How to make a city welcoming

By in Opinions

Saskatoon does not rank high among its Canadian counterparts as a good landing place for international immigrants — but could we use our assets to make it better?

In a recent review by MacLean’s, Saskatoon placed 25th out of the 100 Canadian cities best poised economically to support new Canadians. Criteria included diversity of the job market, unemployment rates and cost of living in each city. At the top of the list, unsurprisingly, ranked the utopian Ottawa, Ont. Our neighbour, Regina, clinched the third-place spot.

Regina boasts a median household income of $83,178 and an estimated unemployment rate of  5.7 per cent, while Saskatoon weighs in at $76,938 and 6.2 per cent.

According to Statistics Canada, from 2007 to 2012, international immigration made up about 65 per cent of net migration to the Saskatoon census metropolitan area — this includes surrounding municipalities Warman, Martensville and Delisle. Just under 12,000 international newcomers settled in the Saskatoon region between 2010 and 2012.

Civic diversity is important, as it makes it easier for new Canadians to forge connections within a community. Saskatoon — though small — should support cultural-development initiatives. This could take the form of greater funding for cultural events and support for immigrant-run businesses.

Other barriers facing newcomers include language, education and community attitudes. As of 2017, a reported 17.5 per cent of Saskatoon residents identify a language other than French or English as their first language. While that statistic might not solicit a review of our city’s own official languages, it is important to keep in mind as an individual and a community member.

In fact, individual action is a solid base for overall improvement. Arguably, the most difficult challenges facing newcomers today are social ones. Acceptance, equality and safety are some simple things we should look to guarantee for newcomers.

One way you can help is by volunteering locally. The Saskatoon Open Door Society is a non-profit organization that offers support to refugees and immigrants moving to the city. With settlement and family services, child care, opportunities for language training and connections to employers, SODS provides a well-rounded roster of services.

In order to run successfully, SODS requires donations and support from community volunteers. If you are interested in offering time or aid, contact communityconnections@sods.sk.ca.

Emily Migchels / Opinions Editor

Graphic:  Lesia Karalash / Graphics Editor