Speaking notes for Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship: An announcement on the Pre-arrival Settlement Services Program

Speech

As Delivered

S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Social Services Centre
Vancouver, British Columbia

Good morning. Thank you for joining us here at S.U.C.C.E.S.S.

Before I begin I’d like to acknowledge that we are on the traditional territories of the Musqueam, the Tsleil-Waututh and the Squamish Nations.

As their name suggests, S.U.C.C.E.S.S. has been helping newcomers to succeed in our country for more than 45 years.

Canadians recognize that welcoming newcomers to Canada and helping them succeed is a great source of national strength. Of course, we’ve seen many examples of immigration’s positive impact right here in Vancouver for generations.

Take the case of David Labistour, the CEO of Mountain Equipment Corp and winner of B.C.’s 2017 CEO Award. Mr. Labistour was born in South Africa and immigrated to Canada in 1999. He became the CEO of Mountain Equipment Corp. in 2008 and has since added new stores right across Canada. The headquarters of this company now employs 350 people in Vancouver and MEC employs a staff of nearly 2,500 people across Canada.

Another example is Melinda Dhaliwal. She was born in India and arrived in Vancouver in 1999, where she studied engineering at the University of British Columbia. In 2013, she became the co-founder of Lion’s Gate funding group, a successful venture capital firm that specializes in India-focused international venture projects. Lion’s Gate has since provided over $900 million in capital for 4,398 projects.

Many of these types of success stories can be found right here in Vancouver and in communities right across the country.

I meet people all across Canada every day who have contributed so much to Canada after arriving as newcomers. In addition to their economic contributions, we know that immigrants to Canada have been an extraordinary source of strength for our social and cultural wellbeing, making significant contributions to our performing arts, sciences, education and technology.

The positive role that immigrants play in our economy and society underscores just how important it is for us to ensure that all newcomers to Canada succeed because, when newcomers and immigrants to succeed in Canada, Canada succeeds as well. For this to happen we need to ensure that newcomers have the tools they need to be able to find their way in Canadian society.

Learning a new language and settling into a new society are some of the challenges that newcomers face. As someone who arrived in Canada at the age of 16, I know firsthand what those challenges can be about and I relied on the generosity of Canadians and settlement services to not only settle but integrate into Canadian society.

Without that warm embrace and welcoming nature of Canadians and the services that newcomers rely on, I wouldn’t be where I am today. But having said that, I always wonder if some of those initial challenges that I faced and some of the initial challenges that newcomers continue to face were avoidable.

That is precisely what the Government of Canada is trying to do with our Pre-arrival Services Program. We aim to assist newcomers in overcoming barriers and initial hurdles to settlement and integration before they arrive in Canada. By providing newcomers with vital information and supports while they are still abroad, they are more likely to have realistic expectations of their new life in Canada.

They are more likely to be better prepared for life in Canada and they are more likely to “hit the ground running.” In addition to orientation services, pre-arrival settlement services help newcomers to enter the job market, practice in their profession and find employment in their field.

When we select a foreign-trained engineer or medical professional to come to Vancouver, we have to equip them so they can practice in their chosen field and benefit the people of Vancouver and the surrounding community. That is why pre-arrival services also include supports such as getting the first steps going in the recognition of foreign trained credentials.

We know our pre-arrival settlement program is working because we hear from newcomers themselves. In a recent survey of newcomers who already benefited from pre-arrival services, the overwhelming majority of those newcomers felt they were better prepared for their new life in Canada.

Also, an evaluation of the Pre-arrival Services Program found that participants are gaining knowledge of life in Canada and the job market at a higher rate than those who have not used those services. For all these reasons, the government places great importance on providing newcomers with the settlement support services they need before they arrive.

Therefore, that is why the government of Canada will invest nearly $113 million towards an improved Pre-arrival Settlement Services Program for newcomers, through to the year 2023.

Under this renewed program, there will be three dedicated pathways for key groups: economic and family class immigrants, francophone immigrants, and refugees. Sixteen experienced service provider organizations with proven track records, results and strong partnerships will deliver virtual and in-person services to newcomers around the world before they arrive in Canada.

Over the years, S.U.C.C.E.S.S. has been a very important partner in helping us to deliver our pre-arrival settlement services program.

That is why, as part of IRCC’s renewed Pre-arrival Settlement Services Program, I am very happy to announce that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada will provide SUCCESS with an additional investment of $22.4 million to deliver these important services.

Through this additional $22.4 million investment, SUCCESS will be able to further expand its pre-arrival services to more clients abroad, which means more newcomers and refugees will be better prepared for their life in Canada and better equipped for success.

Because we know that when newcomers to Canada succeed, Canada succeeds. Of course, once they do arrive, S.U.C.C.E.S.S. will continue to play an important role in these newcomers’ settlement journey.

With today’s funding announcement, SUCCESS will be able to assist even more newcomers who are getting ready to come to Canada, giving them the tools they need to succeed, moving them closer to having their foreign credentials recognized, moving them closer to transition to the Canadian labour market before they even leave their country.

This is why pre-arrival services are so important and this is why our government believes in further investments in organizations like SUCCESS that are delivering these crucial services for newcomers and overall for Canada.

Thank you.


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