The federal government has announced $35 million in new money over the next three years to improve and expand immigration settlement services in small towns and rural communities.
"Our investment today will be key to enhance access to support services in smaller and rural communities that will support newcomer families and provide the tools for their long-term success in the years ahead," said Immigration Minister Sean Fraser.
Part of that money — $21 million — will be used to establish nine new resettlement assistance program service providers in B.C., Alberta, Manitoba and New Brunswick to reduce pressure on the 32 providers currently operating across the country.
The remaining $14 million will go to improving services provided by 14 existing program centres and will fund a pilot project to boost settlement services for Francophone newcomers who settle in the Prairies.
The federal government said in a media statement that the funding will help newcomers "reach their full potential quicker" by helping them to learn English or French and acquire job skills.
The resettlement assistance program operates in all provinces except Quebec, providing newcomers with direct financial support and paying service providers to deliver essential services.
The financial support offered to newcomers through the program includes a one-time start-up allowance and monthly income support, which lasts for one year or until a given newcomer can support themselves independently.
1.2 million new Canadians
In 2020, the Liberal government plans to bring in more than 1.2 million immigrants over three years, despite hurdles created by the global pandemic.
The plan would see 401,000 new permanent residents arrive in Canada in 2021, 411,000 in 2022 and 421,000 in 2023.
Today, Fraser said the federal government is "more than on track" to meet that goal.
"We expect that if we remain on the current schedule, we will be able to meet or exceed the goal of 411,000 for this year and 421,000 for the year after," he said.
The federal government said the numbers — which represent an increase of about 50,000 a year — aim to compensate for the shortfall in immigration caused by the pandemic and represent about one per cent of Canada's population.
The federal government also has pledged to bring over 40,000 Afghan refugees to Canada.
Fraser said 6,750 of those refugees have arrived in Canada and he expects that number to exceed 7,000 by the end of the week.
He also said that he expects all 40,000 refugees to have been resettled by sometime next year.