New fund supports Afghan refugees to resettle in B.C.
A new $2-million fund will help the Province boost local services and supports for families resettling in British Columbia due to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
The Refugee Readiness Fund is a one-time investment to ensure that B.C. communities are ready to welcome and respond to the needs of refugees from Afghanistan who are resettling in the province.
The federal commitment is to resettle 40,000 Afghans to Canada, which means B.C. is preparing to welcome thousands of families and individuals over the coming months and years.
“Our hearts go out to every refugee who has had to flee their home, leaving family members, friends and all their possessions behind,” said Josie Osborne, Minister of Municipal Affairs. “The Refugee Readiness Fund recognizes the severity of the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and shows that British Columbia is ready to do its part to provide safe, inclusive and welcoming supports for Afghan families.”
The Refugee Readiness Fund will complement services already in place and support community capacity to successfully welcome Afghan individuals, families and children. Communities play an important role in helping refugees build new lives, facilitating connections to important services and supports, and creating a sense of security.
The Refugee Readiness Fund will assist with enhancing and co-ordinating community-level supports, such as:
- information and education;
- career guidance;
- trauma counselling; and
- mental-health supports.
As a result of the fund, refugees will benefit from enhanced services and supports. Communities will also benefit from a co-ordinated approach to delivering services, using shared knowledge and drawing from expertise throughout the province.
“As a former refugee, I know investing in our newcomers today means investing in Canada’s future,” said Froozan Jooya, executive director, Beacon for Hope for Afghan Children Society. “When I arrived in Canada as a child, my parents did not have the financial means to support us, but through the short-term assistance of our private sponsor and my family’s hard work, we were able to flourish in our new home. Today, all the members of my family are both educated and productive members of our community.”
Many government-sponsored refugees will settle in Metro Vancouver. Others will go to communities, such as Victoria and Kelowna, where resettlement supports exist.
The B.C. government continues to work closely with the federal government to identify opportunities in a wider range of communities where social and economic supports can be increased. Additionally, refugees will arrive through private sponsorship groups to many B.C. communities.
The Immigration branch of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs will consult with community organizations to determine how the fund can best be used to support the Afghan refugees. A procurement notice will be posted on BC Bid in early December.
- In September 2021, the Government of Canada doubled its commitment for Afghan resettlement in Canada from 20,000 to 40,000 people.
- All refugees arriving in Canada have access to federal settlement services, which include needs assessment and referral, language assessment and training, and financial supports.
- The B.C. government funds select services for refugees, including trauma counselling and the Career Paths for Skilled Immigrants program.
- The Province will waive the three-month waiting period to enrol in the Medical Services Plan, which will allow refugees to get immediate medical care.
- The Refugee Readiness Fund is modelled after a similar program that supported organizations and communities to welcome refugees during Operation in Syria 2015-16.
- B.C. welcomed 4,595 refugees in 2016 during Operation in Syria.
- In 2020, B.C. received 1,610 refugees, which was lower than normal due to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on national resettlement efforts.
BC Refugee Hub: https://bcrefugeehub.ca/
Canada’s response to the situation in Afghanistan: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/refugees/afghanistan.html
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