• News
  • September 08, 2016

Ontario Enhancing Services for Refugees

Provincial Support Helping Refugees Integrate Into Kingston and the Islands


September 8, 2016

Ontario is continuing to support refugees in Kingston and the Islands by allocating up to $85,000 to Kingston Employment Youth Services (KEYS) to help refugees settle and integrate successfully.

More than $3.8 million is being invested across the province.  The funding will help communities like ours that have generously welcomed large numbers of refugees, and includes:

  • $3.3 million to help 26 agencies across the province deliver settlement services in refugees’ first language, such as special programming for refugee women, children and youth; and to work with other community partners to address refugee needs in areas such as adult training and employment assistance, and health and mental health. 
  • Up to $200,000 to train front-line settlement workers to better identify mental health concerns and ensure proper referrals and supports.
  • Up to $70,000 in additional support for student mental health and well-being through the School Mental Health ASSIST, which is a provincial support team that is helping district school boards promote mental health and respond to the social and emotional needs of newcomer students and families from the Syrian conflict.
  • Up to $280,000 to support summer programming for refugee students that has helped them improve their literacy and numeracy skills, catch-up on missed education and promote integration.

The investments announced today represent $1.55 million in addition to government’s commitment of $10.5 million in September 2015, which included $2 million for immediate overseas relief and $8.5 million over 2.5 years for refugee resettlement and integration supports in Ontario.

Investing in settlement and integration supports for newcomers is part of the government's economic plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs. The four-part plan includes helping more people get and create the jobs of the future by expanding access to high-quality college and university education. The plan is making the largest infrastructure investment in hospitals, schools, roads, bridges and transit in Ontario's history and is investing in a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses. The plan is also helping working Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement.


“By supporting settlement agencies and other local partners across the province, Ontario is helping ensure the availability of services critical for refugees to start their new lives, contribute to economic growth and enrich the province’s cultural fabric.”

— Laura Albanese, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

“Kingston and the Islands has always celebrated and embraced a rich and diverse community. It is no surprise that our community has welcomed these new Ontarians with such open arms. I am grateful for Kingston Employment Youth Services (KEYS) and our other local front-line service providers who continue to ensure our new friends and neighbours have the support they need to succeed here in Ontario.”

— Sophie Kiwala, MPP for Kingston and the Islands  

“KEYS Job Centre is very pleased to be working with the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration to enhance the services available to refugees in the Kingston area. Through this funding, we will provide individualized pre-employment settlement support to local refugees, group mutual support and mentoring sessions and individual mentoring matches with local volunteer-mentors. This initiative will focus on the needs of refugee women and assist them to connect with or prepare for training, education, employment and self-employment opportunities.

We know that, historically, refugees in Canada face higher levels of unemployment and underemployment than the Canadian-born population. This, in addition to having been forcibly displaced from home and community and resettled in a new place. Strong social connections, direct links to the labour market, timely and accurate information and support to access training, education and employment programs can deeply impact newcomers’ ability to navigate new systems, settle in a new community and find meaningful employment.

At KEYS, we work with members of our community at moments of transition, and we know that resettling in a new community, in a new country, is a big life transition. We feel strongly that individuals who’ve come to Canada as refugees have a wealth of experience, resilience, and knowledge to share and the possibility of rebuilding healthy and prosperous lives in the Kingston area; it’s a privilege to be able to collaborate and support this population. We are excited to continue our work in partnership with established immigrant and refugee-serving organizations, develop new partnerships in the community, and engage with willing individual mentor-volunteers. Thank you to MCI for supporting this initiative and investing in newcomers in our community.”

— Madeleine Nerenberg, Program Manager, KEYS


  • Over 12,000 refugees from the Syrian conflict have made Ontario their home since November 2015. 
  • Ontario has received about 40 per cent of the refugees from the Syrian conflict who have arrived in Canada since November 2015, and projects to receive well over 20,000 refugees from all parts of the world in 2016.  
  • Ontario is collaborating with federal and municipal governments, as well as community partners, on refugee settlement and integration.


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