EDITORIAL: Ottawa trashes ESL, defies logic

Removing funding for new immigrants to learn English a short-sighted decision

For our economy to grow, for employers to find employees and for the entrepreneurial spirit to flourish, Canada needs immigrants. Simply put, native-born Canadians aren’t producing enough kids.

A key element for immigrants to be successful in this country is proficiency in English (at least in B.C.). For many years, that English as a second language training has been provided by public community colleges in B.C. – they have the class space, the instructors and established curriculum.

The federal government, more specifically Citizenship and Immigration Canada, has decided to dissolve the entire domestic ESL system in British Columbia.

Last year, 9,000 immigrants and new Canadians received domestic ESL training, often for free or at a subsidized rate, through $17 million in “flow-through” money from Citizenship and Immigration Canada to the B.C. Ministry of Advanced Education, which allocated it to schools like Camosun College here in Victoria.

But in three and a half months, funding for domestic ESL will end, and Citizenship and Immigration Canada will pick up the ball and organize and run domestic ESL programs itself.

The problem is, nobody in B.C. knows how or where this will happen. Even the Minister of Advanced Education, who assures this newspaper that domestic ESL will continue, admits it’s unclear how it will be delivered.

Perhaps retooling domestic ESL makes sense in Ottawa. Why continue indefinitely with a system saddled with classrooms and experience when it can be built from scratch?

Not that Citizenship and Immigration Canada has told anybody its plan, if it has a plan. The clock is ticking, but the federal ministry says “no final decisions have yet been made” for delivering ESL, and that the change is about offering consistent services for immigrants across Canada.

Perhaps the feds will come to their senses before April and find some face-saving way to funnel domestic ESL cash to B.C. In the meantime, schools like Camosun are planning for a future absent of teaching English to new people to our nation.

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

Just Posted

Carolyn Howe, a kindergarten teacher and vice president of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association, says educators are feeling the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic and the influx of pressure that comes with it. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Stress leave, tears and insomnia: Greater Victoria teachers feel the strain of COVID-19

One year in, teachers still adjusting to mask and cleaning rules, pressure from families

A wind warning is in effect for Greater Victoria Thursday afternoon. (Black Press Media file photo)
Strong winds predicted for Greater Victoria

Environment Canada issues warning for Thursday afternoon

Various Victoria locations were hit with a slew of anti-bylaw graffiti Wednesday. This image has been altered to cover up profane language. (Submitted photo)
UPDATED: Slew of anti-bylaw graffiti an ‘unacceptable’ form of communication says Victoria mayor, police

Downtown businesses, bylaw office and Ministry of Finance vandalized Wednesday morning

Richard Pierce is the Goldstream Gazette’s 2021 Unsung Hero of the Year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Navy veteran helping others cope with post-traumatic stress disorder

Rich Pearce is the West Shore 2021 Unsung Hero

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk 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
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

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

(Black Press Media File Photo)
POLL: Are you struggling with Greater Victoria’s cost of housing?

While Victoria remains one of the most expensive cities in the country… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

When his owner had knee surgery, Kevin, 2, was able to continue to go for walks thanks to volunteers from Elder Dog Canada. (Contributed photo)
B.C. woman has nothing but praise for Elder Dog Canada

National organization has a fleet of volunteer walkers ready, but needs more clients to serve

Two women were arrested in Nanaimo for refusing to wear masks and causing disturbance on a BC Ferries vessel. (File photo)
B.C. ferry passengers arrested and fined for disturbance, refusing to wear masks

Police said woman threatened their pensions in Feb. 21 incident aboard Nanaimo-bound boat

A Nanaimo RCMP vehicle in the Woodgrove Centre parking lot. (News Bulletin file photo)
Woman groped by stranger in mall parking lot in Nanaimo

Incident happened near bus loop Saturday, Feb. 20, at about 4:45 p.m.

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

Most Read