I’ve had the chance to work with a York Region Immigration settlement worker this week in programs that are threatened by cuts to immigration organizations. I watched an immigrant mother cry because her son was not adapting to his new classroom. I saw another immigrant mom concerned about her son who had just been suspended.
Immigrant programs that work to help people like those immigrant moms were put in danger with the $53million cuts to Canadian immigrant programs nationwide by Harper’s Conservatives. The cuts were announced just before Christmas, but the effects of the nationwide and $44 million Ontario immigrant program cuts are still being felt. Ten Toronto agencies lost portions of their funding and centres like the South East Asian Women’s Centre may have to close its doors. The Canadian Immigrant magazine reports that these current cuts have followed the closure of five other Ontario agencies over the past two years as a result of previous cuts.
“More cuts are expected next year, “ says Erika Gates-Gasse, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants’ Policy and Research Coordinator.
She also says that some immigrant agencies are trying to continue to operate without space and with very little support staff so that they don’t have to officially close.
”There is a need for these services,”she says. She is worried that Canadian Immigration and Citizenship is now instructing other agencies to take the assets, like office furniture, from these struggling organizations.
In the city of Toronto Councillor Janet Davis has opposed the cuts. She put forth a proposal in council for the City of Toronto to protest the cuts and to complete a report on the impact of the cuts and how the city would deal with the effects of the lack of services.
“The motion lost on referral by the executive committee on March 8th. The issue was deferred indefinitely. The request to put the vote results on record was denied,” Councillor Davis said.
“Toronto should have stood and taken a clear position.” Councillor Davis claimed. “Mayor Ford has abdicated his responsibility of Mayor of this city.”
Davis suggests that voters in the upcoming Federal election can make their voices heard by supporting programs like Rewind the Cuts at www.rewindthecuts.ca. They can also challenge every candidate to restore funding to Canada’s vital immigrant programs. With the outcome of the election, the fate of Canadian immigrants will be determined. Who will you support?