This project was a collaboration between the University of Alberta and the Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies of BC (AMSSA). Researchers undertook a comparative study of provincial funding programs for refugees and immigrants in Canada, focusing on disparities between regions, which might have a profound impact on successful integration and settlement for refugee youth.
Researchers’ primary objectives included identifying all provincial and territorial programs for immigrant and refugee settlement or language training, including targeted programming for refugee youth, where applicable. In addition to identifying disparities in funding across Canada, this review also produced a list of existing programs and their mandates. Because resettled refugees have Permanent Resident status upon arrival in Canada – and are not always differentiated as refugees in accessing services – this study included all settlement and multicultural funding (e.g. language, employment, and other settlement supports) as well as examining targeted funding for refugees and refugee youth.
The primary finding of this study is that most provincial budgets remained static between 2012 and 2017. Meanwhile, the number of newcomers admitted to Canada has continued to rise. The exception is Ontario, which has provided some additional funding through a new program. Meanwhile, Alberta has surpassed British Columbia in the number of immigrants, but funding has remained flat or stable. In other words, Alberta underfunds programs for immigrants and refugees. Federal funding for Settlement and Resettlement was declining for years until 2015-2017 when it rose again, albeit this might be a temporary increase attributable to the influx of Syrian refugees. The sharpest drop in funding has been in British Columbia. This is a result of a major policy change in 2014 whereby the federal government stopped transferring funds to the province to administer federal programs in this sector. It is unclear, however, if the federal government has provided the same level of funding in British Columbia since 2014. The Atlantic Provinces have an relatively high per capita funding ratio. Overall, however, Ontario provides the most funding for immigration and settlement while receiving the highest amount of federal transfer payments.
This report also identifies provincial programs that are dedicated to assisting immigrants and refugees. The largest amount of money is allocated to settlement and integration services for newcomers. Most provinces also have substantial programs for economic and labour market integration. Language training is usually subsumed within labour market integration programs except in Alberta.