Cancellation of English practice group concerns Share

Share Family and Community Services will have to scale back its English practice groups after the federal government decided not to renew program funding.  - SHARE VIDEO CAPTURE
Share Family and Community Services will have to scale back its English practice groups after the federal government decided not to renew program funding.
— image credit: SHARE VIDEO CAPTURE

A YouTube video touting the benefits of English language practice groups has been posted by Share Family and Community Services just days after it announced the program had been cut.

Share executive director Martin Wyant said the video had been in production months ago and the timing of its release has nothing to do with the decision by Citizenship and Immigration Canada to slash $50,000 in program funding.

Newcomers who spoke on camera in the video said the English practice groups helped them deal with the loneliness and isolation of moving to a new country, and gave them a comfortable place to practise what they learned in regular ESL classes.

Wyant said last week that CIC chose not to renew the funding after it took over responsibility for settlement programs from the province. He said he hopes Share can find other sources of funding to continue the program, which helps 400 immigrants a year, but effective April 1, it will have to be scaled back.

"It's one of the more efficient and effective delivery models we've seen," he said. "It relies heavily on volunteers. The community provides free space. And only one [staff] person is tied to it and it serves hundreds of people every year.

"It's really an excellent model of service delivery," Wyant said.

The English practice groups started in 2005 in Coquitlam's Cottonwood neighbourhood and expanded to 18 locations in the Tri-Cities, serving 5,809 newcomers from 45 countries.

A CIC spokesperson stated in an email that the federal government will continue to provide newcomers with language training in the Tri-Cities. As well, the email stated that federal money for settlement services has tripled since 2005/’06 to $100.6 million. The statement did not explain the reasons for not funding the Share English practice groups.

According to Share, the program supported 5,809 English language learners with 1,644 hours of volunteer time, and it proved to be successful for those who took it.

For example, a 2013 survey found that 85% of people who participated said the practice group helped them better understand English while 91% of volunteers said they were "very satisfied" with their work in the program.

The video can be seen on Share Family and Community Services' Youtube channel.


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