Immigrating: Welcoming You to Canada
Since 1991, Malton Neighbourhood Services has been operating the Immigrant Reception and Information Services (IRIS) kiosk at Toronto International (Pearson) Airport. They are among the first people to greet the average of 6,500 to 7,000 new immigrants who landed at the airport each month.
If you are a family, independent or business class immigrant who arrived at Pearson Airport, you were probably guided to the Malton Neighbourhood Services – IRIS kiosk where you received a package containing:
- a Welcome to Canada booklet from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), including a pamphlet lists most of the immigrant-serving organization name, address and phone numbers throughout Canada, and a pamphlet lists the key federal and provincial government phone numbers and internet address
- a GST/HST Credit Application and Child Tax Benefit forms from the Canada Revenue Agency
- Registration for Ontario Health Coverage
- Social Insurance Number (SIN) information and application forms
- A copy of Canada Cultural Profile book
- Information flyers on Job Search Workshop Program (JSW) and Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC)
- a copy of Canadian Newcomer Magazine
Read the CIC Welcome to Canada booklet carefully and don’t be afraid to call the listed numbers for more information. Fill out the forms as soon as you can. The Canada Revenue applications can put money in your pocket through the child tax benefit and the GST credit. Many immigrant-serving agencies in Southern Ontario can help you fill out the forms if you need help. You’ll need your SIN number right away – without it you cannot work in Canada. You will probably have to wait three months before you are covered by this government health insurance plan, so the sooner you get those forms filled out, the sooner you are protected from emergency (and other) medical costs. These can be very expensive and you should make sure that every member of your family is protected as soon as possible. Visitor-to-Canada insurance can bridge the gap to make sure you are covered right away. This type of information is provided in Canadian Newcomer Magazine, which is available at the kiosk.
On average, 450 to 500 of the immigrants who land at Pearson Airport every month are Government-Assisted refugees (GAR), Joint Assistance Sponsorship refugees (JAS), or one of the few privately sponsored refugees. Since they need assistance at the airport, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) notifies the Malton Neighbourhood Services IRIS Airport Program in advance of every arrival so that they can make sure one or more of their 30 on-call staff members – who speak more than 30 languages – is there to meet them and to help them reach their final destination throughout Canada. Often coming from countries torn by war or internal strife, most refugees have very limited English-language skills. So they are relieved to find someone at the airport who speaks their first language and can help them with the process of going through Canada Customs and Immigration inside the Airport. IRIS staff will also help them pick up their luggage or make a lost luggage claim, and if necessary, arrange ground transportation service or over-night accommodation for them. During winter months of October to April, the IRIS Airport Program even provides snow parkas, winter boots, socks, mitts and hats for refugees who come unprepared for the harsh winter conditions outside.
Most of these refugees are bound for the COSTI reception centre for temporary shelter. Ontario has six such centres; in Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton, London, Windsor and Kitchener/Waterloo.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) funds the IRIS Airport program. The head office of Malton Neighbourhood Services is mainly funded by the United Way and the Region of Peel. They offer a wide range of settlement and community services to new immigrants and other members of the community. They are located at 3540 Morning Star Drive, Mississauga, Ontario L4T 1Y2 (Tel: 905-677-6270).