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NWT set to announce immigration changes in bid to boost numbers

The territorial government is set to announce changes to one of its immigration programs, in the hope of bringing more people to the NWT.

Michael Miltenberger, the finance minister, told reporters an announcement about the nominee program is coming soon.

The nominee program fast-tracks permanent residency for foreign immigrants who can fill vacant jobs or promote economic development.

“You’re going to hear in the next number of days, they’re finalizing it,” said Miltenberger.

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“It’s good news. It’s going to [let us] ramp up both our ability to fill jobs, but also help us with our five years and 2,000 people.”

Read: NWT budget – Money for now, but tougher times ahead

The territorial government has an ambition to bring 2,000 new residents to the NWT before 2020, in a bid to broaden its tax base, increase federal transfer payments (worth $30,000 per resident each year) and stabilize the territory’s economy.

“If you bring in 50 nominees and that translates into 150 people [including family members], that’s good for us. They’re going to be taxpayers,” said Miltenberger.

“We’re going to maximize every spot, every position we have available in that program. We want to take full advantage of it. Up to now, to our regret, we haven’t even maximized the full amount that we’ve had under the old programs.

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“I was at home over the weekend and went to the local pizza place. The owner was telling me he’s desperately trying to hang on to his workers because their visas are expiring.

“We know the jobs are there. For us, it’s a good news story and we have to take full advantage of it.”

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