Funding slashed at Camosun for immigrant English training

The federal government is eliminating funding for subsidized English language training for immigrants at Camosun College

The federal government is eliminating funding for subsidized English language training for immigrants at B.C. community colleges, including Camosun College, officials said today.

At any given time, 200 to 300 recent newcomers to Victoria receive English as a second language training at Camosun’s Interurban and Landsdowne campuses, often for free. The college found out last week that $2.5 million allocated for domestic ESL training wouldn’t be renewed in April 2014.

Camosun is the second largest ESL institution in B.C., after Vancouver Community College.

“ESL is at the core of what we offer at the college. It’s about getting new Canadians to a point where they are contributing economically. (The cuts) are disappointing for us to put it mildly,” said Joan Yates, Camosun’s vice-president of community engagement.

“It is a good, strong program. We meet the needs of new immigrants who need help and aren’t in a position to pay a lot of money for it.”

“With advanced language training, (immigrants) are able to move on to post-secondary, or are able to get a job or work in a job they are already qualified to do,” said Kelly Pitman, president of the Camosun College Faculty Association and an English teacher. “In the long term it’s very bad for the economy not to train these students.”

Camosun received a head’s-up from the Ministry of Advanced Education that it likely wouldn’t receive funding normally routed from the federal government for domestic ESL. International ESL is fully funded from foreign students studying here.

In 2012, Citizenship and Immigration Canada announced it would cancel the Canada-B.C. Immigration Agreement starting April 1, 2014, and $17 million in annual ESL funding that came with it. Institutions like Camosun submitted proposals to Citizen and Immigration Canada to deliver ESL training, but Minister of Advanced Education Amrik Virk said none of those proposals were accepted.

Virk said domestic ESL training won’t end, but federal government will deliver programming directly, although how and where remains unknown. The Surrey-Tynehead MLA said he prefers the current ESL education system and that colleges “delivered an excellent product.”

“The end users will still get the service provided by the federal government,” he said. “Students will be taught in a different system.”

Virk noted that colleges have been well aware for more than a year that ESL funding under the existing regime would end with the dissolution of the Canada-B.C. Immigration Agreement, and should have been planning accordingly.

“Each institution was well aware of the time frame,” he said. “They knew this was coming. It was well known there was potential the funding was going to cease.”

Camosun still has a mandate to offer domestic ESL training, Yates said, meaning the college will likely have to find the money from other areas of its budget. Camosun has about 13 faculty teaching ESL at risk of losing their jobs.

On top of the cut to domestic ESL funding, she said the ministry indicated the college could expect a additional $2.5 million cut to its 2014 operating budget, which in 2013 was $105 million. Nothing is official, but Camosun is planning its departmental spending with a potential $5 million loss “added to a difficult budget year,” Yates said.

“If that is the case it likely means cuts elsewhere (at the college),” she said. “We were looking at a reduced budget anyway, which is compounded by the $2.5 million cut.”

The college says it strives to make cuts that have the least amount of impact on students and their education, but Pitman doubts that principle will be upheld heading into 2014. Years of flat funding from government means annual reductions in spending power due to inflation and employee wage contracts, she said.

“We’ve been pared to the bone. We’ve been instructed to have as little impact on students. That’s not possible any longer,” Pitman said. “It’s hard to imagine this not resulting in less opportunity for students.”

editor@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

Autism support dog helps Langford boy hold his head high

Family shares story for Autism Awareness Month

Give your immunity a boost for National Immunization Awareness Week

Immunize Canada calls on Canadians to stay up to date with their immunizations

Bear sightings historically rare in Langford: City staff

51 bear complaints or sightings in last year

Families hop over to Easter celebrations at Millstream Village

Annual Easter Eggstravaganza had lineups before 11 a.m.

Parishioners bear the weight of a large wooden cross on Good Friday

Good Friday Passion Procession winds through streets of Victoria

WATCH: Movie star and PACE alum Calum Worthy talks musical theatre and his career

“American Vandal” and “Austin and Ally” actor has been returning to the program for over 20 years

POLL: How often does your family use BC Ferries?

Navigating the lineups for BC Ferries is a way of life for… Continue reading

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of April 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

B.C. RCMP receive application for Police Cat Services

RCMP announced the launch of the Police Cat Services unit as an April fools joke

Kirkland Signature veggie burgers recalled due to possible metal fragments

Recalled products came in 1.7 kg packages with a best before date of Apr. 23, 2019

Parents of 13 who tortured children get life after hearing victims

One of their daughters fled their home and pleaded for help to a 911 operator

Flooding, climate change force Quebecers to rethink relationship with water

Compensation for victims of recurring floods limit to 50% of a home’s value, or a maximum of $100,000

Storms blast South, where tornadoes threaten several states

9.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia at a moderate risk of severe weather

Private cargo ship brings Easter feast to the space station

There are three Americans two Russians and one Canadian living on the space station

Most Read