February 9, 2011
The Honourable Jason Kenney, P.C. M.P.
Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1L1
Dear Minister Kenney:
Re: Funding cuts to Settlement Services
The National Association of Japanese Canadians is concerned about the $53 million in funding cuts being made across Canada to immigrant settlement services. We are also concerned that $43 million of the cuts will be made to services in Ontario alone. These cuts are being made despite the fact that according to the figures from the last census period, the number of new immigrants to Ontario has increased by 23%. New immigrant programs are required in all regions of the country and expanded programs across Canada should not be instituted at the expense of existing programs.
Federal funding provided to these agencies is essential to their survival, and to the healthy integration and support of new and recent immigrants. In most cases, new immigrants to Canada are selected on the basis of their skills, education and language abilities, but we can not expect that they will be fully integrated in a short time. It may take years and for this reason, reliable settlement services for immigrants and their families must be available during crucial adjustment periods as people settle and build lives in this country. Language training, job skills training, upgrading, assessment, special support to women, school programs for children and programs for seniors, are some of the many services that are essential for immigrant settlement. Bicultural and bilingual workers provide a link to new immigrants and help to supply valuable resources to immigrant communities.
Canada is a nation that promotes multiculturalism and diversity. It boasts of socially cohesive communities. We have long been aware of the important role that immigrants have played, and continue to play in building our economy, as workers and entrepreneurs. If we, as Canadians are to maintain a socially cohesive country, we must provide programs and services that help to facilitate the social integration and economic well being of immigrants. We can only do this through the ongoing investment of time and economic resources into settlement agencies that play an indispensable role in integrating new Canadians.
We urge you to reinstate funding for settlement services and to consider ways to provide support and additional resources to maintain and improve services to the growing numbers of new immigrants coming to Canada.
Ken Noma, NAJC President
Lillian Nakamura Maguire, NAJC Vice-President and
Chair of Human Rights Committee
cc. Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada