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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.


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


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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.



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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