The Ontario Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development Website
The Ontario Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development website is a very useful tool. This is the ideal resource for newcomers to access up-to-date information and navigate the vast range of social programs available in Canada. Unlike many other government sites, this website will lead you directly to specific resources in your community. No need to be afraid of the unknown, we will walk you through the most difficult moments.
The best way to start is to type into google “Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Skills Development Ontario”. Immediately on the screen (even before you click on any website), you will be able to see a box titled “More to Ask”. One of the four links in this box is the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training, and Skills Development phone number. Phone Number! You can talk to a real person. You don’t have to scroll through the website looking for the answers to your questions. Thank You, Ministry.
This box does not always show up, it appears to be rotated with other questions, so just keep checking. But if you don’t want to bother, the number is 1-800-387-5656 Toll-Free or 416-326-5656 for the Employment Ontario Contact Centre.
The next step is to actually click on the Ministry website. There you can see nine category titles. For Learning Curves readers, we recommend clicking on these three:
- get settled in Ontario
- services for Job Seekers
- education and Career Planning
If the goal is to find a listing of settlement agencies, click on “Get settled in Ontario”, then click on “Finding a Settlement Agency”. The easiest way to search is by city. For that in the first Search box and enter your city. A list of settlement agencies shows up and If you click on an agency you are led to their website. Amazing.
At the bottom of this list of settlement agencies, there are three choices to click on. We recommend “Settlement Services by the Government of Canada”. You can search for these by using the postal code and type of information you need.
The search for courses to learn English traditionally tops the list of the greatest interests of newcomers. I taught ESL for over 24 years at Overland Learning Centre, a Toronto District School Board site. ESL is funded by the Ontario government but there are other sites to learn English at the TDSB which are funded by the Canadian government. LINC, Language Instruction for Newcomers is funded by the Canadian government, and is similar to ESL, English as a Second Language funded by the Ontario government. Many newcomers, found it hard to understand the main difference between these two types of English classes. Mainly, the only difference is which level of government is funding them.
If you continue to scroll down from the listing of Settlement Agencies you come to a heading “After You Arrive”. Here, they refer you to another service where you can ask a real person, in over 150 different languages about community, social, health-related, and government services in your community. Call 211. Have a look at their website.www.211ontario.ca. They even operate 24 hours a day, all year long. A real person who speaks your language, any time! Thank You 211.
One of the most helpful in-person services for newcomers is CLARS Centre. (Coordinated Language Assessment and Referral System Centre) These are adult learning information centers. When coming to a new country it is invaluable to get to a center where you can be tested and referred to a list of services in your community. You talk to a person who knows the Canadian adult education system, face to face. Often newcomers try to understand the Canadian educational system with a framework in mind that comes from their home country, frustrating. The employees of the centre help to choose the most suitable place for studying, including focusing on your English Level or desire to get back into the profession or change career path. These CLARS centres were set up under the Kathleen Wynne government, the first Ontario Premier who had been an ESL teacher.
To find a listing of CLARS Centres continue to scroll down past the “After You Arrive” title, after several headings you come to the title “Learn English and French”. Click on the underlined text: Find out if you are eligible for this free program. Then under the title “Take English and French as a Second Language”. click on highlighted text: Get information about English as a second language class for adults. On this page click on number 5 “Language Assessment Centres”. Aha! There is a list of CLARS Centres.
The above thread from the “Get Settled in Ontario” has led you to the Education and Training, Adult Learning page of the Ministry website. Often, we miss key pieces of information if we don’t know the thread to follow. But there is often a more straight -forward thread.
Now, we are going to go straight to the Education and Career Planning category column on the first page of the Ministry website. There is one of eight categories listed on the front page of the Ministry website and one of three that we recommended our readers look at. One is “Education and Career Planning”. Then click on “Adult Learning”. There you see seven categories. Click on “English as a Second Language”. Now we are back to the web page we just found through the “Get Settled In Ontario” search. Click on 5 again and you are back to a listing of Language Assessment Centres, CLARS Centres.
Now get back to the “Adult Learning” page, and click on “Ontario Bridge Training programs”. These programs help immigrants to continue working in their careers after immigration. If you click on the service agency you are linked to their website. You get to talk to a real person face-to-face at these service agencies.
Now get back to the first page of the Ministry website and choose the category “Services for Job Seekers”, then click on “Employment Ontario”. There are many agencies that offer these services. So, they do not list them all. By choosing Number 4 “Get Help From” you get to fill in a contact and profile form. When you send this, an agency near to you will get back to you.
By clicking on Number 5 “Contact Employment Ontario” you see the phone numbers first listed in this article. By calling these, you talk to a real person and they put you in touch with an Employment Ontario Centre near you.
Have a look at this Ministry website, it puts you in touch by phone, email, or in person with agencies and their counselors who can help you find your way.