Province boosts funding to help local services support Afghan refugees resettle in B.C.

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A new $2 million fund will help the provincial government boost local services and supports for families resettling in B.C. due to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

The federal commitment to resettle 40,000 Afghans in Canada means B.C. is preparing to welcome thousands of people over the coming months and years, according to a release from the province.

“Our hearts go out to every refugee who has had to flee their home, leaving family members, friends and all their possessions behind,” said Josie Osborne, minister of municipal affairs. “The Refugee Readiness Fund recognizes the severity of the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and shows that B.C. is ready to do its part to provide safe, inclusive and welcoming supports for Afghan families.” 

The funding will assist with enhancing and co-ordinating community-level supports, such as education, career guidance, trauma counselling and mental health services, the province said.

“As a former refugee, I know investing in our newcomers today means investing in Canada’s future,” said Froozan Jooya, executive director of the Beacon of Hope for Afghan Children Society. “When I arrived in Canada as a child, my parents did not have the financial means to support us, but through the short-term assistance of our private sponsor and my family’s hard work, we were able to flourish in our new home. Today, all the members of my family are both educated and productive members of our community.”

Many government-sponsored refugees will settle in Metro Vancouver. Others will go to communities, such as Victoria and Kelowna, where resettlement supports exist. The province said it will continue to work closely with the federal government to identify opportunities in a wider range of communities where social and economic supports can be increased. 

Refugees will also arrive through private sponsorship groups to many B.C. communities, according to the province.

The immigration branch of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs will consult with community organizations to determine how the fund can best be used to support refugees. In 2020, B.C. received 1,610 refugees, which was lower than normal due to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on national resettlement efforts, according to the province.

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