The Kelowna Community Resources Society has been chosen by the province to lead a refugee response team in Kelowna, Kamloops, Salmon Arm, Penticton and Vernon to help refugees settle and integrate into the community.
Victoria says secondary teams may also be located in parts of the Kootenays.
Funding for the response team will be provided in two instalments, with the first portion delivered immediately and the remainder in the summer when final refugee settlement numbers for B.C. are known.
Supported by the initial $30,000 through the $1 million Refugee Readiness Fund, the response team will identify and prioritize short-term community needs to support a coordinated approach to helping refugees. Examples of the work the teams may do include providing links with employers or other labour market opportunities and coordinating community supports.
The team will have representatives from the refugee service provider community: settlement organizations, private sponsors, churches, educators, health care providers and employers. The Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Responsible for Labour will continue to engage with settlement communities across the Province to ensure they have the capacity to support any incoming refugees.
“These refugees are fleeing tremendous conflict and tragedy that most of us can’t begin to imagine,” said Premier Christy Clark, MLA for Westside-Kelowna. “Here in Kelowna and throughout B.C., we welcome these newcomers with open arms and look forward to helping them build new lives in our communities.”
In addition to the $1 million Refugee Readiness Fund, the province also funds a number of initiatives for newcomers including $2.6 million for language training for the job market, $1.5 million through the Canada-BC job grant for job training and employment matching and $4 million for services for newcomers not eligible for federal services.
B.C. also waives MSP wait periods and premiums for refugees and offers child care subsidies, the B.C. Childhood Tax Benefit, the B.C. Basic Family Bonus and student aid.