New plan to help immigrants settle in Grey-Bruce and fill vacant jobs

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A five-year plan approved last month by county councils in Grey-Bruce was created to attract and keep newcomers and immigrants to help employers desperate for workers.

But Jacinda Rudolph, who is involved in implementing the plan, says its more than an employee recruitment tool.

It’s a community response by organizations to help people who may not speak English find places to live and navigate systems — from enrolling kids in school to making doctor appointments to getting a driver’s licence.

The Grey Bruce Local Immigration Settlement Strategy 2025 is a framework built on consultations with stakeholders which begins to identify what needs to be done, Rudolph said. She’s a Grey County economic development officer whose focus has been on immigrant settlement.

The plan sets out seven general priorities, which include support for newcomers and employers, broader workplace-culture understanding and community cultural acceptance, recognition of foreign credentials and efforts against workplace racism.


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But the lack of housing is among the “most serious challenges” in attracting newcomers, the plan says. And something needs to be done to address community racism and fear concerning newcomers, it says.

A new group of refugees and other new Canadians began settling in Owen Sound about 2015, mainly under sponsorships of local churches and small groups. Currently about 140  newcomers have been assisted by the Y’s settlement services in Grey-Bruce.

Initially, local people helped newcomers find homes, accompanied them to appointments as translators, helped them apply for driver’s licences and navigate daily life. Those relationships remain but this latest funding for the strategic plan and staff, and earlier initiatives, have begun to formalize and increase efforts.

Grey and Bruce economic development staff and the program’s full-time co-ordinator and part-time assistant, will now help select which items in the plan the committee should discuss, to set priorities and figure out who should tackle what.

Rudolph said the biggest immediate needs include interpretation and English as a second language services as well as housing.

Immigrants need help to better understand Canadian workplaces and the systems many people take for granted, and to learn about social circles and faith-based groups.

The plan identifies having a multicultural centre as something that would help people connect with others from the same culture, for example. Maybe partners could help find funding and together get one built, Rudolph suggested.


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The plan also calls for an “immigrant employment council,” consisting of employees who are newcomers and employers who once were newcomers themselves. It would share Canadian workplace cultural norms and help employers meet immigrant workers’ needs.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is providing about $140,000 per year for three years, and possibly five years if extended. The money pays for two staff, consultants, training and marketing.

Separately, federal funding supports YMCA Grey Bruce Settlement Services, to work one-on-one with newcomers and immigrants over the same five years.

The Local Immigration Program committee in Grey-Bruce has more than 40 member organizations and it meets quarterly. Sectors represented include education, social services, municipal representation and others, including immigrant-led business, a structure intended to help co-ordinate services for immigrants and which may provide access to funding for initiatives, Rudolph said.

Sub-committees have just been set up to tackle issues broadly categorized as “community,” “employment” and “belonging”.

Other government programs to help integrate immigrants into the community have included an 18-month project to help women join the workforce. Making Grey Bruce Home and the New to Grey recruitment and retention initiative were others.

Grey County has bused up groups of mostly well educated and skilled immigrants with help from the Newcomer Centre of Peel, under the Rural Employment Initiative. That helps unemployed internationally trained professionals and other skilled workers who speak English well to resettle in rural areas.

Local initiatives began as the result of efforts to bring Syrian refugees to Grey-Bruce in 2015 and 2016, following the Canadian government’s commitment in late 2015 to bring thousands of Syrian refugees to the country.


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