Provincial funding for services benefiting certain newcomers to British Columbia is more than quadrupling.
Municipal Affairs Minister Anne Kang announced Wednesday (May 25) that annual funding for services delivered through BC Settlement and Integration Services will rise to $25.6 million from $6 million, effective 2024.
BCSIS helps temporary residents such as foreign workers, international students and refugee claimants, as well as naturalized Canadian citizens, integrate into their new homes through language training, employment counselling and other services. The federal government provides settlement services for permanent residents — immigrants who are not yet Canadian citizens.
BCSIS helped more than 26,000 newcomers in 2021-22, according to provincial figures.
Kang said her own experiences as an immigrant have shown her the importance of receiving support after arriving in B.C.
“Newcomers are incredibly important to our past, present and future,” Kang said. “The experience, skills and cultural perspectives they bring enrich the lives of everyone in B.C. When newcomers thrive, our communities become stronger. The steps we’re taking today will help ensure that newcomers receive the services they need to flourish in B.C.”
Katie Crocker, chief executive officer of the Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies of BC, welcomed the additional funding.
“Increased funding for the BCSIS program will enable settlement and integration service providers to better support temporary residents and naturalized citizens in their social and economic integration journey,” Crocker said.
The additional funding comes in the face of on-going changes in provincial demographics. In 2022, British Columbia welcomed 83,000 new permanent residents, up from 67,000 in 2021, as Canada set a record in welcoming 431,000 new permanent residents in 2022.
Between 2016 and 2021, B.C. welcomed just over 197,000 new permanent residents and experts predict more immigration in the coming years as Canada looks to solve domestic labour shortages through immigration.
But the province also continues to attract temporary foreign workers, international students and refugees with many going on to become permanent residents and eventually Canadian citizens.
One of the key groups set to benefit from the additional funding will be the 12,000 Ukrainians, who have come to British Columbia since February 2022.