Canada offers free settlement services but many immigrants do not know about them

Canada offers free settlement services but many immigrants do not know about them

A recent government survey found that even among immigrants who do know about settlement services, about a quarter do not know how to access them.

Canada’s government-funded settlement services have so far been proven to help the majority of the newcomers they serve, yet many do not know how to benefit from them.

Starting even before arrival, immigrants can access settlement services by both Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and the Ministry of Immigration, Francisation and Integration (MIFI) for Quebec-bound newcomers.

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These services are actually helping, according to IRCC’s first-ever Settlement Outcomes Report. The report extrapolated information from the 2018 and 2019 Newcomer Outcomes Surveys. A total of 120,897 newcomers were surveyed. Among them, 55,370 were settlement program clients and 65,527 were non-clients.

Almost all who received services said they were useful, and the majority at least somewhat agreed that these services helped them on their journey to settle in Canada.

Part of the success of settlement services is timing. Pre-arrival services are not going to benefit someone who has already landed in Canada, for example. About 70 per cent of people surveyed who did not receive settlement services said they did not know about them, and among the ones who did, about a quarter said they did not know how to use them.

On the other hand, the majority of people who reported no difficulty accessing services were connected by federally-funded referral services. About 23 per cent of newcomers used them in their first year, and most got the help they needed.

How to get settlement services before coming to Canada

There are settlement services funded by multiple levels of government that can help you even before you arrive in Canada. IRCC lists about 1,259 on their website. These pre-arrival services are for approved permanent residents outside of Canada, and not people who are coming temporarily.

On the federal level, IRCC offers services to help you prepare to live in Canada. There are in-person services offered in China, India and the Philippines, although most have reportedly moved online due to the pandemic. These services help you get information about life in Canada, such as healthcare, housing, and transportation. They can also refer you to more specific community services, depending on your needs.

IRCC also has a list of services to help you prepare to work in Canada. These resources can help you get a job in Canadawrite a resume, and get your credentials recognized. There are also some industry-specific resources for those working in architecture, engineering, trades, finance, tech, construction, nursing and others.

The federal webpage also lists the links to province-specific settlement services.

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