Growth of the Economic Mobility Pathway Project

A number of years ago, The UNHCR Deputy High Commissioner at the time, Alexander Aleinikoff, asked: “Can we envision a world where countries compete to bring refugees in because they are so needed?” Labor mobility is a pathway that can help to make that imagined future a reality. We can already see that future. It’s starting to happen. 

In its strategy on resettlement and complementary pathways, the UN Refugee Agency has set a goal that over a decade (from 2019 to 2028), three million refugees will access third-country solutions— one million through resettlement and two million through other pathways. RefugePoint’s work has been key to unlocking these opportunities.

Since 2018, RefugePoint and its partners—including Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Talent Beyond Boundaries, the Pictou County Regional Enterprise Network (PCREN), UNHCR, and multiple Canadian provinces and territories—have implemented the Economic Mobility Pathways Project (EMPP). RefugePoint’s work helps qualified refugees living in East, Horn, and Central Africa to access immigration to Canada through existing economic migration programs. RefugePoint is supporting the identification of qualified and experienced refugees in Kenya and connecting them with employers in Canada facing labor market shortages. In 2021, three highly skilled nurses, Bahati, Micheline, and Agnes, became the first group of refugees to relocate from Nairobi, Kenya, to safe, permanent new homes in Pictou County, Nova Scotia, through the EMPP. Learn more about their story and the EMPP. 

Last week, the government of Nova Scotia announced that more continuing care assistants will soon be moving to Nova Scotia to work after having been recruited through the EMPP. Sixty-five continuing care assistants have received conditional job offers as the result of an October 2022 recruiting trip to Kenya. In October, a delegation comprised of employers from Nova Scotia, immigration officials from Nova Scotia and Ottawa, and representatives from the Shapiro Foundation, Talent Beyond Boundaries, Pictou County Regional Enterprise Network (PCREN), UNHCR, and RefugePoint visited RefugePoint’s Nairobi office, as well as Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps. The aim of the visit was to discuss, with UNHCR, the possibility of scaling up the EMPP and highlighting how the province/employers in Nova Scotia are incorporating refugee labor mobility as a core strategy to address human resource shortages in the health sector. 

Participants met with some of the refugees in the EMPP program for a focus group discussion and attended and spoke on various panels during a Regional Workshop on UNHCR Engagement in the Area of Labour Mobility for Admission to Third Countries. 

As refugees gain access to economic immigration as a durable solution, communities across Canada benefit by filling gaps in critical employment shortage areas. The partnership is positioned to have a significant positive impact on staffing shortages in the local healthcare sector and inform the creation of similar efforts across Canada and in other countries. 


Additional Resources related to the EMPP: