COSTI’s work in the community continues to be a high priority.
COSTI’s over-arching goal is to contribute to creating conditions that enable immigrants and vulnerable populations to contribute and engage in their communities. Through active participation in local, provincial and national committees, advisory groups and ad hoc coalitions, we have represented the voice of immigrants and the immigrant-serving sector in planning, service development, coordination, research, public policy and education. COSTI’s leadership team works to promote public policies that facilitate the integration of immigrants and support their communities to build internal leadership and capacity. In 2019/20, COSTI continued to foster a collaborative approach to service delivery by developing programming and partnerships that support new delivery models. Over 25 new partnerships were developed with community health organizations, grassroots community groups, faith-based organizations, settlement agencies and educational institutions.
COSTI’s Stakeholder and Community Engagement Office continued to work with existing and new partners to deliver services to government-sponsored refugees and refugee claimants that support their integration: housing support services; activities, community events and workshops that engaged children and parents; help with introducing them to services available in their local community; and donations of food, clothing and household items.
Children, youth and adult newcomers participated in on-site activities: story-telling circles led by the Toronto Public Library; movie nights; English conversation circles; legal information sessions; positive parenting workshops conducted by Children Aid Society; the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) reading clubs; nutrition sessions and vaccine clinics administered by Toronto Public Health; and music and art therapy programing organized by several partners: CultureLink, Music for Hope and Muse Arts.
In addition, a family-matching initiative that saw Canadian host families paired with refugee families continued in 2019/20 with the Together Project. Host families provided invaluable support and assistance to refugee newcomers – from the day they move from temporary housing to their new home. They provide support in receiving furniture; setting up their households; shopping for essential items such as food, bedding, etc.; escorting families to local financial institutions, parks and community centres; exploring nearby public transportation routes, and help in registering children in school.
COSTI supported the continued development of local community groups, such as the South Asian Women’s Rights Organization serving Bangladeshi women in Scarborough and the Syrian Canadian Foundation trusteeships. COSTI worked with hundreds of partner organizations throughout Ontario to coordinate the International Student Connect program, Problem Gambling and the Orientation to Ontario program as well as the Welcome Centre Immigrant Services network in York Region. Collaborative and innovative approaches to service delivery allows COSTI and key partners the opportunity to meet the needs of underserved communities and also develop internal capacity to build, enhance and sustain services.
Partnerships and Collaborations
COSTI is proud to have been a part of key organizations including the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC), the Consortium of Agencies Serving Internationally-trained Persons (CASIP), Local Immigration Partnerships in Toronto and the Regions of Peel and York, Canadian Council for Refugees, the Peel Newcomer Strategy Group, the Peel Refugee Re-Settlement Working Group, Newcomer Employment Round Table, and the Resettlement Adaptation Program Working Group.
ACTIVE ENGAGEMENT INTEGRATION PROJECT
Led by Vancouver-based SUCCESS, the Active Engagement Integration Project (AEIP) provides pre-arrival services to support the settlement, adaptation and integration of individuals moving to Canada. COSTI promotes community and labour market engagement by providing settlement and employment information and referral and initial orientation online to overseas clients prior to their departure and arrival in Ontario.
INTERNATIONAL STUDENT CONNECT
The International Student Connect program supports international students studying in Ontario. It represents an innovative collaboration between settlement service providers and post-secondary institutions. The program offers resources, information sessions and workshops on a variety of settlement topics.
Workshops and sessions address issues such as features of life in Ontario, accessing local services, consumer awareness, housing and health care. The program is led by COSTI, in partnership with 16 settlement agencies and 21 colleges and universities in 15 Ontario communities: Barrie, Brampton, Brantford, Chatham, Hamilton, Leamington, London, Mississauga, Niagara Region, Oakville, Orillia, Ottawa, Sarnia, Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Welland and Windsor.
GAMBLING, GAMING AND TECHNOLOGY USE
COSTI provides advice and expertise on newcomer problem gambling issues to service providers who provide mental health and addiction services to ethno-cultural communities in need of culturally and linguistically appropriate treatment and services.
NEIGHBOURS, FRIENDS AND FAMILIES (NFF)
NFF is a province-wide public education campaign that raises awareness of the signs of woman abuse so that those close to a woman at-risk can recognize the signs of abuse and know what actions to take in response.
ORIENTATION TO ONTARIO (O2O)/l’ Ontario, C’est Chez Moi
A bilingual initiative, O2O is designed to ease the transition of newcomers by providing access to standardized information about settling in Ontario and connecting newcomers to community services upon arrival. O2O is delivered by 31 community agency partners in 8 Ontario communities across the province.
The program consists of three different resources catering to different learning styles: workshops that are delivered by 32 Service Delivery Agencies (SDAs) in 26 communities across Ontario; print resources; and an interactive website featuring O2O online resources and on-demand webinars. COSTI administers the program in collaboration with the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI), Centre de sante communautaire Hamilton/Niagara and George Brown College (GBC). O2O has recently developed a chatbot (Conversation platform) in collaboration with Ryerson University and Gene Global, offering another way to access settlement information 24/7.
PLANNING FOR CANADA
Led by Colleges and Institutes Canada, the Canadian Immigrant Integration Project (CIIP) aims to consolidate and expand the delivery model of online advisory services to individuals overseas through a coordinated model that fosters more effective partnerships among key stakeholders in the settlement sector, college partners across the provinces and employment support organizations.
COSTI provides pre-departure support to individuals overseas who are destined to arrive in Ontario. Services include referrals to community agencies, educational institutions and employment support organizations in communities across Ontario.
WELCOME CENTRE IMMIGRANT SERVICES
The Welcome Centre Immigrant Services is a one-stop service in York Region, designed to guide and support immigrants through the maze of information and resources. Core services provided at each of the five Centres by a partnership of agencies include settlement and integration services; language training and enhanced language training; accreditation and qualifications assistance; and employment supports.
WELCOME GROUP MODEL
In 2019/20 COSTI partnered with the Together Project in delivering a standardized model of volunteer engagement with government-sponsored refugees. The Together Project connects refugee newcomers and Canadians to build stronger, more integrated communities through three program areas: matching, community and research. The Together Project developed the “Welcome Group” model in close partnership with COSTI. The model builds on existing family matching programs and connects Canadians with government-sponsored refugees and refugee claimants from all countries of origin who arrive at COSTI’s Ralph Chiodo Family Immigrant Reception Centre.
A BREAKDOWN OF VARIOUS PARTNERS
partnership and collaboration amongst organizations is key to the successful integration of newcomers. COSTI is represented on many community planning networks, umbrella organizations and advisory committees. we work in partnership with organizations and service providers across Ontario in the planning and delivery of services to the community.