More progress being made on moving Icelanders to Gimli, Manitoba

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Gimli Waterfront Centre. Gimli er sveitarfélag og kaupstaður í Manitoba-fylki í Kanada. Gimli er staðsett við Winnipegvatn og 75 km norður af Winnipeg sem er höfuðborg Manitoba. Gimli er stundum kallað „Höfustaður Nýja Íslands“.

Remember this post from two weeks back? That was on a news article near the end of January on how due to the bad economy Icelanders might be looking at moving to Gimli Manitoba (where the largest concentration of Icelanders live outside of Iceland) to settle and work, at least for the time being. I wondered if this wouldn't just be a one-time bit of speculation, but it turns out that there's actually a certain amount of progress being made on this front, which is great:
Now, the Manitoba government is offering to help unemployed Icelanders fill job vacancies in the Prairie province.

Manitoba Labour Minister Nancy Allen sent a letter to Iceland's new government last week, offering to arrange a "special labour initiative." She is willing to help fast-track applications made under Manitoba's provincial nominee program and Ottawa's temporary foreign worker program.

"There's no question this would be a win-win situation for Manitoba," she said. "It would be an opportunity for us to provide employers with the skilled-labor people that they need to fill their shortages."

The good thing about a country like Iceland (small, safe, one language, well-ordered) is that their government can conduct the interviews before people arrive:
The government of Iceland would pre-interview potential candidates for employers in Manitoba, who would also have to go through a screening process.
The immigrants from Iceland would also be able to apply for permanent residency quite quick, which is good:
After working in the province for at least six months, the Icelandic workers could apply to become permanent residents.
Here's why it would benefit both Manitoba and the workers:
Even though Canada lost 129,000 jobs last month, most of them were in the manufacturing sectors in Ontario and Quebec. Manitoba's construction industry is booming, and employers can't find enough tradespeople or supervisors. That means projects across the province are being delayed.

Meanwhile, 5,000 kilometers away in Reykjavik, Iceland, Kjartan Sigurdsson is a contractor who just had to lay off more than 30 employees.
Finally, people are already starting to prepare to come over!
Sigurdsson is packing up his construction equipment and moving to Manitoba next month. By then, Allen's proposed initiative could be in place to help match Sigurdsson with work in Manitoba.
Exciting times. The more Icelanders there are in Gimli the easier it'll be to learn Icelandic without ever having to go all the way there. Depending on the situation I might make a trip over there myself the next time I'm back in Canada.

I wrote last post that the Icelandic Wikipedia had no page on it does! Looks like it was started on February 6th.


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