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Newcomers to Canada: COVID-19, finances and the need for online support

27 May 2020
Author: Wendy Abbott-Serroul
Many opportunities exist to help support newcomers to Canada become a part of a welcoming community. Newcomers can access help in looking for employment, help with navigating the school system, and support for youth to develop the skills necessary for bright and successful futures. Often non-profits, and many settlement and community programs are available to aid refugees and newcomers establish themselves as Canadians. Still, newcomers to Canada often face many challenges in navigating their way through a new environment, particularly when it comes to relating to a unique and new financial landscape.

The recent health crisis, COVID-19, has meant that critical services like free tax-filing clinics and free financial counselling are even more challenged in providing services to those who are already vulnerable and may be living on low income. Bolstering this strained reality is a recent study by Statistics Canada, which shows that immigrants report higher levels of concern about their own health, social well-being and were more likely to report that the crisis would have an impact on their finances.
It is widely known that immigrants often work in frontline jobs such as taxi drivers, janitorial services, farming labour and caregiving. Lower wages, less job security, and discrimination are issues many newcomers face which points to the critical need for solutions that are tailored to them. Job losses associated with COVID-19 are staggering and precarious employment is on the rise in vulnerable populations. While the Federal Government has provided information on how to access benefits and what supports newcomers may be eligible for, for many ensuring they have adequate access to tax-filing support is the first step.

Virtual tools and over the phone resources will play a large role in supporting newcomers and Canadians alike in these adjusting times. Online support systems will be key. The My Money in Canada website developed by Prosper Canada was designed to help newcomers learn how to manage money and establish themselves financially in Canada. It is one small step in providing information and opportunities for newcomers to learn more about their finances. These types of resources help newcomers to develop the skills to know how to create a budget, articulate money goals and savings and learn about the Canadian tax system. As the COVID-19 crisis places greater stress on newcomers' ability to settle successfully, it is critical to offer supports that help newcomers build skills to weather the imminent financial crisis and ensure there are systems in place to lever up financial empowerment supports that promote positive money management skills.

My money in Canada is an initiative of the Financial Empowerment for Newcomers project.

Project partners:

Axis, North York Community House, Saskatoon Open Door Society

Funded by:

Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada

THE AUTHOR

Wendy Abbott-Serroul is the Senior Marketing and Communications Officer at Prosper Canada. She works closely with the entire organization to identify communications needs and supports the efforts to increase awareness and the profile of Prosper Canada.

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