Mr. Speaker, our community of Ottawa Centre has always been proud to welcome new Canadians. In 1979, we came together and welcomed 4,000 refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
For the media, they were called the “boat people”; for the government, they were “small boat escapees”; but to our community, they were our new neighbours and, with community support, our new neighbours thrived.
That is how we feel about new immigrants and refugees here. That is why we support settlement programs. That is why we believe the government's $53 million cuts to immigrant services will undermine the quality of life for all of us.
These cuts will take away child care resources for newcomers, at the same time that the government is making family reunification almost impossible. Language classes will be severely limited, resulting in isolation and separation, making it harder to find a job, build relations and contribute to our community.
These cuts will hurt our newest neighbours first and all of us in the long run. We call on the government to reverse those cuts now.