In the Field Newsletter Volume 25


OCASI In the Field
Volume 25
Message from the Executive Director

Debbie DouglasThis past two weeks exemplified what makes Ontario one of the best places to live, work, worship and play. The province and particularly the City of Toronto put out its welcome mat to the world for the International Human Rights Conference and World Pride 2014.

Read more of Debbie's observations on change happening in the sector.

OCASI Member Feature

FCJ Refugee Centre

No-Ledge videoThe film NO-LEDGE (from "no knowledge") explores some of the barriers and impacts experienced by precarious migrant youth populations in accessing secondary and post-secondary education in Ontario.

It explains, from the perspective of social and immigration experts who have been for many years assisting refugees in Toronto, and a group of young people with precarious immigration status in Canada, the emotional shock that young people experience when some schools reject their request to register for high school. Such rejection contravenes education laws in Ontario. The film also explains the impact on young people who are faced with a demand for international student fees when they attempt to register to study at a post-secondary institution. Such fees are 3 to 4 times higher than Canadian fees. The film captures the impact of this loss on young people and on Canadian society.

OCASI Happenings

Refugee Pride 2014

On June 14, 2014, the OCASI co-hosted Refugee Pride 2014: A Mosaic of Expression in partnership with the 519 Church Street Community Centre and FCJ Refugee Centre.

Refugee Pride 2014 Toronto - Photo 1Refugee Pride 2014 Toronto - Photo 2Refugee Pride 2014 Toronto - Photo 3Refugee Pride 2014 Toronto - Photo 4Refugee Pride 2014 Toronto - Photo 5Refugee Pride 2014 Toronto - Photo 6Refugee Pride 2014 Toronto - Photo 8Refugee Pride 2014 Toronto - Photo 7

Funded by the City of Toronto through a Community Festivals & Special Events grant and volunteer-driven every step of the way, the event was a resounding success. Approximately 250 participants enjoyed an eclectic mix of music, dance, drag, and spoken word performances featuring both professional and emerging artists from within our local LGBTQ+ and newcomer communities.

We heard deeply moving stories of lived experience from a panel of five LGBTQ+ refugees, witnessed visual representations of the same through the community art project that decorated the walls, and heard a number more during the premiere screening of our locally-made Refugee Pride documentary. Both the panel and a guest speech by Rev. Brent Hawkes, Grand Marshal of World Pride 2014 and Minister at the Toronto Metropolitan Community Church, on the history of LGBTQ+ rights in Toronto were simultaneously interpreted into Russian and Urdu, which were identified by our community partners as the most-needed languages at present. Participants moved through a range of heartbreak, solemnity, celebration, and ultimately pride at the resiliency and accomplishments of the LGBTQ+ refugees who bring so much to our communities.

OCASI extends an enormous, heartfelt thank you to the hundreds of people who came together and made this happen. Happy Pride!!!

OCASI Training Opportunity

Professional Education & TrainingProfessional Education and Training Project (PET) is accepting applications for this fiscal year - April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015.

Through the Professional Education and Training (PET) Project, OCASI supports agencies funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration (MCI) to make available to their staff individual training at the institution of choice or to deliver group training within the organization. Individual training will allow staff to focus on strengthening specific skills and acquire new knowledge. Group training will provide a similar benefit as well as the added advantage of opportunity for peer support and peer learning including sharing good practices.

Agencies applying for In-house Group Training must provide proof of CIC funding. The individual position must be funded by CIC and/or MCI, and the applicant must provide a signed recommendation letter, which demonstrates a direct connection between the competencies required to effectively do the job and the course(s) chosen. Depending on the size of the organization OCASI will approve up to 5 people (per agency).

For LINC and ELT, only managers and the coordinators from the respective programs in an immigrant services organization will be considered.

In-house Group Training:
Upon completion of the workshop your organization will be reimbursed up to $2000 plus any taxes incurred for the workshop facilitator's fee.

Individual Position:
Upon completion of a course participants will be reimbursed up to $750 plus taxes.

Note: All workshops and courses will be reimbursed in the fiscal year in which the course was paid and taken, (April 1-March 31).

OCASI Research Reports

In early 2014, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) commissioned OCASI to conduct research to provide CIC with information on the state of online information for immigrants to Canada and those that serve them. Specifically we undertook environmental scans related to the following topics:

There were several other related-reports recently developed by other organizations including:

You can find all of these and more on the Settlement Sector wiki.

Sector Happenings

CCR Youth Network:
Youth Action Gathering- August 21-23 in Toronto!

CCR Youth Network symbolThe 2014 Canadian Council for Refugees Youth Action Gathering (YAG) is fast approaching! It will take place from Thursday August 21 to Saturday August 23 at the United Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil Street, Toronto. This is a chance for newcomer youth from across Canada to come together to talk about issues that matter to them, build skills and have fun!

Those interested in coming need to register online here.

Registration and participation are free, but spots will be given on a first come, first served basis, so encourage youth to sign up soon!

Some of the themes of this year's YAG are: barriers to secondary and post-secondary education, activism through art, indigenous history and decolonizing migrant justice, sharing between generations, meaningful youth engagement, and more!

View the tentative schedule here.

If you know youth from outside of Toronto who are interested in coming to the YAG, you can encourage them to look for financial support from local organizations or get in touch with us to discuss options.

For allies: The YAG is a newcomer youth only space - but we do welcome allies and community members to join for a session on the Friday morning on access to education and Saturday afternoon and evening for sharing between generations! If you are an ally who is interested in participating in a different way, please speak to us about this.

For more info on the YAG check out the CCR meetings webpage.

New Mandatory Employment Standards Poster

The Ministry of Labour has published a new version of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) Poster, "What You Should Know About The Employment Standards Act". Version 5.0 is available:


The most recent version of the Ministry of Labour's “What You Should Know About the Ontario Employment Standards Act” poster must be posted in the workplace where it is likely that employees will see it. The poster describes important rights and responsibilities under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and reflects recent changes to the ESA regarding minimum wage.

New Mandatory Employment Standards poster

New OHRC Policy on human rights and mental health or addiction

Ontario Human Rights Commission The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has released a new policy to address human rights for people with mental health or addiction disabilities.

The new policy, released on June 18, 2014, aims to provide user-friendly guidance on how to define, assess, handle and resolve human rights issues related to mental health and addiction disabilities. The Policy on preventing discrimination based on mental health disabilities and addictions was released by the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC).

People with mental health disabilities or addictions continue to face considerable discrimination, stigma and social exclusion in Canada. Many people experience adverse treatment, negative attitudes and harassment in employment, housing and when receiving services. Many are afraid to disclose their disability to others because of the stereotypes and stigma associated with these disabilities. People with mental health disabilities or addictions are also more likely to have low incomes and many live in chronic poverty.

“Fear, ignorance and a lack of understanding has led to unequal access to opportunities for people with mental health or addiction disabilities in our society. I believe people are now ready to accept that everyone must be treated equitably. I hope that this policy will become a tool for change,” said Barbara Hall, Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

In Ontario, organizations have a legal duty to prevent and respond to violations of the Human Rights Code. Employers, housing providers and service providers must make sure they respect the human rights of people with mental health or addiction disabilities by maintaining accessible and inclusive environments that are free from discrimination and harassment. This policy will help them be proactive and avoid human rights complaints.

The policy addresses:

  • different forms of discrimination
  • rights at work, in rental housing, and when receiving services
  • organizations' responsibilities to prevent and eliminate discrimination
  • how to create environments that are inclusive and free from discrimination
  • how the duty to accommodate applies to people with mental health or addiction disabilities


“Mental health is one of the most common wellness issues at post-secondary institutions,” said Sheldon Levy, President of Ryerson University. “This new policy reinforces the need for all of us to work more closely together to educate, to support and to make positive changes for all.”

“We can and must come much closer to freedom from discrimination for all persons with disabilities by creating environments that encourage full participation and inclusion,” said Ivana Petricone, Executive Director of the ARCH Disability Law Centre. “We look forward to the guidance and leadership of the OHRC, expressed through this new policy, as we work together towards achieving equality for persons with mental health and addiction disabilities.”

When developing this policy, the OHRC relied extensively on the invaluable input it received during its largest-ever policy consultation held across Ontario. In September 2012, the OHRC released Minds that matter: Report on the consultation on human rights, mental health and addictions. The report set out key recommendations and OHRC commitments to address human rights issues that affect people with mental health disabilities or addictions. Launching the new policy is one of many ways the OHRC is working to meet those commitments.

For more information contact Afroze Edwards, Senior Communications Officer, Ontario Human Rights Commission at 416-314-4528