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Immigration pilot program brings diversity, experienced employees for local businesses

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By Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative ReporterTimminsToday.com Thu., April 29, 2021timer4 min. read Everard Kasimanwuna says he found his forever home in Timmins and he’s here to stay. Kasimanwuna is one of the foreign workers in Timmins who was hired through the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) program. The federal immigration project aims to…

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By Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative ReporterTimminsToday.com

Thu., April 29, 2021timer4 min. read

Everard Kasimanwuna says he found his forever home in Timmins and he’s here to stay.

Kasimanwuna is one of the foreign workers in Timmins who was hired through the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) program.

The federal immigration project aims to attract and retain skilled immigrants and fill labour shortages in 11 communities across the country, including Timmins.

InTimmins, the project is led by the Timmins Economic Development Corporation (TEDC).

Wednesday, April 28, was Kasimanwuna’s first day of work at the Hard Rock Animal Hospital.

Kasimanwuna has a decade of veterinary experience and is now working toward being licensed in Canada. For the past three years, he’s been in contact with Debbie St. Louis, the Hard Rock’s practice manager, with whom he got connected via LinkedIn.

“Everard has shown a lot of interest in serving our community and their fur babies, so I’m happy about that,” St. Louis said.

Before coming to Timmins with his family that includes his wife and three children, Kasimanwuna worked in Dubai and Nigeria.

“I’ve always loved Timmins from afar, from the distance. I always saw Timmins like my forever home,” he said.

The launch of the RNIP program was delayed because of the pandemic and it kicked off in Timmins last May, said Madison Mizzau, a TEDC community development consultant.

There are currently more than 60 local employers participating in the program.

In 2020, the organization issued 41 recommendations. Over the first three months in 2021, the TEDC made 24 recommendations. The maximum number of recommendations TEDC can make in 2021 is 150.

Last year, there were more than 60 applications and so far this year, TEDC has received over 30 applications.

The majority of applications are from people who are already in Timmins either on a work permit with employers or international students who graduated from local educational institutions, Mizzau said.

There are certain federal requirements candidates must meet to be considered. In January, TEDC updated its community criteria to be “more robust” and to get an idea of who’d be a good fit to stay long term in Timmins, Mizzau said.

“If they meet those requirements and they meet the community criteria, there’s a process where we’re assessing their intention to stay in Timmins and their intention to get connected with the community,” she said.

Some of the tough-to-fill positions, according to Mizzau, are personal support workers, early childhood educators, painters and positions in trades and administration.

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“With RNIP, we’re looking to help employers fill those gaps that they’re seeing,” she said.

St. Louis said she’s been looking for veterinarians for more than six years. In the past, she hired a foreign worker through the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) process which was “very, very long” and daunting, according to her.

Going through RNIP was an overall good experience and she encourages other employers to participate as well.

“It brings some diversity and it promotes new ideas and experiences. Having these different perspectives brings so many new ideas to the table,” she said.

Osaka Sushi’s manager Ammy Lian used the program to hire an experienced chef from South America.

The employee hasn’t arrived yet because of the pandemic restrictions. Several interviews over the phone, video and in-person were held before the employee was hired. According to Lian, the owner of Osaka Sushi went to South America to interview the employee.

Lian said it’s been hard finding qualified people to cook Asian cuisine who’d be willing to stay in Timmins long term. Joining the program and going through the process itself has been easy, she said, adding that Mizzau has also been guiding them through.

“We run an Asian, sushi cuisine restaurant. It’s very difficult to find someone from here who can do this type of job,” she said. “We have to hire someone who has experience already.”

The restaurant has been running for nine and a half years and it was struggling to find someone experienced, she said.

Over the past years, Lian said they’ve had employees from southern Ontario who would work for a few months and then leave the community. Hiring an experienced worker allows to provide authentic Japanese food to customers, Lian said.

“In Timmins, it was not easy to find any kind of workers before international students came here. Lots of international (students) settle down in Timmins and they’re willing to work and they’re hard workers,” she said adding the business is still looking for more people to hire. “If I have another opportunity, I really want to have someone who is willing to stay in Timmins and who will work with me for a while.”

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Alberta eases security payment burden for oilsands companies

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Alberta is changing how it calculates the payments oilsands mines make to ensure there’s enough money to clean up the mess they leave behind — a move the province says is in reaction to low oil prices last year, which briefly reached negative values.

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Alberta is changing how it calculates the payments oilsands mines make to ensure there’s enough money to clean up the mess they leave behind — a move the province says is in reaction to low oil prices last year, which briefly reached negative values.


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Ontario vowed to investigate horrific deaths in long-term care. Now it says that didn’t happen.

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Nearly one year ago, as the first detailed picture emerged of the true scale of the horror faced by residents of Ontario’s long-term care system during the pandemic, a visibly emotional Premier Doug Ford vowed his government would conduct a full investigation. Now it turns out that didn’t happen.

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COVID-19 CAMILLA CARE LTCH CROSSES

Nearly one year ago, as the first detailed picture emerged of the true scale of the horror faced by residents of Ontario’s long-term care system during the pandemic, a visibly emotional Premier Doug Ford vowed his government would conduct a full investigation. Now it turns out that didn’t happen.


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Grim ICU projections drove Jason Kenney to impose tough COVID-19 restrictions in Alberta

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Quebec Premier François Legault leave a press conference in Ottawa on Sept. 18, 2020. Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press Alberta’s decision to impose tougher COVID-19 restrictions after resisting that option for weeks was driven by projections that the province’s intensive care units would be so overwhelmed that doctors could be forced…

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Quebec Premier François Legault leave a press conference in Ottawa on Sept. 18, 2020.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Alberta’s decision to impose tougher COVID-19 restrictions after resisting that option for weeks was driven by projections that the province’s intensive care units would be so overwhelmed that doctors could be forced to start rationing care within a month.

Premier Jason Kenney laid out that dire scenario on Wednesday as he explained why his government is imposing a suite of new public health measures, including moving K-12 classes online, shutting down restaurant patios and forcing non-essential businesses that have three or more COVID-19 infections to close.

Mr. Kenney asked people who are opposed to public-health restrictions — a group that includes members of his own United Conservative Party caucus who have publicly criticized such measures — to think about the prospect of someone they cared about being denied care because the hospitals cannot cope.

“We’re not telling people this to create unnecessary fear,” Mr. Kenney said Wednesday, after using a televised address to announce the new rules the night before.

“We’re just trying to be straight up with Albertans about where we are.”

Alberta has the highest COVID-19 rates in North America and is among the few provinces in Canada where the number of daily infections is increasing. Alberta has about twice the active infections per capita as Ontario.

There were 146 COVID-19 patients in the province’s ICUs as of Wednesday, a slightly lower number than in recent days, but still about twice as many as a month ago. Mr. Kenney said there are also 60 non-COVID patients in ICUs, which together puts the province above the capacity it had before the pandemic.

Health officials say they can expand the province’s capacity to 425 ICU beds, but that would require the cancellation of most non-essential surgeries and medical procedures. Alberta Health Services released a triage document last week that would guide decisions to ration care by focusing on patients with the highest likelihood to survive the following year.

Mr. Kenney’s government had closed indoor dining at restaurants and imposed a number of other restrictions a month ago, but had resisted further restrictions even as infections exploded. The new measures are the most severe the province has seen since the first wave a year ago.

The Premier has chided people who continue to defy the public-health restrictions, including protesters at anti-lockdown rallies that have been a regular feature of some Alberta cities and a rodeo, held last weekend, that drew large crowds to a site near Bowden in flagrant violation of the ban on large outdoor events.

The opposition he has faced within the UCP caucus includes more than a dozen MLAs publicly criticizing the province’s public-health orders last April.

Mr. Kenney has played down that opposition, saying it amounted to healthy debate. He said on Wednesday that politics was not driving his government’s response to the pandemic.

“We do, however, obviously have to be mindful of the broader context of public opinion in Alberta, about people’s willingness to comply with the rules,” he said.

“As I’ve said repeatedly, there’s no point in adopting a policy that will only invite widespread non-compliance.”

One of the signees of a letter protesting restrictions last month – UCP MLA Nate Horner – said understands there’s a risk that Alberta hospitals become overwhelmed.

“I know we all need to pull together,” Mr. Horner, the MLA for Drumheller-Stettler, said Wednesday. “I don’t want to do anything other than support the decisions that have been made. That being said, we still do have very rigorous debate within caucus.”

Mr. Horner said he signed the original letter to let his constituents know he was advocating for a regional approach to restrictions in caucus discussions.

“I represent a very rural riding that over the last 14 months has had periods when there’s been very little COVID in vast areas,” he said. “Skip the Dishes and DoorDash aren’t a thing here.”

Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro says the province won’t proceed with further easing of community health restrictions on COVID-19 even though hospitalizations are under the benchmark 300 figure. Shandro says cases and hospitalizations are trending up and it would not be safe to further reopen the economy, which would include allowing indoor gatherings. The Canadian Press

Mr. Horner noted he fielded about 70 calls from unhappy constituents Wednesday – many who are facing the loss of work and business income, are concerned about schools being closed for two weeks, and don’t understand why the federal government hasn’t implemented stricter border controls.

“A lot of them understand the severity of the issue. They’ve seen the cases rise – they know the situation has changed,” he said.

Other MLAs who signed last month’s letter, such as Mark Smith in Drayton Valley-Devon, Jason Stephan of Red Deer-South, and Miranda Rosin of Banff-Kananaskis, posted the live feed of Mr. Kenney announcing new public health measures on their Facebook pages – without comment.

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