Program assists newcomers from 'Day 1'
Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci said when his father, Nando, came to Canada as a 14-year-old Italian immigrant during the Great Depression, there were no government services for newcomers.
He was able to survive because of the kindness of strangers and because of his own hard work.
“He forged a life for himself,” Bartolucci said, adding that Nando worked all over the country, often “riding the rails,” before settling in Sudbury, where he worked as a miner and a bricklayer.
Immigrants coming to Canada these days are far different from Nando, Bartolucci said. In fact, 63 per cent of landed immigrants aged 18-64 have at least post-secondary training, and 44 per cent have a university degree.
“But they come over and need some help,” he said.
“They need some help in ensuring that they understand how they're able to access the system so the system benefits them. If it benefits them, it benefits the province and country as a whole.”
During a Feb. 22 press conference at the Sudbury Multicultural and Folk Arts Association, Bartolucci announced $179,886 in funding for settlement services through the Newcomer Settlement Program.
The program assists newcomers in settling and integrating into the community, as well as to provide information, guidance and support during the process, and connect newcomers to services and resources in the broader community.
Collège Boréal is receiving $65,000, the Sudbury Multicultural and Folk Arts Association $49,886 and YMCA Sudbury $65,000.
Sylvie Montpellier, director of YMCA Sudbury's employment services, said the funding will be used to reach out to a large number of newcomers, “thereby supporting their social, cultural and economic integration.”
“Someone would come to our office, and they're newly arrived to Sudbury, and looking to send their kids to school, for a place to live and a doctor,” she said.
“They may have documentation they need to fill out. It's not just one thing. So it's providing information, accompaniment and translation services.”
The funding is “very important” to the Sudbury Multicultural and Folk Arts Association, said the group's president, Dr. Rayudu Koka.
“The newcomers, when they come, they don't know much about the city, and about what services are available,” he said.
“Our workers, with this funding, helps them with regards to government services, health-care services, assisting them with any applications they need, as well as introducing them to community members.”
Boréal president Denis Hubert-Dutrisac said the college currently provides educational upgrading and language training, as well as employment services, for immigrants.
“Seven years ago, we didn't know we would get involved,” he said. “We started with 20 immigrants. Now we have, on a yearly basis, about 1,700 immigrants who come through our doors.”
The settlement services the college will be providing now that it has the funding to do so complements the services it already provides, he said.
Boréal will now be able to help immigrants from “Day 1,” Hubert-Dutrisac said. “It includes orientation, counselling and translation services,” he said.