May 3, 2023

Settling in Canada: A Comprehensive Guide to Settlement Services for Newcomers

Canada has long been known as a welcoming country for immigrants. This year, Canada aims to welcome 465,000 immigrants into the country, a testament to the country's commitment to its social, economic, cultural, and humanitarian needs. To help achieve this goal, Canada has created a functional system of immigration and integration of newcomers. One of the key factors in Canada's success has been its settlement services for newcomers. In this comprehensive guide, we'll take a closer look at these services and how they can help newcomers settle into their new lives in Canada.


What are settlement services?

Settlement services are free services provided to newcomers to Canada to help them integrate into Canadian society. These services are managed at the municipal, provincial, and federal level and cover everything from needs assessments, information, and orientation services to language training, employment help, and community connection services. Settlement services aim to help newcomers adapt to Canadian life, find employment, and make connections within their communities.


Who is eligible for settlement services?

Settlement services in Canada are available to permanent residents, protected persons, and some temporary residents of Canada. Note that Quebec operates its own immigration programs, so settlement services for new immigrants to the province are also handled separately. The Canadian government runs a separate program for refugees known as the Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP).


What services are available to newcomers?

Settlement services can broadly be broken down into several categories:

  1. Help with daily life: Settlement services can provide newcomers with assistance in areas such as housing, health care, and transportation. They can also provide information on Canadian laws and regulations.
  2. Help finding a job: Settlement services can help newcomers with job search strategies, resume writing, interview skills, and job-specific language training.
  3. Help preparing for the citizenship test: Settlement services can provide newcomers with study materials and assistance in preparing for the citizenship test.
  4. Finding a mentor as a newcomer / Becoming a mentor for a newcomer: Settlement services can connect newcomers with mentors who can help them adjust to Canadian life.
  5. Language assessments and general language training: Settlement services can provide language assessments to determine a newcomer's language proficiency level and provide general language training to improve language skills.
  6. Job-specific language training: Settlement services can provide job-specific language training to help newcomers acquire the language skills necessary for their chosen profession.
  7. Specific services for: refugees, women, seniors, youth, and 2SLGBTQi+ individuals: Settlement services can provide specific services tailored to the needs of these groups.
  8. Other services: Settlement services can provide other services such as legal aid, financial assistance, and assistance in accessing social services.

How can newcomers access settlement services?

Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has compiled these services into a useful tool, with a filtered search by postal code to find the closest available services. The tool also covers specific settlement programs for women, seniors, youth, and 2SLBTQi+ individuals. In addition, IRCC funded websites like Compass to Connect also provides easy-to-search directories of settlement services, also delivering announcements on upcoming events and workshops for newcomers.

If one is unsure what services apply to them, and what they need, they can look at settlement counselling and referrals, which will connect them with a settlement counsellor who can better determine what services may be of use. Newcomers can also directly contact their municipal or provincial settlement service providers to inquire about available services. One of the easiest ways to do so is simply to search for settlement services in your province or neighborhood.


Effectiveness of Canada's Settlement Services for Newcomers

The Canadian government spends some $2 billion CAD a year on settlement services. In 2021, IRCC conducted the first study into newcomer outcomes through settlement programs. The study found that 85% of clients who were referred to settlement services reported being able to access services without difficulty, and 95% of newcomers who received settlement services said that they were useful. In terms of language training, an average of 89.5% of newcomers self-reported improvements across reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills in both English and French. Moreover, 78% of those who received employment-related services reported that settlement services helped them acquire knowledge, skills, and connections that helped prepare them for the Canadian labour market. Finally, 61% of newcomers who availed community connection settlement services felt that those services helped them meet people they now consider close friends.


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