Language training, healthcare and employment top 3 needs for newcomers

By on March 25, 2015

Queenie Choo

Coquitlam, B.C. – The Tri-Cities has recently experienced a significantly higher growth in its immigrant population compared to the rest of Metro Vancouver. To determine the newcomers’ perceived community integration needs with regard to social, political, cultural and economic participation in the region, the Tri-Cities Local Immigration Partnership (TCLIP), co-chaired by S.U.C.C.E.S.S. and SHARE Family & Community Services, has completed a research on Civic Engagement of Immigrants in Tri-Cities and the findings were released today at the Community Forum with more than 80 stakeholders and newcomers in the Tri-Cities.

Martin Wyant, CEO of SHARE Family & Community Services Society stated, “this research gives us a clearer picture of the challenges associated with being a newcomer in our community, but it also shows us that we are doing many things very well. It’s not just about what we can do to welcome newcomers to our community; it’s also about building relationships that are based on reciprocity, about believing that each of us has a role to play and skills and knowledge to offer, that can make our community stronger.”
Findings on newcomers’ settlement and integration needs reveal that language training, learning about and accessing health care services, as well as finding a job were the top three areas in which immigrants reported needing help. Also, unemployment/underemployment and financial difficulties remain a problem for immigrants regardless of how long they have been living in the Tri-Cities.

Data on newcomers’ connection with their community reveal that social isolation is a challenge as 40 percent of respondents indicated that they are alone more often than they would like. Data also reveal that civic participation of immigrants is high in social and cultural activities, while participation in political and economic activities is lower than the national average. It is important to address these findings as respondents who feel more connected to their community are more likely to report higher levels of overall satisfaction with their life in the Tri-Cities.

According to the most recent census by Statistics Canada, 36.9 percent of residents in the Tri-Cities are immigrants. Finding on civic engagement has provided insight on newcomers’ connections with their communities.

“The community forum held recently provided an opportunity for stakeholders to discuss and develop creative solutions to promote immigrant integration and civic engagement while creating a sense of belonging among people within the community,” said Queenie Choo, CEO of S.U.C.C.E.S.S. “The input and feedback obtained from this forum will enable the TCLIP Council to develop its Strategic Plan on immigrant integration for the Tri-Cities,” Choo added.

The Civic Engagement of Immigrants in Tri-Cities survey was conducted by Reichert and Associates, a Vancouver based research firm on behalf of the TCLIP. A variety of methods were used to gather this information. Apart from key informant interviews, 32 surveys were completed by the regional community organizations and a total of 288 surveys by newcomers in the Tri-Cities were completed in English, Farsi, Mandarin and Korean. As well, a total of 3 focus group sessions with 25 newcomers were also conducted in these languages.