In the Field Newsletter Volume 26


OCASI In the Field
Volume 26
Message from the Executive Director

Debbie DouglasIn early October, I opened one of my few non-bills, non-advertisement pieces of mail and wondered why the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General was writing to me. I did a quick memory scan in case I had forgotten some important legal matter, but nothing came to mind. Read the letter.

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

(Article reposted from November 2013)

OCASI Member Feature

Informal Economy Project

West Neighbourhood House West Neighbourhood House began the Informal Economy project when their financial workers and Income Tax Clinic volunteers reported that increasing numbers of low-income adults were working for cash “under the table” or were deemed (illegally) by their employers to be “self-employed”. Research shows that this is a growing part of the labour market, particularly for young adults – even those with a university education.

Read More

OCASI Happenings

Assess your organization's health with OrgWise

Would you like to better understand your agency's strengths, champion your successes and identify areas for growth? Then OrgWise can help! The OrgWise Organizational Standards Assessment tool allows organization leaders' to assess the health of their organization, set priorities, articulate clear objectives, and forecast the future in terms of anticipated shifts in political and economic realities.

Read more here: OCASI OrgWise Organizational Standards Assessment Tool

Can I work once I arrive?

“Can I work once I arrive?”, “The Workopolis Myth, and “Can a refugee claimant open a company in Canada?” are some of the recent questions posted in the Settlement.Org Discussion Forum under the topic heading Employment / Finding a Job / Working. Visitors to the site have viewed the postings several hundred times within two weeks.

The moderated Discussion Forum is a very useful and popular feature of Settlement.Org. Here users can ask questions related to their experience living in Ontario and receive an answer from either our Information and Referral specialists and/or other users of the forum.

The moderated Discussion Forum is a very useful and popular feature of Settlement.Org. Here users can ask questions related to their experience living in Ontario and receive an answer from either our Information and Referral specialists and/or other users of the forum.

The project receives federal and provincial funding from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration (MCI).

Immigrant and refugee services: negotiating spaces for advocacy

Debbie Douglas - VideoDebbie Douglas, OCASI Executive Director made a plenary presentation titled, “Immigrant and refugee services: negotiating spaces for advocacy” at the National Symposium on Intersections of Violence Against Women and Precarious Immigration Status. The Symposium was held in Toronto in June 2014, and was organized by the Migrant Mothers Project.

Presentation abstract: Half of all women in Canada have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16.

We know that violence against women is significantly under-reported, and that immigrant women and racialized women – particularly women with precarious status are most vulnerable to abuse and violence.

What does this mean in Ontario's immigrant and refugee-serving sector, where organizations' work is grounded in values of equity and human rights – and particularly at this time of advocacy-chill for organizations receiving government funding?

This presentation will explore how community organizations in our sector balance reality with expectations, strategize and build alliances as they carry on the difficult work to educate, organize and seek systemic change.

See the video of the presentation


Sector Happenings

NYCH Program Wins 2014 Michele Landsberg Community Award

North York Community House (NYCH) Program, Village Bloggurls was announced as the winner of the 2014 Michele Landsberg Community Award.

Village Bloggurls is a 4-year leadership, empowerment and media literacy program run by NYCH. Girls ages 9-13 from Lotherton Village (in Lawrence Heights, Toronto) participate in weekly workshops and discussion sessions in order to explore issues that matter to them and to develop leadership and media literacy skills while learning media production methods. The program is funded by Canadian Women's Foundation.

The Michele Landsberg Community Award recognizes an organization that is doing exceptional work to empower girls and young women to find their voice and raise awareness about women's and girls' equality issues in Canada through media. The award is named after Michele Landsberg (award-winning Canadian journalist, author, social activist and feminist) to acknowledge the tremendous impact she has had as an advocate and role model for all women and girls in Canada.

Big congratulations to the incredible girls using media to tell their stories at the Village Bloggurls, and to North York Community House for creating an amazing opportunity for girls to raise their voices about issues that matter to them.

Ontario Trillium Foundation ReDesign2015

ReDesign 2015 The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) has launched a major overhaul to its granting approach and will refocus how it invests funds in Ontario nonprofit sector. OTF is now refocused on leading the way through collective impact and impact measurement.

Click here to find out more about their new strategic approach

Halton Community Legal Services Introduces ‘Legal Health Check-Up'

Funded by the Legal Aid Ontario's Fund to Strengthen Capacity of Legal Clinics, this online check-up can now help those who are living in poverty so they can identify legal problems and get help.

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.

See more at:

Funding Opportunity: Atkinson Decent Work Fund

The Atkinson Foundation has released the newest tool for promoting social and economic justice in Ontario. The Atkinson Decent Work Fund is a grants program aimed at creating work, wealth and wellbeing for people and communities cut off from the well-traveled routes to prosperity.

The Atkinson Decent Work Fund is open to Ontario-based organizations or networks that share the Foundation's mission, values and vision.

Atkinson is a charitable foundation registered with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), and can only provide grants to organizations with charitable status. Organizations with aims that are compatible with the Foundation but do not have charitable status are encouraged to contact Atkinson to find other ways to work collaboratively.

Letters of inquiry will be accepted until September 17. Find out more here