Immigration services could use improvement

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July 23, 2015 8:15 AM

Photo Submitted Lloydminster's primary immigration actors, like the City of Lloydminster, the Catholic Social Services Gateway and the Lloydminster Learning Council Association, play a significant role in the ability for immigrants successfully integrate into a new lifestyle. - Photo supplied

The City of Lloydminster would be a suitable candidate for Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s Local Immigration Partnership (LIP) program, according to a thesis written at Memorial University in Newfoundland.

The paper, authored by Lloydminster native Elena Fenrick, examines how the city’s organizations and institutions, or “immigration actors” support foreign newcomers as they integrate into a new society.

“My research was looking at how the organizations that serve this population had networked over time, and if that network has improved as more people have started coming to the community,” said Fenrick, who wrote the thesis for her Master of Arts. “There’s a spike in immigration around 2006 when the economy really improved due to the oil.”

Lloydminster’s main relevant immigration actors include the City of Lloydminster, the Catholic Social Services Gateway and the Lloydminster Learning Council Association. All three help newcomers connect to services within and near the Border City.

In total, Fenrick identified 37 relevant institutional actors and 13 participated in a long-answer survey. The survey analyzed how connected the actors are on immigration issues, and the quality of service the actors provide to newcomers.

Meanwhile, the LIP provides communities with federal funding that helps municipalities improve such services to benefit its immigrants. Amongst other factors, newcomers typically face issues rooted in linguistic and cultural barriers, education, healthcare and housing.

In her findings, Fenrick says that some organizations, like the Catholic Social Services Gateway, could benefit greatly from the ability to expand its services.

“Some of the 13 respondents felt that the Catholic Social Services Gateway is limited in what they’re able to provide because of funding constraints,” Fenrick explained.

However, Fenrick also noted that Lloydminster’s immigration actors have made respectable progress since 2006. Specifically, the Lloydminster Learning Council Association, which offers educational experiences outside of school, garnered positive feedback from respondents.

“They’ve started offering some workplace english classes, so not only do they take ESL classes, but specialized classes for employers,” Fenrick said. “That’s something that’s needed in Lloydminster, being able to have employees who are familiar with language that’s useful in the workplace.”

The Community Supports for Immigration committee also drew positive responses, but falls short in areas like accessibility - Fenrick says she couldn’t even find the organization’s website.

Funding from the LIP would allow Lloydminster to boost its social services, thereby helping immigrants transition to a city that can be more complex because of its bi-provincial status.

Fenrick’s full report, titled “Municipal Newcomer Assistance in Lloydminster: Evaluating Policy Networks in Immigration Settlement Services”, was published in April, while the condensed version was released this month.

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