Canada-bound immigrants from the Philippines will have a new centre to provide them with pre-arrival services to prepare them for their settlement in their new country. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has designated the Vancouver- based Multicultural Helping House Society (MHHS) to deliver programs designed to help new immigrants integrate faster and better into Canadian communities.
The pre-arrival services will be rendered by the MHHS in its Metro Manila office.
These pre-departure services will enable newcomers to gain a better understanding of life in Canada, how to use their skills in the Canadian labour market and make connections earlier with service provider organizations, professional associations, regulators, educational institutions and employers.
Last April, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced that the federal government is committing more support to provide new immigrants with greater access to information and services before they leave their countries of origin.
“Our government is focused on creating jobs and promoting economic growth while ensuring all newcomers have access to services and programs that will guarantee their successful integration in Canada,” Alexander said.
Led by its President and CEO Tomas Avendano, the MHHS is a registered nonprofit and charitable organization dedicated to helping immigrants succeed in Canada. MHHS believes in empowering individuals to become contributing members to Canadian society. MHHS operates an already-established pre-departure service office in Paranaque City at the College of Divine Wisdom located at the Amvel Business Park. The office is open Monday to Saturday. It is five minutes away from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. According to MHHS Vice President Michael Cayetano, there are plans to establish a second office to be operated in the Ortigas business district behind Robinson Galleria.
The MHHS is working with various partners in the Philippines in delivering pre-arrival programs. These are the Department of Labour and Employment, Commission on Filipino Overseas, College of Divine Wisdom Center, and the Canadian Embassy in Manila.
Canada-based partners include the Universal Learning Institute, Philippine diplomatic posts throughout Canada, and Philippine labour attache offices in Canada.
Pre-departure services include job readiness seminars which are sector specific, English assessment, life skills training, seminar on life in Canada, and counseling on documentation requirements for migration (records of transcript for those seeking further education and training, curriculum vitae for those seeking employment, driving records, and other related records needed to continue life in Canada).
In addition, Canada- bound immigrants will also be provided with skills assessment and training and education strategy, foreign credential recognition, understanding of the health and medical services system in Canada, and other information relevant to their integration into Canadian society.
CIC is funding different organizations to deliver pre-arrival services for immigrants coming from other source countries of immigration across the world.
These organizations, like the MHHS, will also be working closely with domestic settlement provider organizations to ensure seamless program delivery.
For Filipino immigrants, they are also served upon reaching Canada by MHHS through its settlement team in Vancouver. Using this system of support, MHHS ensures that the plans and strategies created in Manila for newcomers are implemented in Canada upon landing.
Settlement services aim to provide newcomers with the information they require to make informed decisions, language skills to achieve their integration goals, labour market services to find and retain employment, as well as community supports to build professional and personal networks.
The federal government continues to provide a high level of support for the settlement and integration of newcomers to ensure that all have access to the same level of services regardless of where they choose to settle. Hundreds of thousands of newcomers each year receive at least one settlement service funded by the Government of Canada.
Experiences to date indicate that immigrants and refugees who access Canada’s settlement services prior to their arrival in the country are better prepared to work and integrate socially.
Including pre-arrival services, the Government of Canada will invest almost $600 million in 2015-2016 outside Quebec to provide settlement services here and abroad that will help immigrants and refugees settle into their new lives.
The distribution of funding is determined using the national settlement funding formula, which is based on the share of immigrants intake (giving additional weight for refugees to account for their unique settlement needs), as well as a capacity-building amount added for each jurisdiction to maintain a sustainable level of settlement services despite low number of immigrants. The most important factor influencing the level of funding is the proportion of immigrant intake.
Currently, MHHS’s pre-departure office serves skilled workers, members of the family class immigration stream, live-in caregivers, and other overseas foreign workers.
Primary core service is through group orientation, supplemented by tailor- made workshops and case management. As well, specific training is also offered on-line and thru email, telephone, or video conferencing.
There are current plans to establish the provision of these services to other parts of Canada through MHHS affiliates based in the other Canadian provinces.