Sudbury

$30,000 from city will help Sudbury group address funding cuts, influx of newcomers

Greater Sudbury wants to attract more immigrants, newcomers and international students to the city. It's providing $30,000 to the Sudbury Multicultural and Folk Arts Association which works to get these new residents settled in the community.

Councillors approve funding for Sudbury multicultural group, but it's a one-time contribution

Newcomers are making Sudbury their home for several reasons. Some are coming as international post-secondary school students, while others are coming through the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot program. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

The Sudbury Multicultural and Folk Arts Association has been overworked as of late, and its president is hoping a $30,000 investment from the city will help ease some of the pressure.

The group provides programs to help immigrant newcomers and international students get settled in Greater Sudbury. This could include English or French-language classes, help with housing needs, employment referrals or translation of documents.

There are more and more newcomers choosing to make Sudbury their home.

It's due to the local post secondary schools' commitments to bringing international students to their respective campuses, as well as the city's three year commitment to the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot program. 

That's a federal program that provides permanent residence for skilled foreign workers who want to move to Sudbury to work.

"We are very busy," Multicultural and Folk Arts association president Bela Ravi said. "[The numbers] have gone up at least one-and-a half times what we normally see."

'In Survival Mode'

The association was just approved for a one-time commitment of $30,000 from the City of Greater Sudbury.

That may not seem like a lot of money for a city this size, but for Ravi it means the organization can continue to provide important programming.

She says a number of funding cuts from multiple sources over the years have left the group with reduced office hours and less staff.

"We still are in survival mode. Our bank balance was going down and we need to make some decisions, fast decisions to keep us afloat and this is going to keep us afloat," Ravi said.

The plan for the municipal funding is to make programs available five days a week. The association currently operate four days a week from its site on Van Horne Street.

"The sad part is we have people come on a Friday and our doors are shut on Friday," Ravi said. 

Those previous cuts also eliminated a French-speaking worker to help with newcomers whose mother tongue is that language. Ravi hopes the new funding can help them provide that option to clients again.

Growing demand, mayor tells council

Sudbury Mayor Brian Bigger presented the motion to the rest of city council at its final budget meeting Monday evening.

He had hoped they could approve operational dollars from the 2020 budget to provide the association with an increasea in annual funding. However, the rest of council decided to give the group one-time funding for next year.

Bigger says if the city wants to continue to encourage more newcomers to the community, then it has to be able to support the group that provides important programs for these new residents.

"They're really unable to continue to support the programs that are growing and the demand is growing so quickly," he said.

Bigger also told councillors that in his first year as mayor (2015) one of the local colleges had 250 international students.

"This year in January there will be 1,600 — and that's not all of the people that are moving to Sudbury looking for advancements to education, moving their families, investing in our community and looking and needing some of these supports," he said.

If the Sudbury Multicultural and Folk Arts Association wants to seek further municipal funding, Ravi says they'll have to present to Sudbury city council next year to prove their worth.

"I'm really grateful for the city for giving this initial improvement, and really hope that they see the potential in giving us this ongoing operational funding in the near future."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Angela Gemmill

Journalist

Angela Gemmill is a CBC journalist who covers news in Sudbury and northern Ontario. Connect with her on Twitter @AngelaGemmill. Send story ideas to angela.gemmill@cbc.ca

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