“Thousands of citizens and service providers rely on these important settlement services. British Columbians deserve to know how our governments intend to fill this service gap." — Darryl Walker, BCGEU President.
Vancouver (07 April 2014) — In British Columbia, provincially administered immigrant settlement services and English as a Second Language (ESL) training came to an end on March 31. The B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) has called on the federal and provincial governments to announce how these services will be provided in the coming year.
Ottawa takes over immigrant settlement services and ESL training from B.C. but makes no announcement for continuing services
“Thousands of citizens and service providers rely on these important settlement services,” says BCGEU President Darryl Walker. “British Columbians deserve to know how our governments intend to fill this service gap."
“We’ve already had 15 members laid off due to the transition in funding, with more [layoffs] likely on the way. Our governments can and should do a better job of communicating these service changes in a timely way," continued Walker.
The federal government announced in 2012 that it would not renew the Canada-B.C. Immigration Agreement and would take over administration of these services on April 1, 2014. The province of B.C. currently administers immigrant settlement services, including ESL training.
Ottawa issued a call in June 2013 for interested organizations and individuals to apply for funding to provide the services. Since then, no update on service contracts or a timeline for roll-out has been announced.
Federal government needs to step up quickly on commitment for services
The provincial government has said it will monitor the new federal programs for gaps in service, and has allocated $10.5 million in transition funding for ESL programs at public post-secondary institutions. In the past two weeks, the province extended its funding for agencies to provide services to federally ineligible clients, but for only one year.
“Provincial transition funding is both needed and welcome, and will help in the immediate short-term,” says Walker. “But what happens to these services after this year?
“We’ve had no indication that any medium- or long-term planning has taken place to date. It’s time both levels of government stepped up to the plate and ensured that these important services continue to be available to the public.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE