The One-Stop-Shop for Canadian Newcomer’s Needs

Feb 22, 2023

The One-Stop-Shop for Canadian Newcomer’s Needs

Good advice can be difficult to find when you arrive in a new country, and sometimes hearing advice from many different people can get confusing! There can be so many opinions. What should newcomers do? Be cautious. Advice can be given with the best of intentions, but it can also be out-of-date and not fully informed. The first people you will ask for advice is of course people from your cultural community that have immigrated before you. Sometimes their advice can be quite useful, but don’t rely just on their advice alone, because your situation may not be the same as theirs was. What worked for them, may not work for you.

A Settlement Information Specialist gives free, expert advice tailored to your situation. You can find Settlement Information Specialists at government funded agencies in cities all over Canada. Here in the Halton Region in Ontario, which covers Burlington, Oakville, Milton, Georgetown and Halton Hills, Centre for Skills Development has a Settlement Team that offers newcomers a full suite of settlement services and resources. Alex H. is one of the Settlement Information Specialists, an expert who has been offering settlement advice for over 25 years. He and many of his colleagues were also once newcomers, so they really do understand the newcomer experience from both sides of the table. This service is also very wallet-friendly as it is free thanks to government funding!   

Newcomers can have a one-stop-shop for their Settlement Needs.

Alex says an appointment with a specialist from The Centre’s Settlement Team is really like a “one-stop-shop" for all your settlement needs. Not only is this convenient, it also provides a more personalized service that can be customized for your particular situation. Alex advises you to visit a Settlement Information Specialist within a few days of arrival to get the most up-to-date and reliable advice for your next steps. Interpretation services are available if needed, and often Settlement Specialists can speak multiple languages – just ask! 

Settlement Information Specialists offer local, up-to-date information, resources and advice for specific newcomer needs: English classes, finding a job, enrolling children in schools and daycares, housing – rentals and purchases, credentials assessments, applications for College/University, education loan applications such as OSAP, free tax clinics, and Commissioner of Oath services that can notarize documents to confirm/attest residency and identity. In addition to college and loan applications, the multilingual settlement team can guide you through PR card renewal and Citizenship applications which, if any information or documents are missing, you can be set back in the application queue by months or longer, as well as the cost of another application. Workshops and Information Sessions are also available on hot topics such as Citizenship applications, Canadian Culture, Winter Driving and Taxes in Canada and many more. 

Walk in for one specific need, step out with a 3-year plan!

When meeting with one of our Settlement Information Specialists, (in-person or on Zoom) they will ask you what they can do to help you, as often newcomers have a specific need at the moment that they are struggling with. They will give you resources and all the information you need for that situation, then they will do a broader “Needs Assessment”. They’ll ask you questions so they and you can see the bigger picture and pinpoint other needs you may have now or in the future. The Settlement Team can help you create a step-by-step plan – for the next few years, with a time-line, which is one of the most helpful things you can do for yourself. Then they will follow-up with you to check in to see how your plan is going and if you need anything for your next steps, which is often the case! 

Alex’s Top Tips for Newcomers:  

  • Seek professional advice from a Settlement Information Specialist as soon as you can 

  • Make a long-term plan, not just a short-term plan. The long-term plan can keep you on track and help you keep focused on your goals when things get off track.

  • When you are struggling, remember the reason why you came and pay attention to your long-term goals to re-focus your attention on the positive.  

  • Things get better every day! In a year you will look back and appreciate how much you have progressed.

  • Canada is one of the best countries to be a newcomer because it is a land of immigrants. In the GTA alone there are 145+ cultures represented! There is no better country to feel at home when you are away from home.

Learn more about Settlement Information Services at Centre for Skills