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Help wanted, eh? Northwestern Ontario recruiting American workers

MovetoNWOntario.ca, an immigration portal and job-search website supported by the provincial and federal governments.

DULUTH, Minn. — Politely pouncing on American anxiety over politics and health care, the Canadian government is inviting U.S. residents to work and live in northwestern Ontario.

"Currently, there are more available jobs than people living in Northwestern Ontario — an opportunity not to be missed," reads a news release that went out Wednesday, June 28, announcing the launch of MovetoNWOntario.ca, an immigration portal and job-search site supported by the provincial and federal governments.

In the wake of November's presidential election, searches for "how to move from the U.S. to Canada" exploded and the Immigration Canada website crashed. The backers of the new website say their efforts are meant to help potential immigrants navigate their way to a job, a home and a proper visa — and to fill jobs in rural Ontario.

"Our region urgently needs people to fill positions in key sectors like health care, I.T., sales and skilled trades," reads the news release for the website, which is working on behalf of 32 communities bordering and to the west of Lake Superior, including Thunder Bay and Fort Frances.

Duluth also needs those workers, however, as the unemployment rate here is about as low as can be, the labor market is slowly shrinking and there is a lack of skilled workers to fill good-paying jobs in manufacturing and health care.

Jobless rates elsewhere in the state — the Iron Range and farther up the North Shore — are consistently higher, however, and northwestern Ontario wants people to expand their job search north.

"The competition to recruit the right skills to meet the area's needs is fierce — our regional employers are recognizing that and are finding creative ways to recruit and retain," said Brian Hanson, CEO of local business recruiter APEX.

Northforce offers the Northland its own job search site — northforce.org — so Canada's push is nothing new.

Beyond offering jobs, though, the main pitch made by our northern neighbors Wednesday is the promise of a better life: "Politics got you down? Or maybe you're just looking for a superior lifestyle with affordable housing, unlimited access to nature and free health care? We get it! It's time to leave it all behind."

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