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2005-28  

CANADA AND ONTARIO SIGN HISTORIC IMMIGRATION AGREEMENT

TORONTO, November 21, 2005 — The Honourable Joe Volpe, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, and the Honourable Mike Colle, Ontario Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, today signed the Canada–Ontario Immigration Agreement.

Under the terms of the agreement, the Government of Canada will invest an additional $920 million over the next five years in Ontario. This is the first comprehensive immigration agreement between Ontario and Canada, and it is intended to help more newcomers reach their full potential in Ontario by increasing the funding for services to help them settle, integrate and access language training.

By formalizing how the two levels of government will work together in the area of immigration, the agreement signals a shared desire to optimize the economic benefits of immigration and ensure that immigration policies and programs respond to Ontario’s social, economic development and labour market priorities.

“This is a significant milestone, laying a foundation for the governments of Canada and Ontario to work together in collaboration with municipalities and official language minority communities to improve the social and economic integration of immigrants in the province,” said Minister Volpe.

“This is truly a landmark agreement for our province and a history-making investment in the successful integration of the 125,000 new immigrants Ontario welcomes each year,” added Minister Colle.

Ontario welcomes more than half of all new immigrants coming to Canada every year. Increased settlement funding for immigrants in Ontario will help Ontario’s newcomers successfully start their new life here.

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For more information:

Government of Canada

Stephen Heckbert
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
(613) 954-1064

Greg Scott
Media Relations
Communications Branch
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
(613) 941-7028

Government of Ontario

Danna O’Brien Mary
Minister’s Office
Ontario Ministry of Citizenship
and Immigration
(416) 325-3460

Dowding-Paré
Communications Branch
Ontario Ministry of Citizenship
and Immigration
(416) 314-7230

Visit the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration Web site: www.citizenship.gov.on.ca

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BACKGROUNDER
HIGHLIGHTS OF CANADA–ONTARIO IMMIGRATION AGREEMENT

On November 21, 2005, the governments of Ontario and Canada signed the first Canada–Ontario Immigration Agreement. Through the agreement, the federal government will provide $920 million in new immigration funding over five years to help newcomers successfully integrate more quickly into Ontario communities and achieve their full potential. The agreement outlines how the governments of Canada and Ontario will work together to expand language training and settlement programs.

Settlement Services

Under the agreement, the existing federal (Immigrant Settlement and Adaptation Program) and provincial (Newcomer Settlement Program) settlement services will be better coordinated. The goal is to expand the range of services for newcomers. A joint strategy will be established so that organizations providing settlement services can help newcomers more easily locate and access community services such as orientation, information, referrals, assessment and job search assistance.

Language Training

Language is an important factor for the successful integration of newcomers. The federal and provincial governments will work together to expand language training. For the first time, English as a second language classes will include occupation-specific language training, helping immigrants reach the level required to work in their fields or to enrol in post-secondary education.

Partnership with Municipalities

The Canada–Ontario Immigration Agreement is the first agreement to involve municipalities in planning and discussions on immigration. For the first time all three levels of government will work together to make sure programs are in place to meet the needs of immigrants in regions and municipalities across Ontario.

Almost 30 percent of Canada’s immigrants settle in the city of Toronto. This agreement recognizes the unique challenge this creates for Toronto. The agreement establishes a mechanism within nine months for all three levels of government to discuss immigration and settlement to meet their respective objectives.

Provincial Nominee Program and Temporary Foreign Workers

Over the next twelve months, Ontario will develop a pilot Provincial Nominee Program. As well, during this time, Canada and Ontario will develop the terms of a Temporary Foreign Worker agreement. These programs will give Ontario the opportunity to identify newcomers who will help meet its economic priorities and labour market objectives. A number of provinces already have provincial nominee programs in place.

Immigration Portal

The Ontario government will launch the first Ontario Web site to provide potential newcomers with timely information on Ontario’s communities, labour markets, skills accreditation and other important information to successfully start their new life in Ontario. It will help newcomers access the information they need from all levels of government to settle, upgrade their language skills and get a job. Beginning with approximately 300 links, the site will expand over the next two years to include more information and features and become a virtual one-stop gateway for newcomers to Ontario. The Web site will complement and link with the Government of Canada’s Going to Canada portal.

Newcomer Statistics

Ontario welcomes more than half the newcomers to Canada and has the most diverse population in the world. According to the Statistics Canada 2001 census, 27 percent of Ontario residents and 42 percent of residents in the Greater Toronto Area are foreign-born. Statistics Canada also reports that immigration is expected to account for all the net labour force growth in the province within the next decade.