The Province is taking a number of steps to prepare for the arrival, resettlement and integration of refugees in B.C.
Supported by $500,000 through the $1 million Refugee Readiness Fund, the government will fund five Refugee Response Teams to proactively plan for the settlement of refugees in their communities. The teams will have representatives from the refugee service provider community: settlement organizations, private sponsors, churches, educators, health care providers and employers. Teams are anticipated in the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island, Okanagan and Cariboo, however locations are contingent on where refugees ultimately settle. “My community has welcomed many refugees over the years, and we’re looking forward to welcoming more. Minister of Technology, Innovation, and Citizens’ Services Amrik Virk said.
The remaining $500,000 will be provided to the Immigrant Services Society of B.C. (ISSofBC) to:
- Develop an online hub to connect private sponsors, settlement workers, counsellors, and other service providers throughout the province to the information they need to support refugees.
- Track volunteer offers, in-kind donations and housing and employment leads.
- Set up a range of supports for clinicians caring for traumatized refugees, including a new telephone consultation line and a trauma needs assessment tool.
- Provide workshops and support to the Refugee Response Teams.
ISSofBC is currently the only service provider in B.C. that provides the full suite of federally-funded Resettlement Assistance Program services to government-assisted refugees. They can ensure provincially-funded services are aligned with federal services. “I want to thank the Province for working with us to build these Refugee Response Teams,” ISSofBC CEO Patricia Woroch said.
Through the Canada-BC Job Grant, up to $1.5 million will support skills training to assist refugees and new Canadians to gain employment, in partnership with sector/industry associations and employers. The first stream of $1.0 million will focus specifically on refugees while the second $500,000 stream will be open to refugees, protected persons entitled to work in Canada, and new immigrants (arrived within the last five years). Funding is focused on three key areas:
- Job readiness training, including specialized language supports and cultural training to prepare for working in British Columbia;
- Job match services to link refugees with employers ready to hire new Canadians
- Job specific training – up to $10,000 per person for job specific skills training that is cost shared between federal and provincial governments (cover two-thirds of the costs) and employers (cover the remaining one-third the costs).
The Province will also invest $2.6 million in project based language training throughout B.C. that will support refugees and other immigrants. $1.27 million will be provided to community organizations, professional associations and post-secondary institutions across the Lower Mainland to provide training for recent immigrants to help them overcome language barriers faced when seeking employment. Further details as well as specific locations will continue to be outlined within the coming weeks.
In addition, the Provincial Health Services Authority is hiring and training 30 additional interpreters dedicated to languages spoken by refugee populations.
Moving forward, the ministry will continue to engage with settlement communities throughout the province to ensure they have the capacity to support any incoming refugees.