British Columbia

Transit tops report's list of needs for immigrant youth to better settle in Metro Vancouver

The report by the Vancouver Foundation and Fresh Voices suggested TransLink or the government provide a subsidized bus pass for recent immigrants or young refugees.

The report, which surveyed immigrants aged 13-30, suggested a subsidized bus pass

The report found more frequent bus service in peak times is needed, especially in areas outside the City of Vancouver where most new immigrants settle. (Peter Scobie/CBC)

Better access to transit is just one improvement on a long list to help immigrant and refugee youth better settle into life in Metro Vancouver.

A report released on Monday highlights the experiences of about 156 self-identified immigrant and refugee youth aged 13 to 30 in the area. 

They were surveyed about challenges they face finding employment or settling in Canada by the Vancouver Foundation and the Fresh Voices Youth Advisory Team.

"Transit is a rising problem," said Yansie Ardon, a facilitator with Fresh Voices, which helped conduct the research.

The report suggested TransLink or the government provide a subsidized bus pass for recent immigrants or young refugees.

"You have a better chance of getting hired if you are able to move around the city quickly or understand the city faster," Ardon said.

"It would help with the social engagement, not just for work and education."

Nearly half of the respondents used transit as their main form of transportation, compared with 29 per cent of Metro Vancouverites in total, the study found.

'It is frustrating'

Ardon came to Canada from El Salvador when he was four years old.

It's important to focus on the different challenges youth face compared to younger children or adults, he told Stephen Quinn, host of CBC's The Early Edition.

"Most kids who are in high school are starting to look for jobs or want to have a better education," he said. "They need more internships, they need more skills and opportunities."

Recent high school and university graduates echoed similar sentiments in the survey, he added.

"The 18-plus, they were saying they need experiences too because [their] experiences back home are not validated here," he said.

"It is frustrating, especially if they come with an education, because over here they just land in the service industry."

'You need that human interaction'

The report found that opportunities for paid internships for immigrant youth would provide mentoring opportunities and support quicker economic security.

Physical and institutional space set aside specifically for immigrant youth are also key for networking and building relationships outside of the home, Ardon added.

"You need that human interaction to be able to fit into situations here — connect, share each other's journeys and find belonging, feel like you are at home," he said.

With files from The Early Edition.