Free Settlement Services in Canada
Governments across Canada offer newcomers a range of services to help them transition to life in Canada.
Explore the range of free settlement services available to support newcomers; from language training, and job assistance, to community integration programs, and legal aid this page contains useful information to help newcomers become more informed about what assistance they can expect when moving to Canada.
Table of Contents
- What are free settlement services in Canada?
- Who is eligible for settlement services in Canada?
- How can I access these settlement services in Canada?
- How effective are settlement services at helping newcomers to Canada?
- What language training services are available?
- What job search and employment assistance services can I access?
- What legal aid services are available for newcomers in Canada?
- What health and social services are offered for newcomers?
- What social and community connection programs exist for newcomers?
- What skills development training services are available in Canada
- Contact CanadaVisa and Cohen Immigration Law for Assistance
This comprehensive guide will provide you with vital information about free settlement services available in Canada to support your transition as a newcomer. We'll cover the various kinds of services that Canada offers newcomers, at the municipal, provincial and federal level—as well as provide information to help you understand how to access these services and navigate through resources effectively to make sure you have all the support needed to start your new life in Canada.
What are free settlement services in Canada?
All three levels of government in Canada (federal, provincial, and municipal) participate in settlement services for newcomers, a key part of Canada’s success in integrating new permanent residents (PRs) and some temporary residents into the country.
Newcomers to Canada can benefit from a range of settlement services that are free and run at these three levels. These services cover everything from needs assessments, information, and orientation services to language training, employment help, community connection services and much more.
Who is eligible for settlement services in Canada?
Settlement services can have varying eligibility criteria, depending on who is funding the services. For example, newcomer services funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) are only available to PRs, refugees, protected persons, and some temporary residents.
Notably, however, settlement services funded by provincial or territorial governments, or those funded at the municipal level may have different eligibility criteria than settlement services at the federal level (like those funded by IRCC). This means that depending on where you live, you can avail settlement support even as a temporary resident (like someone on a work or study visa).
These service providers may also require different kinds of proof of status to confirm your eligibility. This could include proof of residence in the relevant district, or proof of permanent residence status (like a COPR), or approval of permanent residence, etc. In light of this, it is often recommended that newcomers call ahead to the service provider, and make sure that they fit the eligibility criteria of that organisation to receive help as a newcomer to Canada.
How can I access these settlement services in Canada?
For newcomers looking to access settlement services, IRCC has created a helpful tool that is filtered by postal code to get the services closest to one's location. Programs catered to women, seniors, youth, and 2SLBTQi+ individuals are also included in this tool —note however that all services listed on this tool follow the eligibility criteria for federal settlement services, as they are all funded by IRCC.
Settlement counselling and referrals are also available to those who are unsure what services would be available to them. Moreover, one can directly contact local city or provincial providers to inquire about settlement services.
Additionally on the provincial and territorial level, each government has their own website that help you identify available settlement services. A list of each province or territory’s settlement services pages can be found below:
- British Columbia
- New Brunswick
- Newfoundland and Labrador
- Northwest Territories
- Nova Scotia
- Prince Edward Island
Lastly, many municipal governments offer newcomer settlement services as well. Often these have their own webpages associated with them, which is why performing a web search for newcomer services in your specific area can often be helpful to getting the most relevant information for your location. Some of the most popular cities that newcomers go to, and their respective settlement service pages are listed below:
- Calgary, Alberta
- Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
- Edmonton, Alberta
- Frederickton, New Brunswick
- Halifax, Nova Scotia
- Moncton, New Brunswick
- Montreal, Quebec
- Ottawa, Ontario
- Regina, Saskatchewan
- Saint John, New Brunswick
- Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
- St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador
- Toronto, Ontario
- Vancouver, British Columbia
- Whitehorse, Yukon
- Winnipeg, Manitoba
- Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
How effective are settlement services at helping newcomers to Canada?
In 2021, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) conducted a study on newcomer outcomes through settlement programs. The study (which included self-reports given by newcomers, concluded that:
- 85% of clients referred to settlement services reported easy access to those services;
- 95% of newcomers who received settlement services found them to be highly valuable;
- Language training yielded significant improvements, for 89.5% of newcomers reporting enhanced skills in reading, writing, listening, and speaking both English and French;
- Among those who received employment-related services, 78% credited settlement services for equipping them with knowledge, skills, and connections crucial for success in the Canadian labor market;
- Community connection settlement services helped 61% of newcomers forming deep friendships through these services; and
- 92% of newcomers agreed that their community was welcoming, fostering a strong sense of belonging in 90% of respondents.
What language training services are available?
Language training services aim to address all of newcomer's language needs, including (but not limited to): general language training, study assistance for language assessments (like those needed for immigration purposes like TEF, IELTS, or TOEFEL, etc.), job-specific language training, and francophone service providing language training, for those who want to learn French.
There are also service options for public speaking training, joining a language circle, and family literacy programs (among many others).
What job search and employment assistance services can I access?
Many settlement services also offer employment help. This is most commonly associated with finding a job, and can include services like resume preparation, mock interviews, language training, networking events, and workshops, and seminars on job search assistance.
A considerable choice of employment related settlement services exist to help newcomers to Canada. Further employment help could include job-specific language training, youth programs for summer jobs and internships, and even help with starting your own business.
What legal aid services are available for newcomers in Canada?
Legal aid settlement services in Canada are often delivered through Community Legal Aid Clinics (CLCs).
CLCs provide various legal services, including (but not limited to):
- Free consultations and information;
- Support and guidance in preparing for your case;
- Representation by a clinic advocate, such as a lawyer, community legal worker, or law student;
- Referrals to private practitioners, duty counsel, or community agencies; and
- Public legal education and information.
All assistance provided by CLCs is confidential. CLCs specialise in specific areas of law, such as landlord-tenant disputes, employment law, immigration law, etc. If you're facing domestic violence, certain CLCs can arrange a free 2-hour counselling session with a lawyer through the Family Violence Authorization Program.
Some CLCs are known as specialty clinics, focusing on particular areas of law or representing specific individuals (e.g., seniors or people living with HIV/AIDS). Normally, it's best to seek help from the CLC closest to your location. However, specialty clinics can assist you regardless of where you live.
Contact your local CLC to determine if you are eligible for services relative to income and location, as well as if they handle the specific area of law you require. If not, they will try to refer you to an appropriate agency.
What health and social services are offered for newcomers?
Much of the benefit newcomers can receive in terms of health care will come from Canada’s socialised healthcare system. However, in certain cases newcomers may be referred to medical facilities that can help fulfill their healthcare needs.
These medical services can include (but are not limited to):
- Community Health Nurses;
- Medical Secretaries;
- Nurse Practitioners;
- Registered Dietitian;
- Registered Practical Nurses;
- Registered Social Workers/Therapists;
- Occupational Therapist;
There are additionally many newcomer settlement services that offer referrals to food banks or provide food bank services themselves. There are multiple resources that can be consulted here, including a simple web search for “food banks in my area”. In addition, specific websites like Food Banks Canada, can be used, which work to connect newcomers to food banks in their area.
What social and community connection programs exist for newcomers?
Community and cultural connection programs can include (but are not limited solely): city tours, community events and group activities, club events, summer camps for children, homework groups, senior programs, exercise based social events, newcomer meet-ups, and volunteer opportunities.
In addition, there are services to both become a mentor to a newcomer, or to find a mentor as a newcomer to Canada, available at the federal level.
What skills development training services are available in Canada?
Skills development training covers many basic skills regarding education and around finding and maintaining employment in Canada.
These services can include (but are not limited to):
- Occupational language training;
- Computer training;
- Digital and Media literacy training;
- Standard First Aid training;
- Workplace Hazard Material Information Systems (WHMIS) certificate training;
- Cash register training; and
- Education information and referrals;
Do you require Canadian immigration assistance?
Cohen Immigration Law is a leading Canadian immigration law firm with over 45 years of experience. Cohen Immigration Law is comprised of over 60 Canadian immigration lawyers, paralegals, and other professionals. We are dedicated to helping people achieve their Canadian immigration goals. We assist in areas including skilled worker and business immigration, family sponsorship, work permits, study permits, citizenship, and inadmissibility. CanadaVisa.com was founded in 1994 as the online presence of Cohen Immigration Law. CanadaVisa has since blossomed into the one of the world's most trusted resources on Canadian immigration. Please reach out for assistance. We're happy to help:
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