According to Immigration Minister Sean Fraser, Canada is investing $35 million in settlement programs to increase its reach to 41 areas.
“Newcomers and refugees have long been the motor of Canada’s society and economy, and our country has a proud tradition of being an international leader in resettlement and integration,” Fraser said in a statement.
“This success could not be achieved without the help of vital settlement service organizations that help newcomers learn Canada’s official languages, find jobs and build successful lives in their new communities.”
Ottawa hopes that the increased money for settlement services revealed Monday will guarantee that newcomers in small towns and rural regions have improved access to key services during their first year in Canada. According to the immigration minister, these facilities are more important than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These services will support newcomer families and provide the tools for their long-term success in the years ahead,” said Fraser.
On Twitter, supporters praised the new investment in settlement services for immigrants while detractors slammed it as a waste of taxpayer money that should be best invested in healthcare services for Canadians. Other Twitter users chastised Ottawa for its pro-immigrant policies and record-high immigration levels in 2017.
However, providers of assistance to freshly arrived immigrants welcomed the additional funding.
“We’re currently producing micro-credential training certification to help urban and immigrant workers understand job opportunities in our rural region,” wrote a Twitter user based in Ontario. “Our ‘catalyst housing’ will help, too. Great to see this support and looking forward to more information.”
Following a request for proposals for its Resettlement Assistance Program and Case Management Services, Ottawa selected 23 projects to provide services to refugees and vulnerable arrivals. The most recent round of financing provides $21 million for the addition of nine new Resettlement Assistance Program service providers in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, and New Brunswick.
These groups are being supported to release the tension on Canada’s 32 existing Resettlement Assistance Program service providers and to allow refugees to settle in small and medium-sized towns and rural communities where cheap housing is more readily accessible.
The rest $14 million will fund case management services for 14 established service providers who provide assistance and recommendations, as well as a pilot initiative to improve francophone case management in the Prairies.
Case management, according to immigration officials, is a comprehensive method to assist the settlement of government-assisted refugees and other high-needs and vulnerable newcomers who face many and complicated challenges to integration during their first 12 to 18 months in Canada. The requirements of the arrivals are assessed, and a settlement plan is developed, which includes referrals, regular monitoring of the newcomers’ progress, and individualized and intensive services.
Under the Resettlement Assistance Program, authorities in all provinces except Quebec provide direct financial support and assistance to newcomers to fulfill their immediate and critical requirements, typically beginning during the first four to six weeks of their arrival in Canada.
The financial assistance includes a one-time start-up compensation, as well as monthly income support for up to a year or until the newcomers, can sustain themselves, whatever comes sooner.