In British Columbia there are immigrant service centres located across the province. These lively centres provide newcomers with free access to helpful settlement services which provide a wide range of activities, classes and workshops.
A Canadian model of settlement and integration which aims to enable newcomers such as newly arrived immigrants, refugees, new Canadians and live-in caregivers to adapt, settle and integrate into Canadian society socially, economically as quickly and comfortably as possible.
Services include newcomer’s orientation and information, form filling assistance, assisted access to services and social support that focus on cross-cultural interpretation, family adjustment issues, settlement counseling, life skills workshops and community connections, community events, services and institutions.
These services are available for all newcomers, however there is a myth that settlement services are not used by the wealthy or professionally educated community. This is not true, people from a wide range of backgrounds use these helpful services to start their new life in Canada.
Suddhodan Raj Baidya, Settlement Program Officer at SUCCESS says, ” Rich new immigrants and highly skilled professional new immigrants still use new immigrant services in the field of learning English and job search/labour market activities. For example, the Success location on Granville, their ELSA students mostly came from investment categories. My own clients who needed job search assistance are mostly all highly skilled professionals.”
The settlement services are valuable to a wide range of newcomers, the services are a great way to help people who are new to Canada understand the cultural norms and be a part of the local community.
“We have had a client arrive in a very nice luxury car and he also owns a very well known cafe,” says Ziggy Hui, Employment Mentoring Program Coordinator at SUCCESS “we also have many PhD newcomers who come to use our mentoring services.”
The settlement services are available in different languages for people arriving from different countries around the world. There are immigrant services centres across British Columbia to help newcomers who live in different parts of the province.
Settlement Service Offerings include:
Newcomer Orientation and Information
They can help a newcomer learn about the basics of settling in Canada. The services provides clients with help in:
- Finding housing
- School information for children
- Tax information and benefits
- Learning how to find employment
- Childcare resources and child tax benefits
Form Filling Assistance
Settling in Canada will require registration with various agencies. This will involve filling a variety of forms which will be filed with the related institutions. You can speak to Settlements Services counselors to help you in filling forms for your:
- Social Insurance Number (SIN)
- MSP/Premium Assistance
- Canada Child Tax Benefits (CCTB)
- BC Housing/Rental Assistance Program
- Employment Insurance (EI)
- Childcare subsidy
- Immigration applications
- GST/HST Credit application
Adjustment and Social Support
One of the problems faced by newcomers is to be able familiarize yourself with Canadian culture. Homesickness, coping with a new environment, dealing with community members from diverse ethnicities are just some of the hurdles new immigrants face as they adjust to their new life in Canada. Settlement centres can provides support services such as:
- Cross-cultural orientation
- Family adjustment issues
- Significant life changes
Life Skills Workshops
It can help new immigrants to be equipped with the basic tools and help ease your adjustment into the community. Workshops held at the centres can provide information that ease the integration of newcomers. Workshop topics include:
- Community resources
- Employment Standards and Labour Code
- Immigration process and options
- Legal rights
- Values and self-esteem
- English communication skills
- Basic computer courses
- Preparing for citizenship
Other Programs and Services
- Employment service centre
- Social mentoring or job mentoring
- Tax Clinic
- Legal advice
- Youth Program
- Seniors Program
To find out more about the settlement services available in different locations in British Columbia visit:
Written by Sacha DeVoretz, blog contributor to Bell Alliance Global Immigration Services Inc.