Settlement agencies shocked by gag order

By Nicholas Keung, The Star, 17 January 2011

Immigrant service agencies were horrified when they got a government email last week banning them from discussing recent federal funding cuts that may kill some of them — a memo Citizenship and Immigration Canada now says was all a big mistake. Members of the York South-Weston Local Immigration Partnership (LIP), which coordinates newcomer programs to reduce duplication of services, had planned to discuss the $53 million funding cuts at its Jan. 13 meeting.

The 26 member organizations were shocked to receive a mass email from a CIC official ordering them to remove the topic from the agenda. “I don’t believe that CIC settlement funding is a topic for the . . . meeting and therefore it should not be an agenda item,” said the note from federal settlement officer Nina Serrano.

“I was in total shock,” Community Action Resource Centre executive director Marion Newrick said of the ministry order. “They thought they had the right to silence us. We are all community volunteers. CIC doesn’t even cover our time to go to these meetings.”[...]

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Photo Credit: Tara Walton/Toronto Star