The NWT is a stunning land of vast landscapes and a rich cultural heritage.

It has become an increasingly attractive destination for immigrants in recent years. However, despite this growing interest, the territorial government has yet to introduce a territorial immigration program that allows NWT residents, citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their skilled and semi-skilled family members to immigrate to the NWT. It is time for the GNWT to act on this matter and roll out such a program.

The need for a territorial immigration program is more pressing than ever. The ongoing labour shortage has been one of the most pressing issues facing the NWT in recent years. Employers across the territory are struggling to find the skilled and semi-skilled workers they need to keep their businesses running smoothly. This shortage is particularly acute in certain sectors, such as healthcare, construction and hospitality.

This is not a new problem, nor is it one unique to the NWT. Other Canadian provinces, including Saskatchewan and Manitoba, have implemented similar programs to address their own labour shortages. These programs allow residents, citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their skilled and semi-skilled family members to immigrate to the province. These programs have been successful in addressing labour shortages and providing a much-needed boost to the economy.

For example, the Provincial Nominee Programs in Saskatchewan and Manitoba offer additional points to potential skilled workers who have family members in the province. This is an excellent incentive that encourages individuals to immigrate to these provinces and bring their skills and talents with them.

The NWT could benefit from a similar system, whereby having family members in the territory would give potential skilled workers extra points towards the Territorial Express Entry system. This would be a significant incentive for individuals to immigrate to the NWT, and it would allow the territory to attract more skilled workers who have a connection to the community.

Implementing a territorial immigration program in the NWT would have similar benefits. It would allow families to be reunited and would provide a much-needed boost to the economy. The program could also help to address the NWT’s aging population by bringing in younger families. Additionally, the program would give employers access to a larger pool of skilled and semi-skilled workers, making it easier for them to find the employees they need to keep their businesses running smoothly.

Challenges not insurmountable

Of course, there are some potential challenges that the NWT government would need to address in implementing a territorial immigration program. One concern is the cost of living in the NWT, which is higher than in many other parts of Canada. This could make it challenging for new immigrants to settle and find affordable housing. Additionally, there may be cultural and linguistic barriers that new immigrants would need to overcome.

However, these challenges are not insurmountable. The NWT government could work to address the cost of living issue by providing affordable housing options and offering financial assistance to new immigrants. Additionally, the government could work to provide language and cultural training to help new immigrants integrate into the community.

The NWT is a unique region that faces distinct challenges when it comes to immigration. As a remote and isolated territory, it can be more challenging to attract and retain skilled workers. The lack of a Territorial Immigration Program that allows NWT residents to sponsor their skilled and semi-skilled family members is a significant obstacle to addressing the labour shortage in the territory.

It is essential to recognize that the NWT has its own unique labour needs that differ from those of other provinces. While other regions may have a surplus of workers in certain sectors, the NWT faces a shortage of skilled workers across the board. For this reason, it is essential to have immigration policies that are tailored to the specific needs of the territory.

Moreover, family sponsorship can be a powerful tool to address the labour shortage while simultaneously addressing the social needs of the community. By enabling NWT residents to sponsor their family members, the territory can attract skilled workers who already have connections to the community. This, in turn, can help these individuals and their families integrate more quickly and effectively into the community, which can lead to greater retention rates.

It is time for the GNWT to take action on this matter. The government must implement policies that are tailored to the specific needs of the territory that can attract new residents, boost the territorial economy and provide much-needed relief to employers struggling to find workers.

Maheshwor Adhikary was born and raised in Nepal. He has been living in Yellowknife since January 2019 with his wife and currently works with Yellowknife Catholic Schools.

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  1. Pure crap. The labour shortage is due to the three-tier hiring practices in the GNWT (non-indigenous,highly skilled people need not apply), and the impossible cost of living largely created by the rampant, unchecked gouging of slumlords like Northview. Everybody knows this.