Attracting and Retaining Immigrants: A Tool Box of Ideas for Smaller Centres has recently been released by Citizenship and Immigration Canada and provincial, municipal, and community partners. It is a comprehensive guide for smaller communities who want to create their own immigration strategies, to attract and encourage Canadian newcomers.

The appeal of smaller Canadian communities has increased with a recent Statistics Canada report , which noted that Canadian immigrants in smaller areas reach income parity with the Canadian-born population much faster than those who settle in larger metropolitan areas. This new Tool Box is a response to these smaller communities who have been working to become more attractive immigration destinations in order to fuel population and labour force growth.

The Tool Box of Ideas for Smaller Centres includes information about immigration and employment realities and outlines recommendations on strategies for building support, reducing barriers and creating welcoming communities. “It allows communities to be creative while encouraging active participation from existing community members as they build an inclusive plan for newcomers,” explained Jean McRae of the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria. The Tool Box addresses the following topics specifically: “creating local opportunities; setting practical objectives; building consensus; involving the community; the importance of family ties, employment, and housing services; accessing existing opportunities under current immigration rules as they relate to skilled and business immigrants, provincial nominees, refugees and temporary residents; and, factors needed to create a welcoming community, such as respect for diversity, accessibility of public services and educational facilities, health, safety, faith and spirituality and leisure activities.”

The initiative was spearheaded by the National Working Group on Small Centre Strategies, a group of representatives from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, provincial governments, and newcomer settlement service providers.