South Peace News
A new strategy in the High Prairie region to encourage and welcome immigrants to fill job vacancies is taking shape.
In October, the Town of High Prairie and Big Lakes County region was named by Alberta Labour and Immigration as a designated community in the Rural Renewal Stream of the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program.
At its regular meeting Dec. 14, Big Lakes council appointed Joussard Councillor Richard Mifflin to represent the county on the welcoming committee.
Mifflin is one of three council members on the county’s economic development committee.
Council also approved $3,000 in honouriam funding in the 2023 budget for the council representative to attend 12 committee meetings in 2023.
The program is community driven and designed to address labour needs and skill shortages in rural Alberta communities, says Dave Reynolds, director of corporate services.
The welcoming committee will help newcomers settle into the community.
“A candidate must be endorsed by a designated community and meet all criteria for the Rural Renewal Stream,” Reynolds says.
“Once designated, the community then works with employers to attract and recruit newcomers and collaborates with a settlement providing organizations to retain newcomers by sharing information on settlement supports.”
It may include housing, education, health care and services such as language training, he notes.
Tolko Industries’ High Prairie plant is taking the lead on the local committee, says Brett Hawken, director of community and protective services.
The fourth partner in the program is the Grande Prairie Centre for Newcomers, a service of the Government of Canada.
Hawken says the program is available to all local employers to attract foreigners to apply for jobs.
Reynolds says the next step for the four partners is to create terms of reference to clarify roles and responsibilities of each organization and to ensure applicants are vetted appropriately to ensure newcomers are given proper support as they integrate into the community.