Gateway Networking Report

April 25, 2024 | Report

Employment Group 

Although many newcomers to Canada are highly skilled professionals, many of them have to undergo Canada’s credential recognition process. For some professions, this can become an impossible mission. For example, to practice medicine in Canada, internationally trained doctors must get recertified regardless of their education and experience from their home countries. 

Partners suggested that one of the pathways for internationally trained doctors to get back into the industry is to enter the workforce as a healthcare aide. While they are slowly building their way up, they can be connected to free mental health resources and educational support. Employment agencies can also help with resume and cover letter writing, interviewing skills, and teaching them best practices to apply for jobs online and in person. 

Among other emerging issues, partners also discussed mental health stigma, cultural differences, community shame, fear, lack of trust, loss of empowerment, high cost of education in Canada, lack of trauma-informed and culturally sensitive spaces, as well as mental health support in first languages. Resources can be found in the appendix. 


Language and Education Group 

Group discussion around language and education brought up gaps and trends that many partners could relate to. For example, the Calgary Language Assessment & Referral Centre (CLARC) at Immigrant Services Calgary provides English assessments to fulfill admission requirements, such as skill development programs at post-secondary institutions, health care programs, or Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) classes. However, current data is not encouraging. In the last fiscal year, LINC waitlist numbers increased from 2,000 to almost 8,000. Partners talked about the alternative options available to newcomer clients while they wait for their spot in a class. Participants also shared healthcare or skill development programs available in the city. Resources can be found in the appendix. 

The biggest trend identified by all partners was the influx of new residents in Calgary and the surrounding areas, which has significantly contributed to longer wait lists and was compounded by funding shortfalls. Alternative language training options, including free or affordable low-cost English as Second Language (ESL) programs for newcomers are sometimes too costly or have limited seats, which leaves newcomers with few options to improve their English language skills. Moreover, the long process to recognize an internationally trained professional’s credential in the Canadian educational system or labour market leads to underemployment and low retention levels for employers.  


Poverty Reduction Group 

Discussion around poverty reduction highlighted trends surrounding newcomer clients and their risk of facing poverty-related adversity. Partners discussed the gaps in the settlement sector’s service provision and how the Gateway network can enable collaboration to respond to issues such as limited awareness of smaller-scale community-based services, language barriers, and the need to improve access to employment. Practices such as tapping into social media groups used by informal communities and streams of newcomers were recommended.  

Additionally, a more extensive data-sharing practice to improve efficiency in finding and tackling gaps in available services was put forward. Resources, including low-barrier legal services and conversation circle language learning programs, can be found in the appendix. One of the suggestions for future collaborative initiatives was organizing events connecting newcomers with entrepreneurs and programming geared toward comprehensive assistance with seeking out and applying for housing and income support. 

     Trends and gaps in poverty reduction 

  • Reduced and worsening access to housing among the newcomer population. 
  • Lack of redistributive and programming-oriented public policy placing increasing pressure on low-income families. 
  • Limited employment opportunities. 
  • Language barriers worsening problems with employment accessibility as well as awareness of—and ability to fill out applications for—services and housing/income support. 
  • Limited access to free or affordable legal services. 
  • Lack of awareness of programming among newcomers and a lack of ability on the part of agencies to disseminate information that newcomers can readily access. 
  • Fragmented service provision and communication across organizations in the nonprofit and settlement sectors. 
  • The need for a shared centralized data repository allowing for gaps in service provision to be filled proactively by organizations, including small organizations, that can adequately serve client needs in specific areas. 
  • Lack of technologically sophisticated tools in the sector. 



Health and Well-Being Group 

The main trend which this group highlighted was a long waitlist for clients to access services and agencies’ reduced capacities to support them. The need for health support in clients’ first languages and an increase in staff awareness about cultural differences were also discussed. Among many real-life examples that were shared, some of the main mental health triggers for clients were family role changes that occur after immigration and a lack of immediate family support. 

Partners also pointed out that the current community focuses on treatment rather than prevention. Most of the organizations provide counselling, but if there were more investments in prevention, some of the issues could be addressed or resolved at the early stages of mental distress. On a more systemic level, grassroots and informal groups are necessary and helpful in the health and well-being field, but these groups have limited or no funding support. Larger organizations, which are funded for mental health services, often do not have the capacity to provide informal services, as the funding is limited to formal support. 


List of all organizations that attended: 

  • Sagesse 
  • TIES 
  • ISC 
  • Vecova 
  • Women’s Centre of Calgary 
  • Jumpstart Refugee Talent 
  • Momentum 
  • Mosaic PCN 
  • CFN 
  • La Cite des Rocheuses 
  • FESA 
  • Gateway Association 
  • Genesis Centre 
  • Hull Services 
  • Immigrant Techies Alberta 
  • ActionDignity 
  • Better Business Bureau 
  • CBFY 
  • Calgary Central Library 
  • Calgary Counselling Centre 
  • Calgary Local Immigrant Partnership 
  • University of Calgary 


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