Increase to Alberta’s population means slower access to services for newcomers

As more newcomers settle into Alberta, accessing the right supports is becoming more challenging. As Shilpa Downton tells us - many are falling behind on their resettlement journey.

Supply and demand seem to be a balancing act across the board these days, and as more newcomers settle into Alberta, the demand for basic necessities is becoming increasingly challenging.

With a four per cent increase in population over the last year, Alberta has seen more growth than any other province in Canada.

According to Nawal Al-Busaidi with Immigrant Services Calgary, international arrivals make up the bulk of Calgary’s influx.

“This is what these are — the special, temporary resident visas that was issued to the Ukrainian population, the second largest is from the government-sponsored refugees, which is the Afghan population, and of course, we’re seeing higher influx in the temporary skilled worker category, and the foreign student category coming in from India,” she explained.

Interprovincial migration is also a contributing factor to Alberta’s booming population, but with a steady stream of arrivals, the common challenge Calgary newcomers are facing is access to services.

“Access to affordable housing, access to services, immediate services, or at least, timely services, access to affordable childcare, or even spaces in childcare, access to employment,” said Al-Busaidi.

She explains Immigrant Services Calgary is still operating on levels of immigration predicted last year, and they’re behind with language assessments, access to English language classes, childcare, settlement programming, and case management supports.

She explains the lack of services on the ground are delaying many newcomers’ ability to contribute to the local economy.

“Their ability to fill in the gap in the labour market, to feel productive and feel at home and feel settled is delayed, and with that comes other challenges that include mental health, depression, loneliness and others,” Al-Busaidi said.

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