Toronto (December 23, 2010) - Today Liberal MPs gathered at the South Asian Women's Centre in Toronto to stand with settlement service providers for new Canadians to defend against massive funding cuts in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) right before Christmas.
"Stephen Harper is choosing to help fund billions of dollars of corporate tax cuts and stealth fighter jets with cuts of more than $50 million from vital settlement services for new immigrants across Canada, with even deeper cuts expected in future years," said Liberal Immigration Critic Justin Trudeau. "As a result of these catastrophic cuts, dozens of highly effective settlement agencies are being forced either to close their doors for good, or adapt to cuts of 50 to 100 percent of their federal government funding."
Just days before Christmas, newcomer settlement organizations began receiving notices about dramatic cuts to their federal funding. Earlier this month the Conservatives confirmed that they were cutting national settlement funding allocations by $53 million next year, with nearly $44 million being cut in Ontario alone.
Liberal MP Gerard Kennedy and the federal Liberal GTA Caucus have written an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper demanding that he rescind these cuts and invest in helping newcomers fully contribute to the Canadian economy and Canadian society.
The $50 million in Conservative cuts represents a 10 percent cut across all settlement programs, but fully 85 percent of the cuts are being made in Ontario, largely in the GTA.
These funding cuts come on the heels of five years of the Conservative government reneging on promised investments in settlement services in Ontario under the Canada Ontario Immigration Agreement, negotiated by the previous Liberal government. As of this fall, the Conservative government has held back an estimated $207 million of money that was to flow in Ontario over the last five years.
"The Conservative government is turning its back on newcomers at a time when support to better integrate them into the Canadian economy and society is more important than ever," said Rob Oliphant, Liberal Critic for Multiculturalism. "It is a complete betrayal of all Canadians, not only newcomers to Canada, for this Conservative government to renege on $200 million of promised settlement funding in Ontario and now bring in further cuts that will shut down the local services they rely on."
"Almost everyone in the GTA can relate to what it is like to be starting out new. Making cuts to these essential programs when all Canadians are worried about jobs for their families in tough times is absolutely backwards and callous," stated Mr. Kennedy. "The Conservatives are closing down dozens of unique and essential agencies without any plans or capacity to absorb the thousands of newcomer families who will be abandoned by their decision. This cannot be allowed to stand."
Office of Justin Trudeau, MP, 613-995-8872
Office of Rob Oliphant, MP, 613-992-2855
Office of Gerard Kennedy, MP, 613-762-8542