Canada opens Ontario York Region 'Welcome Centre' for immigrants

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Diane Finley, Canadian Immigration Minister, and Mike Colle, Ontario Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, announced the opening of a new immigrant Welcome Centre in Vaughan, Ontario on 26 June 2007. The centre, the first of five planned under the Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement, will provide settlement and employment support services, language training, and accreditation and qualifications assistance.

Finley said she was "pleased to be supporting centers such as this one, where a real difference can be made in the lives of newcomers by helping them with language training or finding a job."

<$adv0> The centre will employ 20 staff to provide services to more than 3,500 newcomers in its first year of operation. Funding will be provided in part by CAD$920 million (€640 million) secured through the signing of the Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement, according to Colle.

"Supporting expanded services for newcomers to York Region is part of our government's commitment to breaking down barriers and helping newcomers successfully integrate into Ontario's labor market," she said.

The Welcome Centre project is a joint effort by five community organizations: COSTI Immigrant Services, the Catholic Community Services of York Region, the Centre for Information and Community Services, Job Skills, and the York Region Neighbourhood Services. These five represent more than 35 participating community organizations in all.

Mario J. Calla, Executive Director of COSTI Immigrant Services, believes that the center will benefit immigrants coming to Canada.

"The concept of a comprehensive, one-stop, multi-service center operated jointly by a number of experienced community agencies is an idea that will increase opportunities for success for new Canadians," he said.

The Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement is a federally funded, five-year commitment to help immigrants integrate into Ontario society by improving their language skills and finding employment. It's part of an overall five-year funding package of CAD$1.3 billion (€905 million) devoted to integration of immigrants and their families.


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