Settlement Cuts rejects Humanitarian Spirit.
The National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada
of the federal governmentís decision to impose unilateral funding cuts
to vital settlement services came like the sound of booming canons to
providers of immigrant services across the country. We are disturbed
because the social impact of those cuts would be disastrous.
It is a tremendous shock to be
facing such an enormous financial setback to your operations especially
when there was no advance warning; no prior indication that it was in the
pipeline. Ontarioís Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration has funding
relationships with ten affected agencies. Five are funded through the
Newcomer Settlement Programme that provides support to ethnic communities.
The ministry has long-standing,
valued-partner relationships with the others and they havenít identified
any problems in terms of programme delivery or any other organization
There is tremendous mystery
surrounding the reason or rationale for determining which agency has its
funding maintained or which agency has had its funding cut. The financial
discomfort for agencies ranges anywhere from ten percent up to 80% and we
have heard there is one case where an agency almost faces closure with its
budget being forced to contend with a 99% drop.
These agencies that provide
tremendous and vital service to individuals and families naturally have
life altering impacts resulting from this federal government unilateral
action. It is believed this act would result in tremendous job losses
among settlement agencies. This is likely to be in the hundreds. Due to
difficulty among new Canadians in securing opportunities when they arrive
in this country, the settlement organizations provide necessary assistance
in the dream of making this country truly diversified. These are,
generally speaking, if not newcomers themselves, very talented
During an emergency meeting with
settlement agenciesí personnel following the shocking news was, no one
could identify any rationale why their financial support was being
assaulted. Many gave examples that they had just gone through an audit and
it was a perfect audit. Others gave example that they were beating their
targets in terms of their targets for delivery on their programmes. So
there were other organizations that were the only organization in a
specific geographic area.
With this information then one
must question the motive. Unfortunately it feels like political
partisanship in operation here. After encouraging people to become a part
of this Canadian fabric and then you decide to turn your back on them is a
terrible signal. Canada has always been selling itself as a country
steeped in humanitarian spirits. But this action certainly destroys that
image. It could be seen as an anti-immigrant action that does not bode
well for the future growth and development of this country that so many of
us have adopted as their own.
We understand considerably more
than 10,000 Ontarioís newcomers will loose vital access to services.
Whether itís a job search programme a mentorship or other support
services and counselling including those that many of these agencies
provide services in specific languages to specific communities and that is
going to be lost.
Specific language and cultural
groups currently serve would by the agencies would be affected. One prime
example is the South Asian Center, which deals with more than 14,000
vulnerable women a year. Replacing these services are certainly not a
possibility in the short term.
Overall, these cuts are seen, as
chipping away at Ontarioís collective ability to make sure that the
province is able to actively welcome and integrate newcomers as quickly
and as effectively as possible.
What is immensely disturbing to
the community as a whole is the Conservative Government plan for ethnic
communities visibly contains $44 million cuts to newcomer communities. It
also includes a failure to deliver $207 million due under the first Canada
Ontario Immigrant Assistance Agreement, which is a contractual agreement
between the province and the federal government for newcomers. Mr. Jason
Kenney, federal minister of immigration, is reported to have said recently
that money is not coming. Shame! Shame! Shame!
The only acceptable resolution
to this unilateral development is for the federal government to honestly
rescind this atrocious decision.
January 21, 2011