Born outside Canada, now living here? Vancouver wants your input to improve support for newcomers

immigrant-emailerAre you a Vancouver resident born outside of Canada?

If so, the City of Vancouver needs your help to improve its services to ensure the best possible success for newcomers to our community.

You can do it going online before Feb. 27 to fill in a simple online survey, in either English or Chinese at vancouver.ca/immigrant-survey. It’s a quick and easy way to help our city serve people like you.

We’d like to hear from foreign-born residents about your experiences settling in our city, especially your recommendations to ease the transition and make life more prosperous and successful for newcomers.

The online survey has been organized by the Vancouver City Local Immigration Partnership, a new city initiative funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada to enhance services for immigrants and newcomers, improve their work experience and increase the capacity of local governments to meet their needs.

Mayor Gregor Robertson’s Working Group on Immigration, which I co-chair with Prof. Dan Hiebert of UBC, oversees the VCLIP program.

With newcomers making such an important contribution to our community — and our future – it’s important to know what we can do as a city to make their experience positive and successful.

Canada may be their new country, but Vancouver is their new home, and there’s much the city can do to support newcomers.

The “first responders” are, in many cases, the well-established immigrant settlement services in the city, which the city supports in many ways.

But increasingly, new arrivals are finding their own way, perhaps relying on resources of the local public library, or a network of friends and fellow country-people.

The survey has been developed with the support of the VCLIP team by SPARC-BC. It aims to learn from immigrants living in the city, both long-time residents and newcomers, about their experiences in accessing services, finding employment, and participating in the community.

The survey’s 31 questions take about 20 – 25 minutes to fill out.  Respondents must be immigrants (someone born outside of Canada) and residents of Vancouver.

With more and more new arrivals coming for specific jobs, “express entry,” or as part of temporary work programs, the demands on city services are changing.

What are newcomers’ needs for housing? Transportation? Health services? The survey information will be invaluable in assessing the community’s current capacity and future needs.

VCLIP will add enormously to the city’s understanding of all these issues. Organized into five key areas, from delivery of city services to improving the work experience of newcomers, VCLIP is pulling together the advice and input of scores of community activists and organizations.

Its efforts build on the recent city initiatives to public a newcomers’ guide and the Dialogues Project, which sought ways to introduce the role and significance of First Nations’ experience in Vancouver to newcomers.

Canada’s immigration policies have changed more in the past five years than in the past 25 and those changes continue, from a freeze on temporary foreign workers to the implementation of “express entry.”

If ever there was a time to be sure we were doing everything possible to support newcomers, it is now.

Please help, if you can, by filling out the survey.