Thank you very much for the opportunity.
My name is Nooralhooda Hussein, but I usually go by Huda. I have always gone by the name Huda, just to make it easier.
I am here today to represent the London and Middlesex Local Immigration Partnership, which is really funded by the government through Citizenship and Immigration Canada. We have been funded since 2009 to become a body of planning for the successful integration of immigrants. I'll just give you some of the background of what we do, some of the demographics in London and Middlesex, and what our goal is in trying to support the economic prosperity of Canadians.
As I said, we have been funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada since 2009. We are a community collaborative initiative that supports and strengthens initiative by establishing stronger linkages between the sectors. We also support the role of settlement services. We are one of 35 LIPs, again funded by CIC, throughout Ontario and the model has now been taken outside Ontario to Alberta, B.C., Newfoundland, and Nova Scotia.
One of our co-chairs is the City of London. It is very important to have the local government involved in the project itself. That gives us credibility; that gives us neutrality; that gives us the success that we are seeing in London and Middlesex.
Our purpose is a collaborative framework to facilitate the successful integration by looking at the issues together with the community, and to build stronger and healthier communities.
The statistics show that one in five Londoners is or has been an immigrant to Canada. As per Statistics Canada, this percentage will grow given the aging population and declining birth rates. The need to assist immigrants in a successful integration is of utmost importance. Our country receives about 250,000 immigrants every year, so the services are still needed.
What's our role in economic prosperity? We play an important role in creating the infrastructure to support the economic prosperity of the immigrants.
How do we do this? We consult and connect with system partners and stakeholders to identify gaps and strategies in order to facilitate the successful integration of immigrants. We support better coordination of services across multiple sectors and within mainstream organizations. We find local solutions to overcome issues that impede the successful integration of immigrants. We create awareness among stakeholders and immigrants. We share information on job opportunities and emerging issues with newcomers and ethnic communities.
I'll give an example of what we do at the settlement sub-council. We have six sub-councils. One of the sub-councils is the settlement sub-council. We realize that when immigrants come, they are given the information in the first three months and they are overwhelmed. We have tried to coordinate with the LINC program, the language instruction program for newcomers, the work information on different issues as per the need of immigrants. If their need is on health issues, we coordinate with the health unit to come and talk about health issues and so forth.
This has become a very successful body, which is called the family settlement collaborative. Information is power and we believe that if information is given at the right time and when needed, people will become successful.
We also provide the framework to facilitate collaboration to develop community-based strategy plans. We recognize that changes can be made through engaging all sectors, which includes the three levels of government; therefore, we engage them for better outcomes for immigrants. We initiate discussions on systemic changes. We do know that systemic changes take time—it's like moving big ships—so we try to change slowly.
For example, we have realized that classroom demographics have changed. We no longer have one particular ethnic group; we have different ethnic groups, different cultures, different languages.
We have collaborated with the faculty of education at London's Western University. We have also developed a position paper that we have submitted to the education ministry and the ministry of universities and colleges.
We're trying to underline for the teachers who are coming to teach the children that the classroom demographics have changed. What can we do as a community to help the teachers be equipped with the information they need in the new classroom?
For example, we have found that housing challenges are facing the immigrants. What can we do as a community? We partnered with the City of London to see how we can engage the two stakeholders, the landlords and the tenants, at the same time so that everyone understands the issues and they can work together.
These are small systemic changes that we at the London and Middlesex Local Immigration Partnership have tried to move on.
Our partners are many. We do have the three levels of government on the council. We also have the big systems, such as the institutions, the school boards, the health unit, and the hospitals.
In London we have a number of projects that have been successful in the integration of immigrants. For example, my colleague mentioned the CIIP through Skills International. We do that program. It is very important that we have some programs inside and outside to prepare the immigrants.
In conclusion, I would like to say that LMLIP is an indirect settlement service, and it has a role to play in creating the economic prosperity of the immigrants. We are grateful to have had the funding so far from CIC, and continued funding will strengthen our building capacity and our support to the settlement services.
We are driven mostly by 100-plus volunteers. We believe that the London and Middlesex communities are working differently, with a focus on successful integration of the immigrants in our midst. Partnerships have been established to maximize resources.
We are hopeful that we'll continue to receive the necessary funds to enable our community to plan and find strategic ways to support the economic prosperity of the immigrants. We do understand that successful settlement services lead to retention and to economic prosperity. It's important to consider the holistic settlement needs of individuals, which include families.
Thank you for your time.