The Town of Taber proved that it values its partnership with Vauxhall in the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program by offering to pay to keep the smaller town active in the program. At a Feb. 5 meeting of the Vauxhall council, members reviewed a letter from Derrin Thibault, Taber’s CAO, that was a gesture of inter-municipal collaboration. In it, Thibault said, “Together, Vauxhall and the MD of Taber have been valuable members of our program since its onset, and we would be remiss to lose Vauxhall due to the administration costs of the program. As such, we would like to retain Vauxhall…at no financial obligation to Vauxhall. We are certain that maintaining the current agreement is in alignment with the economic growth and stability of our region and in keeping with the good nature of the relationship between our communities.”

The AAIP is an economic immigration program that nominates people for permanent residence in Alberta, and many southern municipalities have become active participants in it. The two towns are designated communities with the Rural Renewal Stream of the program and work in cooperation with Lethbridge County, Coaldale, Picture Butte, Raymond, Milk River, and Cardston to fulfill its mandate.

Vauxhall Mayor Kim Cawley said the town is open to newcomers but housing remains limited. “It’s very generous for Taber to allow us to continue to participate in the program at no cost to us. We know that there are a few small businesses in Vauxhall that can take advantage of the program, and we hope that works out for them. Our council felt the biggest concern for the community, and the future of the program, was the lack of rental housing. We welcome all hard working new residents with open arms, but we’ve heard from our own local residents how difficult it is to find suitable living when purchasing a home isn’t an option.”

She estimated that the cost to continue in the program is around $250 per month, a fee that goes towards paying an extra regional staff member to help run the program. Thibault reported that nine full-time positions have been filled by Vauxhall employers as of January 2024, with three businesses participating in the Rural Renewal Stream.

According to the provincial government, “Nominees must have skills to fill job shortages or be planning to buy or start a business in Alberta. They must also be able to provide for their families.” Those who are nominated through the program may apply for permanent residence status together with their spouse or common-law partner and dependent children.

The Town of Taber has two full-time staff members who facilitate the program in town and in the region. Those staff take inquiries and answer questions from candidates and employers for the whole region. They personally review each application and interview every candidate, either in person or online, before taking their applications to the approval committee. Each candidate who meets all the requirements is taken to a local committee for a decision. Amy Allred, Taber’s economic development manager said, “All the businesses are required to advertise locally first, and only if they cannot find a suitable candidate then they are able to access the program.”

The program receives applications on a daily basis. “Candidates have to have experience in the specific job role, have offers of full-time, year-round job offers, and come with settlement funds to get set up in town,” Allred said. The program is proving to be an effective tool for increasing the labour pool for employers and providing more opportunities for immigrants.

By Cal Braid, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Original Published on Mar 04, 2024 at 15:53

This item reprinted with permission from   The Taber Times   Taber, Alberta

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