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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

From right: Brad Cameron, BCEHS superintendent of patient care delivery for Greater Victoria, with primary care paramedics Em Funk, Tyrone Trotter, Fiona Galvin and Peter Hill at the Leigh Road station. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore paramedics didn’t waver when faced with COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. Emergency Health Services personnel are this year’s Courage and Bravery Award recipients

February is Black History Month. (Photo: Government of Canada)
Camosun College highlighting Black content with research guide during Black History Month

The collection includes a range of works by Black authors and creators

Amy Morrison was surprised to find a note on her windshield for parking on a public street with no restrictions in south Oak Bay where she works. (Amy Morrison Photo)
Oak Bay resident uses notes to claim street parking

‘You must have noticed, we park in front of OUR HOUSE,’ note writer says

Debra Sheets, a University of Victoria nursing professor, is starting Victoria’s first Memory Cafe program for adults with dementia and their caregivers. (Photo: Debra Sheets)
Memory Cafe Victoria hopes to connect local dementia community

Adults with dementia and their caregivers will participate in weekly Zoom socializing and activities

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives to view the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Death threats mount against Dr. Bonnie Henry, sparking condemnation from Horgan, Dix

Henry has become a staple on televisions in homes across British Columbia since January 2020

Most Read