Ottawa

Ottawa immigration centre braces for cuts

Ontario immigration organizations are bracing for $53 million in funding cuts by the federal government, just as one Ottawa group says demand is increasing.

Ontario immigration organizations are bracing for $53 million in cuts by the federal government, just as one Ottawa group says demand is increasing.

Federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced the cuts on Dec. 21, saying the money would be re-directed from Ontario and spread more evenly across the country.

But Sharon Kan, head of the Ottawa Chinese Centre, said the cuts come just as demand for her programs is increasing.

"It take us from what we've been building ... it take us backward and now we have to figure out how to salvage the situation," Kan said.

The centre, which has been teaching immigrants and helping them find work for 35 years, is expecting  a 20 per cent cut to its budget. Three language programs are expected to be cancelled, Kan said, and the waiting list to enroll in the program will grow.

Woinshet Zerfu moved to Canada from Ethiopia five months ago, and is hoping to learn enough English to attend university to become a nurse.

She said it will be harder for her to integrate into Canadian culture without the centre's free language classes and daycare.

"It's helping me to know Canadian culture. If you don't speak very well you can't get a job," Zerfu said,

"I don't have any confidence and I'm shy when I came here," Zerfu said. "If I stay in my house I speak only my language."

Kan said the centre will learn for certain how much of its budget will be cut by the end of this week.

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