Settlement.Org / Etablissement.Org
Our award-winning website is a trusted online resource for newcomers and immigrant and refugee-serving agencies in Ontario since 2000. We worked quickly this year to create a COVID-19 component within our Public and Community Health section to provide relevant and accurate information. During the first wave of the pandemic we contributed over 70 hours of assistance to our partner, Findhelp Information Services, to respond to the significant increase in 211 calls and online queries.
We posted new and updated content on health, finances, education and rights and new articles on reproductive and sexual health. We collaborated with OCASI Accessibility Initiative colleagues to update language on the website to be more consistent with the Disability Justice Framework and update guidelines on disability terminology in French. Several multilingual resources were made available through our curated Translated Information section. We developed new partnerships and received new content from existing partners.
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Settlement.Org Discussion Forum
Our peer-driven discussion forum features users asking questions about life in Ontario and sharing their experience with each other. We adhere to Information and Referral standards as we continually direct and engage users with content on Settlement.Org and throughout the sector.
This year a significant number of inquiries, including from users in other countries, were about COVID-19 related restrictions such as travel to and from Canada and quarantine requirements. Other frequent inquiries were about foreign credentials evaluation, accessing healthcare, renewal of permanent resident card, and citizenship applications. Questions about accessing services online were focused on concerns such as applying for a health card, and taking language classes virtually.
The discussion forum continues to be an important resource to drive content development on Settlment.Org and Etablissement.Org.
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NewYouth.ca / NouveauxJeunes.ca
Since 2008, our websites are the trusted resource for newcomer youth in Ontario, providing information on what it is like to study here, to work here, and the rights and services to which youth are entitled.
We kept users informed of COVID-19 related immigrant changes, and resources to meet financial and essential needs. Following widespread public protests and rallies over the death of George Floyd in May 2020 we created resources to inform and build awareness among users about anti-Black racism and systemic racism in Canada, as well as adding resources focused on mental health. Content was updated to present information using youth-friendly language and visual format.
We established a Youth Advisory Group to ensure the content of NewYouth.ca and NouveauxJeunes.ca are informed by the perspectives of refugee and immigrant youth and the organizations that serve them.
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OCASI Client Management System
OCMS is our cloud-based data management system for the sector that helps to ensure services are delivered efficiently and effectively by providing tools that save time for organizations and clients. It is an OCASI social enterprise developed for the sector and by the sector; supported only through user fees.
The COVID pandemic had no impact on OCMS because it is accessed virtually. All OCMS clients continued to operate as usual, and the OCASI team continued to provide remote support. In fact we saw an increase in clients during this period with 11 new agencies signing on.
OCMS went bilingual this year, a welcome addition for many of our clients. We added a virtual assistant to provide around the clock user support. We also developed 3 new self-directed training sessions and added new information to our knowledge base. Other new features include updates to incorporate new and amended IRCC reporting requirements and special tools to maintain confidentiality of client records.
“OCMS is an effective and efficient tool. It is very helpful when I need to perform data analysis to make strategic decisions as well as report to funders. The various reports you can generate are quite helpful for both front line staff and leadership.”
“You did very well, my problem was solved in no time. In general the answer to my questions usually comes very quickly and this is very important because I can always meet my deadlines.”
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Welcome Ontario / Accueil Ontario
The WelcomeOntario / AccueilOntario website supports refugee resettlement by providing information and resources relevant to refugees and those who are involved in assisting them.
The year we began a revamp of the website to better meet the information needs of sponsored refugees, private sponsors, organizations that provide resettlement services. We are also working to ensure the website and articles are fully accessible and understandable by standardizing our quality assurance, using plain language and incorporating graphs and illustrations to articles. We added new articles about travel restrictions and other measures related to COVID-19 that can affect refugees and their sponsors. We added new articles on the Accueil Ontario website to address the specific concerns of a francophone audience, such as French language training and education opportunities.
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OCASI’s significant virtual footprint is made possible by a skilled and dedicated technical support team. The team played a critically important role this year in facilitating the Council’s smooth transition to fully virtual activities and operations.
We continued to improve and strengthen our virtual presence through standardized quality assurance. We made our websites, digital platforms for learning and community building more accessible, reliable and user-friendly. These rejuvenation efforts will bring us into full compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).