County to get $63K in new federal funds to support immigrants

Collingwood Today

Jessica Owen Collingwood Today September 28, 2022

An influx of cash has followed an influx of newcomers to Simcoe County.

Language data released last month as part of the 2021 census illustrates the number of Simcoe County residents whose first language is not English or French increased by 40.5 per cent since 2016. There were 2,290 immigrants who landed directly in Simcoe County in 2021, which is a sharp increase from 605 in 2020, according to county statistics. 

During Tuesday’s committee of the whole meeting of County of Simcoe council, councillors received a report outlining changes to an agreement between the county’s Local Immigration Partnership (LIP) program and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that will see $63,588 in new funds funnelled into the program in 2022/23 to support the increase in new immigrants landing in Simcoe County.

“This has increased our capacity on a few fronts,” said Sandra Lee, manager of community programs with the County of Simcoe. “It means we’ll be able to do more work with private-sector employers.”

“We have seen an increased volume of activity in Simcoe County. Immigrants arrive (here) through different pathways,” she said.

The new funding will add to $206,000 the LIP program already receives annually through the partnership. The amendment provides the first substantial increase in funding to the LIP since annual cutbacks took place between 2014 and 2021.

The current agreement funds activities such as hosting meetings of the LIP council, co-ordinating activities for new immigrants to the area, holding discussions on diversity and newcomer integration and organizing events such as the annual Newcomer Recognition Awards and the #ITSTARTS campaign.

Under the amended agreement, the LIP will also be responsible to organize a new event in March 2023 called Week of Welcome (WOW), hold employer consultations to include their input into the 2023 Community Settlement Strategy and run a private-sector pilot project for the 2023 #ITSTARTS campaign.

Earlier this summer, Lee says the county did an immigrant survey where they asked newcomers about their experiences, challenges and successes when moving into Simcoe County.

Out of that survey, Lee said 48 per cent of respondents said one of their biggest challenges was finding a job in Simcoe County.

“Finding an employer that recognized their international credentials was a challenge,” said Lee. “There’s a lot of work to be done to facilitate the transition of immigrant talent into our workplaces.”