Saskatchewan Renews Immigrant Access Fund
Written by Shanna Empey on Tuesday, 26 August 2014
The Saskatchewan government has officially renewed an agreement that assists immigrants in gaining the necessary credentials to make a living in the province.
The Immigrant Access Fund of Saskatchewan, Inc. is a non-profit organization which provides microloans of up to $10,000 to new immigrants to Saskatchewan. A sum of $204,131 has been granted to IAF SK to provide operational funding for 58 microloans.
Minister of Immigration Jobs Skills and Training, Jeremy Harrison, explains the need for this program.
“What the immigrant access fund does is allows for newcomers within Saskatchewan to access up to a $10,000 microloan at a low rate of interest. The purpose being to have skills and training credentials earned outside of Canada, either upgraded or recognized here in Saskatchewan so that these newcomers are able to work to their full potential in the province. What we’re hoping to do is to have 58 or so microloans issued on a character basis, for individuals who are newcomers here who don’t have access to traditional credit. That would mean folks that don’t have a credit history and wouldn’t be able to access those loans. The purpose being to have those skills and trade or other professional credentials recognized here in the province of Saskatchewan.”
The microloans will be used for training, upgrading, licensing, certification, registration and memberships required for employment in their occupation.
Harrison adds that it is a program that has been very effective in years past.
“It’s a program that’s been very successful, with nearly an 80% success rate in terms of the credential recognition part of the equation, and a 98% retainment rate. One of the biggest challenges that newcomers have coming to Canada and Saskatchewan is the foreign credential recognition component. We knew there was a gap there, and we’ve worked with the federal government in terms of putting this program in place to contribute jointly so there would be access to credit for these newcomers who are in many cases highly skilled in the country from which they came. In order to make sure they are able to contribute fully and participate to the top level of their ability in the economy here in Saskatchewan.”
The program will run until May 31st 2015. In addition, the new provincial loan eligibility criteria will ensure the program helps those it was intended for, and loan support activities will lead to qualified employment in Saskatchewan.
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