March 30, 2005

Inclusivity Action Plan addresses ethno-cultural challenges in York Region

NEWMARKET The Human Services Planning Coalition (HSPC) has approved The Road to Inclusivity: An Action Plan For York Region.  The report proposes a community plan to increase York Region's capacity to respond to the needs of immigrants and new Canadians.
The report is timely considering a recent Statistics Canada report detailed how immigrant newcomers to Canada are expected to represent more than one-fifth of Canadian residents by 2017.  Weaving a New Canada cites the benefits that immigrants bring, along with the challenges associated with health-care access, language education, cultural transitions and job access.
"We simply cannot wait for the rest of Canada to catch up to us," said City of Vaughan Regional Councillor Joyce Frustaglio, Co-Chair of the HSPC.  "Current funding models for human services are not fair to the taxpayers of York Region and especially to newcomers who need services and supports now, not in the future, when it's too late."
The anticipated impact of immigration on Canada over the next 12 years represents half the impact currently experienced in York Region.  In 2001, immigrants made up 39 per cent of York Region's total population a rate nearly double the one-fifth (or 20 per cent) proportion of immigrants anticipated in Canada by 2017.
"The impact of rapid growth in York Region is huge and human service providers are facing challenges to make York Region more ethno-culturally inclusive without the resources to address the needs," said HSPC Co-Chair Bill Hogarth.  "We need fair and appropriate funding mechanisms now to respond to these real ethno-cultural challenges."
The challenge for service providers is to remove barriers to the full participation of immigrants and to tap into the rich experiences, skills and abilities of this growing population. 
The Inclusivity Action Plan is the result of six month's of community consultations and an Inclusivity Summit earlier this year, attended by 180 people representing 95 different organizations in York Region. 
The Road to Inclusivity: An Action Plan For York Region contains six specific actions:
 Development of a welcome centre for immigrants to help people become settled into appropriate employment and housing and to gain access to education, health care and social services
 Language development programs
 Region-wide education campaign to raise awareness of inclusivity practices
 Learning opportunities for children to advance inclusive and respectful character traits at an early age
 Volunteer opportunities for immigrants and the development of their leadership skills
 Tools to help organizations become more inclusive
Representatives from the organizations and ethno-cultural communities attending the summit have already formed working groups to develop recommendations for approval and implementation.
For more background on the report, including where people can obtain a copy, please visit [insert Web link here] or call Susan Taylor, Director of Human Services Planning Branch, York Region, at (905) 830-4444 or 1-877-464-9675, ext. 1514.
For more information on The Regional Municipality of York, the services we offer and links to our nine area municipalities, please visit our Web site at:
Contact:   Tim Paleczny, Corporate Communications Services, York Region
(905) 830-4444 or 1-877-464-9675, ext. 1238


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