Programs and Services Offered During the COVID 19 Pandemic

Programs and Services Offered During the COVID 19 Pandemic2021-07-20T08:46:40-04:00

Programs and Services Offered During the COVID 19 Pandemic

OCISO has taken a full range of steps to ensure that our clients have access to programs and continue to receive services during the COVID 19 pandemic. After March 16, when all OCISO offices were closed to the public until further notice, we implemented an extensive plan that supports our efforts to continue to provide services remotely.

OCISO staff are providing services via phone, email and Zoom. All departments and most services are operational. There are over 25 languages spoken throughout the organization.

Here is brief outline of how we are offering programs and services at this time. (Please note that our operations could change throughout the duration of the pandemic and we will update this document accordingly).

Settlement and Integration Program

The Settlement and Integration Program (SIP) assists immigrants and refugees by providing multilingual and multicultural services that facilitate their successful adaptation and integration processes in Canada.

Our settlement staff works with a broad range of community service providers and partners to enhance collective community settlement and integration capacities and to sensitize the mainstream services providers to be more responsive to the needs of newcomers in Ottawa.

SIP continues to provide most services, including information on financial benefits from the government by phone or Zoom videoconferencing.

New clients wishing to access the SIP should call 613-725-5671, ext. 316 or send an email to [email protected]. An intake worker is monitoring this phone line and email address regularly and will connect people to services or information needed.

Existing clients should contact their settlement counsellor using the email and phone number previously provided to them.

Clinical Counselling

This program is uniquely equipped to provide counselling services to the immigrant and refugee population in Ottawa. It offers clinical counselling to culturally diverse clients with migration and culture-related issues, and specialize in assisting survivors of war torture, trauma, political persecution and imprisonment.

It uses a wide variety of intervention techniques, which allow for a culturally sensitive and responsive therapeutic process. The Counselling Program does not just “respect” its client’s culture – it incorporates that culture into the therapeutic process.

These services are private and confidential.

The program provides short-term, long-term and solution-focused counselling and psychotherapy services in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Farsi, Dari, Greek, Urdu, Tigrinya and other languages as needed.

The program provides individual, couple, family and group counselling.

Clinical Counselling services continue to be offered by phone (613-725-5671 ext: 357) or secure Zoom videoconferencing.

New clients wishing to access these services should complete the online referral form.

Existing clients should contact their clinical counsellor using the email and phone number previously provided to them.

Community Economic Development Program (Employment)

The Community Economic Development (CED) program delivers career mentoring and networking programs to support newcomers to obtain employment in their field, increase their workplace and cultural competencies, build networks and develop strategies for employment maintenance and advancement within the Canadian workplace. CED programming includes:

  • Career Mentorship;
  • Federal Internship for Newcomers Mentoring;
  • Ottawa Connector;
  • Refugee and Immigrant Supports to Employment (RAISE);
  • Entrepreneurial Newcomers, Refugees and Immigrants Collaboration Hub;
  • Foreign Credential Recognition Mentorship;
  • Pre-arrival Mentoring;
  • Job Search Workshop; and
  • Ottawa Mentorship Collaborative.

All CED individual and group services, including mentor and mentee intake, orientation, training and job search workshops are taking place virtually, by phone, by Zoom videoconferencing, or in-person by appointment (613-725-5671 ext: 334).

New clients wishing to access the Community Economic Development (CED) program should send an email to [email protected].

Existing CED program clients should contact their mentorship facilitator using the email and phone number previously provided to them.

YOCISO (Youth Program)

YOCISO programs are specifically designed to assist immigrant youth, ages 13 to 24, with their settlement and integration process in Canada.

Through this process, these youth gain the necessary skills to achieve their goals, as well as develop a positive mindset to begin to overcome the challenges they may be facing so that they can contribute to the Canadian society.

YOCISO offers a safer environment for immigrant and refugee youth to receive free support through various programs.  YOCISO offers academic, life skills, counselling, and arts-based support in a fun, interactive, and newcomer youth-centered space.

The YOCISO team consults with youth to deliver programming that is tailored to their needs and interests.

YOCISO provides opportunities to engage with arts and skill development that may not otherwise be accessible to newcomer youth.

YOCISO is continuing with daily online engagement through activities, surveys, questionnaires and with check-ins on Instagram, Facebook and email.

Its trained volunteers are providing schoolwork and academic support leveraging though Zoom videoconferencing. It provides mental health supports through Instagram, Facebook and email, always using direct messaging to ensure confidentiality.

YOCISO continues to provide access to youth facilitators for support and weekly workshops (with topics including career and employment, arts and creative expression, mental and physical health and social drop in) through Zoom videoconferencing.

Youth wishing to access these virtual programs and workshops, should send an email to [email protected] or call (613)518 0680 ext: 110.

Language Instruction for Newcomers

OCISO offers free Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC). English language instruction is essential for newcomers to feel at home and be fully productive in their new land.

OCISO offers LINC classes at various levels from Literacy to Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 7. Landed Immigrants, Permanent Residents and Convention Refugees ages 18 and over are eligible to participate.

Students gain confidence by studying themes relevant to newcomers such as health and education, citizenship preparation, career planning and employment search skills.

LINC classes have been moved to online delivery with teachers reaching out to each student individually.

Additional learning resources are available free of charge for students who are able to learn from any device at home.

For new clients wishing to access the LINC program, it is mandatory for them to be assessed at the Language Assessment and Referral Center, which is currently closed. Only clients who have already received this assessment can be placed on our waitlist.

New clients who have done the assessment can call 613-725-5671, ext. 316 or send an email to [email protected].

Existing LINC program clients should contact their teacher using the email and phone number previously provided to them.

Multicultural Liaison Officers (School Supports)

The Multicultural Liaison Officer Program (MLO) addresses the settlement needs of immigrant and refugee families in Ottawa schools. The goal of the MLO Program is to help ensure the successful integration of newcomer children and their families in Ottawa schools.

The program takes a three-pronged approach that involves the student, the family and the wider school community.  OCISO runs this program in partnership with the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board and the Ottawa Catholic School Board.

Our 24 Multicultural  Liaison Officers (MLOs) facilitate the interaction between students, parents, teachers, school administrators and a broad range of organizations, enabling all involved to work toward shared goals, such as quality of education for newcomer students, increased intercultural competence and awareness, and a smoother integration of immigrant and refugee families.


The MLOs are in regular contact with parents, students and school staff by phone and e-mail in the current COVID-19 period. They are assisting the school community with assessments of emerging needs, surveying the connectivity of the families and students.

The MLOs are bridging families with a variety of government and community resources, including housing, income support information on COVID-19 resources, mental health, assisting parents with teachers’ messages about on-line learning, and providing ideas to parents on how to organize themselves at home with their children and more.

The MLOs can be accessed in these ways:

  1. By contacting the school principal, English as a Second Language (ESL), English Literacy Development (ELD) teacher or other staff at a school. MLOs are assigned to work with particular schools in Ottawa.
  2. If a school does not have a MLO assigned to it, a MLO request/Community Facilitator request can be done by downloading the online form and emailing it as an attachment to [email protected].
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Our Mission!

OCISO supports immigrants through the journey of making Canada their home by providing creative and responsive programs that are culturally and linguistically appropriate, by building community through mutual respect and partnerships, and by fostering healthy and inclusive spaces for open dialogue and healing.

What we do 🙂

We are community based non-profit organization that has been providing services in Ottawa since 1978. We are motivated by the stories of new immigrants, and we are there every stage of the journey. OCISO directly serves over 10,000 immigrants and refugees every year. Our work is augmented by the generous efforts of our enthusiastic, caring and talented staff, volunteers, both established and new Canadians.