Since its launch in November 2022, the New Brunswick Critical Worker Pilot program (NBCWP) has generated significant interest among skilled newcomers seeking a pathway to immigrate to Canada.
The program is a joint effort between the New Brunswick provincial government and the federal government to attract newcomers who can fill gaps in the provincial labour force. It is an employer-driven stream of the New Brunswick Provincial Nominee Program (NB PNP) with six participating employers who are spread throughout the province and span a wide range of industries and sectors:
- Cooke Aquaculture Inc.;
- Groupe Savoie Inc.;
- Groupe Westco;
- Imperial Manufacturing;
- J.D. Irving Ltd.; and
- McCain FoodsWhen the program was announced, the New Brunswick government said these employers were selected because they already have a history of exceptional immigrant recruitment practices and already had the necessary settlement programs in place.
The pilot will run for five years with regular evaluations.
How is it different from other programs?
While the program targets economic immigrants through the NB PNP, eligible candidates for the NBCWP will receive additional settlement support. To ensure candidates receive this support, participating employers must prove that they can provide:
- Robust settlement plans for housing and transportation, to best support the successful establishment of candidates in their new jobs and communities, with a strong commitment to long-term retention;
- Comprehensive human resources planning for recruiting and hiring skilled international talent, and for on-the-job skills enhancement;
- Provide up to 200 hours of language training, as required, to candidates; and
- Offer guidance and support to candidates who may wish to pursue their Canadian secondary education equivalency.
Who is eligible to apply?
Candidates in the program must have a valid job offer from an eligible employer to be considered for nomination and be able to demonstrate their intent to reside in the province.
The job offer must have a wage that is competitive with New Brunswick wage rates for the occupation. The government says the wage stated on the offer of employment must:
- be comparable to the rate paid to workers with a similar level of experience and training for equivalent jobs in New Brunswick; and
- be consistent with the wage compensation structure of your employer.
Participants in the program apply directly to one of the program employers instead of the provincial government.
How big is the program?
The pilot program has an allocation of up to a maximum of 10% of New Brunswick’s overall Provincial Nominee Program. A spokesperson for Opportunities New Brunswick (ONB) wrote to CIC News recently regarding the early success of the program and said this could translate into numbers reaching nearly 300 nominees and their families being supported through this pilot in 2023.
ONB says, “As the program is quite new, the government is still monitoring outcomes closely. At this stage, it is still too soon to provide any representative numbers.”
For now, it is not expected that the program will expand to include other employers. ONB says the pilot remains limited in its scope, and as such, it is not currently open to broader participation.
“While we’re all experiencing a bit of a learning curve, participant employers have been readily engaged and enthusiastic about the Critical Worker Pilot.”
New Brunswick immigration
ONB is optimistic that the pilot will continue to attract skilled immigrants to settle in the province.
“New Brunswick has proven past success with piloting immigration streams, including the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIPP) and the NB Strategic Initiative stream,” said ONB. “Like those previous pilots, we see the Critical Worker Pilot as an opportunity to execute innovative approaches to economic immigration, monitor the outcomes in a controlled fashion, allowing us to make adjustments along the way, learn from these attempts and expand on the successes we encounter.”
New Brunswick has been experiencing gains in population growth from immigration over recent years. Data from the Canadian Real Estate Association shows that immigration added 4,219 people to New Brunswick’s population in the fourth quarter of 2022. This was an increase of 116.8% from the same period in 2021.
Additionally, in April the province announced that it has received a 67% increase in immigration allocation from the federal government. This means the province has 5,500 spots allocated for provincial economic immigration programs in 2023 under the NB PNP and the Atlantic Immigration Program.