet their labour needs.”

SilverStar used the pilot to hire cooks on temporary work permits who want to apply for permanent residency and stay in the community.

Interior Homecare Solutions’ video describes the challenges facing the health care sector amid COVID-19 and how the RNIP pilot helped with 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 hired employee appreciates how this employment is helping his family to find stability through permanent Canadian residency.

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

Interested employers can contact coordinator Ward Mercer at 250-938-1066 to learn more about becoming connecting with applicants through the RNIP job database.

READ MORE: Vernon business makes the most of immigration pilot program

READ MORE: More immigration key to balancing Vernon’s aging workforce: report

Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
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