President’s Report

2020/21 was a year that challenged us all and COSTI managed the change and navigated well through the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic forced us to rethink how we work and how we could ensure that all clients such as seniors, children, teens, and families needing a place to live could also continue to receive help in accessing services. Our community was in need and we responded in an agile manner to many new requests from our community. Through many diverse methods, our newly arrived clients continued to receive settlement support and assistance with finding employment and learning English.

On behalf of my fellow COSTI Board members, I would like to recognize and thank COSTI staff as our “new normal” saw our staff demonstrate their flexibility and determination in ensuring all of our clients were helped, through virtual means or in person: going into the office each day counselling clients and their families to help them work through past traumas or addictions; delivering essential items to seniors and people in need; or greeting and helping clients arriving at our shelters dressed in full personal protective equipment, well before vaccines were administered to protect them from getting COVID-19.

I am pleased to report COSTI’s Strategic Plan 2020-2025 was developed and finalized against a background of uncertainty caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It focuses on looking at ways of expanding and delivering online services, strengthening our financial position through financial contingency planning, and raising funds through the support of donors and foundations. Committed to the plan, COSTI’s leadership team is already working diligently towards moving from a theoretical model to one of implementation.

The Board and staff are collectively committed to achieving the following strategic priorities over the next five years:

  • Connect in Ways that Matter: Expand service delivery opportunities and grow our digital programs
  • Address What Matters Most: Provide opportunities for success by eliminating key barriers including housing, mental health, employment opportunities and childcare
  • Build Sustainability: Develop and implement a robust strategy to address needs not currently funded by traditional sources and pursue non-traditional donors with a shared vision
  • Affirm, Communicate, Advocate on What Matters Most: As a leader in immigrant services, demonstrate the impact and value that immigrants bring to Canada and develop a public advocacy strategy that addresses issues that affect our clients’ well-being and success, by influencing public policy and contributing to a public dialogue on the contribution of newcomers to creating a prosperous and inclusive Canada.

As COSTI approaches 70 years of serving the community, there is much to still accomplish, but with the collective efforts of the Board, staff and partners, I am confident we will meet the needs of our community. And, while we know that the next few years come with more change and much uncertainty, COSTI’s confidence in its post-pandemic future and our strong belief in our mission, is reflected throughout the Strategic Plan in communicating the impact and value immigrants bring to Canada, and how, in providing opportunities for success, we can work to build a stronger Canada together.

Thank you to my fellow Board members who demonstrated their commitment in developing the Strategic Plan and to all COSTI staff who continue to embrace change by demonstrating their commitment to our clients, especially during this past year. 

Pina Alberelli-Arone