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Province commits dollars for immigrants


Deborah Slonowsky is excited about the extra work Dauphin and Region Immigration Services (DRIS) will be able to accomplish thanks to a $3 million bump in provincial funding to support newcomers to Manitoba.
And while it is still unclear how much of the extra money tied to the Apr. 12 announcement will be flowing into the local immigration service hub, anything is welcome, the DRIS program manager said.
Currently, with funding coming from the federal department of Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), Slonowsky has been able to provide the core services of information and orientation, needs assessments. referrals and community connections for permanent resident only.
The provincial funding means those services can be extended to immigrants of any status such as provincial nominees, temporary workers, post-secondary international students and even those who have already become Canadian citizens, but still might need some settlement help,
“This is a real game changer for us, being able to provide support based on needs rather than status,” Slonowsky said.
And the need is great. In 2018 Manitoba had a significant number of provincial nominees, as well as one of the highest rates of immigration to rural areas.
“A lot of those folks make their way here. They are working in our service industries and in our agricultural industries. And when they are here they are planning to apply for permanent residency,” Slonowsky said.
“But they have been, up until now, without any settlement support whatsoever.
“So we are extremely happy to see that the provincial government is committing funding for settlement services.”
Some of the money is available for staffing and Slonowsky said a settlement support worker will be added to the Dauphin office. To this point she has been working alone.
“So you can imagine that gets really challenging because every aspect of the programming and funding and whatnot is going through one person. So this will really, really help us reach and support a lot of folks,” Slonowsky said.
For Dauphin MLA Brad Michaleski, his government’s commitment of the funding signals a real understanding of the issues facing the area.
“Manitoba’s continued growth and innovation is largely thanks to immigration. With people arriving from more than 130 countries worldwide, immigrants and refugees contribute knowledge, education and skills that help enhance Manitoba’s workplaces and communities. Here in the Parkland there is a strong need for immigration services, for programming to help newcomers and their families to transition to life in the Parkland,” Michaleski said.
“This funding announcement is significant for the entire Dauphin region and it will help organizations like Dauphin and Region Immigration Services to continue to provide key services such as needs assessments and referrals to community supports throughout the Dauphin region. This announcement helps to place Parkland newcomers on a path to success when they arrive.”
It is a position Slonowsky supports. Manitoba’s economy and the future growth of rural communities will be heavily reliant on immigrants in the not too distant future, she said.
“In fact we probably are already dependent on immigration for growth and economic stability,” Slonowsky said.
“This is a great start to filling some of the gaps for services for Manitoba newcomers. The funding is especially important to rural areas because up until this announcement there were no provincially-funded settlement services outside of Winnipeg. It means that we can reach so many more people right now. We can help so many more people and so many more newcomers to Canada in our area and they’ll have a much better time at making their homes here and hopefully staying in Dauphin long term.”