Montreal organization for immigrants gets helping hand

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Montreal organization for immigrants gets helping hand
WATCH: A Montreal organization that supports immigrants and refugees is about to receive additional funding from the Quebec government. As Global's Phil Carpenter reports, the new money will help the Social Assistance Centre for Immigrants close gaps in their services – Jul 25, 2018

The Centre for Immigrants, a social assistance organization, has been around for a long time.

“We welcome refugees and immigrants, and we’ve been here for 70 years,” explains spokesperson Lucie Benoit.

The Centre offers services to help immigrants integrate and build a life here, helping them with things like opening bank accounts, enrolling in schools and running free French classes.

WATCH: Quebec immigration plan

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Quebec immigration plan

But the organization has trouble running all those programs. In some cases, they’ve even had to scale back services.

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“We are always looking for the new funding to be able to give all the services that we can offer to our clientelle,” director general Lida Aghasi tells Global News. “That’s our main challenge.”

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Now there is some help.

At a news conference to announce the funding, Quebec Deputy Premier Dominique Anglade said, “We will be supporting the organization by adding $1.1 million to support the integration of immigrants in Quebec society.”

The funding is part of Quebec’s plan, announced in December, to help improve the integration of immigrants. One of the reasons is to address Quebec’s labour shortage by attracting more immigrants and giving them more support.

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With the new funding, the centre has started a one-year pilot project.

“There have been two programmes that have been financed,” says Aghasi. “One is for schools, the other one is for health. So we help them to book their appointments, we’re going to their appointments with them, playing the role of interpreter.”

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Two new staff members have been hired to work with the new arrivals, helping to facilitate communication with hospitals and schools.

Organizers hope that by next spring the pilot project will be permanent.

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