Surrey LIP in the News: 24 Hours
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Halfway through a federally funded program to assist immigrants and refugees in Surrey to better acclimatize to their new homes, the city wants to keep the momentum going after its first successful year.

Surrey entered into the two-year agreement with Citizenship and Immigration Canada in March 2014 to form the Local Immigration Partnership, which so far has resulted in integration research projects, and mapping out available services, which are guided by new immigrants.

The next steps include evaluating Surrey’s labour market needs, providing workshops, and completing a refugee research project.

Surrey Coun. Judy Villeneuve said the program receives $300,000 a year from the federal government, and has helped the city gain insight into a large portion of its population to better address its issues.

“I know in other cities, like Toronto and Montreal, corporations have proactive programs to connect new immigrants, evaluate what skills they have and help with training them,” she said.

“Hopefully, Surrey will move in that direction, but our city is made up a bit more of small businesses, which makes it more of a challenge.”

Aileen Murphy, Surrey’s senior social planner, said the city is putting together an application behind the scenes to keep the partnership going beyond the two-year end date in 2016.

“Over 40% of Surrey residents are immigrants, and really this is about the community in general,” she said.

“We know, given our growing going forward ... we’re expecting within the next five years, about half our population will be immigrants.”

Murphy said the partnership is guided by a new addition, the immigrant advisory roundtable, which is led by 18 immigrants who “represent, in some ways, the face of newcomers in Surrey.”

Drastant Mehta, co-chair of the partnership’s roundtable, arrived in Canada in 2013 because he wanted a safe place to raise his family.

Mehta said the program helped ease an extremely difficult experience moving from Kenya to Canada. “It would take two to three years to reach where I am,” he said.

Source: 24 Hours Vancouver, by Stefania Seccia 

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