The Bay of Quinte Immigration Portal has a new look, thanks to funding from the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration.
The Portal partnership, consisting of the City of Belleville, Hastings County, Prince Edward County and the City of Quinte West received $39,900 for content updates to the site, immigration.bayofquinte.ca.
The updates include photography and video-driven profiles of new Canadians making a life in this region and general updates to the information related to services and amenities of interest to newcomers.
“The goal is to raise awareness that our community is an inclusive community,” says Karen Poste, Manager of Economic Development for the City of Belleville, the lead municipality on the project.
“It’s about telling real stories of new Canadians who have moved to this region and the positive impacts they’ve experienced.”
Some are transplanted here as part of their first trip to Canada, like Christian Jaros and Andreas Englund, who played for the Belleville Senators during their 2017-18 season.
In a recent interview, Jaros commented about how he was impressed by his neighbours and how helpful they were, helping him and his girlfriend adjust to Canadian life-most notably when a storm knocked down a tree in his yard and they helped him to remove it.
“My neighbours are great-they’re perfect,” he said.
Others come to the region after living in larger Canadian cities, like Toronto or Ottawa, searching for a better lifestyle, like Maha Majeed.
Sheleft the city to open her own pharmacy in Marmora.
Originally from Iraq, Maha immigrated to Canada in 1996, and lived and worked in Mississauga for six years before she decided to leave
for Hastings County.
“I was worried at first that my husband, Heidar, wouldn’t enjoy living in a small town,” Maha admits with a chuckle. “Now I can’t get him to leave. Not even for the weekend. He says this is my family, this is where I belong. People know me here.”
One of the most important aspects of the project is to link immigration to employment.
“If we want to grow our population and especially our workforce, immigration attraction is a key strategy,” notes Dug Stevenson, Executive Director of the Bay of Quinte Regional Marketing Board, who helps support the project. “
The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) said in a recent report that because of the Baby Boom retirement, if Canada doesn’t drive
immigration in an effort to grow our workforce, then many of our small-to-medium enterprises will struggle to grow or even stay open.
“Right now, Ontario’s labour shortage is estimated at 40%. If we can attract skilled workers from outside of the country, it’s a win-win for both parties.”
The regional partnership is currently working toward a longer-term strategy for immigration attraction that will include other strategic partners like the Centre for Workforce Development, Quinte Economic Development Commission and Quinte United Immigration Services.
In the meantime, additional updates to the content and navigation elements of the Bay of Quinte Immigration Portal will occur on an ongoing basis by each of the municipal partners, in an effort to continue to attract new Canadians to the area.