The P.E.I. government is hoping to attract more people like Aman Sedighi.
Recent census numbers have shown that the majority of newcomers to the province are now settling in the Charlottetown area – but Sedighi didn’t.
He bucked that trend and established himself in the rural community of Brookfield, started A-OK Gardens and now produces a variety of vegetables and herbs on his 15-acre organic farm.
“When I arrived here, I realized there is high potential for agriculture,” said Sedighi.
“It’s been a good experience for me.”
The provincial government is hoping to encourage more stories like Sedighi’s with recent changes to the province’s immigration system.
On Friday, Economic Development Minister Heath MacDonald announced 12 new immigration agents have been approved to help attract newcomers to P.E.I.
These agents are private enterprises that act as intermediaries for potential immigrants under the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). They help people with the application process for PNP and connect them with the local business community.
For the past few years P.E.I. has had seven such enterprises approved.
But earlier this year, the province issued a request for proposal for new agents with a specific focus on being able to get newcomers to settle in rural communities, which has been a challenge.
MacDonald said these 12 agents were the successful applicants.
Six of them have previously been approved agents while the other six are new.
They were approved partially based on their credentials and connections to the less urban parts of the province, said MacDonald.
The minister added that the province will be holding these companies accountable for ensuring there is more immigration to rural areas by holding a review of their progress in three years. If the province isn’t satisfied, their contracts could be terminated.
“We’re going to be very aggressive in this – we told them that right from the start when they applied. We have to be serious about the demographic shift here on P.E.I. and I think this is a really positive way to start it out,” said MacDonald.
Glen Dexter is with New Island Opportunities Inc, one of the companies approved that has previously acted in this capacity in the province.
His company has helped attract people who have settled in communities across P.E.I., said Dexter.
“(Immigrants) are all individuals like we are and they are looking for a better life for themselves and their family than they have in their home country. That’s why they’re interested in immigrating,” said Dexter.
“We see a very very broad range. One thing I can say for sure is that, once they’re here, they’ll surprise you with what they will try and do – and what they will succeed at.”
Along with the new immigration agents, the province also announced it will be giving municipalities more influence in the decisions of which immigrants are approved under the PNP program.
Communities other than Charlottetown, Cornwall and Stratford can now ‘endorse’ an applicant. That endorsement will act in the potential newcomer’s favour when the province decides whether their application is approved.
The 12 provincially approved immigration agents:
10347345 Canada Inc. (operating as Abegweit Immigration)
Aim 4 Inc.
Bether Capital P.E.I. Inc.
Can-nection Immigrant Business Investments Ldt.
Confederation Capital P.E.I Ltd.
Cox & Palmer
KC Immigration Services Inc.
Launching Point Immigration Services Inc.
Mazu Consortium Ltd.
New Island Opportunities Inc.
7817436 Canada Inc. (operating as Sunrise Immigration and Investement)
Western Immigration Opportunities Inc.