The new location for Eastman Immigrant Services and the Steinbach Chamber of Commerce at 284 Reimer Ave. was officially opened here today by Premier Greg Selinger and local dignitaries.
“Our government strongly supports the successful settlement of immigrant newcomers in Manitoba and the efforts of communities to welcome newcomers and help them and their families begin a new life in our province,” Selinger said. “This new centralized settlement service will play an essential role in helping new Manitobans integrate into our social and economic life, whether through developing language skills, finding jobs or ensuring they quickly become part of the community and enjoy the many benefits this province has to offer.”
Settlement services are provided by Eastman Immigrant Services to newcomers living in Steinbach, Beausejour and Oakbank. Services include orientation, employment counselling, job and language referrals, special events and activities. Mobile services are also provided as requested in additional communities. Targeted community integration activities have included a women’s group, information for newcomers who speak low German, cultural information exchanges and games such as quizzes.
By consolidating all of its services in one easily accessible central location, the Steinbach office will be able to offer new immigrants to the Eastman region a single doorway to the services they need upon arrival in Manitoba, said the premier.
Last year, Eastman Immigrant Services assisted over 200 new families settle in the region, while the number of clients accessing settlement services grew to over 900. Many of the immigrants were from Germany, Paraguay and the Philippines.
An English at Work program co-ordinated by the Steinbach Chamber of Commerce offers job-specific language classes at four local workplaces including Biovail, Granny’s Poultry, Hytek and Barkman Concrete. A new English Skills for Work program is also planned to begin in the fall of 2010. This high-level program will help immigrants learn specific language skills such as pronunciation.
English as an Additional Language is provided by South Eastman English and Literacy Services, which offers community-based classes in Steinbach, Niverville, Grunthal, Lorette and Oakbank.
Immigration to Steinbach has more than doubled from 138 newcomers in 2002 to 409 in 2009. Overall, Manitoba received 13,520 immigrants in 2009, an increase of 20.5 per cent from 2008 (11,218), and 263 per cent over 1999 (3,725).
With support from the federal government, Manitoba Labour and Immigration has provided $322,693 to Eastman Immigrant Services this year, with an additional $50,000 for the English at Work program. Funding to Eastman Immigrant Services has more than doubled since 2006-07. In addition, South Eastman English and Literacy Services received $256,000 in funding this year.