12/12/2013 08:44 EST | Updated 02/11/2014 05:59 EST

B.C. ESL Programs Will Remain Despite Funding Fears: Ottawa

VICTORIA - Citizenship and Immigration Canada says federal English-as-a-second-language programs for new British Columbians will continue despite the provincial government's concerns about funding changes.

A statement released Thursday from Citizenship and Immigration Canada says the federal government remains committed to helping new Canadians fully integrate into the economy, and it will assume direct management of settlement programs in B.C. in April.

The statement also says Citizenship and Immigration Canada has been working with the B.C. government to ensure there will be no service interruptions during the transition.

B.C.'s Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk says the federal government gave the province $22 million a year for ESL training under the Canada-BC Immigration Agreement, and of that money his ministry received about $17 million.

Virk says his ministry used the money to pay for ESL training for 9,000 students in B.C.'s public universities and colleges, but in April 2012 the federal government told B.C. it was going to cancel the agreement.

The provincial NDP's advanced-education critic David Eby says new Canadians who want English-language training are now left worrying about their futures, as Ottawa and the B.C. government blame each other over potential program cuts.

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