Addressing Newcomers’ Needs One Step at a Time

  • Mara
  • 2017-09-01

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IGNITE FREDERICTON COLUMN – September 2017

Addressing Newcomers’ Needs One Step at a Time

There are a number of strategic immigration initiatives underway, and it timely to provide a community update in terms of how the City of Fredericton is addressing newcomers’ needs.

For those who may not be aware, Ignite Fredericton is the City of Fredericton’s economic development catalyst agency, also responsible for municipal immigration efforts.

In 2011, the City of Fredericton made a critical decision to invest in a dedicated Immigration Coordinator position, to address population growth and skill shortages challenges.  This position, now referred to as the Population Growth Specialist, is currently housed at Ignite Fredericton, and Adriana Rivas is the point person coordinating efforts, hosting immigrants during their exploratory visits, conducting ongoing follow-up during the immigration process, and referring them to settlement agencies once they land.

In 2013, Ignite Fredericton led a community-driven solution to address newcomer integration by creating the Local Immigration Partnership of Fredericton (LIPF).  It was unanimously supported by Fredericton City Council in 2014 as part of our immigration strategy. The LIPF is chaired by Councillor Eric Megarity, City Council champion for immigration. The LIPF has received ongoing funding through Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada thanks to the support of our federal Member of Parliament, Matt Decourcey.

Recently, the LIPF moved to a more task force-driven approach, and is now called the Newcomer Partnership Council. Its main purpose is to actively and collaboratively work with community stakeholders, to establish long-term population growth objectives, and enable a welcoming  and inclusive environment within the Fredericton region. The Newcomer Partnership Council, through partnerships and committees, will be action-oriented to address newcomer challenges and opportunities outlined in the Fredericton Region Immigrant Settlement and Integration Strategy.  

 

The strategy, based on research, a gap analysis identifying integration obstacles and an asset mapping of settlement service organizations, identifies several strategic focus areas:

Employment and Training

Newcomer Integration

Entrepreneurship

Community Awareness

Children and Youth

Mental Health

 

Collaboration and partnerships are vitally important with respect to immigration; however, we all have a role to play.  Small steps do make a difference, and I would like to suggest the following for reflection:
What can citizens and employers do to support immigration efforts?

Hire newcomers, who offer fresh perspective and new ideas.

Be welcoming to your new neighbours or co-workers. Imagine what it would be like to move to a new country where you do not know anyone or are fleeing a war-torn country? This will help minimize their culture shock.

Help our newcomers build their networks and connections in the community.

Join a Newcomer Partnership Committee, and do your part in helping to make a difference in the settlement of our new citizens.

Offer internships in your places of business so that international students and newcomers can acquire local work experience.

 

What can government do to continue improving immigration pathways?

Targeted immigration attraction focussed on skill shortages.

Work with stakeholders serving newcomers to understand needs and implement actions to address them.

Create a provision in the Federal summer student program so that local businesses can hire international students, who are already living and studying here.

Ensure expedient processing time during the immigration process.

 

I would also like to take this opportunity to commend our partner organizations.

Newcomers now have access to a one-stop shop and full suite of entrepreneurial services from ideation, validation, to growth and maturity through the co-location of our sister organization, Planet Hatch, with the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce’s Business Immigrant Mentorship Program (BIMP), the Hive (business incubator program for immigrants) and Succession Connect program (matching newcomers with available businesses for sale).  This is partnership at its finest!

I would also like to commend the provincial and federal governments on customizing an immigration solution for Atlantic Canada.  The governments have made significant progress, but we will continue to urge for a federal provision to enable the hiring of our international students under the Canada Summer Student Program. Ignite has been beating this drum since 2012, and we applaud the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce for their strong voice and advocacy on this important issue, which has resulted in a supportive resolution by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.  

This is such a natural progression where our international students are already living and studying here - immersed in our community.  Why not give them the opportunity to gain valuable work experience during their post-secondary education years, so that they can easily transition into jobs post-graduation.   We predict this to be a much smoother pathway in terms of boosting our immigration numbers with respect to the Atlantic Immigration Pilot project. It will give us the means to retain our top-notch talent, address skill shortages, and further enrich our cultural diversity.

For more information about Fredericton’s Newcomer Partnership Council, and to learn how you can get involved, click here
 

Laurie Guthrie, EcD, BIS

Economic Development & Marketing Specialist

Ignite Fredericton | Knowledge Park | Planet Hatch

www.ignitefredericton.com

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