Expanded Regional Immigrant Services Centre Officially Opens in Winkler

A newly expanded and renovated Regional Connections site to help new immigrants was officially opened here today at 725 Main St. by Manitoba Labour and Immigration Minister Jennifer Howard.

"The Manitoba government works with numerous community agencies and stakeholders to help immigrant newcomers settle quickly and comfortably into their new lives in our province," Howard said. "This facility in Winkler will play an important role in helping new Manitobans integrate into the community, develop their language skills and find jobs as soon as possible."

The new space will allow for the expansion of programs and provide a central hub for settlement and language services. The space will house three local immigrant-service providers. South Central Immigrant Services provides settlement and employment assistance for newcomers while English language classes are provided by Pembina Valley Language Education for Adults. The Winkler and District Chamber of Commerce offers higher-level English language classes through the English Skills Program and co-ordinates the English at Work training program for employees.

The renovated space includes a large meeting room, a large kitchen area, office space for teachers and a larger child-care area.

Settlement and language services are also offered in Morden and Altona. Mobile settlement services are provided in additional communities as needs arise. In 2009, over 1,600 clients accessed settlement services in the Pembina Valley and 500 clients accessed English-language training. Approximately 230 employees took part in the English at Work program and 150 participated in the English Skills program.

The Pembina Valley region is one of the fastest growing regions in Canada, welcoming more than 1,000 immigrants in 2009, a 27 per cent increase since 2005.

Manitoba Labour and Immigration, with support from the federal government, has provided nearly $1.4 million for immigrant services in the Pembina Valley this year including $169,000 for the phase two renovations of the Regional Connections site. Funding for settlement and language training in the Pembina Valley has more than tripled over the past three years, said Howard.

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