A Halifax hotel has been honoured for its work with refugees and its sizeable refugee workforce.

Minister of Immigration John McCallum presented the 2016 Refugee Employment award to the Prince George Hotel on Thursday.

The award is handed out each year to businesses who go the extra mile in helping refugees settle in Canada and find meaningful employment. 

At the Prince George, hotel employees get paid to take English lessons twice a week before they start their shifts. 

The hotel works together with The Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia to provide the lessons, and help their employees settle and integrate with Nova Scotians.

Head chef Bee Choo Char came to Canada 20 years ago and has been working at the Prince George for 16 years. She said the lessons went beyond learning the language.

"Pretty much they teach you Canadian culture, how to pronounce and write properly," she said.

"There's lots of criteria to fit in, for example communicating and working in the kitchen and how to work with guests."

"I really appreciate what they've done for all the newcomers here," she said.

Lessons 'invaluable'

Haxhere Berbetovci has worked at the hotel for 12 years. She came to Canada 17 years ago as a refugee.

She said when she arrived, the English lessons were invaluable.

"When I immigrated here, I didn't have any English. I didn't even understand 'yes' or 'no' so I learned a lot," she said.

Being able to take lessons at work and get paid while learning English was very helpful.

"I didn't have to make plans or anything, come my days off I would get paid and work afterwards as well. So it's very valuable in here," she said.

Berbetovci said as a result, she's been able to work with different people and move through the company faster.

Hotel staff say they look forward to helping Syrian refugees find work with them in the near future. 

With files from Steve Berry