This month the federal government has announced a further investment of $35 million to expand settlement services for newcomers in small towns and rural communities as part of their initiative to ensure newcomers, especially refugees and vulnerable newcomers who are settling in small towns and rural communities to have access to essential services during their first year in Canada.
In a press statement, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, the Honourable Sean Fraser, said: “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. 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. Our investment today will be key to enhancing access to support services in smaller and rural communities. These services will support newcomer families and provide the tools for their long-term success in the years ahead.”
The investment includes $21 million to add to nine new Resettlement Assistance Program service providers in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and New Brunswick. These organizations will help reduce pressure on the 32 existing Resettlement Assistance Program service providers across Canada and provide refugees with an opportunity to settle in small- and medium-sized towns and rural communities where affordable housing is more readily available.
The Resettlement Assistance Program is a contribution program that provides newcomers with direct financial support and paying service providers to deliver essential services which included a one-time start-up allowance and monthly income support, which lasts for one year or until a given newcomer can support themselves independently.
Settlement services help refugees and vulnerable newcomers learn the language, gain employment and contribute to their communities, so they can reach their full potential quicker as Canada moves towards economic recovery.
In addition, $14 million will be invested in case management services for 14 existing service providers, so that they can assist more vulnerable newcomers with support and referrals to successfully settle into their new communities. This includes a pilot project aimed at bolstering Francophone case management in the Prairies.
With the Federal government’s target of welcoming 1.2 million newcomers to Canada from 2021 – 2023 to compensate for the shortfall in immigration caused by the pandemic, Fraser told the CBC in an interview that the federal government is “more than on track” to meet that goal.
“We expect that if we remain on the current schedule, we will be able to meet or exceed the goal of 411,000 for this year and 421,000 for the year after,” he said.