Hiding behind a message of accountability, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced funding cuts to immigrant settlement services across the country.
For many new Canadians, these are primary services to help them integrate by learning English and get help finding accommodations, jobs, schools and other adjustments.
In Northumberland, the New Canadians Centre on Covert Street has not announced how this may affect its efforts. Luz Ofelia Maya has run the centre since June 2007. It is part of an operation run out of Peterborough.
While the Tories are saying it is only a 10 per cent cut in the $340 million budget, critics say Ontario is bearing the majority of the cuts (an estimated 85 per cent of the funding).
No one should be surprised. The same thing happened to non-government organizations since Prime Minister Stephen Harper came to power.
Only two weeks ago, cuts were announced to the Canadian Council for International Co-operation, a group representing non-government and foreign aid organizations. This follows other massive cuts by CIDA minister Bev Oda. KAIROS, a church-based NGO, saw its funding completely cut.
Besides the reduction in funding, these organizations are being forced to fundraise greater portions of their budgets, along with putting in place more accountability features. While these are noble goals, it does little to mask the lack of financial support from the government. And, it feeds off of people’s xenophobic nature rather than promote a cosmopolitan society.
Northumberland MP Rick Norlock needs to confirm local services will not be cut and NGOs, like Horizons of Friendship, will continue to get the necessary funding needed to carry out important community-based programs.