Five community organizations have been chosen to lead Refugee Response Teams to help refugees settle and integrate into British Columbia communities.
The teams are supported by a $500,000 investment from the $1-million Refugee Readiness Fund. They will identify and prioritize short-term community needs to support a co-ordinated approach to helping refugees. For example, the teams may provide links with employers or other labour market opportunities and co-ordinate community supports.
Organizations and their service area include:
- MOSAIC, Metro Vancouver
- DIVERSEcity Community Resource Society, Fraser Valley
- Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society (VIRCS), Vancouver Island
- Kelowna Community Resources Society, Thompson Okanagan
- Immigrant and Multicultural Services Society of Prince George (IMSSPG), Cariboo
The teams will have representatives from the refugee service-provider community: settlement organizations, private sponsors, churches, educators, health-care providers and employers. The ministry will continue to engage with settlement communities throughout the province to ensure that the teams have the capacity to support all incoming refugees.
Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour, Shirley Bond –
“British Columbians have shown tremendous generosity in welcoming refugees escaping the conflict in Syria. With the investment in these Refugee Response Teams, our government is helping connect newcomers with services and build a new life in the communities that they choose to settle in.”
In addition to the $1-million Refugee Readiness Fund, the Province funds a number of programs for all newcomers, including:
- $2.6-million investment for 1,200 newcomers to British Columbia to get language training for the job market.
- $1.5 million through the Canada-B.C. job grant to help get refugees job training and match them with employers.
- $4 million for services for newcomers not eligible for federal services, such as:
- Orientation and community connections;
- Formal and informal language training and practise; and
- Trauma counselling for refugee claimants.
- Wait periods and premiums for Medical Service Plan (MSP) coverage are waived for all refugees.
- Every refugee student who enrolls in a British Columbia public school will be funded from the Province’s pupil funding formula.
- All refugees are able to access the Employment Program of B.C.
- In addition, all refugees are eligible to receive:
- Child Care Subsidy.
- BC Early Childhood Tax Benefit – up to $55 per month per child under the age of six years.
- BC Basic Family Bonus – up to $111 per child per month when combined with the National Child Benefit Supplement: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/bnfts/ncb-eng.html
- Student Aid.
The new, enhanced WelcomeBC.ca is streamlined, easier to use and available through mobile devices and social media: www.welcomebc.ca
For more information about federal supports for Government Assisted Refugees, go to: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/manuals/ip/ip03-part2-eng.pdf
For more information on the Canada Job Grant and how to apply, please visit: www.workbc.ca
A backgrounder follows.