Agenda Index City of Vancouver


Date: March 5, 1998

Author: W. Au/Local :6039

CC File No. 111


Vancouver City Council


Director of Community Services,

Social Planning Department


City of Vancouver’s Response to Immigration Legislative Review: "Not Just Numbers"


A.i)THAT Council advise the Federal Minister of Immigration and the Provincial Minister Responsible for Immigration, Multiculturalism, and Human Rights, of the City’s active involvement in supporting immigrant settlement and integration; and therefore

ii)THAT Council request the City of Vancouver be included in the Federal-Provincial Council on Immigration and Protection being set up under Recommendations 22 and 23 of the Immigration and Legislative Review, in order to ensure that the municipality has input on all related immigration policy, program development, and allocation of resources.

B.THAT Council forward copies of this report to the GVRD municipalities, the FCM and the UBCM for their information.


The City Manager submits this report for CONSIDERATION.


There is no Council Policy applicable to this report.


In 1996, British Columbia, being the second largest immigrant receiving province in Canada, received 22.7% (50,473) of all immigrants to Canada. 84.3% (42,573) of the immigrants that landed in B.C. settled in the Vancouver area. In the decade 1981 to 1991, the British population decreased from 44% to 23% in the City of Vancouver while the Asian population increased from 20% to 40%. In 1996, English was the mother tongue of only 51.7% of the population in Vancouver. As a result our community is becoming increasingly diverse. While the City of Vancouver enjoys the benefits of having a rich, culturally diverse population and social fabric we are also faced with the challenges of settling and integrating newcomers into their neighbourhoods and community lives.

While the Federal and Provincial governments set immigration policies and implement settlement programs, the effects of these policies and programs have a tremendous impact at the municipal level. The City of Vancouver is faced with the challenge of ensuring its services are responsive to the increasingly diverse population and that new immigrants have equal access and opportunities to participate fully. Provision of equitable services, integration of newcomers and achieving cultural harmony in neighbourhoods have been the priorities of the City for the past ten years.

In 1995 the Federal Government made a decision to begin the process of shifting immigrant settlement responsibilities down to the Provincial Government; thus started the Settlement Renewal consultation process in British Columbia. In April 1995 the Province of B.C. joined with Citizenship and Immigration Canada in a partnership to consult with settlement service providers, immigrants and the wider community about the way settlement services should be delivered in the future. The City of Vancouver was the only municipality that participated in the year long consultation process. While the City does not receive any resources from either the Federal or Provincial Government in providing settlement & integration services, it is faced with the impact of immigration and the challenge to respond to the needs and demands of immigrants on a daily basis. Therefore it was critical for the City to be involved in the consultation.

In 1997, the Federal Minister of Immigration initiated the "Immigration Legislative Review". The report "Not Just Numbers : A Canadian Framework for Future Immigration"

containing 172 recommendations was published in January 1998 for public comments. Council’s Special Advisory Committee on Cultural Communities reviewed the report and submitted a position paper to Council. On February 26 City Council received the Committee’s position paper for information and gave permission to the Committee to advise the Legislative Review Secretariat of the comments contained in the report.


The responsibility of setting immigration policies, and delivering settlement programs has always been under the jurisdiction of the Federal Government. In 1992, the Provincial Government with funding from the Federal Government also started to deliver settlement programs and engaged in immigration policy discussion. However, an effective federal immigration policy also requires effective local government social policy and coordinated settlement programs to support it. Supportive services and programs which will give immigrants access to full participation in Canadian society is necessary to facilitate successful integration of immigrants and the nurturing of good citizenship. Otherwise, immigration can become a very stressful experience for both the immigrant and host community. Municipal government, being the immediate host community that interacts with immigrants upon arrival, shoulders most of the task of integrating immigrants into their local communities, ensuring social justice and quality of life. The work and responsibilities are often carried out with little acknowledgment or resources from senior levels of governments.

As an increasing number of immigrants are settling in Vancouver (Appendix A) the demand for support and services is on the rise. This growth in immigrant population is anticipated to continue into the next millennium. Additional resources are needed to respond to this demand. There are additional costs to translating information, interpreting communication to enhance participation, public education to communicate values, process, and guiding principles, etc.

Since 1986, the City of Vancouver had implemented many initiatives in response to the increasing immigrant population. Initiatives such as: Multilingual Phoneline, Barriers to Bridges, Employees Diversity Training, Equal Employment Opportunity Program, Cultural Harmony Award...etc. (Appendix B). City Council also allocated 23% of the Community Services grants($640,450 in 1998) to community agencies for the delivery of services in support of immigrant families, youth, and seniors. Grants are given to assist immigrants to break down barriers, to access services, to enhance integration and participation in community lives. Community development targeting vulnerable immigrant groups is also important work supported by the City.

Settlement Renewal negotiations between the federal and provincial government is near completion. Signing of the Canada-British Columbia Settlement Agreement could take place within the next few months. The hand over of all settlement responsibilities to the provincial government will include the transfer of approximately 40 million dollars or more from the federal government annually. The City should start discussions with the Province to gain recognition of our role and efforts in providing immigrant integration services and the need to acquire adequate resources to meet existing program expenses.

The continuous cut in transfer payment from both the Federal and Provincial governments have made it increasingly difficult for the City to response adequately to the needs of new immigrants. Municipal government should be recognized as having a place in the consultation framework with Federal and Provincial governments as immigration policy is being developed, settlement programs and services

are being planned, and resources are being allocated.

In the Immigration Legislative Review report, recommendations 22 & 23 proposed the creation of a Federal-Provincial Council on Immigration and Protection. This Council will provide a forum for structured consultations on policy developments with municipalities, non-government organizations, business and other interest groups. The report acknowledged that Municipalities are wary of their provincial governments assigning the settlement funds they received from the federal government for immigration to other projects, leaving them without adequate resources to finance integration services.

Since the City of Vancouver has never received any funds for immigrant integration services it will be necessary to demand a seat at the Federal-Provincial Council on Immigration and Protection; to take an active role in order that city’s concerns be heard. The City should be lobbying for a fair share of resources since it does have a considerable involvement with the settlement and integration of newcomers to Canada.

Recommendation 58 and 60 in the report proposed that under the investor program the potential immigrants will be required to put forward a $500,000 interest-free loan to the federal government for five years. The federal government will distribute these funds to the provinces according to a mutually agreed formula. Provinces will have absolute discretion regarding the use of funds. These recommendations do not address the role and need of municipalities. The City should again request a share in the mutually agreed formula since we share responsibilities with the Province in settling immigrants.


The federal government is currently engaged in a process to review the Immigration Act as well as the delivery of settlement services. All the discussions and negotiations are mainly involving provincial governments only. Municipalities have always played a significant role in supporting settlement and integration of new immigrants with little recognition and acknowledgment from senior governments. Municipal governments should take a more active role to make our voices heard, to demand participation in all consultations, and have input into the development of immigration policy and implementation of settlement programs. Moreover, municipalities need to negotiate a fair share of resources to support the integration of new immigrants in our communities. The Settlement Renewal process currently underway with the development of a Canada/BC Settlement Agreement and the Legislative Review Consultations provide optimal opportunities for municipalities to request for a place at the table. The City of Vancouver, in particular, being the second largest immigrant receiving municipality in Canada, should be an active partner in dealing with all immigration issues.

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