I'm going to call this meeting to order with my apologies to the witnesses. We had a speech in the House that just ended at 3:30.
Thank you for joining us today. This is our third meeting on the study we are undertaking as a committee on settlement services across Canada. We're early on in the study, so we're still gathering information and data about the way settlement services work. We're also, however, very keen on getting recommendations from you on how the government could improve its services to newcomers in the country.
I think we have two witnesses by video conference and one by telephone conference.
We understand, Mr. Cadogan, that you had your flight cancelled, so you are with us by telephone. Because you're on teleconference, I think we're going to begin with your statement. Then we will go to the other witnesses who are joining us by video conference.
You have seven minutes in which to offer a statement.
I appreciate the time and I'm sorry I can't be there in person. I had every intention to be.
Reception House Waterloo Region has been around...This is our 32nd year. We were started by a group of Mennonite church folk and for the first 20 or so years the organization was run by the congregation and a few staff. We have grown since then. In 2017, we celebrated 30 years.
As I reflected on what I was going to say, I first want to highlight what I call good practice.
Since November 2015, when the region of Waterloo started to respond to the government's strategy in resettling 25,000 Syrian refugees, Reception House Waterloo Region has never been the same. In one year we went from serving 250 to 300 refugees a year to over 1,000 plus. The experience pushed us to innovate, collaborate and discover efficiencies and best practices.
What did we learn from that experience? We have learned to be creative. We have learned to be more flexible. We have learned to have enough funding to serve 1,000, but not enough funding to serve 300. We have persevered. We have done what so many organizations in so many communities have done. We have responded in ways that focus on assisting those most vulnerable, those who are not paired with a family or church group deeply invested in their success, government-assisted refugees.
While our case managers are very deeply invested in the success of those we serve, the ratio of 1:100 versus 1:5 results in a very different outcome. We know the current government is in love with the privately sponsored refugee program as it is a way to shift the burden of refugee support to the community, but serving GARs also demands a community response, albeit a very different one.
One of the key responses we have used in the last couple of years is the family partnership program, which is a hybrid model of the privately sponsored refugee program. It's designed to create social integration and language support for refugee families by pairing them with local volunteers from the Waterloo region. The participants in the program meet weekly over the course of a year and participate in various activities together, including sharing meals, practising English and exploring their communities together. The primary purpose of the program is to provide newcomers with a sense of belonging and help build a social support structure through community networks and English language practice.
The family partnership program was recently evaluated by the community service learning project for political science at the Wilfrid Laurier University. Here are a few findings from that evaluation. The family partnership program offers vital life experiences to government-assisted refugees, including networking, employment and building mutually supportive relationships. It provides newcomers with opportunities to become more familiar with, and comfortable in, their communities, thereby helping to foster a sense of belonging. The program provides benefits to the Waterloo region community as a whole by having to counter xenophobia, strengthen community and social cohesion, and foster relationships between newcomers and local residents who may not have otherwise met.
I want to thank IRCC and we are really pleased to see that it is responding to discussions and recommendations from service delivery partners. We have been at the front lines of this work for over 30 years. Listening to our experience will help the government make the most positive impact on the people we serve. We applaud the modernization of the systems. It is certainly a step in the right direction. We look forward to the upcoming RFP for services for the next five years.
As a new member of the national RAP working group, I'm excited about the stories and opportunities we can share with all those involved in enabling newcomers to discover their potential in Canada.
I have several recommendations.
Continue to find ways to engage those organizations that are delivering services to GARs and recognize there are systems that work well. Supporting and promoting both systems is critical, especially as it relates to broadening the understanding of the public.
Recognize and establish initiatives and systems that better address systemic racism and provide support that allows organizations like ours to do more in this matter.
Continue to support creativity in the delivery of service to GARs, and continue to support initiatives such as SDI, service delivery improvement projects that IRCC has recently started.
Many GARs are arriving with health, mental health and physical limitations. IRCC must review the needs of these people and look to how we can better respond as they arrive. For example, our site is not accessible and this severely inhibits our ability to serve newcomers with mobility issues.
Allocate funding for initial mental health assessments and support for clients who suffer from severe trauma. It might be a first step in dealing with this very serious issue. We have seen an increase in very serious and chronic health issues. We are trying to respond in ways that make sense, but our community is a small one. The health system isn't always ready and willing to be flexible, and we want to see ways in which IRCC can have a broader impact on the provinces to do more for those people who are coming to our region.
I think that's seven minutes.
I'm Angela Mowbray, the acting manager of language programs. Our executive director is away on holidays somewhere warm this week, so Joy and I will cover for her and give her introductory warm-up. I'll talk about language programs, and then Joy will talk about the settlement programs and give Lois's concluding remarks.
Westman Immigrant Services envisions a community where diversity is valued and newcomers are accepted and supported in meeting their full potential. One of the greatest advantages we have as an organization is that we offer an array of services to our clients, all in one building. Clients are not required to travel to different locations for different settlement services or language classes at stage one. We're governed by a volunteer board of directors. WIS employs over 40 people, more than 55% of whom are newcomers themselves. We retain the service of more than 90 professional language interpreters and assistants, and we're supported by over 100 community volunteers.
I'll give you some statistics from the 2017-18 fiscal year. During that year, we served over 4,000 clients through our settlement program. We provided 2,315 language interpreters covering 23 different languages. We assisted 368 clients through employment facilitation, and we provided childminding services for close to 300 clients. We resettled 45 government-assisted refugees, or GARs, and 50 will be supported in the 2018-19 fiscal year. We delivered family and youth programs, providing support for newcomer families in a variety of ways. We were supported by 4,993 volunteer hours, so we're fully aware of how important our volunteers are to our programs. We maintained 20 classes for levels one to four throughout the school year, September to June, and we registered about 350 students. We conducted 496 language assessments using the Canadian language benchmarks placement test and also the CLB-LPT, which is the literacy test.
I'm going to tell you a story about one of our students to highlight some of the strengths and challenges of our language programs. I'll call her “Leila” for the purposes of this presentation. Leila is a GAR, and in August of 2016 she came to me for her CLBPT. In her country of origin, she never went to school. As the eldest daughter, she had to stay home to help her mother. Leila told me that every day her father would say to her, “I'm so sorry, Leila, no school for you today.” After her test, Leila was so excited to tell me, “But now I can go to school.”
Unfortunately, Leila ran up against two of our biggest challenges in providing English classes—child care needs and literacy needs. In 2016 Leila had a three-month-old son who was not eligible for child care. Luckily, we do have a family literacy program that Leila was able to attend with her son and that does have an English component, but it is not run with the same expectations as our other classes. As well, Leila is not literate in her first language. Literacy learners usually take a much a longer time to progress. Leila finally began regular English classes in September of 2018. While her listening and speaking have improved over the last two years, her reading and writing have not. She's currently two years behind where she could have been in attaining English-language proficiency.
Leila is an excellent example of how it would be of great advantage to our program if there were more child care spots and focused training and resource development for teachers of literacy learners, as students like Leila end up in almost every class.
That's Leila's story. At the other end of the spectrum we have students who have very high levels of English in comparison. In order to successfully settle in Canada, to attain advanced education and better employment opportunities, it's critical to have high levels of one of our official languages. The hospital in Brandon, for example, requires a completed level 6 to qualify you to work as a cleaner. Some of our retail businesses ask applicants to be at least a level 7. At present there are no evening or weekend classes for stage two students, in levels 5 to 8, to attend in Brandon. There can be long waiting lists for morning and afternoon classes.
Providing English classes to newcomers is one of the key factors in helping them settle successfully in their new community. We look forward to continuing to provide that service, working to ameliorate the challenges and build on our strengths.
To continue talking about the new initiative this year, we have the settlement workers in schools, or SWIS, which is a partnership initiative with the Brandon School Division that sees support staff providing guidance and assistance to students and their families as they settle into their new school.
For settlement program considerations, we see the need for support services. It is important to eliminate barriers for clients when accessing programs. We provide various support services, including child care, transportation, interpretation and crisis counselling, but we have limited capacity at present.
For child care, we provide on-site care for newcomer children 19 months and older. We currently have a capacity for 10 children. There is always a wait-list for this program. Current challenges include space to expand and lack of infant care. Leila, for example, could have accessed English classes sooner if we had a program for infants.
In Brandon, public transportation is not prolific and for newcomers our harsh weather conditions are a challenge to their leaving their homes, especially for newcomers who have young children. Providing them with access to free transportation has proven to increase enrolment and attendance in programs. Unfortunately, the demand far exceeds the funding that we have available.
Another support service is interpretation. We know that many of our newcomers arrive with low levels of English, which makes it a challenge for them to attend appointments and participate in programs. That is why language and cultural supports are offered in our agency. We are unique in having paid certified interpreters available within our organization and the community. However, the importance of interpreters is not always recognized outside of WIS. For example, we see clients go to their family doctors and use children to interpret important medical information.
The next support service is crisis counselling. It is inevitable that all newcomers experience culture shock which can lead to mental health issues. Some of our newcomer clients have also experienced significant trauma. Having our facilitators provide culturally sensitive support counselling delivered in their home languages has proven to be helpful. Increased access to professional development for our staff and a greater availability of culturally sensitive, trauma-informed practice, with language support within the community, would help to address the specific mental health needs of newcomers.
We also see some ineligible clients. We are mandated to only provide services to clients with permanent residency status. There are non-permanent resident newcomers who seek help from our agency for language classes and settlement programs. Unfortunately, we have to deny them services as they are ineligible. We see the need and the value in providing services to these clients as well to help them settle successfully in Canada.
In conclusion, Westman Immigrant Services, together with settlement agencies across the country, work tirelessly to support refugees and newcomers as they settle in their new home, and provide supportive connections within their new community. In response to the 2019 call for proposals, WIS is proactively working to forge partnerships with settlement and language offices throughout the region to provide a regional response in delivering flexible, responsive settlement services with an enhanced focus on employment.
Limited support from provincial government funders and a disconnect between the provincial and federal government with regard to supporting newcomers has proven difficult for the entire sector in Manitoba. We continue to explore and build community partnerships that will enhance our services and provide meaningful, proactive support to refugees and newcomers in western Manitoba.
Good afternoon. I'm Katie Rosenberger, the executive director of AMSSA; and I'm with my colleague Sabrina Dumitra, who is our manager of settlement and integration programs. I'm going to begin and then Sabrina will take over. We'll go back and forth.
The Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies of British Columbia, AMSSA, is the provincial umbrella association for agencies serving newcomers. Our organization strengthens its 70 member agencies as well as hundreds of community stakeholders with the knowledge, resources and support they need to fulfill their mandates to serve newcomers and build culturally sensitive communities. AMSSA provides support to a broad range of settlement service providers and other stakeholders in B.C.
Each province has an umbrella association, with the four Atlantic provinces being represented by one umbrella. Not all IRCC-funded organizations are AMSSA members. Conversely, not all AMSSA members are IRCC-funded, as we were established in 1977 and have been working in the field of multiculturalism and diversity for over 40 years.
AMSSA works with our members to provide a common voice to funders, policy-makers, community members and external stakeholders on issues such as immigration, resettlement, settlement, integration and diversity. AMSSA works with our colleagues across the country through representation on the National Settlement Council.
As the umbrella organization for B.C., AMSSA is uniquely positioned to build the needed partnerships between the settlement sector and all four levels of government—municipal, provincial, federal and indigenous—as well as the private sector. AMSSA's funding comes from IRCC through the B.C. settlement programming, as well through an IRCC national contribution agreement. We are also funded by the Province of British Columbia to provide sector support to organizations that work with non-IRCC eligible clients and have project funding from different organizations such as Canadian Heritage, Western University and Dalhousie University, to name a few.
At this time, we are also in negotiations with ESDC for a contract to enhance sector knowledge and information-sharing for those organizations that serve temporary foreign workers.
AMSSA works closely with settlement-providing organizations to provide capacity-building opportunities by delivering, for example, webinars and e-learning modules, and creating Migration Matters information sheets. As well, AMSSA provides the settlement sector in B.C. with convening opportunities, so that best practices can be shared, but also challenges and gaps in service delivery can be discussed.
AMSSA has heard from our member organizations about some of the gaps and challenges. For example, Canada's immigration model is built on the concept of a two-way street of integration. In order for newcomers to successfully settle and integrate in B.C., it is imperative that initiatives promoting multiculturalism and anti-racism are properly resourced.
In recent months, a number of agencies have reported increased discriminatory incidents and are concerned about the impact on B.C. communities.
Many newcomers to B.C. are not eligible for federally funded settlement supports, including refugee claimants, international students, naturalized citizens, temporary foreign workers and other newcomers who are not permanent residents of Canada. AMSSA believes that eligibility for settlement support should be determined by need rather than by immigration status.
AMSSA and the B.C. settlement sector are appreciative of how B.C. funding has been used to enable some or all of these groups to access settlement supports this way, but unfortunately, current levels of investment are totally inadequate for the demand. As an increasing number of temporary residents transition to permanent residency, it is more important than ever that these clients have access to settlement supports to enable a smooth transition.
In a just and equitable society, everyone should have access to basic supports and protections. AMSSA has heard from a number of organizations that the lack of access to language learning opportunities is a particular challenge for migrant workers. The refugee claimant-serving sector is also being squeezed, as demands for services increase. A large number of refugees who recently resettled to B.C. struggled to access appropriate mental health and trauma services, while low-income newcomers from all immigration streams found it difficult to access acceptable housing, which is one of the most basic aspects of settlement.
Thank you all for being here.
It's always good to recognize your work to welcome new immigrants, who will swell the ranks of the country and contribute to the Canadian economy and culture.
My question is for all the witnesses.
How do newcomers hear about your services? Is it only once they've arrived and are being looked after? If not, do they receive any information before they arrive, either through embassies or the Canadian immigrant integration program? Do immigrants who decide to settle in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario or other parts of Canada know about your services?
Who wants to answer first? It's up to you.
Don't fight to answer. Just go ahead. It's first come, first served.
Really how newcomers find out about services depends on the pathway through which they come to Canada. Those who come through as a GAR, as a government-assisted refugee, find out about services pre-arrival through the International Organization for Migration.
We also have a robust pre-arrival program now. A pre-arrival program for settlement services just recently finished negotiating their contribution agreements. After years of really intensive evaluation, now with these new organizations being funded, there are 16 organizations that are doing pre-arrival in many different ways. They're doing pre-arrival in core countries, in China, the Philippines, India and Morocco. There are online pre-arrival services being delivered, and there are also pre-arrival services targeting specific occupations. I know the B.C. Construction Association is targeting individuals to come in and work in the construction industry. There's one for technological supports. There's one that's focusing on nursing.
There is a lot of work being done pre-arrival and the department has put a great focus on that. We're really looking forward to seeing how that develops.
My understanding is that—
Thank you very much for that promotion, Mr. Chair.
Hi to all of you witnesses, and thanks for your presentations today, particularly Angela and Joy. It was a pleasure to have you here as well and to hear your concerns.
I know each of your organizations has federal government contact, particularly through the funding, as well as other resources that can be used.
Angela and Joy, whoever wants to answer, do you think there's enough flexibility in financing and resources in that agreement? If you think there could be some improvement, what suggestions would you put forward?
We are given some funding for interpretation, to provide interpretation, for us to provide services. The funding is for the settlement agency. But if they are to access services outside of our agency, it is beyond what we have or what is available for funding.
For example, in our local hospital, I know they provide interpretation for free for our newcomer clients, but if clients go to a private clinic, for instance, or their family doctor, it is the choice of the doctor to provide for that language support or not.
As for recommendations, this has to do also with the retention we were talking about earlier. If we want to retain people in our communities, we would like them to feel they are part of our community and they can actually access services. One of the barriers is language. I don't know who is responsible for providing what, but that is a need. It's not just in the medical field, even in the court system and banks, in all agencies they would access, language support is important.
We were working with, typically, 250 to 300, and it increased to about 1,000. Now we're down to about 400 a year, and I wanted to comment on some of the things that happened, but I guess I was muted.
Yes, we are the hub for the settlement of GARs in the region, and I think all of the issues that were mentioned by others, the medical issues and the issues with hospitals and interpretation, are all issues that we deal with. They are issues that don't seem to be recognized by the federal government.
I know that hospitals are a provincial issue, and I know that hospitals have budgets for interpretation, but they don't use them, so we probably spend 70% of our time dealing with medical issues in our community, trying to help people connect to services in the community. We have very few resources for that, and the work isn't recognized.
I think that, as the government thinks about what it can do to support refugees, infusion of funds to support connection to services, particularly in Kitchener-Waterloo, primary care physicians.... We probably have about 90 families right now without a primary care physician, so trying to connect people to doctors is a big part of the work we do, and it's not recognized as an integral part of the overall settlement process.
In terms of the employers, we are trying to work with employers to better connect people to the employment sector. We're working with two employers in Kitchener-Waterloo right now where we provide language training, because there are waiting lists in LINC for ESL classes in our region, and we're working with employers who hire people to provide language training on the work site, so people are working at the same time as they're learning English. We think that more flexibility in the delivery of language services is needed in our community.
My name is Bill Sinclair. I am the executive director at St. Stephen's Community House in Toronto, Ontario. Thank you for the invitation to speak.
St. Stephen's Community House is a non-profit charity and a community neighbourhood centre. We are one of the 500 community service providers funded by IRCC across Canada. Our mission is to serve everyone in our neighbourhoods. We were founded in 1962 to serve our largely immigrant community called Kensington Market, and still today immigrants account for up to 60% of the residents in our core neighbourhoods.
We partner with IRCC to deliver language instruction for new Canadians, LINC, and we offer settlement counselling for newcomers with staff who speak English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, Farsi and Russian. We also are the lead organization for our local immigration partnership, LIP, for our region. This partnership includes settlement services and mainstream services such as the school board, health service, legal services, employment services and municipal services, for example libraries, police and public health.
Funding from IRCC accounts for about 10% of our organizational budget. We also partner with the provincial and municipal governments and charitable sponsors such as the United Way to create a service hub in our community. We serve our whole community with a bundle of services for children, youth, adults and senior citizens in our neighbourhoods. We provide licensed child care funded by the municipality, employment skills training and placement funded by the province, health and recreational services for youth and senior citizens supported by the city and province, and more. In each of these services, we consider the needs of the whole family, and newcomers to Canada participate alongside immigrants who have been in Canada for decades as well as people who were born here.
Let me give you an example of integration of services. One of our participants, whom we'll call Connie, is a young woman living in downtown Toronto with her husband, whom we'll call Andy, and their three children aged four years, two years, and four months. Connie first connected with us when she was pregnant with her first child five years ago. She and her husband had both migrated separately from China and met here in Canada. He was an immigrant, and she was an international student. They married. Later, her husband became a citizen and fortunately became a very successful chef in a high-end restaurant in Toronto. Connie and her husband both attended LINC classes when they first arrived, and Connie continues them now through the birth of her three children.
We met Connie when she was pregnant, as we have IRCC-funded settlement workers who are physically located at five different community health centres to support pregnant women in the perinatal programs that are offered. Health Canada funds the food and transit for these group programs. The province funds the nurses, dietitians and midwives for the program, and IRCC, through us, funds the settlement workers and the interpreters. We see over 300 pregnant women a week at the five sites. We saw 900 women overall last year.
As each child was born, Connie went back to LINC classes, which had on-site childminding, but now all three of her children are in our fully licensed child care spaces alongside newcomer children and Canadian children of all incomes. Connie is eager to improve her English and to work. She'll be accessing our provincially funded employment program when her children go into kindergarten.
We believe in integrated services where immigrants and Canadians receive services together wherever possible. We believe in settlement and mainstream organizations working together for better settlement outcomes.
I want to congratulate IRCC for maintaining this robust and responsive network of community organizations to welcome and support newcomers all over the country. I want to congratulate them on their efforts, especially in recent years, to modernize our relationship with better partnerships and better contribution agreements. I would like to congratulate them particularly on the service delivery improvement projects, SDIPs, that you've heard about from other people, which have really been a great source of innovation and are really moving things forward with new approaches and working with vulnerable populations.
I have five recommendations.
First, settlement services should be part of multiservice community hubs. It would help greatly if IRCC allowed its service providers to work with people before and after their permanent resident status. We should have blended services, where temporary residents, refugee claimants, permanent residents and citizens can receive services together. This happens in our perinatal program that I just mentioned and that helps all the pregnant moms, the fathers and the children.
Second, we know this committee is seeking a way to measure settlement success. I urge you to use the LIP network. You fund 77 local immigration partnerships across the country to help communities define and measure success locally. LIPs work with mainstream and settlement organizations, large and small organizations, urban and rural neighbourhoods. There's no cookie-cutter approach. They should set goals for what success looks like and measure the goals together LIP by LIP. It's a case of where no one size fits all.
Third, please continue these service delivery improvement projects with a strong focus on working with vulnerable newcomers: women, youth and LGBTQ+ communities. It's an excellent innovation. It's only just begun and there will be a lot of good things coming out of it.
Fourth, our organization is committed to decent work and fighting the precarious nature of most non-profit work. We believe that our government contracts should support equitable and living wages for our employees, sick time, health benefits and retirement benefits. The success we all want for newcomers is not going to be achieved by a high turnover of staff and by a labour shortage of workers to work with them.
Finally, the majority of immigrants and refugees now and in the future are from racialized populations. Canada must address systemic racism through strong anti-racism laws and policies, including employment equity. Access to employment and professional accreditation will remain a challenge that we'll be talking about until we can counter systemic racism in the professions.
Honourable Chair, vice-chair, and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to be with you today and for the work you are doing on behalf of newcomers to our country.
My colleague and I both work for refugee claimant serving organizations in metro Vancouver, and the current study under way on settlement services across Canada is a very important activity. We're grateful to have a chance to provide some input for you today.
Just over a year ago, a study indicated that Vancouver was the least affordable city for housing in North America, making housing unbelievably difficult for the 2,300 asylum claimants who have been arriving in our city annually.
Unlike government or privately sponsored refugees, asylum claimants have no one to welcome them on arrival. As a signatory to the United Nations Refugee Convention, Canada has an international obligation to provide protection and a refugee hearing, but also has an obligation to provide help for asylum claimants in their access to basic human needs upon arrival.
For a combined 33 years, Journey Home Community and Kinbrace Community Society have been stepping into that gap by providing a wraparound plan for housing, support and accompaniment for these new arrivals.
We've learned some things in our work. First, living with and assisting refugee claimants all these years has helped us to understand the sector and develop some well-designed communities that have been effective in helping refugee claimants integrate well.
Secondly, we've learned that asylum claimants arrive with incredible skills, education, professional and business backgrounds, and have a strong desire to move forward with their lives and make a difference in their community, just the kinds of new Canadians we hope for. With a little assistance up front, we can set them up for success, and help them become strong, contributing members of our communities.
Today we come with some community-based solutions for how we can change the current reality into a cohesive plan for new arrivals. Our organizations are part of Vancouver's multi-agency partnership, which is a network of some 40 agencies with non-profits; businesses; all levels of government, including IRCC; the Immigration and Refugee Board; and Canada Border Services Agency. We meet monthly and the focus of the network is exclusively refugee claimants. There is a strong spirit of collaboration and goodwill.
Our vision, as a partnership, is that newly arriving asylum claimants would experience a cohesive approach for support along the whole housing continuum from arrival to something more permanent, and that no refugee claimant be without supported housing. Our immediate dream is that we develop a refugee claimant reception centre, a landing place for new arrivals where they can receive housing, orientation and support for the first few weeks of their journey, and then supported pathways out of the centre into the wider community.
Such a dream is garnering strong community interest and stakeholder support. It will take all levels of government and private funding. We have begun to see such support coalesce in Vancouver.
Allow me to read a short excerpt from a support letter of one stakeholder, BC Housing, British Columbia's crown corporation for social housing. This is from one of the associate vice-presidents of BC Housing:
It was a pleasure meeting with you to discuss Journey Home Community's desire to develop a Reception Center for refugee claimants and housing as part of this vision. We would very much like to commence exploring suitable housing options for these individuals and to that end we may be able to offer some program funding to achieve this.
Secondly, they state that they “will be requesting Journey Home Community to approach and garner partner assistance from municipalities, the Federal Government and other sources to create as much equity as possible for this housing project.”
Additional parties interested in such a concept include three churches with possible available land, private investors and a large significant foundation.
We have experienced an incredible spirit of co-operation and innovation from multiple stakeholders in Metro Vancouver as we have been pursuing this dream.
A few weeks ago, Journey Home was able to assist an asylum claimant father who had arrived in Vancouver with four young children under the age of four. He was wandering the streets of Vancouver on a winter night with four young children in tow, searching for help after he had run out of funds for hotel space. Our church partner volunteer, who had lost touch with this gentleman, had left her phone number with the hotel in case he called back. Fortunately, he did, and they were able to connect and bring him to the house for a safe night's rest, but not without considerable stress for the father.
Or I think of the family we were notified of about a year and a half ago. The family arrived with the father, so a pregnant mother and two children. They were split up between two shelters, men's and women's, and not allowed to visit each other in the shelters. Again we were able to provide a housing unit and actually reunite the family.
These situations should not happen in Canada, and they don't have to. Providing some basic level of compassionate care for newly arriving asylum claimants is neither a partisan issue nor a political issue. It's a human and moral issue, and Canada can respond.
We were encouraged with the announcement last week of federal funding becoming available for housing costs for refugee claimants. We recommend that the federal government join us in this opportunity to forge a new way for asylum claimant arrivals. We recommend that a new approach include the implementation of a reception centre, to be jointly funded by government and private funding, and that the federal government support this plan as we prove its viability in the Vancouver setting. This kind of centre is both transferable and scalable for other regions in Canada. Journey Home Community, in collaboration with the Multi-Agency Partnership, stands poised and ready to move forward in Metro Vancouver.
Will you partner with us? As this approach to assisting newly arriving asylum claimants continues to gain momentum in Vancouver, we urge you to lend your approval as it comes across your pathway. Better still, would you look for ways to approve and support such a plan?
As we finish today, if I may, I will just say that we would love to engage with any of you at a more personal level for your feedback and input. Loren and I will be around tonight and all of tomorrow and would welcome the opportunity to connect.
Again, thank you so much for the opportunity today. Both of us are here to answer any questions you may have.
Mr. Grunau, it's great to see people like you who do great work, but I won't take too much time on that. In the scenarios you gave, I presume they're not GARs or PSRs. They're not government sponsored or privately sponsored. These are people who may have landed here in one way, shape or form and then claimed asylum, and they don't have a welcome centre.
I assume that if you are a PSR, a privately sponsored refugee, your families would help you with all the issues in terms of housing and others, and if you're government sponsored, you should be given an agency to start work with, which helps you with housing and whatnot.
Can you give me a quick answer on that?