It’s already a dire situation, and it’s going to get worse.
That, from Surrey refugee support groups as wait lists for English language courses continue to grow, and Metro Vancouver plans to welcome 2,000 refugees by the end of next month.
Speaking through a translator, Surrey mother of four Samar Al-Zoubi says she just began taking an English course this week, two months after arriving in Canada.
“She’s saying that it was hard, they want to go to class faster, because without the language it is very hard, challenging for them.”
Tahzeem Kassam with the DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society says 400 people are on the wait list.
“It’s certainly getting to be boiling over the top.”
At SUCCESS, a social services agency in Vancouver, 1,000 people are waiting for basic English classes.
Women told to stay at home so men can go to class
Vasso Vahlas with the Surrey Language Assessment Centre says mothers are being told to stay home with the kids, so their husbands can learn English.
“This is what they are being told in schools. Here we are only telling them, ‘Go to this school.'”
All are calling on the Liberal government to restore resettlement funding that was cut under the previous Tory government.
Surrey prepares for hundreds of Syrian kids
Meanwhile, the Surrey School District is still bracing for hundreds of Syrian refugee students.
Their first stop is the Bridge program at the Welcome Centre.
Teacher Chris Hull says students learn basic language and social skills while having access to interpreters, settlement workers, and psychologists.
“That’s where you could see 200, 300 kids coming. That’s where you could see potentially 100 high school students that need this program.”
Manager Caroline Lai says they need more federal money to replicate the program: “Either, another classroom here or at the high school, (near) where most of the kids live.”
Lai adds many Surrey schools are at capacity, so some Syrian children may be forced to bus to a school with more room.
— Shelby Thom (@ShelbyThom980) January 28, 2016