The South Okanagan–Similkameen Local Immigration Partnership (SOSLIP) is a community-based partnership Council that brings together representatives from a wide range of sectors (government, business, community services, financial institutions, education, libraries, health, etc.) to develop and implement a settlement & integration strategy for newcomers to the region. The project is led by the South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services (SOICS) and is funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
Local Immigration Partnerships (LIPs) initiative began in 2008 and work at the level of policy and systems. LIPs are multi-sectoral planning tables that bring a cross-section of stakeholders together to identify ways in which to support settlement and integration of immigrants into local communities. Specifically, LIP councils work on their own communities’ priorities and integrating immigrant needs into planning, building welcoming communities, immigrant retention and encourage their active inclusion within the local communities.
LIPs have four express objectives:
- Support better coordination in the planning and delivery of integration services across multiple sectors;
- Provide a framework to facilitate collaboration and develop and implement community-based strategic plans;
- Strengthen local integration capacity to foster labour market access, social inclusion, and sustainable welcoming communities;
- Achieve improved outcomes as indicated by increased economic, social political and civic participation by newcomers.
Currently, there are 19 LIPs across BC and 76 LIPs across Canada supported by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
The South Okanagan–Similkameen Local Immigration Partnership (SOSLIP) encompasses the complete region including the municipalities of Summerland, Penticton, Okanagan Falls, Oliver, Osoyoos, Cawston, Keremeos, and Princeton.
The population of the region in 2011 was reported as 80,742. The projected growth for 2017 was 96,287. Historically, new immigrants have represented approximately 25% of the area’s net growth. Given the projected skills and business demands of the South Okanagan–Similkameen there is a recognized need to attract, integrate and sustain newcomer Canadians. Studies show it can take up to 15 years for a newcomer Canadian to integrate into a community.
Through focused strategic initiatives SOSLIP works on creating a more welcoming community through improving the pace of newcomer settlement and integration. These initiatives help organizations support newcomer language and job skills development, civic engagement and cultural integration, access to health services and more.
By using the newcomer lens in planning and developing policies, services and programs the SOSLIP stakeholders also contribute to the improvement of labour market outcomes and support local business development.
The SOSLIP Council was formed with members drawn from all levels of government, community agencies, public institutions, employers, local networks and associations, newcomers and other key community stakeholders. We have over 50 members who work on the SOSLIP strategic directions by participating in the Council meeting and working on specific projects through one of the three workgroups.
The South Okanagan-Similkameen LIP Council members share a commitment to the core values of diversity, equity, and respect. The SOSLIP Council recognizes the potential of all Canadians and encourages the integration of new immigrants through involvement in social, cultural, economic and political affairs. The Council facilitates synergistic relationships, collective impact and effective communication supporting immigrant attraction, settlement, integration and retention.