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Government-Assisted Refugee Settlement in BC Metropolis BC Policy Research Symposium Presented by Gulalai Habib November 7th, 2008.

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Presentation on theme: "Government-Assisted Refugee Settlement in BC Metropolis BC Policy Research Symposium Presented by Gulalai Habib November 7th, 2008."— Presentation transcript:

1 Government-Assisted Refugee Settlement in BC Metropolis BC Policy Research Symposium Presented by Gulalai Habib November 7th, 2008

2 Agenda Current context – ( ) Refugee Settlement outcomes – ( ) – key findings Present and future trends Suggested action plan

3 1. Current context January-October government-assisted refugees (GARS) arrive in Vancouver annually 50% of GARs tend to arrive between September 1 - December 15th As of October, 2008, 61% of GARs destined to BC have arrived

4 Current context Jan.-Sept – cont’d 487 Individuals or 187 family units 52.2% female & 47.8% male 18 single parent families (4%) 223 individuals or 46% were children & youth under 18 years old 18% or 86 children were between 6 & 12 years old 14% or 66 children were under 5 years

5 Current context - Jan.-Sept cont’d Top 5 destinations by municipality -Surrey 138 individuals (28%) -Tri-Cities 101 (21%) -Langley 80 (16%) -Burnaby 46 (9%) -Vancouver 44 (9%) -North Vancouver 17 (4%) -Richmond (1%)

6 Current context - Jan.-Sept cont’d 20 different source countries – Top 5: Myanmar 160 (33%), Iran 70 (14%), Afghanistan 51 (11%), Iraq 50 (10%), & Ethiopia 25 (5%) Secondary migration from other provinces – 25 individuals / 17 units

7 Pre-departure Information 2.Refugee Settlement Outcomes – The “New Beginnings” Research a. Pre-departure Information 45% of respondents had been living outside their country of origin for more than 5 years and over 25% of respondents had been living outside their country of origin for more than 10 years. Many respondents wanted more information prior to their departure, e.g., about employment and educational opportunities, the need for English language skills and availability of ESL classes. 15% of respondents highlighted the need for more information about Canadian culture and lifestyle.

8 73% had no pre-existing family in Canada, while 69% had no friends when they first settled Common challenges concerning Housing search: –high rents and their limited income, –language barriers, and –finding housing large enough for their family Arrival and Orientation b. Arrival and Orientation

9 Subsequent Settlement Outcomes c. Subsequent Settlement Outcomes ESL and EducationESL and Education Nearly 60% of respondents from both 2003 and 2005 rated their English language skills as ‘ Not at all ’ or ‘ Beginner ’. Only 9% of respondents have undertaken additional education or skills training. Only 8.5% respondents have undertaken computer classes since their arrival in Canada.

10 FinancesFinances 26% of clients reported relying on food banks to feed themselves while receiving RAP income assistance. 26% of respondents reported spending 50-59% of their monthly income on rent. 28% of respondents reported spending more than 60% of their monthly income on rent.

11 EmploymentEmployment Families where no one is working – 66% Unemployment rate of all GARs – 78% –53% of GARs who arrived in 2003 are unemployed. –95% of GARs who arrived in 2005 are unemployed. Families dependent on Government assistance – 74% Of those who are employed: –44% are working in part-time jobs –78% stated that their current employment did not match their skills.

12 HealthHealth Respondents from 2003 rated their physical health less well than those who arrived during Among 2003 respondents – 15% stated they were disabled, 13% rated their health as poor while 17% rated their health as fair. When asked how many days out of the past month (March 2006) their health had impacted them, 30% stated more than 4 days.

13 Racism, Discrimination & Physical SafetyRacism, Discrimination & Physical Safety 83.5% of respondents stated that they had not faced any racism or discrimination since their arrival. Only a minority (12.5%) reported some form of racism or discrimination. Of the clients who did report racism or discrimination: –74% had been subjected to verbal abuse, –21% had faced physical violence, and –5% did not wish to comment.

14 Despite the challenges individuals reported, 92% of all respondents stated that they were either ‘ Very Happy ’ or ‘ Happy ’ at having moved to Canada.

15 Emergence of “at risk” multi-barrier low income ethnic enclave Increase in medically compromised clients Pro-tracked stays in refugee camps Little or no formal education experiences Higher rates of illiteracy 21% (April-June’08) & 34% (July-Sept.08) GARs are special need cases 3. Present and Future Trends

16 Langley has become a new destination (2007 – 18% of all GARs) Richmond – settlement of the first group of Karen GARs Increase percentage of children and youth – currently 47+% under 18 years Present and Future Trends – cont’d

17 Arrival of Bhutanese refugees – beginning March 2009 for the next 3+ years Increase arrivals of refugees from Asia who have been in protracted refugee camp situations Present and Future Trends – cont’d

18 Increase settlement to Fraser Region – % of all GARs Creation of multi-barrier low-income ethnic enclaves Present and Future Trends – cont’d

19 Significant increase since IRPA (June 2002) in special need cases Increasing numbers of at risk isolated families Disconnect between CIC policy and program goals is putting tremendous strain on service delivery system

20 BC and Federal RAP Income Support rates are driving one of the most vulnerable newcomer populations into abject poverty Started in 2007 and for the next decade we will receive significant numbers of government-assisted refugees from Asia (Karen, Rohingas, Chen, Bhutanese). None of these communities have any significant pre- existing populations in BC Present and Future Trends – cont’d

21 Refugee youth are not prepared for the Canadian school system and vice versa Our current service delivery models and interventions do not work particular well since IRPA Agency front-line staff are being called to tackle growing client issues without appropriate training standards Present and Future Trends – cont’d

22 4. Suggested Action Plan Multi-jurisdictional approach is required to support better GAR settlement outcomes ELSA allowable instructional hours need to be reviewed to allow illiterate students more time to learn English Bring back transportation subsidizes within ELSA for low-income students

23 Suggested Action Plan – cont’d Provincial - increase daycare spaces at all levels of ELSA Provincial - multi-barrier two-year pilot program – positive step forward - we need new innovative approaches Provincial - enhance the Community Bridging Program to allow all GARs the choice of a Host volunteer

24 Suggested Action Plan – cont’d MHSD – Income Support Rates need to be reviewed in light of growing poverty and at risk homelessness MHSD - Policy change needed to allow people to work without having any earned funds deducted dollar for dollar MHSD – allow GARs to learn English without putting pressure on them to look for employment

25 Suggested Action Plan – cont’d CIC – Review & revision of RAP based on the current characteristics of GARs Change the transportation loan program to a grant program CIC - Detach the RAP income support rates from MHSD CIC – Provide some English language training and better pre-departure orientation overseas CIC – Provide sufficient resources for Life Skills Support programs


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