TORONTO – The Government of Ontario is helping to ensure seamless and coordinated support for the thousands of refugees settling in the province. By supporting settlement agencies and sponsorship organizations, the province is helping ensure the availability of services critical for refugees to start their new lives, contribute to economic growth and enrich the province’s cultural fabric.
Premier Kathleen Wynne was at the City Adult Learning Centre in Toronto today to highlight the support being provided to refugees to learn English and upgrade their skills to meet the needs of Ontario’s job market. The Premier also announced two further investments to help refugees settle and integrate into Ontario. The funding of about $626,000 over two years is part of the government’s commitment of $8.5 million over two and a half years to support refugees.
The Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants is receiving about $343,000 to launch a public education campaign that will create a welcoming environment for refugees and Ontario’s Muslim communities; conduct province-wide trauma and mental health training for front-line staff working with refugees; and assess the settlement sector’s capacity to help refugees. COSTI Immigrant Services is receiving $283,000 to develop orientation resources; deliver workshops to refugees about living in Ontario; and increase support to the Armenian Community Centre, which is sponsoring 2,600 refugees.
Ontario is collaborating with federal and municipal governments, as well as community partners, on refugee settlement and integration. The province has undertaken a variety of initiatives to provide refugees with critical support. These include:
- The Ministry of Education has trained a group of educators to help district school boards assess the math and literacy skills of newly arrived Syrian children and youth to ensure appropriate school placement.
- The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is working to ensure that refugees have access to health services such as immunizations and primary care. A small Emergency Medical Assistance Team is meeting flights at Toronto Pearson International Airport to provide primary care services.
- Youth outreach workers at community agencies funded by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services will be engaging with refugee youth to build trusting relationships.
- About 7,000 refugees from the Syrian conflict have settled in Ontario since December 10, 2015.
- Most of the refugees will be settled in communities that account for over 90 per cent of immigrant and refugee landings in the province: Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Ottawa, Toronto and Windsor.
- The federal government is responsible for selecting and screening refugees, and for providing settlement services, including finding interim lodging.
- Ontario’s commitment of $8.5 million over two and a half years is providing settlement and integration support for refugees and support for private refugee sponsors such as individuals, faith-based groups and community organizations.
- The province is encouraging Ontarians to post or find volunteer opportunities to help welcome refugees at SPARK Ontario, or to learn about refugees from the Syrian conflict.