Together Project
Resources
Photo by Lisa Kannako

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Helpful resources that Welcome Group volunteers can share with newcomer refugees. Regularly updated for programs, events and more!

Education Support Guide

A guide to help volunteers empower newcomer parents and guardians to understand the Canadian school system, meet support staff, and learn about an array of helpful resources.

Language Practice Guide

A guide based on experiences of Welcome Group volunteers and tips from professional language tutors to help volunteers assist newcomer refugees with language practice.

Welcome Groups for Refugee Claimants

This manual empowers volunteers with an overview of the knowledge and tools most useful in providing social support to refugee claimants. The manual is divided into four sections: 1) the refugee claimant journey and the volunteer role 2) concepts of voluntary and humanitarian work 3) managing expectations and 4) how the program works.

Welcome

The first manual in the series is designed to give volunteers a broad, comprehensive overview of volunteering with refugee newcomers, including understanding refugee resettlement, the role of volunteers in integration, understanding the settlement sector, and managing expectations.

Connect

The second manual was designed to support Welcome Group volunteers in helping connect refugee newcomers with available services for the first steps in their settlement and the longer journey toward durable integration, in a way that complements the role of settlement sector staff and caseworkers.

Empower

The third manual can help guide Welcome Group volunteers in helping refugee newcomers begin the process of finding work, access training and accreditation, understand the importance of volunteerism and civic engagement, and understand basic rights and responsibilities as next steps along the journey toward long-term integration.

Belong

The fourth manual will provide information concerning the “Month 13” transition from Resettlement Assistance Program support to other forms of social assistance following the initial 12 month settlement period.

Monthly Updates

Child and Youth Programs

Every Thursday until August 11th, from 5-7pm EDT at 3079 Danforth, women and girls wearing hijab and their allies can learn cycling skills while exploring the city! Equipment, snacks and tokens are provided, and riders of all skill levels are welcome.

Every Thursday until September 8th, from 5:00-7:00pm, Access Alliance will have their latest LGBTQ+ Newcomer Youth Drop-In for immigrant and refugee youth to meet up and have fun with social events, field trips, and more. Call 416-693-8677 x 4220 to register. This takes place in-person in Scarborough at 3079 Danforth Avenue.

Until August 2nd, youth aged 15 and up can attend free arts workshops from 1-3pm EDT. All “Art on My Mind” sessions are in-person at Black Creek Community Farm, and snacks and bus fare will be provided. Youth can learn about live performance, songwriting & vocal production, and mural painting. Youth can sign up for one session or all three!

For five weeks over the summer, Scarborough-based newcomer youth aged 13-19 can attend summer programs with CCS. These will include self-defense, rock-climbing, soccer games, field trips, and more! This program runs Monday-Friday until August 5th, and is free of charge. Youth can pick one day to attend, or can come for the full program.

On Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from July 4-August 3, from 9-3 at 2291 Kipling Avenue, Delta Family Centre is hosting a Youth Summer Camp for children aged 7-12. There will be tutoring in math, science, and English, games, and trips.

Every Tuesday until July 5th, at 4:30pm EDT at Toronto’s FCJ Refugee Centre at 208 Oakwood Avenue, newcomer youth can learn Shanshou, Kickboxing, Boxing, Tai Chi, Self-Defense Education for free.

On July 6, from 1-2 pm, with For Youth Initiative, the Holistic Wellness Project is offering a Healing in Movement Dance Class for youth. Register with whitney@foryouth.ca

On Fridays and Saturdays from 7pm-9pm until August 27th and beyond, the Youth Connections Cafe will take place in person at Bridlewood Mall in York Region. Newcomers aged 16-24 can learn about mental and physical health and well-being; life skills; leadership; arts and creativity; entrepreneurship; community resources and much more, and speak one-on-one to a qualified mental health professional/counsellor for free.

Applications are now open for a September 2022 an opportunity for youth aged 16-29 in the Greater Toronto Area to receive free studio and arts mentorship and experience. This program is located in downtown Toronto, and is a 4-8 month program that ends with a student showcase. 

From July 4th to July 8th, from 12pm-4pm EDT, Toronto’s WoodGreen Newcomer Youth program will offer a free five-day, in-person summer camp for newcomers aged 12-16. Lunches, prizes, and transportation are all provided! There will be field trips, guest speakers, and the City of Toronto as a backdrop to summer adventures.

Employment

On July 13th, from 11-12 EDT, CIBC will be holding a career information session with their Senior Talent Acquisition Partner. Learn about the CIBC hiring process for free. Register by July 8th to save your spot!

On July 26, from 1pm-4pm EDT, at Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel in downtown Toronto, jobseekers can connect with hiring companies, government, employment services, colleges, universities, and more. 

Know a young person looking for a summer job? On June 27, Toronto’s Learning Enrichment Foundation is offering free 1-on-1 employment counselling sessions for youth, ranging from interview preparation to resume development. These appointments take place anytime between 2:00pm-7:00pm EDT; register in advance.

ENglish Language Learning

From July 4-July 29, the TDSB Essential Skills Upgrading (ESU) program provides free adult classes in Toronto to help learners improve their English reading and writing, mathematics, and computer skills. Classes are non-credit and are offered both in-person and remotely and in-person in Etobicoke, Bloor Street, Rexdale, North York and Scarborough. The next session will start in September. 

Join Woodgreen’s free Enhanced Language Training program to develop sector specific language skills, employment and job placement support. Their Office Administration/ Customer Service Language Training starts on July 12 and runs until November 24th. Participants will learn about employment preparation, business communication, and receive a certificate upon completion. Register before July 12th– space is limited.

Health and Wellness

Every Thursday, from 4-5pm, FCJ volunteers will be holding free online workshops ranging from self-care to professional and artistic advancement. Register in advance. 

On Thursdays in Ottawa throughout June, July, and August, there are free high-energy workouts outdoors on Parliament Hill. These free movement sessions take place from 12:00-1:00pm EDT. Register in advance! 

Outdoor Programming

Every Thursday until August 11th, from 5-7pm EDT at 3079 Danforth, women and girls wearing hijab and their allies can learn cycling skills while exploring the city! Equipment, snacks and tokens are provided, and riders of all skill levels are welcome.

Through their Summer Camp (ages 4-12), Junior Naturalist Summer Camp (ages 12-14), and Leading Youth in Nature Experiences (ages 14-17), Humber Arboretum has multiple day camp opportunities for children and youth to get outside this summer for free!

In Ottawa throughout June, July, and August, there are free high-energy workouts outdoors on Parliament Hill! These free movement sessions take place every Thursday from 12:00-1:00pm EDT.

From July 4th to July 8th, Toronto’s WoodGreen Newcomer Youth program will offer a free five-day, in-person summer camp for newcomers aged 12-16. Lunches, prizes, and transportation are all provided! There will be field trips, guest speakers, and the City of Toronto as a backdrop to summer adventures.

Social Connections

On July 5th, from 6:30pm-7:30pm, newcomers can attend a community roundtable to participate in the research study, “Building Community Between newcomers to Canada and Indigenous Peoples” conducted by BAM – Books Art Music Collective and Samuel Centre for Social Connectedness. With a 3-speaker panel, a live performance, draws and more, this will be an event to show newcomers how to  be well-equipped to embark upon the journey to reconciliation.

On July 3, at Artscape Wychwood Barns, from 10am-7pm EDT, enjoy the Latin Fair for food, games, music, performers, children’s activities, and more.

On July 7, July 14, August 4, August 11, September 8, and more, the 519 is holding Henna Hangs— a space for 2SLGBTQ+ newcomers and refugees from Arab, Southwest Asian, North African, East African, and South Asian backgrounds. This is a great way to share experiences, meet new friends, and connect with the queer newcomer community.

Special Trainings

On July 18th, newcomer women can start the next Women’s Business Accelerator programs. This program trains newcomer women in developing business plans and other entrepreneurship essentials such as cash flow management and marketing to start/grow their business. Workshops are held virtually on Monday and Wednesday, from 6 – 8:30 p.m. Register in advance!

On July 7th, from 5:30-6:30pm EDT, newcomers can learn about how to spot e-mail, phone, and text message scams, and how to protect themselves from fraud. This workshop is facilitated by an officer of the Canada Revenue Agency. 

On July 26th, from 5:30-7:30pm EDT, newcomers can enjoy a free cooking class with food provided by FoodShare! The recipe ingredients will be packed and delivered to each participant on the day of the workshop. Limited spots available; register in advance. 

Every Wednesday, there are free information sessions by Surrey-based MOSAIC for young newcomers aged 17-29 who are interested in entering the manufacturing industry. This is a free program that includes six weeks of paid online training, transportation support, paid certificate training, and 12 weeks of career coach support. Free information sessions available every Wednesday; register in advance. Next program start date: October 17, 2022.

Newcomer Kitchen, a free 12-week training program for newcomer women in Toronto interested in starting a small food business, has just opened registration! The next program will run from July 19-October 20th, and will include making meals, developing a farmer’s market product, catering for events, and more.

On July 7, July 13, and July 14, WoodGreen Community Services and George Brown College will present on their training program for Women in Trades. Participants can learn about the 14-week program in Computer Numerical Control Training and receive Employment Skills Training to assist them with securing entry-level Computer Numerical Control / Precision Machinist jobs.

Technology

Older adults can join TechServe on June 30, July 7, 14, & 21 from 10am-11:30am for trainings on Zoom, WhatsApp, Service Canada, Facebook, Instagram, and Amazon. In-person workshops are also available at 2794 Lakeshore Boulevard West; register with Village Mosaic at 416-231-0655.

 

 

Do you know of an Event or program that we should highlight? Let us know!

See below for full resource listings!

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Afghan Community Resources

An intergenerational mentorship program in Toronto that’s focused on storytelling! This unique opportunity connects adults over 55 with youth under 29 to connect over traditional Arabic, Afghan, and other storytelling practices. 

Twice a week, Toronto-based newcomers preparing for the Canadian citizenship test can get free instruction with 90-minute classes offered online. Pre-registration required.

Afghan women in Ottawa are invited to participate in English conversation circles at CCI. Sessions are an hour long and are free of charge.

Free mental health assistance in Toronto for refugees who speak Farsi, Dari, and Pashto. Psychotherapists work with newcomer refugees aged 5 and up to offer psychotherapy and related services to those going through Immigration and Refugee Law and other legal processes and applications.

Compiled to show the national spectrum of healthcare, settlement, education and public-serving sectors that are available to Afghan newcomers, this toolkit provides many helpful resources.

Created by N4, this is a list of 34 service providers who are collaborating to support Afghan resettlement across Canada.

All over Toronto, there are many Dari and Pashto-speaking settlement workers who can support newcomers for free. They work in settlement offices, community centres, libraries, schools, and more. Our friends at the Toronto South Local Immigration Partnership compiled a helpful list of Toronto’s Afghan frontline workers.

For Afghan newcomers who speak Dari, Farsi, or Pashto, this hotline will connect them to a settlement worker who can help them find settlement services in Toronto. The Hotline Number is 416-405-5300. 

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Child and Youth Resources

With one-on-one support and group workshops for immigrant and refugee youth in Toronto, Access Alliance has many arts-based programs in theatre, photography, crafts, and more. Peer mentoring and volunteer opportunities are available. They welcome gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ+) newcomer youth.

Youth across Toronto can virtually access career mentors, leadership opportunities, earn volunteer hours for school, create art, learn public speaking and facilitation skills, and more.

Toronto’s arts sector comes together in virtual spaces to provide free webinars for youth and adults. Arts@Home showcases Toronto’s leading arts organizations in art, dance, media, music, theatre, and more. 

In Ottawa, CCI has a wide spectrum of programs that range from homework clubs to Kids’ Corner to leadership programs and gender-specific workshops for youth. All programs are free for kids aged 6-14 and are open to permanent residents or protected persons.

Three times a year, Charlie’s Freewheels offers a free program for youth to build a bike and learn how to  repair it themselves and ride it safely. This includes 30 hours of bike mechanics education, hot vegetarian meals, a helmet, lock, front and back lights, a bell, a safety kit, and a bicycle built by and for the youth!

Serving children from birth to aged six, and children aged 6-12 attending childcare, CITYKIDS is a network of Toronto agencies that help families find early childhood programs to meet the developmental needs of their child. Referrals can be made by families, physicians, early childhood professionals, and community agency professionals.

A database consolidating virtual recreation, active living, arts and culture activities for all ages to enjoy while staying, playing, and learning at home. Sort by audience for different target groups; many activities are for all ages.

In Surrey, British Columbia, DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society offers RISE— a Refugee & Immigrant Specialized Experience program for newcomer youth aged 16-24 to receive settlement support, life skills, and community connections, and more. This free program is offered in Arabic, Burmese, French, and Swahili.

Free programs to Ontario-based parents/caregivers and their children from birth to six years of age. At Early ON centres, families can participate in programs to strengthen adult-child relationships, support parent education, and foster healthy child development. To find the centre closest to you, click the link!

Khan Academy offers free instruction in math, science, computer programming, history, art history, economics, and more. Through virtual practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard, learners of all ages can study at their own pace. 

Virtual resources about arts and crafts, literacy activities, writing prompts and more are collected from a variety of sources and posted on this handy resource page.

From daily life to school, health, work, and immigration, this portal has a wealth of information for newcomer youth in Ontario.

Free online resources for elementary and secondary students to practice math and literacy skills, and more at home. 

With social nights, homework help, career guidance, English conversation circles, and employment support for newcomer youth, Peel Multicultural Council offers a range of programs and plenty of opportunities for youth to gain volunteer hours.

In Mississauga, children aged 6-12 can attend robotics, coding, homework club, and life skills workshops for free. Children will learn about critical and creative thinking, communication, and teamwork.

With drop-in spaces for Vancouver-based queer youth (aged 14-25 and aged 10-13), a program to provide counselling, free new/used gender-affirming chest-wear for trans and gender-variant youth, and support for parents of queer youth, QMUNITY is a safe space for LGBTQ2SAI+ people and their allies.

Free school reports and access to important neighbourhood information are available at this portal. In Toronto, information can be searched by 140 neighbourhoods, while in other cities, information can be found by school.

  • Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS) – Free Settlement Services Across Canada

Many Canadian schools and libraries have settlement workers who specialize in connecting newcomer students and families with local community services, and they often speak the predominant languages of newcomers in the area. This program is a partnership between Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and various school boards. School Settlement Workers often organize newcomer-specific orientation weeks for middle schools (Welcome Information for Newcomer – WIN) and secondary schools (Newcomer Orientation Week – NOW). Contact the local school or library to connect with a School Settlement Worker today.

At Ottawa’s Somali Centre for Family Services, Somali counsellors are offering SNAP— free gender-specific programs for children aged 6-11 to learn self-control, problem-solving, and emotion-regulation skills.

This program is for youth aged 15-30 to get mentorship for their goals of developing community-based programming. #RisingYouth grants offer up to $1,500 for young Canadians to develop and launch projects to improve their communities.

For students in priority schools across the Greater Toronto Area, The Hammer Band is a non-profit that provides free music classes and free violins and free music classes by professional musicians.

In Toronto’s Thorncliffe neighbourhood, TNO is offering a range of free youth programming for Grades 6-12 students. They have indoor basketball, a youth lounge, a media club, free tutoring, and more.

A monthly clothing swap that takes place at Toronto’s Centre for Social Innovation! Mostly geared towards women’s clothing, but with children’s clothing, as well. Participants come with 1-10 items of preloved clothing, footwear, jewelry, or accessories in good condition, and can leave with up to 10 items that they love. There are change rooms and mirrors. Entry is free but a donation of $2 is suggested. Pre-register in advance to save a spot.

Welcome to School has created comprehensive lists of community-based after-school programs and tutoring programs delivered in Toronto.

This website lists helpful information, resources, workshops and programs for newcomer parents, children and youth.

This virtual drop-in program offers personalized homework support for Toronto students between JK and Grade 7. Registration required in advance. The West Neighbourhood House Newcomer Youth Program also hosts a variety of activities such as skill-building, promoting civic engagement, and building English-language skills.

With On Your Mark (free tutoring for Spanish/Portuguese-speaking children in Grades 1-12), HIPPY (free education resources and support for newcomer parents/guardians of children entering kindergarten), and Ambassador Training for newcomer parents to help others navigate the school system, Toronto’s Working Women Community Centre provides a range of programming focused on children’s educational attainment and parent/guardian engagement.

For newcomer youth between 13-24 years old, the YMCA offers a program for leadership opportunities, public speaking training, games, homework help, field trips, and more. The program is offered both online and offline, with opportunities to join programs across the Greater Toronto Area.

Youth Assisting Youth matches newcomer/at-risk youth aged 6-15 years old with mentors aged 16-29 who are post-secondary students and young professionals. Matches last for a minimum of 1 year, 3 hours a week. Both anglophone and francophone mentors are available. Match activities include taking their youth to play table tennis, watch theatre shows, and even learn to paddle board and sail! In addition, newcomer mentees can get free admission to either the ROM or AGO for their families from Community Family Services of Ontario.

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Employment Services

Every month, Toronto’s Acces Employment holds free workshops for participants interested in careers such as healthcare, finance, and the digital sector. Register in advance.

With free workshops geared towards careers in FinTech, retail, healthcare, and more, Achev has a wide range of virtual offerings for newcomers seeking employment. Many of their services are also delivered in-person in Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, and North York.

This 6-week program is designed for participants in Greater Vancouver with multiple barriers to employment, such as unstable housing, low literacy, limited English, mental health challenges, and much more.  Participants receive employment counselling, job readiness skills, essential skills training, occupational skills training, technology support, a $100 training completion bonus for those who complete the 6 weeks of training. After the program, participants receive up to three months of free job coaching and job placement support. 

In Ottawa, CCI has a wide spectrum of employment-related workshops for newcomers that range from starting transitional jobs to reaccreditation for foreign-trained professionals. All programs are free. 

COSTI Employment Services provides numerous free career assessments, programs for internationally-trained newcomers, and employment programs for youth. Employment centres located in Brampton, Mississauga, Toronto, and Vaughan; many workshops are currently delivered virtually. 

The CPAC-RBC Enhanced Mentorship Program aims to assist young people aged 21 to 35 in gaining knowledge of the Canadian workplace, learning job search and related soft skills, and finding professional employment through the guidance of established professionals. This is a 12-week training program that offers internship and work placement opportunities. This program is supported by RBC Royal Bank.

For permanent residents seeking free career mentorship, CultureLink connects settled immigrants with newcomers in specific sectors to help them on their Canadian job search journey for 3-6 months.

Bridging programs provide job-specific classes for newcomers with international training and education who are seeking work in Ontario in certain sectors, such as nursing, engineering, information technology, financial services, and more. These opportunities help with reaccreditation, licensing, and certifications in many trades and professions.

This 6-month entrepreneurial training and funding opportunity for refugee women includes training, incubation, funding, mentorship, access to investment organizations, and a dedicated business consultant to help refugee women build a startup. Offered in partnership with Toronto’s Jumpstart Refugee Talent, this program is open to women who arrived in Canada as a refugee or have refugee status.

A refugee-led, Toronto-based organization that focuses on refugees seeking to restart their careers. Jumpstart Refugee Talent has many free, refugee-specific programs for mentorship, entrepreneurship, and more.

Toronto’s Mennonite New Life Centre offers four bridging programs: Bridge to Employment in Media and Communications (for those interested in broadcast media, digital marketing), Bridge to Employment in Services for Immigrant Populations (for those interested in becoming a settlement counsellor or employment counsellor), Bridge to Registration and Employment in Mental Health (for those interested in becoming registered psychotherapists), and Bridge for Immigrant Women Reskilling into IT Coding Professions (for women, regardless of previous education, who are interested in creating apps and websites).

British Columbia’s MOSAIC offers employment counselling, job development, hiring events, workplace tours, and other support geared towards refugees seeking careers in Canada. MOSAIC has locations throughout British Columbia, including Surrey, Vancouver, New Westminster, and more. All services are free. 

Toronto-based newcomer women can learn how to start a small food business and gain real-life  experience making and selling food.

With regular employment webinars in resume-building, interview preparations, personal finance, and LinkedIn, Newcomer Women’s Services Toronto has a spectrum of supports. 

With employment readiness training sessions and one-on-one job search support geared towards newcomer refugee men, North York Community House has workplace tour opportunities, financial literacy programs, and more.

Ready to start working but don’t know where to start? The NYWC’s STEPS to Work program will help to develop an individualized path to employment through one-on-one support and an 8-part workshop series.

NPower Canada provides free training for aspiring IT Analysts, Data Analysts, and UX Designers in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, and Nova Scotia. Programs are developed with Google and Microsoft, and are open to participants with a high school diploma or GED. No age requirements and no prior tech knowledge needed. Participants are given laptops for the duration of the program. Applications from refugees and newcomers are encouraged.

This Toronto-based centre provides employment services, youth job connections, Second Career services, and Ontario Job Creation Partnerships for refugees. They also have Connections, an 18-week training program to help newcomers on social assistance enter the Canadian workforce.

Through Toronto’s Studio 500, participants can receive two-year tuition-free training for a hairstyling career. Participants can become fully certified and licensed hairstylists with these accredited pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs. This training is approved by the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development. Participants must have a high-school diploma, SIN number, and valid work permit, and CLB 5. The program will be offered in a combination of virtual and in-person classes.

For newcomer youth in Scarborough, there are free in-person services at the Toronto District School Board offering youth programs including homework clubs, one-on-one tutoring, youth-focused information sessions, employment and volunteer opportunities, and more. 

This Ottawa-based centre provides employment services for newcomers, covering resumes, cover letters, job search techniques, career exploration, and job interview preparation, and more. Services available in French and English.

WES evaluates academic credentials from more than 48,000 institutions in 203 countries and territories around the world. Their industry-standard reports are recognized by thousands of academic institutions, licensing bodies, and employers throughout Canada. Through the WES Gateway program, refugees and displaced persons with limited proof of academic achievements may be eligible for an alternative credential assessment.

West Toronto’s many employment programs and services all in one comprehensive flyer bank. 

With free employment webinars, one-on-one assessments, referrals to government benefits, and more, the YMCA Newcomer Information Centre has career services for both newcomer adults and youth. 

At York University, under the Internationally-Educated Professionals Certificate Programs, refugee claimants and newcomers can pursue a Certificate in Canadian Business or a Certificate in Information Technology. Bursaries and funding options available. In addition, weekly English language support classes and ongoing job search support including career coaching, alumni mentoring, networking, and employment workshops are provided for free. Participants gain access to York University’s services, libraries, career centre and more.

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English and French Language Support

This eight-week course is for Toronto-based newcomers who want to pursue a career in the food industry. With sector-specific language training, a food handler certification, First Aid, CPR, WHMIS, and free childminding and TTC support, this program helps newcomers with basic English skills enter food-related careers while learning English for free.

Every week, a certified IELTS examiner from Toronto-based English Testing Canada holds free online classes for IELTS preparation for anyone around the world. The one-hour classes cover all aspects of IELTS: Speaking, Reading, Writing, and Listening. 

Service providers all over Canada provide job-specific language training for newcomers seeking to continue their careers in sectors like accounting, finance, teaching, health care, IT, office administration, customer service, and more.

In Surrey, British Columbia, there are numerous ways to learn English through programs like LINC, adult literacy programs, conversation circles, and more. See this list for many options!

In Ottawa, newcomers can access free French courses following an assessment by the Language Assessment and Resource Centre (LARC-CELO). Funded by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada, these courses have regular intakes and are taught by certified teachers. On-site childminding is provided for free during the course.

Throughout Canada, English courses are provided for free. Funded by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada, these courses are taught by certified teachers and have regular intakes. Before signing up for a course, participants must have an assessment to determine which language level is right for them. LINC provides childminding free of charge during the course.

For vulnerable newcomers experiencing multiple barriers when trying to learn English, such as emotional trauma, mental health issues, or low literacy, Toronto-based Mennonite New Life Centre provides free English classes called Language Instruction Giving Hope to Trauma Survivors (LIGHTS). With small-group sessions delivered for 1 hour a day, 3 days a week, this alternative language program teaches functional English for newcomers to communicate in real-life situations. 

For summer 2022, the English Conversation Circles are available virtually. These are opportunities for newcomers to practice English with other language learners and native English speakers, and are completely free of charge.

With small virtual ESL classes of usually 2 or 3 students, Project Abraham offers free English classes for participants aged 18+ with a Permanent Resident number. For newcomers who have been sick, or have complicated work schedules, or are survivors of trauma, these classes are flexible, with customized lesson plans developed and taught by professionally qualified ESL teachers. For GTA-based newcomers in need, tablets or Chromebooks can be loaned.

One-on-one English tutoring to vulnerable newcomers who are unable to attend English classes due to a disability or chronic illness, caregiving responsibilities, lack of access to childcare, and other health and social challenges. This program is open to all newcomers and is free of charge.

The TDSB Essential Skills Upgrading (ESU) program provides free adult classes in Toronto to help learners improve their English reading and writing, mathematics, and computer skills. Classes are non-credit and are offered both in-person and remotely and in-person in Etobicoke, Bloor Street, Rexdale, North York and Scarborough.

Libraries have so many free resources to help language learners. A library card is necessary to unlock these, so go to one of Toronto’s 100 branches or sign up for a Digital Access card. Anyone who lives, works, or goes to school in Toronto is eligible:

ESL E-Books – online access to a spectrum of English lesson plans and activities

Mango Languages – learn English from home with interactive lesson plans

Road to IELTS – interactive English lessons and practice tests for those taking the IELTS test for higher education or professional registration

Tense Buster – free online grammar exercises

  • Websites to Learn English – Free Online Games

Here are some websites with games for newcomers to practice English. While these are great for children and youth, they’re also fun for the young-at-heart. 

ESL Scattergories

English Vocabulary Games on YouTube

Games to Learn English

British Council – Learn English: Kids

British Council – Learn English: Teens

Internationally-trained newcomer professionals in Toronto can sign up for Woodgreen’s Enhanced Language Training programs– these are sector-specific English classes focused on Finance & Accounting Program or Office Administration/Customer Service that feature lessons in business communication, Canadian workplace culture, resume building, interview practice, and more. Free on-site childminding is available.

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Financial Support

Free one-on-one support for individuals and families in Toronto who are struggling with income security and financial literacy. During tax season, Access Alliance also provides free community income tax services.

This subsidy helps Toronto-based families with the costs of licensed child care. There is a waitlist, so apply as soon as possible. Use the subsidy calculator to see an estimate of funding assistance.

This questionnaire allows people to find out which benefits they may be eligible for from federal, provincial or territorial governments. Answer the questions to receive customized results. 

Administered by the Canada Revenue Agency, the Canada Child Benefit is a tax-free monthly payment made to eligible parents and guardians to help with the cost of raising children under 18 years of age.

For Ontario residents facing crises like leaving an abusive household or being evicted, short-term financial support for essentials like food and housing may be available. 

For the 2022 tax season, many Canadian community organizations are hosting free virtual tax clinics. Taxes may be completed for free by videoconference, phone, or through a drop-off clinic.

This program is for Ontario residents with disabilities who need help with living expenses. 

Ontario residents in financial need may be eligible for help with food, shelter, clothing, health costs, and more. Call 416-338-8888 for information.

These free virtual workshops are designed for low-income Torontonians facing financial challenges. Woodgreen offers a three-month Family Finance Clinic, a year-round Income Tax Clinic, a helpline on income taxes, one-on-one Financial Empowerment Counselling, and group Financial Literacy Workshops.

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Food Security

Created by the Food Security Team at Toronto’s Agincourt Community Service, this map has up-to-date information on food banks, free and low cost meals, delivery services, and supermarkets. 

Individuals and families within Toronto’s African, Caribbean, Black communities facing food insecurity can sign up for weekly deliveries of fresh fruits and vegetables for free.

Click on the Layer List to find up-to-date locations of Toronto’s food banks. Additional layers and details are updated daily by 211 Toronto and the City of Toronto.

Across the Greater Toronto Area, London, and Ottawa, volunteers deliver food supplies and groceries to seniors, expecting parents, single parents, and those with disabilities, compromised immune systems, accessibility barriers, and more.

Across southern Ontario, this initiative provides home-cooked meals or groceries to households who are struggling financially, such as QTBIPOC people, single parents, sex workers, precariously housed persons, those with medical conditions or disabilities, newly-arrived immigrants, and the elderly. Food is provided for free by volunteer home chefs.

Every month, The Stop provides a three-day supply of food to individuals and families who live in their catchment area; an ID with name and address required to register. Food supplies always feature fresh produce, milk, eggs, and whole grains, and highlight seasonal vegetables, with examples on cooking through food demos and recipes.

This free app partners with cafes, restaurants, supermarkets, bakeries, hotel kitchens, and more to combat food waste by offering surprise bags of food at low cost! Explore your neighbourhood by trying out the different foods there are to offer, but at a fraction of the regular price. Too Good to Go is currently available in Toronto, Ottawa, Surrey, and more Canadian cities.

Toronto-based seniors in low-income housing can call 1-855-581-9580 to request free help with picking up groceries, household essentials and food bank items. The hotline is available in over 180 languages, and operates weekdays between 9am-5pm.

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Health and Mental Health Resources

Racialized individuals based in Toronto, regardless of status, can access free services at Across Boundaries. This can range from case management to harm reduction to meditation, and more. Services are available in many languages, including Dari, Pashto, Farsi, Swahili, Somali, and Amharic. Services must be booked through The Access Point (see more information under “The Access Point” in this section).

Through weekly virtual sessions, this program empowers women to build self confidence, make informed choices, and create positive change in their lives. This is a safe online space for women who are feeling isolated, experiencing abuse, or having relationship or marital difficulties. They also have free mental health counselling for all newcomers that includes case management, individual and group counselling.

At (416) 863-0511 or toll-free at 1-866-863-0511, women across Ontario can receive free, confidential, 24-hour crisis counselling, emotional support, information and referrals over the phone in over 200 languages. There is also a TTY crisis line and counselling for seniors.

BounceBack is a free program that helps Ontarians aged 15 and up who are experiencing anxiety or depression, or who may be feeling low, stressed, worried, irritable or angry. Participants receive free phone coaching, workbooks, and online resources to help them their journeys towards positive mental health.

Through online care, Cover Health serves Ontario residents seven days a week. Patients can connect with general practitioners, pediatricians, cardiologists, diabetes specialists, and more. 

At Toronto’s Women’s College Hospital, this clinic serves newly-arrived refugees who are living in shelters and have Interim Federal Health Program coverage. This clinic handles chronic diseases, primary care for children, immunizations, pregnancy care, family planning advice, health exams, sleep disorders, anxiety, and more. They serve all genders and can use interpreters when needed. For more information, call 416-323-6031.

With 24-hour support available in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi, Portuguese, and Spanish, Distress Centres of Toronto provides virtual and in-person counselling for everyone from youth to seniors, and group support to those who have lost a loved one to suicide or homicide. This is Canada’s oldest volunteer delivered crisis, emotional support and suicide prevention + intervention + postvention service agency. They can be reached by phone or text. 

This downtown Toronto clinic offers free or low-cost dental services to refugee families. Services include wisdom teeth removal, discounted root canals, free cracked tooth repairs, and more.

This Toronto-based clinic offers free primary health and mental health services for uninsured refugees who do not have a care provider. Appointments must be booked in advance.

This questionnaire helps to assess risk factors for COVID-19 and provides guidance and next steps for keeping safe.

A number of assessment centres have been established across Ontario for COVID assessment and testing. OHIP cards not required.

Book free COVID vaccination appointments here.

Administered by the Ministry of Health, Healthy Smiles Ontario offers free dental care for children 17 years and younger for Ontario residents whose household meets income eligibility requirements. Eligible children and youth from lower-income families can receive free teeth cleaning, check-ups, and dental treatment.

With Registered Psychotherapists, Toronto’s IG Vital Health holds free psychotherapy sessions 7 days a week in Farsi, Dari, Pashto, Spanish, Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, Gujarati, Tamil, Sinhalese, Turkish, Ukrainian, and Russian; interpretation for other languages is available. For asylum seekers and refugees, psychotherapy assessments can strengthen applications and assist decision-makers in their resolutions. Services are free and available in-person and online.

Kids Help Phone counsellors and crisis responders offer free 24/7 mental health and wellness support for newcomer youth in many languages, including English, French, Ukrainian, Russian, Pashto, Dari, Mandarin, and Arabic. All services are free and private, and no ID is required. Call 1-800-668-6868 and press 3.

Refugees with IFHP support can access free psychotherapy counselling at the Toronto-based Mennonite New Life Centre. Internationally-trained clinicians offer both individual counselling and group programs. Open to Spanish, Farsi, and English-speaking families, with other languages available upon request.

With one-on-one support and group sessions, North York Community House provides free services for newcomers as they navigate their new personal and professional lives.

At Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization, immigrants and refugees can be referred to culturally-sensitive clinical counselling. With services that are private and confidential, OCISO’s specially-trained counsellors provide counselling and psychotherapy services in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Farsi, Dari, Urdu, Tigrinya, German, Czech, and other languages as needed.

Queer Love in Colour is a free, safe and supportive environment for anyone with 2SLGBTQIA+ BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color/Global Majority) lived experiences. This group gathers virtually and in-person at QMUNITY at to hold discussions and host activities.

Refugees in Canada can call 1-866-286-4770 for free, multilingual support to find healthcare providers who can deliver transitional health care and services, including primary care, specialist care, and mental health support. While this is not an emergency or crisis line, this healthline can help find a matching health care provider for services offered by OHIP, the IFHP, or provincial programs.

For refugees in Toronto’s Regent Park area, there are many health services, like a monthly mental health and addictions support group for Somali men, a health education program offered in Tamil, Bengali, and Somali, a Vietnamese cultural interpretation service, and more. 

Free services for immigrant, refugee, and women of colour who are facing domestic violence or are dealing with a crisis. These entail counselling, healing groups, safety plan development, client accompaniment to medical appointments, support with navigating legal systems, and more. 

Located in Scarborough, this all-women team of nurse practitioners, doctors, nurses, mental health counsellors and other allied providers give comprehensive women’s care without questions, fees, or judgement. Provided with the Canadian Centre for Refugee & Immigrant Healthcare.

Free, confidential health information delivered over the phone by registered nurses. Services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and in over 300 languages. Nurses have specific resources pertaining to refugee health. Health cards not required. Hotline available at 1-866-797-0000.

For Toronto residents 14 years of age and older, The Access Point can help individuals to access mental health programs delivered by over 50 agencies. These include intensive case management programs, assertive community treatment teams for those with a history of hospitalizations who are experiencing psychosis, and early psychosis intervention for individuals aged 14-34 who are experiencing early signs of psychosis.

The TDSB has gathered many free resources to help support students’ mental health, including changing routines, separation anxiety, and the social and emotional challenges of the new school year. Resources available for elementary, secondary, and middle grades.

Toronto Public Health offers a confidential and anonymous health information and counselling service for Toronto residents. The general public health line addresses many topics, including Child and Family Health, Prenatal and Postpartum Depression and Anxiety, Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention, Mental Health Promotion, Substance Use, Senior Health, and Healthy Eating. Calls are not meant for emergencies. All services are free of charge and are available in multiple languages.

This Toronto Public Health chatline provides free, confidential, and anonymous counselling regarding sexual health (HIV/AIDS), sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), risk assessment, birth control options, emergency contraception, sexuality, relationship concerns, pregnancy, injection drug use and needle exchange information, and referrals to clinics and agencies. Calls are not meant for emergencies. All services are free of charge and are available in multiple languages.

At Toronto Western Hospital, a new neurology clinic has opened to serve the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. The 2SLGBTQIA+ Neurology Clinic is an outpatient service that provides inclusive, comprehensive, and individualized assessment and care to persons identifying as 2SLGBTQIA+ for a full range of neurological conditions that affect the brain, spinal cord, and nerves.

This North York clinic offers free dental services for refugees in Toronto and surrounding areas. Refugees can access free emergency dental care, root canal therapy, oral surgery, and more. Same-day appointments are available.

This clinic is for non-insured Torontonians who live west of Yonge Street. Their mission is to provide care for those without health coverage whether due to precarious status, failed refugee claims or the three-month OHIP wait.

Free mental health counselling by registered professionals for children, youth, young adults and their families, and families with infants. Counselling sessions at 1-866-585-6486 are available Monday to Saturday by phone & video, and typically last 45-60 minutes long. 

Free counselling sessions to cope with anxiety, depression, anger management, and more take place twice a week, either over the phone or on video. Health cards are not required. Counsellors are social workers, psychotherapists, or WoodGreen staff, students, or volunteers who are supervised by a registered professional. Services are available for anyone aged 16 years and up, or for children aged 12-15 with parental consent. Call ahead to book a session. 

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Housing Support

With resources available in many languages, this site has information about Toronto’s tenant rights and responsibilities, city rental assistance, the RentSafeTO program, accessing emergency housing, the rent-geared-to-income subsidy, and more.

Click on the Layer List to find up-to-date locations of Toronto’s food banks, community housing, COVID vaccination centres, and more. Additional layers and details are updated daily by 211 Toronto and the City of Toronto.

Rent relief may be available for low-income households who are in rental arrears or need to move to more suitable housing. Funded by the City of Toronto, the Toronto Rent Bank provides interest-free loans to cover rental arrears and rental deposits. Apply by calling 416-397-7368.

Toronto’s Furniture Bank supports women and children leaving shelters, newcomers, refugees, and people transitioning from homelessness. To be eligible for free furniture, a household must be referred by one of Furniture Bank’s over 140 agency and shelter partners. 

This is a chain of non-profit home improvement stores with 12 locations across the Greater Toronto Area, owned and operated by Habitat for Humanity GTA. With home furnishings, appliances and other renovation materials at a fraction of the price, Habitat ReStore accepts items that have been donated from businesses and individuals, and sells them after inspecting and testing to ensure high-quality standards.

For Muslim women experiencing homelessness due to immigration issues, abuse, and poverty, Sakeenah Homes has safe homes and caseworkers to find secure housing and provide counselling services. Locations are available in Toronto, Brampton, Ottawa, London and Montreal.

For Toronto residents 16 years of age and up who are experiencing mental help and substance use challenges, The Access Point can help them find  mental health supportive housing programs that include home visits to help with medication management and daily living.

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Legal Support

For eligible claimants, Legal Aid may pay for a lawyer to prepare their Basis of Claim paperwork, represent them at the hearing, and more. Contact Legal Aid to determine eligibility.

Free information, advice, referrals, and legal representation to low-income immigrants and refugees in British Columbia seeking support in Immigration Law and Family Law. All advocacy services are free of charge to eligible individuals. MOSAIC has locations throughout British Columbia, including Surrey, Vancouver, New Westminster, and more.

With valuable information to prepare claimants in 11 languages, this free resource educates, guides, and supports refugee claimants who are preparing for their hearings. Along with the Preparation Guide, they have a virtual “READY” tour to further help with hearing preparations.

With free support services geared towards the LGBTQ2S community in Toronto, the 519 has a spectrum of great initiatives, like programs for trans people of colour, phone check-ins for queer people of colour, and more. With free legal clinics and free hearing preparation programs for LGBTQ2S claimants, this community centre has a long history of serving vulnerable populations.

In partnership with MCIS Solutions, the 519 offers free on-site document translation services.

 

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New Parent Support

In Surrey, British Columbia, DIVERSEcity offers Immigrant Parent & Children Together (IMPACT)— a 10-week parenting support group for newcomer parents and caregivers of children aged 0-6 with family cooking classes, field trips, and information about parenting in Canada. Participants of any immigration status can apply. For refugee parents and caregivers, DIVERSEcity also offers The First Steps Early Years Refugee Settlement Program to share strategies on minimizing the impact of trauma on refugee children aged 5 and under.

Free programs to Ontario-based parents/caregivers and their children from birth to six years of age. At EarlyON centres, families can participate in programs to strengthen adult-child relationships, support parent education, and foster healthy child development. To find the centre closest to you, click the link!

Through HIPPY (Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters), ISSofBC provides weekly in-home/virtual training support and free educational resources for newcomer parents/guardians of children aged 1.5-4 years old. Families in Surrey, Coquitlam, New Westminster, and Burnaby are eligible to apply.

Toronto-based infants aged 0-6 months old may be eligible for a baby bundle of new baby necessities and car seats, carriers, strollers, and transportation to doctor’s appointments.

A cloth diaper charity that provides gently used cloth diaper kits to families who self-identify as being in financial need.

The Diaper Bank provides free diapers to low-income households in Toronto through existing service providers, including local food banks, daycare centres, social service agencies and shelters.

Through HIPPY (Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters), Working Women Community Centre provides free education resources and support for newcomer parents/guardians of pre-school-aged children. Families in downtown west-end Toronto, Malvern, Thorncliffe Park, Flemington,  Victoria Village, and Jane-Finch are eligible to apply for this 2-year program.

 

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Seniors Services

As a 24-hour crisis and support line for seniors in Ontario who have experienced any type of abuse or neglect, the Assaulted Women’s Helpline provides services in over 200 languages. Counsellors are available every day at 1-866-299-1011. Services are free and confidential.

Through weekly group sessions, Brampton-based seniors can learn about topics of interest, share jokes, play games, and more. Geared towards reducing isolation, these activities keep seniors mentally and physically active. 

TeleCheck Seniors Program is available for seniors aged 55+ who need regular calls to provide safety check-ins, medication reminders, or social calls. These calls offer clients a chance to be heard by reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness, providing positive coping skills, offering referrals to community services. The volunteers are trained to provide phone support for settlement and integration, relocation, grief, and more. Services available in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi, Portuguese, and Spanish.

Across the Greater Toronto Area, London, and Ottawa, volunteers deliver food supplies and groceries to seniors, expecting parents, single parents, and those with disabilities, compromised immune systems, accessibility barriers, and more.

With weekly Seniors Social Support Group Sessions, International Music and Dance for Seniors, Spanish-Speaking Seniors Virtual Programs, Toronto’s Jane-Finch Centre has a variety of seniors services that are free and focused on community well-being.

Toronto-based seniors in low-income housing can reach out to 1-855-581-9580 for free help with picking up groceries, household essentials and food bank items. The hotline is available in over 180 languages, and operates Monday to Friday between 9am-5pm.

Staying physically and mentally active is possible– even for seniors in their own homes. Toronto’s West Neighbourhood House has free virtual classes for seniors and caregivers that include Chair Yoga, Bingo, Zumba for Beginners, and more. 

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Technology Resources

COSTI has free ongoing sessions to teach newcomers in Toronto how to use Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides to create and collaborate in Canadian workplaces. This course offers 25 hours of free online instruction.

A volunteer-created library for digital skills development featuring modules about operating a computer, accessing the internet, and more.

Old electronics and computers are refurbished and sold at a discount to increase access to affordable technology across Toronto.

Every week, Toronto’s Labour Education Centre offers free computer classes over Zoom! Participants can learn how to use email and MS Word, how to fill out forms, and how to be safe online. This is open to all Ontario residents. For those in need of a computer or tablet, contact the Labour Education Centre.

Computer equipment, training and technical support for charities, non-profits and households in Toronto and Peel Region with limited access to technology.

Through the Connected for Success Program, subsidized tenants, seniors, families with children, and individuals receiving disability and incoming support may be eligible for high-speed, low-cost internet through Rogers.

For older adults in who need help with video calls, photo editing, social media accounts, and more, Toronto’s TechServe TO offers volunteer support at 1-888-418-4771. Volunteers offer private 30-minute sessions or group sessions, and all services are completely free.

 

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Tour Your City

For low-income Toronto-based newcomers who need a bike for work, education and recreation, they can submit a request to Bikes Without Borders for a free refurbished bike. 

Created by the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, this app gives newcomers free and discounted access to 1400+ galleries, museums, science centres, historic sites, family activities & more! Newcomers aged 18 and up who have become permanent residents in the last 5 years can download Canoo today.

Low-income families in Ottawa may be eligible for a discounted Equipass. In addition, there are discounted rates and free service days for riders including children, youth, and seniors. 

In Toronto and Vancouver, Parkbus connects people to nature through accessible transportation. With bus services to national and provincial parks, group hikes, and NatureLink, a newcomer-specific program, Parkbus is committed to sustainable, equal access to nature. 

Book an appointment for minor bike repairs and a safety check— all for free! These appointments are in east-end Toronto, at Eastview Neighbourhood Community Centre and Harmony Hall Community Food Centre.

In Toronto, library card holders can access the MAP Performing Arts Pass for free tickets to dance, music, film, and theatre performances. This is available at select library branches on the last Saturday of the month. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis. (Note: Program is currently unavailable, but will be restarting in the  future.)

In Toronto, library card holders can use the Museum Arts Pass for free tickets to many of the city’s museums, art galleries, and attractions. Passes are given out at all of Toronto’s libraries. This program is a perfect way for newcomer families to visit Toronto’s cultural institutions for free!

Through the Fair Pass Transit Discount Program, low-income Toronto residents aged 20-64 may be eligible for a discount on adult single ride fares and adult monthly passes.

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