In the Field Newsletter Volume 29


OCASI In the Field
Volume 29
Message from the Executive Director

Telling Tales

Debbie DouglasIt is a cliché that the only constant is change. But all clichés have their truths. We are living in a season of change. We have witnessed exponential changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection program. We are engaged in discussion (and debates) on changing how public services are delivered and funded. We are questioning and looking to change the way relationships of influence are established and utilized, and whose interests become paramount or are sidelined and ignored.

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

OCASI Member Feature

Introducing UNPACK Magazine: Voices on Culture and Justice in Hamilton

A quarterly magazine published by the Immigrant Women's Centre in Hamilton, Ontario, formerly known as The Women's Press.

Unpack Magazine Five years ago, The Immigrant Women's Centre published their first “Women's Press”. Since 2009, 24 issues have been printed, 322 articles have been written and over 130,000 copies have been distributed throughout Hamilton. The Centre has partnered with dozens of of non-profit organizations and has continued to cover social justice issues through a gendered lens in the publication.

But there are still more stories to tell and there are ways to tell them better.

Unpack Magazine is one of those ways. With a new name, format, and design, the Immigrant Women's Centre is revamping how they tell stories so it's easier to share them. To ‘unpack” means to analyse the nature of, or examine in detail. That is precisely what they hope to do in Hamilton - unpack social justice issues of race, class, and gender - and contribute to the conversation of how to make Hamilton the best city it can be.

At the Immigrant Women's Centre stories are heard every day - both of struggle and celebration - and of enduring hardships and successful breakthroughs. They believe that each person has a story worth sharing. Author Janet Litherland once said that stories have power. Social change does not happen passively. It starts with listening. It starts with a story.

IWC invites you to unpack together. Click here to read

OCASI Happenings

Annual General Meeting 2014

We successfully concluded our 36th AGM on October 29, 2014.

Click on the link for the new OCASI Board.
Please note that Executive Positions on the Board will be updated
after internal elections at the first Board meeting,
to be held in December 2014.

Please see links for the 2014 OCASI Annual Report:
English - French

OCMS Update

OCMS Software screenshots On April 1, 2014 we launched the OCASI Client Management System (OCMS), an online tool that can be used to record and retrieve important client information, and generate detailed, real-time agency-wide reports. The feedback has been great and the number of agencies already on-board has surpassed our expectations.

OCMS by the Numbers since April 1, 2014:

  • 24 agencies on the system
  • Nearly 1000 workers submitting data
  • Over 160,000 Service forms entered
  • More than 100,000 client profiles entered
  • Over 100,000 service records uploaded to funder reporting system


Our goal was to develop a data management tool that would save time for agencies by reducing duplicate entry in different funder reporting databases. The aggregate reporting features we have created save agencies hundreds of data-entry hours every month.

OCMS is an OCASI social enterprise, and is funded entirely through user-fees. This has allowed us to create an agency and client-focused system that ensures agencies meet funder reporting requirements, while at the same time better organize and retrieve data for their own use.

To learn more about OCMS please visit:

OCASI presents Lifetime Achievement Award

Sri-GugganOCASI was pleased to present a Lifetime Achiement Award to Sri-Guggan Sri-Skanda-Rajah at our 2014 AGM.



Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


Born in Sri Lanka, Sri-Guggan Sri-Skanda-Rajah's social conscience was awakened by the caste system's inequality and gender disparity which limited employment and education opportunities for women. As a teenager in 1958, he had first-hand experience of the ethnic violence and discrimination that Tamil faced in Sri Lanka (then known as ‘Ceylon').

After immigrating to England in 1962 where he studied law, Sri came to Canada in 1975 and has worked tirelessly ever since to end racial discrimination here.

Sri worked as a paralegal, helping young black people fight deportation to Jamaica. For 10 years, he presided over a civilian police-reform committee.

Read More

Update and Action Request: Income Security for Refugee Claimants is at risk

Update: The government has included in the Budget Bill (C-43), provisions from Bill C-585 that may lead to refugee claimants being denied access to social assistance. The Budget Bill was introduced on Thursday October 23, 2014. It is making its way very quickly through the House of Commons.

Action Request: Organizations that want to send strong message to parliamentarians so they understand the potential consequences of the provisions have an opportunity to do so by signing onto a joint letter opposing the sections of C-43 that would affect social assistance for refugees.

Deadline for signatures is November 12, 4pm Eastern Time. Organizations are encouraged to sign on as quickly as possible, and can do so by sending an email to (include name of organization - and name and title of person signing (optional)). OCASI is a signatory to the letter.

Click here for details and text of the letter.

Sector Happenings

CCR Fall Consultation, Gatineau, 27-29 November 2014

Connecting Communities Connecting communities, saving lives
27-29 November 2014, Gatineau
Crowne Plaza Gatineau-Ottawa, 2 Montcalm Street

Join CCR to explore questions affecting refugee protection and newcomer settlement.

The theme Connecting communities, saving lives allows for a focus on creating stronger connections between regions and strengthening local community support for newcomers.

Register before 7 November to take advantage of reduced fees!

Consultation Program
Click here for the provisional Consultation program.
Click here for an overview of Consultation workshops.

If you are with a CCR member organization, register here.
If you are not with a CCR member organization, register here.

Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) financial eligibility threshold to rise, Nov. 1

Ontario is moving forward with a plan that will allow over one million more people to qualify for legal aid services.

Financial eligibility for legal aid Ontario services The Government of Ontario is raising — and as a result Legal Aid Ontario can raise — the income eligibility threshold to qualify for legal aid assistance. Fueled by a commitment of $95.7 million in increased government funding to LAO over the next three years, LAO will begin by raising the income eligibility threshold by six per cent every year for the next three years.

This initiative will significantly improve access to justice for the thousands of vulnerable low-income people annually in Ontario who rely on support from LAO for serious legal matters.

Quick Facts:

  • This is the first time the legal aid eligibility threshold has changed since 1996.
  • The increase will apply to all legal aid services, including certificates, duty counsel and community legal clinics.
  • Since 2003, Ontario has invested over $2 billion in Legal Aid Ontario.




Learn more:


Building Bridges, Breaking Barriers: Migrant Worker Speaking Tour

You've heard a lot about Temporary Foreign Workers, now come hear from them!

Join 3 migrant workers – a Live-In Caregiver, a Farmworker, and a Restaurant worker – to learn about their struggles, their rights, and the laws that impact them. Join our fight to build strong, healthy communities for all of us.

The tour will be visiting the following cities. Spread the word to friends and colleagues who are at these stops. Scroll below to RSVP. Join the facebook events.


A Free Workshop on Immigration and Citizenship Law

Organized by Metro Toronto Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic
Date: Friday, November 21, 2014
Time: 9 am to 4 pm
Location: Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil Street, Toronto , Ontario


  • Sharry Aiken, Associate Dean, Faculty of Law, Queen's University
  • Aadil Mangalji, Immigration Lawyer
  • Constance Nakatsu, Immigration Lawyer
  • Geri Sadoway, Staff Lawyer, Parkdale Community Legal Services


Significant Changes have been made to Canada's immigration laws which affect family class and independent class immigrants as well as temporary foreign workers. The Government has also made it harder for immigrants to acquire Canadian citizenship.

Come to this workshop to find out what these changes are, what other changes are pending, and what role community service providers could play to assist their clients.

Who should attend?
Community Service Providers and legal clinic caseworkers.
If you need any further information please contact Jenny Quan at (416) 971-9674 or by email to:

For registration:
Please complete the following registration form and fax it back by November 12
to: (416) 971-6780 or email to

Email Address:
Fax Number:


The traditional process of looking for work has remained largely unchanged. Recruiters receive hundreds of applications and job seekers spend hours applying for opportunities and chasing jobs. Magnet is transforming how Ontarians connect and communicate with the right opportunities, and Quinte Immigration is proud to be part of this new, breakthrough initiative.

The Magnet network came together in early 2014 with an aim to address unemployment and underemployment, specifically as it relates to youth and new immigrants. According to a recent report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (2013), the unemployment rate for Ontario youth aged 15-24 was the highest in Canada, ranging between 16% and 17.1%. Correspondingly, a survey conducted by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) in 2014 found that 30% of Ontario businesses have difficulty filling a job opening because they could not find someone with the right qualifications.

To learn more about how you can get involved as an individual, organization, or employer, visit