Moving to a new country can be difficult at the best of times. It’s even more difficult in the midst of a pandemic. Throughout the current COVID-19 pandemic, people from around the world continued to arrive in Ontario with hopes and dreams of building a new life here.
Immigrant and refugee-serving agencies across Ontario stayed open to help new arrivals settle in a new community and adjust to a new life in Canada — yes, even in the middle of a pandemic.
Settlement services are available to all new arrivals in English and French. They’re free and always confidential. Services can include help to fill out application forms, interpretation, translation of documents, help to find a job, training, schools, housing, health care, classes to learn English or French, information about other community services, and opportunities to connect with other new arrivals and people in the local community. In the midst of the pandemic, many of these services were provided virtually, or sometimes face-to-face by appointment. Almost all services are funded by different orders of government. Some services have eligibility rules required by the government funder, and therefore may not be available to everyone.
When it is safe for everyone for services to fully re-open, you can expect to see settlement staff in places such as schools, libraries, and community centres. They will be there to answer questions and connect people to services provided in other locations. When services re-open fully, you can also expect to participate in community events organized by immigrant-and refugee-serving agencies to help new arrivals get to know the Indigenous nations and traditional territory in which they’re building a new life and the local community and people who will become their new neighbours and help them feel at home.