|Province of Ontario in Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Employment, followed by language skills is the biggest concern for immigrants and refugees in their settlement process, according to a new study.
The study, "Making Ontario Home," by Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) is based on research carried out over a period of two years, on newcomers' experience with use of immigrant services in the province.
"This study shows that investment in settlement and integration services is making a real difference in the lives of immigrants," said Debbie Douglas, executive director of OCASI, launching the report on July 18. "Investing in services at the front-end as soon as immigrants arrive, will have significant long-term benefits for immigrants and their families as well as Canadian society and the economy."
Nearly two-thirds of the 2,530 respondents identified employment as their highest concern, and immigrant and refugee-serving agencies were the main access point for employment service. Skills upgrading programs and the provincially funded bridge training for non-regulated professions, created to remove barriers faced by foreign trained professionals, were among the highest rated employment services, according to the report.
"Putting the skills of newcomers to work and improving their social and economic integration is key to Ontario's economic prosperity," said Charles Sousa, Ontario's minister of Citizenship and Immigration. "Ontario is committed to supporting these important immigrant services, which this study confirms remain a priority for newcomers." Sousa told Canadian Immigrant that he would be asking the federal government to reverse the cuts made in funding to the province's settlement services. "I'm going to reiterate and reinforce that we need to have consultations — federal-provincial meetings."
Sousa also noted that such a meeting has been postponed several times and that he would call for at least a meeting with his counterparts in other provinces and territories.
The study, funded by the provincial government, is said to be one of the largest surveys of immigrants and refugees ever undertaken in Canada outside of government.