Group banned from mentioning funding cuts at meeting
When members of the York South-Weston Local Immigration Partnership (LIP) planned to address $53 million in slashed funding at a meeting, Citizenship and Immigration Canada sent an email that banned any discussion of the cuts. The twenty six immigrant service agencies in the LIP, a group that coordinates newcomer programs to make sure services aren’t duplicated, received a mass email from federal settlement officer Nina Serrano.
“I don’t believe that CIC settlement funding is a topic for the . . . meeting and therefore it should not be an agenda item,” the note said.
Community Action Resource Centre executive director Marion Newrick thought CIC had no right to silence them.
“We are all community volunteers. CIC doesn’t even cover our time to go to these meetings,” she said.
Still, the group complied, and forwarded the minutes of the meeting to the department the next day, as per the government’s request.
The immigration department said that the email was sent by mistake, and that there was no government directive.
Group was planning to discuss how to deal with cuts
The LIP wanted to explore the extent of the federal cuts, and how that would affect services.
Agency representatives described the email as a bullying tactic by Ottawa to thwart attempts to coordinate services to fill the gaps created by the cuts.
West Downtown Toronto area will suffer from cuts
The funding cuts will severely affect the immigrant service agencies, which may force some of them to close down. Organizations in Toronto stand to lose between 15-40% of their funding.
Of the 30,000 immigrants in the West Downtown Toronto area, one in six is a recent arrival. Seven percent of the area’s residents and 11% of recent immigrants are unable to speak English. The funding cuts will jeopardize the services necessary to assist these new immigrants to integrate into society.