As many current and future immigrants know, receiving a Canadian Permanent Resident visa is only the first step in a long and transformative journey. Thankfully, the Canadian government, as well as many Canadians themselves, are well-prepared to help guide newcomers through every step of the settlement process.
The Canadian government has set up an extensive network of immigrant settlement services. Canadians have themselves created a diverse array of community organizations to welcome their new neighbors and make them feel at home.
Here are just a few examples of the many services available to immigrants before and after they land in Canada:
Immigrants throughout Canada may access a range of Federal government services. For 2012-2013, Citizenship and Immigration Canada has allocated $600 million for settlement services, more than triple the amount spent just 6 years ago. This money will fund a number of Federal and Provincial programs both large and small.
One such program is the Canadian Immigrant Integration Program (CIIP), which allows forward-thinking immigrants to get a head start on settling in before they even board a plane for Canada. To date, over 20,000 future permanent residents have received pre-departure orientation before leaving for their new homes.
The Federal government wants immigrants to be aware of Canada’s cultural, financial, and historical realities. One way it has helped promote this awareness is by publishing the Welcome to Canada handbook. At almost 150 pages, the book covers subjects ranging from Canadian history to securing legal representation in the country.
Every province offers its own range of settlement services. These are usually provided through official websites as well as welcome centers, which are located in both major cities and some outlying towns. Generally, immigrants can find support services in the following fields:
- Pre-arrival planning;
- Housing support;
- English (or French) language lessons;
- Employment and job search services;
- Schooling for oneself or children;
- Securing official documents (driver’s license, social insurance number, etc);
- And more
The majority of these services are provided to immigrants for free or at a greatly reduced cost.
Provincial services are specifically tailored to the needs of local residents. For instance, Ontario has an entire department dedicated specifically to helping newcomers navigate the province’s healthcare system. Their website currently highlights topics such as “how do I get an Ontario driver’s license?” and “Alternative Jobs” in the province. Saskatchewan and Manitoba, on the other hand, allow immigrants to connect with personal ‘settlement advisors’ who can guide them through the majority of the settlement process.
Follow the links below to learn more about settlement services in your province or territory of choice:
Immigrants from any cultural, geographical, or religious background will find their demographic well represented throughout Canada.
Many community organizations receive funding from government settlement programs. Some such Ontario organizations include (but are definitely not limited to): African Community Services, India Rainbow Community Services, Afghan Women’s Counselling & Integration, and the Centre for Spanish Speaking Peoples.
Connecting with a community organization is a great way for new immigrants to get involved with their own expatriate communities in Canada. Just one organization can have wide-ranging services. Take, for instance, the Toronto-based South Asian Women’s Center. The center provides settlement support services in over 15 languages. In addition, it offers: a wellness group, a senior’s group, a student placement program, a youth group, tax and computer literacy clinics, and awareness programs on a variety of social issues.
No matter where in Canada a newcomer has chosen to settle, they can rest assured that they will have access to a range of support services to help them in their new home. These world-class settlement services are just another reason Canada continues to be a global leader in immigrant integration.
To find out if you are eligible for one of over 60 Canadian immigration programs, please fill out a free online assessment today.