2021-11-10T11:18:21-05:00Aug 28, 2020|

How settlement services can help newcomers in Canada

As a newcomer moving to Canada, you probably have plenty of questions about finding a job, finding housing, finding an afterschool program for your children, and much more. Finding information online can be convenient, but sometimes you just need to sit down and talk to someone. 

Did you know that Canadian settlement services can help you answer all your questions and even point you to other programs and services that can make your life in Canada easier? Plus, seeing a settlement worker in Canada is completely free. 

In this article, we will discuss settlement services and how they can help in various aspects of the newcomer journey. We spoke with Sylvia, Outreach and Community Relations Coordinator at the YMCA of Greater Toronto Newcomer Information Centre to obtain insights on the role of a settlement worker. Read on to find out what a settlement worker can do for you and how to get in contact with one to help you quickly adapt to life in Canada.

The YMCA Newcomer Information Centre, funded by Immigrant, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), provides newcomers a variety of free services, including customized settlement plan, information and referrals about Settlement and Employment, information webinars and community networking opportunities. Visit www.newcomersincanada.ca for more information about the program.

What are settlement services in Canada?

Settlement services and agencies exist in Canada to provide free support to newcomers at every step of the newcomer journey. Settlement services are funded partially or fully by the Canadian government to promote the comfortable integration of newcomers into Canadian society. Settlement services provide support in various areas, including career, housing, healthcare, immigration, education, and more. When you begin using settlement services in Canada, you may be connected with a settlement worker who will work with you one-on-one to support your settlement process.

Tip: You can also visit the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website to learn about settlement agencies and newcomer centres in your area that offer free newcomer services near you.

What is a settlement worker?

Settlement workers are individuals who guide newcomers through their personal settlement needs with resources and assistance relating to culture, education, recreation, finance, social services, and more. 

Settlement agencies often work directly with some schools, libraries, community centres, and newcomer centres to connect settlement workers with newcomers who can most benefit from their services.

Get connected with a settlement worker in your area by contacting community centres, libraries, newcomer centres, and schools to find out if they are partnered with any settlement agencies. If they are, they may be able to provide you with several different options for settlement workers.

How can settlement workers help newcomers?

Settlement workers take a holistic approach to help newcomers to adapt to Canadian society; this means that they take in every aspect of a newcomers’ life, culture, skillset, education, and career and try to give them specific help for them and their family’s needs. Having an in-person conversation with a settlement worker can provide clarity and save newcomers plenty of time and mistakes by getting the right guidance the first time they need it.

“For newcomers these days, finding information is less of a barrier because they can easily search their queries and concerns on the internet. However, they can be misled or may not know how to put these pieces together. This is where settlement workers can help, as they know the Canadian system very well. A settlement worker can help teach you how systems, such as the education system, work in Canada so that you have a better understanding of how best to use the information and resources you find. This guidance can be helpful not just in the present, but for years to come as newcomers hit new speed bumps later down the road.”

– Sylvia, Newcomer Information Centre, YMCA of Greater Toronto

Tip: Many newcomers rely on the advice of other newcomers who moved to Canada before them. This advice is extremely valuable, but may not always apply to your personal situation. A settlement worker can provide more personalized assistance if you let them know your exact situation.

Here are a few ways settlement services can assist you as a newcomer:

  • Provide information on specific settlement needs in career, education, language, social programming, finances, and more.
  • Supply information about securing life essentials such as housing, healthcare, social services, and transportation.
  • Provide guidance and resources for your family and children in areas of education, recreation, childcare, and more.
  • Share information with you on your rights and obligations.
  • Assist in completing forms and applications (e.g. applying for government benefits).
  • Put you in touch with employment agencies and provide career search assistance.
  • Assist in and provide referrals for language and translation services.

Settlement services can help a newcomer in all these ways, and more. If you aren’t sure if a settlement worker will be able to help you with something, ask anyway. They may be able to point you in the direction of another relevant service or resource.

Settlement workers are there to help you make decisions and find multiple paths for success. However, settlement workers won’t make decisions for you because you know what works best for yourself.”

– Sylvia, Newcomer Information Centre, YMCA of Greater Toronto

Building a relationship with your settlement worker

Signing up to talk to a settlement worker is a personal choice, as you will be sharing plenty of personal information with them, especially if you plan to work with them for an extended period of time. You may choose a settlement worker based on their location, area of expertise, language proficiency in your home language, or any number of reasons. It would be best if you chose a settlement worker based on who you think will understand your personal needs best to point you in the right direction.

“When you talk to a settlement worker, it’s not just like talking to Google; you are communicating in a personal way, and your settlement worker is able to respond based on everything they know about your background, family, and goals. It’s a learning process between the settlement worker and the newcomer, where you provide as much information about your needs as you can so that your settlement worker can keep providing you better service over months or years.”

– Sylvia, Newcomer Information Centre, YMCA of Greater Toronto

If you need to switch settlement workers due to moving locations or a change in preference or goals, it is possible to do so. When moving to a new area, you may wish to supplement your one-on-one talks with your settlement worker and another newcomer-oriented group programming. You can do so at your local community or newcomer centre, to start building your newcomer community and gain general helpful knowledge.


Settlement services are a free and helpful resource that all newcomers can take advantage of. Not only can you visit a settlement worker in your first few months in Canada, but you can continue coming to them with questions and concerns for years to come, even if you get Canadian citizenship. Now that you know what settlement services can do for you, think about adding them to your plan for a successful transition to life in Canada.