Stephanie Harris, the economic development officer for the Town of Altona and Municipality of Rhineland, says she is honoured to represent the area on the province's newly minted Advisory Council on Economic Immigration and Settlement (ACEIS). After being invited to apply for a spot on the 16-member Council a few months ago, Harris' appointment was announced last week. 

"I'm very honoured to be a part of this. I'm very excited to be able to represent the Town of Altona and Municipality of Rhineland and the region as part of this new council," said Harris. 

The Council will co-ordinate and oversee the implementation of the Manitoba government’s Immigration Advisory Council (IAC) recommendations including the development of a provincial economic immigration and settlement strategy. Members will serve 12-month terms starting in July 2023 and ending in July 2024.

"I'm really looking forward to reviewing the report that took place last year, all the work that was done, and I'm excited to get to know the other members of the Council as well. Everybody brings a wide variety of experience and knowledge to the group," added Harris. "I'm looking forward to moving ahead the provincial nominee program and making it more successful for the province."

The IAC released a final report in February, which outlines 70 recommendations to address the following goals:

-attracting more immigrants and business investors to Manitoba;
-streamlining the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP), setting the right balance between the province’s regional labour market, economic development and community needs; and
-enhancing Manitoba’s settlement, integration and foreign credential recognition programs and services to bolster newcomer retention.

Harris feels immigration is essential to supporting economic development in communities and the province as a whole and thinks community-based immigration programs are an important aspect of that. 

"As a community, as an economic development officer, we have an idea as to what industries require what types of positions and who is the best suit for our communities as well," she explained. "We've seen that in other communities, even within Manitoba, who do already have some funding through the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program. It's so important to have a say on a community-based level because we know our communities best and we know or economic needs the best."

Immigration isn't a new portfolio for Harris. Since 2019, she's been running the federal government's Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot program through SEED, the Altona and Rhineland economic development group. She serves as a director on the Regional Connections Immigrant Services board of directors, and on the Altona and Area Immigration Committee.