“AWARDED PROGRAM FOR NEWCOMER SETTLEMENT TO HAVE CORE FUNDING WITHDRAWN”
[Winnipeg, MB, August 19, 2019] For 15 years, Altered Minds Inc. (AMI) has been delivering the Entry Program – the primary orientation program for newcomers in Winnipeg. The program provides essential information about supports and services, and topics such as public transit and banking, and helps immigrants understand Canadian culture, laws, and the professional environment.
Days ago, AMI received word from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that core funding to the agency is being withdrawn. Without support from the Federal Government, AMI will be forced to shut down the Entry Program at the end of March 2020. “This was shocking news for us”, said Grace Eidse, Executive Director of AMI. “Newcomers benefit so much from the program, which has been funded by the Province and the Federal Government since 2005. We have developed a comprehensive curriculum with input from clients and community stakeholders. Over 30 government and community partners deliver regular, monthly presentations at the Entry Program, including the Winnipeg Police, WRHA, Employment Standards, CRA, and dozens of non-profit organizations. It is not just an information dump, or ticking off boxes on a needs assessment checklist,” added Eidse. “At Entry, qualified teachers engage learners in a meaningful way and build community in the classroom.”
Entry Program has served more than 60,000 new Manitobans since its creation in 2004. In 2019 it received national recognition as an innovative and promising practice by “Pathways to Prosperity”, an organization contracted by IRCC to design and implement a process for identifying and sharing practices in settlement and integration with an empirical basis for their effectiveness. (Website Brief and P2P Video)
Results of the independent “Entry Program Outcome Evaluation” (attached) commissioned by IRCC in 2018, found that Entry Program respondents had significantly better outcomes than control group respondents who attended orientation programs of shorter duration. “Entry Program respondents are significantly more confident than the control group in all four areas surveyed; asking others for help, finding and using needed services, adapting to life in Canada and lowered anxiety about life in Canada” (page 5).
Gonzalo Agrimbau, chair of AMI pointed out that “Entry Program has created meaningful results for immigrants, and the province as a whole. Without it, it will take longer for newcomers to access supports, navigate systems, make new friends, and adapt to a new environment: a very stressful situation for newcomers, but also expensive for the Province which will be forced to roll out additional social assistance.”
The staff and board at AMI are hoping IRCC’s decision can be reversed. “The Entry Program helps new Canadians feel like they belong. Our classrooms are a microcosm of the welcoming, multicultural society we want to be. We hope we can work together with IRCC to find a solution to this unfortunate situation” concluded Ms. Eidse.
Altered Minds Inc. (AMI) welcomes refugees and immigrants to Manitoba, and promotes the well-being of their families and communities by providing responsive programs and services that assist individuals in adapting to change and overcoming barriers to a good quality of life. It serves around 4,000 clients per year through its flagship “Entry Program”. AMI also delivers programs such as Living English for Employment, Settlement Online Pre-Arrival, Computers for Life, and AMI Academy.