Ottawa to spend $113 million on pre-arrival services for new immigrants

Hussen lashes out at Conservatives' 'half-baked' plan to 'militarize' the border

The Trudeau government has announced $113 million in new money to improve pre-arrival services for future immigrants to Canada.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen made the announcement this morning at the S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Immigrant Settlement and Integration Program office in Vancouver. He also announced that, as part of that funding, the S.U.C.C.E.S.S. program would receive $22.4 million.

The Vancouver-based program is one of four operations that provide information, orientation and referrals to prospective economic and family-class immigrants nationwide. The $113 million sum will fund 16 service providers, most of them operating locally. Canada has provided pre-arrival help to new immigrants for 20 years.

The money will go to connecting clients to information and services, offering regional and general employment services, encouraging immigrants to take the necessarily steps to convert job licenses prior to their arrival, and linking them to federal and provincial settlement services once they are in Canada.

The money will come from the immigration settlement portion of the government's 2018 budget, a spokesperson for Hussen's office confirmed. The federal Liberals set aside $875 million over six years to fund their multi-year immigration plan.

Pre-arrival services are meant to educate new immigrants on what living in Canada is like, and to minimize the roadblocks they could encounter after they arrive.

The goal, Hussen said, is to give new Canadians a better chance to "hit the ground running," adding that successfully integrating new immigrants is a "great source of national strength."

He spoke of his experiences as a 16-year-old new immigrant to Canada and said he has long wondered if the early challenges immigrants face in accessing services and settling into a community are avoidable.

"I relied on the generosity of Canadians," Hussen said.

The new federal money will fund the pre-arrival program for the next four years, up to 2023.

The program will cover immigrants in three categories: economic and family class immigrants, Francophone newcomers and refugees.

In-person services will be offered in China, India and the Philippines, and online services spanning other countries will be made available as well.