Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Immigrants Say Settlement and Integration Services Are Working-New Report

Top 25 Canadian Immigrants Award
Top 25 Canadian Immigrants Award (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - July 16, 2012) - OCASI - Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants is launching 'Making Ontario Home', a new report based on extensive research carried out over a period of two years, on newcomers' experience with use of services in Ontario.
"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."
The majority of survey respondents reported a high degree of satisfaction with services, including employment, language training and general settlement services. Services provided by immigrant and refugee-serving organizations were rated highly, particularly on elements such as the welcoming environment and quality and speed of service.
"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 the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants. "The work done by OCASI member agencies, the organizations in the immigrant and refugee-serving sector, is solid. It is a wise investment of our resources. 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," she added.
Nearly two-thirds of the respondents identified employment as their highest concern. Immigrant and refugee-serving agencies were the main access point for employment service. Skills upgrading programs and Bridge Training for unregulated professions, which are designed to remove barriers to high-skills employment, were among the highest rated employment services.
Banking Professional Aaftab Lakdawala participated in Bridge Training for those with a financial sector background. He said, "The help I received from ACCES Employment is why I am now employed in my field in the financial sector. I am very happy with the quality of service I received and would strongly recommend the program to other immigrants."
This Ontario-wide study is one of the largest surveys of immigrants and refugees ever undertaken in Canada outside of government, and includes a depth of detail ordinarily collected only through the now-cancelled long-form census. It will serve to some extent to address the information gap thus created.
Mehrunnisa Ali, Co-Director of CERIS - The Ontario Metropolis Centre and Ryerson Professor noted that the study is based on a province-wide survey of over 2,500 immigrants, supplemented by qualitative data from selected groups of immigrants. As one of the academic leads from the research consortium that carried out the study, she said, "The type of detailed information thus collected is exactly what we need to better understand immigrants' settlement trajectories. It should inform public policies and institutional practices across Ontario."

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