Toronto has a long history of welcoming newcomers to this city. In October 2015, Toronto City Council approved the City of Toronto Refugee Resettlement Program. The Toronto Newcomer Office coordinates City divisions and partners to implement the program.

In July 2021, the federal government announced the establishment of a special program to resettle Afghans who were integral to Canada’s efforts in Afghanistan. This program is being implemented through Polycultural Immigrant and Community Services.

On August 13, 2021 the federal government announced an expansion of its regular resettlement program to include 20,000 additional Afghan refugees within the next two years. This program is for Afghans who have been forced to flee their country. In Toronto, this program is being implemented through COSTI Immigrant Services, as Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s Refugee Assistance Provider.

The latest statistics on arrivals and other key figures related to Canada’s resettlement efforts are available on Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s webpage.

Many of those who have been evacuated have expressed a desire to remain in Toronto. As the GTA is home to the largest Afghan community in Canada (approximately 50 percent of the total population), we expect that this trend will continue.

If you have questions related to the Afghan resettlement efforts, you can email Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada at IRCC.SituationAfghanistan.IRCC@cic.gc.ca.

The City’s Toronto Newcomer Office (TNO) is coordinating City divisions and partners to implement the Refugee Resettlement Program to ensure that support systems are ready and available for the arrival of Afghan refugees.

The Refugee Resettlement Program aims to mobilize the existing supports within the City and externally, and make ongoing improvements to the program, where needed. The City plays three key roles:

  1. Coordination – coordinating municipal services with community-based settlement services, with the other orders of government, and other partners.
  2. Enhancement – using Council-directed resources to enhance community-based support in key areas.
  3. Integration – once they arrive, the new Torontonians will have the ability to access most of the same City services that all other residents have access to. The refugees’ most urgent needs such as housing, clothing and food, will be fulfilled either through the assistance of COSTI Immigrant Services as the Refugee Assistance Provider in Toronto for Government Assisted Refugees, or by sponsors for Privately Assisted Refugees.

Settlement workers are available from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to assist newcomers with the following free and confidential services:

  • information on education, employment, healthcare, housing and more
  • referrals to community services and City programs
  • access to language-specific supports across the city of Toronto

This program is offered in partnership with the Toronto Settlement Collaborative, made up of Catholic Crosscultural Services, Centre for Immigrant and Community Services, CultureLink, North York Community House, and The Neighbourhood Organization.

To book an appointment you can call 416-338-0688.

Please note that as part of the City’s COVID-19 response, settlement services provided through the Newcomer Services Kiosk Program have transitioned to online/virtual appointments. In-person services are currently unavailable.

Need more information? Please email Meronaabbas.estiphanos@toronto.ca.

Polycultural Immigrant and Community Services

Polycultural Immigrant and Community Services is a diverse organization serving communities within the GTA. They provide a wide range of services and programs for newcomers to Canada, communities, adults, youth and seniors. Programs and services for newcomers include: English-language training; and assistance with accessing government programs.

Polycultural Immigrant and Community Services, together with many partners from Ontario and regional service providers, has been receiving Afghan refugees and supporting them after arrival, during their quarantine period, and assisting in reaching their final destination across Canada.

For more information, please contact: 416-233-1655, ext. 5522.

COSTI Immigrant Services

COSTI Immigrant Services is working directly with government-assisted refugees from Afghanistan, assisting them with adapting to life in Canada. Supports being provided include: housing assistance; orientation and settlement services; English-language training needs; mental health supports; employment opportunities; skills development; and much more.

For more information, please contact communications@costi.org or admin@costi.org.

Other Settlement Agencies

Settlement.org is a website that provides information related to immigrating, settling and living in Ontario. The Services Near Me tool allows you to obtain a listing of local settlement agencies and supports. The Discussion Forum feature allows you to pose questions and receive responses.

On September 13, 2021, the City of Toronto, together with United Way Greater Toronto (UWGT) and Lifeline Afghanistan, partnered to launch the Toronto Region Afghan Resettlement Fund to help support the incoming refugees from Afghanistan. Below is information about how you can donate to this fund and where to find potential volunteer opportunities.

Donations

The conflict in Afghanistan has led to one of the biggest humanitarian crisis of our time with millions displaced. Learn how you can help at DonateTO.

Volunteer

Currently, the need for volunteer engagement is very limited and has already been met. As the situation develops, this may change and the City is working with Volunteer Toronto to establish a process for volunteer recruitment. In the meantime, please visit www.volunteertoronto.ca for information on other current volunteer opportunities.

Please visit How to Sponsor a Refugee to learn more about private sponsorship. You can also visit the Refugee Sponsor Training Program (RSTP).

Refugee

A person forced to flee their home country to escape persecution, war or violence.

Source: UNHCR – The UN Refugee Agency

Government-Assisted Refugee (GAR)

A person who is outside Canada and has been determined to be a Convention refugee and who receives financial and other support from the Government of Canada or Province of Quebec for up to one year after their arrival in Canada. GARs are selected from applicants referred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other referral organizations.

Source: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Privately-Sponsored Refugee (PSR)

A person outside Canada who has been determined to be a Convention refugee or member of the Country of Asylum class and who receives financial and other support from a private sponsor for one year after their arrival in Canada.

Source: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program

A program of the Government of Canada under which refugees from abroad, who meet Canada’s refugee resettlement criteria, are selected and admitted to Canada.

Refugee Protection Status

When a person, inland or overseas, is determined to be a Convention refugee or protected person, they are said to have refugee protection status in Canada. Refugee protection is given to a person in accordance with the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.