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Government-Assisted Refugee Settlement in BC Metropolis BC Policy Research Symposium. Presented by Gulalai Habib November 7th, 2008. Agenda. Current context – (2007-2008) Refugee Settlement outcomes – (2003-2005) – key findings Present and future trends Suggested action plan.

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government assisted refugee settlement in bc metropolis bc policy research symposium

Government-Assisted Refugee Settlement in BCMetropolis BC Policy Research Symposium

Presented by

Gulalai Habib

November 7th, 2008

agenda
Agenda
  • Current context – (2007-2008)
  • Refugee Settlement outcomes –

(2003-2005) – key findings

  • Present and future trends
  • Suggested action plan
1 current context january october 2008
1. Current context January-October 2008
  • 800-900 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
current context jan sept 2008 cont d
Current context Jan.-Sept. 2008 – 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
current context jan sept 2008 cont d1
Current context - Jan.-Sept. 2008 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%)
current context jan sept 2008 cont d2
Current context - Jan.-Sept. 2008 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
refugee settlement outcomes the new beginnings research 2003 2005 a pre departure information
Refugee Settlement Outcomes –The “New Beginnings” Research - 2003-2005a. 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.
slide8

b. Arrival and Orientation

  • 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
slide9

c. Subsequent Settlement Outcomes

  • ESL 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.
slide10

Finances

  • 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.
slide11

Employment

  • 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.
slide12

Health

  • Respondents from 2003 rated their physical health less well than those who arrived during 2005.
  • 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.
slide13

Racism, 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.
slide14
Despite the challenges individuals reported,92% of all respondents stated that they were either ‘Very Happy’ or ‘Happy’ at having moved to Canada.
slide15

3. Present and Future Trends

  • 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
present and future trends cont d
Present and Future Trends – cont’d
  • 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 d1
Present and Future Trends – cont’d
  • 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 d2
Present and Future Trends – cont’d
  • Increase settlement to Fraser Region – 2007 - 78% of all GARs
  • Creation of multi-barrier low-income ethnic enclaves
present and future trends cont d3
Present and Future Trends – cont’d
  • 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
present and future trends cont d4
Present and Future Trends – cont’d
  • 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 d5
Present and Future Trends – cont’d
  • 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
4 suggested action plan
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
suggested action plan cont d
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
suggested action plan cont d1
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
suggested action plan cont d2
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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