By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
Coaldale town council has passed a motion to join Taber in the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program (AAIP). The program formerly operated as the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program.
The decision was made during the Feb. 13 regular meeting of Coaldale Council. The program is jointly administered by both the provincial and federal governments and supports the nomination of foreign workers for permanent residency in Alberta. Taber was previously approved as one of 20 communities in Alberta for the “rural renewal stream.”
The government-sponsored program supports skill-based nominees in obtaining permanent residency status and the municipalities are set up an application portal whereby applications are streamed and vetted. Applicants who meet the program’s criteria can then be approved.
Director of Growth and Investment for the Town of Coaldale, Cameron Mills explained, “when we look at the program, this is really municipal participation in a federal government level program, as well as province.” Successful applicants must fulfill the conditions of the program, which includes being tied to the community for the entirety of the employment term which in most cases is at least two years.
Mills explained, “We have received high-level requests from a number of businesses in the Town (Coaldale) and region indicating their interest in participating or being included in the program.”
“From my perspective, being one of the communities that is a part of this program has a number of benefits.” In addition to opportunities for business to expand their labour force, the Town’s participation, “provides for us another tool in the toolkit in terms of marketing the community,” he explained.
As the Town continues to focus on expanding the industrial and commercial tax base, Mills noted getting involved in the program alongside Taber could play a role in attracting further industrial investment to the municipality.
“Being able to tell them this is an option for them (…) the fact that we could potentially be a community that offers those services means that the chance of them investing in the community goes up.”
Mills made the recommendation to capitalize off of the opportunity to partner with Taber on the project, noting Taber has already been approved and running the program for approximately one year. The arrangement will allow Coaldale to access the service at “a significant cost reduction,” as Taber has on-boarded additional staffing supports to administer the program. There is also the option for the Town to apply to the program on their own in the future, but would need to be considered as part of the 2024 budget deliberations.
“Taber has offered to pilot the project at no cost to the Town of Coaldale, at least in the first year” said Mills, which would give the Town of Coaldale an opportunity to better observe demand for the program and consider potential future cost-sharing options if the program has sufficient uptake and benefit. Coaldale council passed a motion directing admin to provide a letter of support for inclusion in the Taber program, and support including Coaldale in the ongoing program out of Taber.
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