Ottawa slashes funding to immigrant services

Majority of cuts in Ontario, but increased funding in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba
||Last Updated: 02/01/2011

Ottawa is cutting funding to immigrant settlement services agencies across Canada, excluding Quebec, with the majority of cuts in Ontario.

In total, Citizenship and immigration Canada is cutting $53 million from settlement programs — $43 million from Ontario agencies alone.

The ministry will not be renewing funding for at least 10 agencies in Toronto and up to 35 other agencies across Ontario will face "significant" funding cuts.

The number of immigrants settling in Ontario has dropped over the last five years, from 145,000 to 106,000, and the funding level must be adjusted to reflect the change, said Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.

While Toronto's agencies will see an eight-per-cent drop in overall funding, Ontario agencies in York Region and London will get extra cash to support the growing number of immigrants settling in those areas, said Kenney. Funding will also be increased in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Nova Scotia agencies will see a $1.5-million reduction in fudning and British Columbia will lose $8.5 million. However, the B.C. government has said it will boost financial support to settlement agencies to maintain the same level of service.

Settlement agencies offer language classes, help in finding jobs and other integration programs to thousands of immigrants every year. With the bulk of their funding coming from the federal government, these cuts mean many of these agencies will likely close in the coming year.

The South Asian Women's Centre in Toronto is one of the agencies that will lose all of its federal funding, $570,000, which represents 67 per cent of its total funding.

Without Ottawa's financial support, the agency will have to shut down, said Kripa Sekhar, executive director of South Asian Women's Centre.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada put out a call for proposals last spring and received more than 600 applications for funding. The organizations aren't being defunded, said Immigration Canada spokeswoman Tracie LeBlanc, rather their proposals weren't approved.

Jewish Family Services of Ottawa is anticipating a 20-per-cent cut in funding, or about $180,000, said mark Zarecki, executive director at the agency. Most agencies in the nation's capital received a letter from the government inviting them to negotiate a new funding agreement with the Citzenship and Immigration Canada.

The Liberal government funded settlement services to the tune of $110 million in 2005, while the Conservative government will be providing $346.5 million in funding to these services in 2011, a three-fold increase, said Kenney.

GTA agencies losing federal funding

Northwood Neighbourhood Services

Elspeth Heyward Centre for Women

Tropicana Community Services

Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood Centre

Community Action Resource Centre

South Asian Women's Centre

Eritrean Canadian Community Centre of Toronto

Ethiopian Association in the Greater Toronto Area and Surrounding Regions

Afghan Association of Ontario (AAO)

Bloor Information and Life Centre

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