Other Issues - November-December 2015

Refugee Support

The UNSM is encouraging municipalities and the general public to get involved with refugee settlement in their local communities.

What can Nova Scotians do?

Nova Scotians who want to offer support for refugees who will soon settle in the province can call 211. Offers of clothing, food and lodging will be catalogued by the service. Callers will be asked for details of the support they can provide and to leave contact information for follow-up. People who want to volunteer can also contact 211 and leave their information. Call 211 or email with your details. For more information visit: http://www.ns.211.ca/microsites/nova_scotia/emergency.


The Municipal Role

A number of municipalities across the country are taking action on immigrant settlement including the following:


  • The Halifax Local Immigration Partnership (LIP) will hold regular meetings with Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAH's), settlement agencies and service providers to facilitate coordination as well as consistent information exchange and sharing. The municipality will provide information about municipal services to those involved in refugee settlement or directly to refugees. This information can be provided through 311, which is already available in 150 languages.
  • Through Human Resources and the Diversity and Inclusion Office provide sensitivity training for public-facing municipal staff. Such training will be developed to address stigma and stereotypes which constitute significant barriers to greater newcomer participation and to a better integration.
  • To promote a more diverse workforce, the Human Resources (HR) Department can provide or support workshops and/or information sessions to help refugees familiarize themselves with the municipality’s employment culture and get support for resume and cover letter writing. Staff would work in collaboration with ISANS and the Diversity and Inclusion Office on delivery.
  • Halifax Regional Police (HRP), in coordination with their diversity officer and alongside the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, conduct outreach sessions for refugees with the objective of overcoming the fear of police that some refugees may carry based on their personal experience. HRP will also offer and conduct other outreach efforts, such as informational sessions showcasing HRP’s commitment to finding solutions to stigma and difficulties that refugees experience as they settle in their new home. These sessions will be related to HRP’s involvement with the Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, which examines the connection between gangs, child soldiers, policing, police training and the displacement of peoples.
  • Halifax Transit to provide temporary transit passes to refugees for first year of settlement.
  • Halifax Recreation to offer relief on recreation fees for first year of settlement for their 28 HRM owned and operated facilities and, where possible, work with Multi-District and Community facilities with whom we have service agreements to do the same.
  • Continue to work in partnership with Halifax Public Libraries as part of their Immigrant/Newcomer Services plan.
  • Work with settlement agencies and others to facilitate access to above noted transit, recreation and library services, potentially through use of an ID card or municipal services card.
  • Halifax LIP to play a coordinating role on the possible implementation of temporary emergency shelters with settlement agencies and service providers (these include, ISANS, Halifax Refugee Clinic, YMCA, YWCA, Shelter Nova Scotia).
  • Include a portal for services to refugees in the Newcomers section of HRM’s website. This portal will highlight existing information in the Newcomers Guide already as it applies to refugee services.
  • Through the Halifax LIP, support continuous coordination of efforts between the municipality and the Provincial Government for matters related to affordable housing, accessible healthcare and inclusive education.
  • Work with provincial government on provincially identified working groups to coordinate activities in various areas including: recreation, community preparedness and others.

Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview:

Local governments in the Greater Moncton Area hosted a joint public information session on refugee sponsorship and resettlement. The municipal role in the settlement of Syrian refugees will include:

  • Providing housing, shelter assistance and leveraging partnerships, grants and land use programs for future housing options
  • Funding and coordinating support for resettlement agencies
  • Identifying Syrian communities within their cities to ensure more successful settlement
  • Disseminating information on available resources including employment, housing, transit and recreation
  • Subsidizing public transit and recreation programs for new refugees
  • Leading public education campaigns to ensure welcoming communities and accurate information on government initiatives


  • On September 8, 2015 Mayor Robertson convened a community forum on the Syrian Refugee Crisis and 400 people attended.
  • On September 16, City Council unanimously passed a motion calling for increased support for refugees.
  • City staff are actively engaged with federal and provincial partners, as well as local service agencies, on planning for the imminent arrival of Syrian refugees to Vancouver. A Syrian Refugees Arrival Strategic Planning Group comprised of government (federal, provincial) and local partners has been struck to prepare for refugee arrival to Vancouver.
  • The City has a well-established Mayor’s Working Group on Immigration, a Local Immigration Partnership Table (Vancouver Immigration Partnership) with 170+ members, a Healthy City Leadership Table comprised of 30 local leaders, and many other networks, many of whom are ready to offer support.
  • The City will play an active role in a regional response with other municipal, senior government and community partners and will be participating in a regional planning session on November 16.


  • Approved $600,000 for settlement and support services as part of a multifaceted strategy.
  • Established an Inter-Divisional Team that will coordinate municipal settlement and support services. The team includes: Shelter, Support & Housing Administration (including Toronto Community Housing); Toronto Employment & Social Services; Toronto Public Health; Children's Services; Strategic Communications; Equity, Diversity & Human Rights and Parks, Forestry & Recreation. It is led by the Toronto Newcomer Office. The team is creating a list of housing availability, a volunteer data base that includes translators and a jobs bank among other initiatives.
  • Established an Inter-Agency Task Force which includes: Canadian Red Cross, Salvation Army, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI), UNHCR, Toronto District School Board, Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network and Lifeline Syria. The Toronto Newcomer Office serves as the secretariat for the Task Force.
  • There is interest from the corporate sector to fundraise for housing and other costs.


  • Working with the refugee-serving organizations to provide learning opportunities on both the processes of refugees coming to Canada, as well as the integration and settlement needs of refugees.
  • Hosting community meetings to help create broader community awareness and understanding of the current refugee situation and how individuals, organizations, and groups can best help.
  • Expanding the Leisure Access and Discounted Bus Pass Programs to include privately sponsored refugees.
  • Encouraging residents to consider privately sponsoring a refugee/refugee family or donating to support the needs of refugees arriving in Saskatoon


CN's AskRail App

More than 1400 first responders along CN’s rail network use the AskRail app on their mobile devices to lookup real time information about the contents of railcars and trains in their communities. Your municipality's first responders can sign up for the AskRail app, the emergency preparedness tool available in French and English.

Benefits of AskRail include:

  • access real-time data about contents of railcars
  • search to see whether a train is carrying dangerous goods
  • view railroad emergency contact information.

To sign up for AskRail, e-mail CN at .

For further information, visit http://www.cn.ca/askrail.