KELOWNA – The Kelowna Community Resources Society has been chosen to lead a Refugee Response Team in Kelowna, Kamloops, Salmon Arm, Penticton and Vernon to help refugees settle and integrate into the community. Secondary teams may be located in parts of the Kootenays.
Funding will be provided in two instalments, with the first portion delivered immediately and the remainder in the summer when final settlement numbers are known. Supported by the initial $30,000 through the $1 million Refugee Readiness Fund, the Refugee Response Team will identify and prioritize short-term community needs to support a coordinated approach to helping refugees. Examples of the work the teams may do include providing links with employers or other labour market opportunities and coordinating community supports.
The team will have representatives from the refugee service provider community: settlement organizations, private sponsors, churches, educators, health care providers and employers. The Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Responsible for Labour will continue to engage with settlement communities across the Province to ensure they have the capacity to support any incoming refugees.
“These refugees are fleeing tremendous conflict and tragedy that most of us can’t begin to imagine,” says Premier Christy Clark, MLA for Westside-Kelowna. “Here in Kelowna and throughout B.C., we welcome these newcomers with open arms and look forward to helping them build new lives in our communities.”
“In addition to the $1 million Refugee Readiness Fund, the province funds a number of initiatives for newcomers,” says Norm Letnick, MLA for Kelowna Lake Country. “This includes $2.6 million for language training for the job market; $1.5 million through the Canada-BC job grant for job training and employment matching; and $4 million for services for newcomers not eligible for federal services.”
“B.C. also waives MSP wait periods and premiums for refugees and offers child care subsidies, the BC Childhood Tax Benefit, the BC Basic Family Bonus and Student Aid,” says Steve Thomson, MLA for Kelowna-Mission. “What’s more, each refugee student in public school in B.C. is funded from the Province’s pupil funding formula, and all refugees are able to access the Employment Program of B.C.”
To learn more, please visit the new enhanced WelcomeBC.ca which is streamlined, easier to use and available through mobile devices and social media: www.welcomebc.ca.