Vancouver non-profit immigrants services organization SUCCESS will be receiving $22.4 million in funding from Ottawa to improve pre-arrival services to new immigrants to Canada – a move that may pay large dividends for the Canadian economy moving forward – officials said.
In an appearance at SUCCESS headquarters on Thursday (January 3), federal immigration minister Ahmed Hussen said the funds will be distributed over the next four years. SUCCESS was one of four service providers selected by Ottawa to receive funding to upgrade pre-arrival immigrant services totalling $113 million.
Hussen cited examples such as Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) CEO David Labistour as an example of a well-adjusted immigrant who was able to bring economic growth to B.C. Labistour, who immigrated to Canada from South Africa in 1999, is slated to step down from his MEC post this summer after leading the group to almost double in membership (from 2.7 million to 5.1 million) in his 11 years at the helm. MEC currently has 2,500 employees, with 350 of them working at the company’s Vancouver head office.
“Many of these types of successes can be found right here in Vancouver and communities right across the country,” Hussen said.
“By providing newcomers with vital information and support while they are still abroad, they’re more likely to have realistic expectations of their new lives in Canada, and they’re more likely to be better prepared.”
SUCCESS CEO Queenie Choo said the group will begin receiving the funding in April and has already started planning expanding its staff in markets like China, where more information providers will be hired to conduct face-to-face sessions with those immigrants whose applications have already been approved but who have not yet entered Canada. In addition, SUCCESS plans to boost online resources to reach approved immigration candidates that staff cannot reach in person.
Choo added that the pre-arrival immigrant services will also be available to refugees – an under-appreciated asset to the Canadian economy.
“It’s not just regular immigrants, but the refugees, as well,” she said. “Studies have shown that many newcomers – including refugees – are very entrepreneurial in nature. They want to set up their business and bring new jobs here, and that helps us grow the economy in our country.”
Since 2008, SUCCESS has served about 14,800 clients through such programs. Canadian pre-arrival settlement services are currently provided in person in China, India and the Philippines, and a Francophone pilot program is available in Morocco.