Opinion: Affordable housing, digital equity, culturally appropriate care must be considered by Burnaby candidates this election

At the end of the day, no matter anyone’s background, a healthy, housed, and informed community is a strong community—and helps us advance an inclusive and thriving Canada.

By Olga Stachova | September 17, 2021 |12:13 pm

Affordable housing for vulnerable community members, digital access with digital equity for all, and culturally appropriate health services should be considered key issues for all political parties in Burnaby.

With a community comprised of nearly 50% immigrants, Burnaby houses the fourth largest immigrant population in the region and has one of the highest numbers of refugees who now call Burnaby home within Metro Vancouver.

And MOSAIC knows all too well what this means as a leading and frontline deliverer of services to Burnaby’s diverse population.
MOSAIC is one of the largest non-profit organizations in the Lower Mainland focusing on providing settlement and employment services for immigrants and refugees – having done so with dedication and compassion for the last 45 years.

Through services and advocacy, MOSAIC’s mission is to further the success and sense of belonging of newcomers and individuals from diverse backgrounds.

Everyone wants to feel connected, and members of Burnaby’s diverse community are no exception. MOSAIC sees affordable housing, digital equity, and health equity as key factors to building and maintaining a vibrant, healthy community that can add value back into the Canadian fabric.

Affordable housing

Burnaby’s elected representatives need to be strong voices and advocates calling for changes and support in navigating and approaching housing. It takes time for newcomers to establish themselves in a new country and finding affordable housing is the number one barrier cited by newcomers.

Research clearly demonstrates that marginalized communities face language barriers, lack of references to provide to landlords, racism, and exploitation.

It is imperative to provide safe, appropriate, and affordable housing for refugees, immigrants, migrants and people with precarious immigration status who don’t qualify for most government programs, groups that must also often navigate intersecting disadvantages or discrimination (i.e. race, gender, class, disability, religious/faith bias, immigration status, sexual orientation).

Digital equity

According to a 2021 report from the Institute for Research on Public Policy, during the pandemic, newcomers have faced a disproportionally higher digital disconnection—so critical in times when digital equity is directly connected to access to education, food, housing and health care.

MOSAIC supports the creation of an affordable internet plan for all low-income individuals and families, setting up a technology fund for purchasing personal devices, and having social service organizations partner in digital literacy training.

Culturally appropriate health

MOSAIC also calls on Burnaby’s elected officials to integrate social services with healthcare services. We recommend removing barriers to access, and scaling up services for marginalized communities, ensuring that services are available free of charge, immunization education is provided in a culturally appropriate way, and new policies are informed by research and through consultation of those directly impacted.

At the end of the day, no matter anyone’s background, a healthy, housed, and informed community is a strong community—and helps us advance an inclusive and thriving Canada.

 

Any views or opinions represented in this article are those of the writer and do not represent those of Burnaby Beacon. If you’re interested in submitting an opinion piece, reach out to us here.

Olga Stachova

CEO of MOSAIC, one of Canada’s largest settlement non-profit organizations

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