The Kingston Faith and Justice Coalition has sent the following letter. Please consider becoming an advocate for our new Canadians and sending your own letters. Contact information is provided below the letter.
March 28, 2016
Hon. John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship
365 Laurier Ave. W., Ottawa ON, K1A 1L1
Re: Cuts in funding to services working with refugees
Dear Mr McCallum:
The Kingston Faith & Justice Coalition is a group of people of faith who focus on issues of social justice.
While we are deeply grateful that your government has worked hard to bring 25,000 refugees from Syria to Canada, it has come to our attention that some of the services that the newly landed immigrants need have experienced loss of funding.
We wish to bring to your attention two excellent agencies in Kingston that have been providing crucial help to new immigrants and their sponsors which do not have the funds they need to give of their best to our new immigrants.
Kingston Community Health Services/Immigrant Services Kingston Area (ISKA) has had its funding cut for the last four years and did not get an increase this year although it is estimated that its workload has gone up 50%. While sponsors and newcomers to Canada rely on ISKA for experienced help, we understand that the agency will be obliged to lay off an employee. Please increase funding to ISKA.
Language Instruction for New Canadians (LINC) gives free English language instruction to newcomers to Canada. Kingston Literacy & Skills LINC is the only agency in Kingston with free childcare onsite. Thanks to your government’s initiative after coming to power, many sponsored families have come here in late 2015 and early 2016. They are learning English at this excellent agency. Yet LINC has no funding to operate in July and August. We think you will agree that it makes no sense to interrupt language learning for two whole months when most of the new families are sponsored for just one year. Future employment opportunities depend greatly on learning English. Please restore funding which was cut by the previous government so that LINC can operate a summer program.
As you know, April 4 is Refugee Rights Day. Kingstonians who have sponsored refugees plan to visit our MP, Mark Gerretsen on April 5 and ask him to support increased funding for ISKA and the provision of funding for LINC to operate a summer program. We look forward to your early assurance that this funding will be forthcoming.
Irene Watt, ( a member of the Diocese of Ontario Refugee Support group)
for the Kingston Faith & Justice Coalition
cc: Mark Gerretsen MP, Rona Ambrose MP, Thomas Mulcair MP, Elizabeth May MP