New mayor should offer more help to newcomers, immigrant says

Toronto is ready for you.

The city slogans itself with unlimited possibilities for immigrants, but the mayoral election has made at least one newcomer questioning whether Toronto is really ready for them.

After attending a recent mayoral debate at York University, 36-year-old Ngoc Lan Thanh Dang says she’s unsure of who to vote for and convinced there’s a lack of support for immigrants in Toronto.

“I am lucky that I have my family here to help me, but what if I didn’t have anybody?  How do I get help and learn English?” Dang said.  “The new mayor needs to give more to (those) new to Canada.”

The second of three debates organized by the Toronto Board of Trade took place Wednesday night with the top five candidates in attendance.

A Toronto resident for six years after moving to the city from Vietnam, Dang says there should be more resources readily available for newcomers.

According to Statistics Canada, a little more than half of Toronto’s population is born outside of Canada.  A number that high should get more attention when it comes to funding, Dang says.

“We need more classes for English, more places set up to help immigrants find jobs,” she said.  “I hear the (candidates) talk about giving money for TTC, but I think helping people who need it would be good too.  Only one of them talked about it.”

Mayoral candidate Rocco Rossi, a son to Italian immigrants, stated newcomer integration as his top concern when asked his investment priorities.

“Very aggressive investment into immigrant integration, because again the board of trade and others have pointed out that we’re losing billions of dollars of potential, and people’s lives are less than fully fulfilled,” Rossi said.  “That’s something I understand as the son of immigrants and what changes have come to my family’s life with just a little bit of English training and a little bit of daycare.”

According to the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council’s website, immigrants are needed to fill the void in job vacancies when the baby boomers retire.  Dang says more newcomers have to voice their opinions for a change to be made.

Rossi says to increase voter turnout in suburban areas, matters that affect those residents most will need to be addressed.

“It’s going to be talking about the issues that make a difference in their lives and give them the same opportunities that I and my family have had as immigrants, and that wave after wave has had,” Rossi said.  “I want that to be the case whether you were here a hundred days ago or a hundred years ago.”

For Dang, more facilities allocated towards gearing new Torontonians for a better tomorrow would be a selling point for her vote.

“I only hope that the new mayor (will) help immigrants make a life for themselves,” Dang said.  “I am only one person, but I wish this for my future brothers or sister that wants to come to Toronto to live.”