ST. PAUL – The County of St. Paul, along with the Town of St. Paul, the Town of Elk Point, and the Summer Village of Horseshoe Bay, has been designated as part of the Rural Renewal Stream (RRS) of the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program.
The RRS is designed to help rural Alberta communities address their current labour needs and skill shortages, according to the Government of Alberta. This is done by allowing employers within RRS-designated municipalities to provide foreign nationals with employment without the need for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
Businesses are also required to agree to help newcomers settle in the community, according to information from the provincial government.
According to a March 21 news release from the County of St. Paul, an RSS-designated municipality also works with businesses within that municipality to attract, recruit, and retain newcomers by sharing information on “settlement supports.”
The St. Paul Elk Point Economic Development Alliance (STEP) will administer the program on behalf of STEP municipalities, with support from various community partners.
STEP Chair and County of St. Paul Coun. Darrell Younghans said, “STEP's previous work with the Rural Development Network to assess the needs of newcomers to rural communities prepared us for the successful application.”
“While the communities have been recruiting medical professionals through their own efforts, more was needed to be done to attract labor to the region,” said Younghans.
Businesses located within the County of St. Paul, including both the towns of St. Paul and Elk Point and the Summer Village of Horseshoe Bay, are eligible for the program if they have permanent, full-time positions they are unable to fill. They must also be in good standing with federal, provincial, and municipal regulations.
County of St. Paul Reeve Ockerman told Lakeland This Week that the County of St. Paul and partnering municipalities, “are aware of the labour challenges facing local businesses and industry.”
Application to the RRS “was a direct response to help address those challenges,” explained Ockerman, as RSS designation allows businesses to “streamline the process of attracting and hiring foreign workers”
In addition, it ensures “there are wrap around services to help settle and retain those workers in the region.”
Ockerman credited STEP for working on the project. Municipalities “working collectively through STEP has enabled the partner municipalities to undertake this designation as well as other initiatives that support the region.”
STEP plans to launch the program within the next four weeks.
The City of Cold Lake has also been designated under the RRS of the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program. The Cold Lake Chamber of Commerce recently said it hopes the program can help alleviate some job pressures experienced by local businesses.