TEXT SIZE: Decrease text size Reset text size Increase text size Print Page

MuskokaONline.com News - #GOTLOCAL

The District approves a new Local Immigration Partnership Initiative
Get Local News!

The District approves a new Local Immigration Partnership Initiative

Posted: 2023-09-19 07:15:49 By: thebay

District of Muskoka approved a new Local Immigration Partnership (LIP) initiative, in the September 18, 2023, Council meeting.

The goal of LIP is to improve the integration of immigrants in the communities in Muskoka by providing more services that support it.

The partnership is currently funded through Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to create and establish strategies for improving settlement.

The staff report indicates that according to the 2021 census, Muskoka has had over 5,000 immigrant residents working in the region, in addition to the new Canadians, primarily in areas such as tourism and hospitality.

The staff report adds that the area’s economic success relies on attracting skilled workers. It continues, “Expanding settlement services and cultural services and community connections will help enrich our community and provide a more welcoming environment, consistent with the Districts’s IDEA [Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Anti-Racism] goals.”

The Federal IRCC is accepting proposals for new LIP submissions by municipalities to be in by November, that includes funding prerequisites, as follows:

  1. Council endorses the establishment of a LIP partnership in Muskoka.
  2. Staff do a feasibility study at maximum cost of $20,000 by November, which includes hiring a consultant who will be assisted by staff to show the need for the initiative in the area.
  3. District Chair is to engage with community partners in support of the LIP and the report is to be submitted to the IRCC by fall.

District Chair, Jeff Lehman, advised that direct recruitment will aid with filling the work gaps in the region. He indicated that there’s been a 21% increase in first generation Canadians in Muskoka, which has had a positive effect. However, the lack of programs and services make it challenging.

Lehman added that he’s been in contact with the YMCA and see’s potential with other organizations partnering with the District to increase services in support of the initiative.

Regarding the first step, Lehman indicates, “The Feds [Federal government] will open a request for proposal window in December. We need to demonstrate the need for the proposal. We can get started on a study by a consultant and some through the District, and outreach to our partners.”

Lake of Bays Mayor, Terri Glover, indicated that immigrant workers helped his community. He said, “It’s been new immigrants that saved us. I think this could even lead to attracting healthcare workers and even doctors.”

Huntsville Mayor, Nancy Alcock, concurred with Glover, indicating that she has seen the same impact in her municipality. She said, “This is what’s keeping some of our businesses afloat… It’s fragmented at the moment, so this is exactly what we need.”

Councillor, Scott Morrison, said that his wife works at a local Huntsville business that had a staff shortage this year, and had workers from Mexico with great success for both the business and the workers. He indicated that the workers had a positive impact on both the workforce and brought great energy to the workplace. He added, “They’re telling their friends back home that Muskoka is their favourite place they worked at in the world so far.”

Councillor, Dan Armour, indicated that there were 4500 new immigrants in the province in 2022, some of which migrated to Muskoka. He expressed concerns about the healthcare system as an area of consideration. He said, “Keep it in the back of our minds if we move forward.”

CAO, Julie Stevens, indicated that $75,000 out of the $100,000 allocated was used for the workforce strategy, with another $25,000 remaining if that’s the direction they want to go. She added, “The next step is the action part to be after we proceed forward to the grant phase…if there’s feedback regarding other sources for funding we will move in that direction, but we had strong support for moving forward in this way.”