News for Newcomers

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Transfer of Services Integrates Training and Employment Services in Ontario

On January 2nd, 2007 at Woodgreen Employment Services, Chris Bentley, the Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) officially announced the transfer of $525 million in programs from the federal government (Service Canada) to Employment Ontario through the Canada-Ontario Labour Market Development Agreement. Combined with $360 million in provincial employment programs, this will result in almost a billion dollar investment in Ontario training and employment services. Brian Smith, President and CEO of WoodGreen Community Services says, “Thanks to Employment Ontario’s “no wrong door” service delivery model, Woodgreen Community Services has been re-aligning its employment and immigrant services. We can now integrate the intake, assessment, referral and programming components of our adult Employment Resource Centres, our youth Job Connect centre and our Immigrant Services Settlement Centre into a seamless continuum of services.” The agreement results in easy access to services throughout Ontario, with program information offered in 21 languages in addition to English and French. For more information, MTCU invites you to call their free hotline at 1-800-387-5656. You’ll also find updated employment and training information throughout the province at their easy-to-use website www.ontario.ca/employmentontario.

Bill 124 Passed in Legislature

The cornerstone of the McGuinty government’s comprehensive “Breaking Down Barriers for Newcomers” plan – the Fair Access to Regulated Professions Act, 2006 – was passed by the legislature on December 12. The first law of its kind in Canada, the legislation enforces three groundbreaking initiatives to help newcomers. 1) The new law requires all 34 regulatory bodies to have fair, open and accountable licensing and registration practices for internationally trained applicants. 2) It also creates the Office of the Fairness Commissioner to ensure compliance with the fair licensing provisions. 3) The new legislation establishes Global Experience Ontario, an access and resource centre to help internationally trained professionals navigate through the complex system of registration. The centre has already opened and is up and running at Ryerson University.

Mike Colle, Ontario Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, says, “As a result of the new law and the long-awaited flow of federal money into Ontario communities, support and opportunities for newcomers will be unprecedented.”

The Breaking Down Barriers strategy includes many significant initiatives to ensure newcomers get a fair chance to contribute to Ontario society, including:

  • Expanded Bridge Training programs to equip newcomers with skills and language training to enter their fields here in Ontario, in everything from nursing, pharmacy, midwifery to dieticians.
  • A 29 per cent increase in funding to the Newcomer Settlement Program, supporting the efforts of 81 community agencies to help newcomers make the transition to life in Ontario.
  • Creation of an Internship for the Internationally Trained in the Ontario Public Service to help experienced newcomers get a start in Ontario’s labour force.
  • Establishment of five Immigration Gateways in Toronto, Windsor/Essex, Ottawa, Sudbury and London to encourage immigration to all parts of Ontario.
  • Development of ‘About Ontario,’ a new citizenship curriculum resource to be added to language and citizenship classes in early 2007 to help newcomers learn about Ontario’s history, geography, their roles and responsibilities, and to promote civic participation – from voting to volunteering.
  • Recent announcement of a new $600,000 occupation specific language program which will enable school boards to offer specialized language training courses that focus on sectors such as information technology, hospitality and business communication.

“When we invest in our newcomers, we invest in our unique competitive advantage: our diversity,” says Colle.

Opportunities for Youth in Underserved Neighbourhoods

On December 14, Michael Clemons, Coach of the Toronto Argonauts and Chair of the Youth Challenge Fund (YCF), announced the fund’s first round of investments and donations aimed at providing positive opportunities for young people growing up in Toronto’s most under-served neighbourhoods.

YCF was established by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty in February 2006 as a direct response to growing concerns about youth violence and gang involvement in Toronto. It is an innovative public and private sector initiative aimed at making investments in community projects that offer positive opportunities for young people growing up in Toronto’s most under-served neighbourhoods. YCF makes direct, grassroots investments in youth-based initiatives that are aimed at building great ideas, creating youth spaces and providing opportunities for education, employment and leadership. The Youth Challenge Fund is actively governed by a 23 member community board made up of a broad cross-section of community leaders. United Way of Greater Toronto is the Fund’s trustee, providing allocations and fund development support.

New Provincial Education Initiatives

Ontario Education Minister Kathleen Wynne announced that the McGuinty government is investing $2 million to make it easier for learners to navigate the adult education system and upgrade their knowledge and skills.

This investment will improve the adult education system by collecting information from every school board on what adult education programs they offer and publishing that information on a public website. Money will be spent developing tools for all adult education providers that will more consistently assess the essential skills of adult learners. The expenditure will also streamline the process in recognizing out-of-province high school credits earned by adult learners towards the Ontario Secondary School Diploma.

New Schools

In December, Wynne also announced that an estimated 100 new schools will be built across Ontario in the next few years.

These 100 new schools, which will be built with $1 billion worth of funding, are in addition to the 200 that have already been opened or are in construction.

After School

The McGuinty government is investing $20 million in annual funding to help school boards reduce or eliminate the fees youth and community groups pay to use Ontario’s schools after hours.

“Our government’s investment has already opened hundreds of school doors to community groups and resulted in the total elimination of fees in some cases,” said Education Minister Kathleen Wynne. “By providing annual funding, we will continue to improve access and make it more affordable for youth, seniors and adults to access groups and programs in their communities.”

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