6 April 2004
Montreal.  The Canadian Council for Refugees today expressed its concern at the recent budget cuts for integration services made by the Québec government.  The cuts have been made despite increases in transfers by the federal government to Québec to cover integration services.

“There is already little enough money allocated to helping newcomers settle in Canada,” said Amy Casipullai, Vice-President.  “What we see here is money intended for settlement services being diverted.  Once again, immigrants and refugees are the easy target when it comes to cutting budgets.”

According to the Canada-Québec immigration accord, signed in 1991, the federal government transfers an ever-increasing sum of money to Québec to cover integration services.  According to CIC figures, the amount is $172 million in 2004-2005 (up from $164 million last year).  Despite the increases in transfers to Québec and in numbers of immigrants in recent years, funds for settlement services have not risen and were actually cut in the March 30 budget.  The Canada-Québec accord does not include an accountability mechanism and the Québec government does not make public how it uses the money transferred.

Last week’s Québec budget included cuts of $20 million to settlement services, with all programs affected, but particularly severe cuts to language training.

“Canada benefits enormously from the skills and energies immigrants bring here,” said Casipullai.  “Yet services to help newcomers integrate are seriously underfunded.  How can we expect immigrants to contribute to their full potential if we cut corners on the services we offer them?”


Amy Casipullai, Vice-President (416) 322-4950 (ext. 239)
Janet Dench, Executive Director (514) 277-7223 (ext. 2)