Healthy Communities Welcoming Syrian Refugees

How our YMCA continues to help Syrian refugees

Syrian Refugees to Canada

Since November 4, 2015 Canada has welcomed more than 13,900 Syrian refugees, approximately 6,300 arriving in Ontario. The YMCA of Greater Toronto has played an important role in helping many of these new Canadians start their lives in this country.

For example, by the end of January we will have provided service to over 400 Syrian refugees since April with approximately 200 since December.

The YMCA of Greater Toronto is working with COSTI Immigrant Services (Toronto) to facilitate on-site language assessment close to where families are staying; by the end of January we will have assessed more than 100 adult refugees from Syria.

Before I talk about how the YMCA is working to help Syrian refugees, I would like to take a moment to thank those who came forward and offered to volunteer their time to this wonderful example of community building.

The YMCA is preparing for the spring 2016 launch of new programs including eNIC and YPALS – two exciting opportunities to provide pre-arrival initiatives to young people and adults overseas via the Internet as they prepare to come to Canada, ensuring they have secured support once they arrive.

We will continue to make our spaces available for free for meetings and gatherings to groups who are supporting Syrian refugees. And, we will continue to exam on a case-by-case basis ways to provide financial assistance so more and more families can become a healthy part of our growing communities.

All our Employment and Community staff have been invited to participate in a web-based (webinar) presentation delivered by the Client Support Services (CSS) and Newcomer Information Centre (NIC) programs. This presentation will offer information on the context of Syrian refugees internationally, in Canada, and within selected YMCA programs. Participants will also have the opportunity to ask questions related to this topic. Given Canada’s ongoing resettlement efforts and the subsequent spike in public interest in this topic, this presentation aims to provide:

  • An opportunity to learn about forced migration and resettlement of refugees
  • An broader understanding of the situation of Syrian refugees in particular
  • An opportunity to learn more about some of the YMCA’s work with refugees
  • An open forum to ask broader questions and therefore encourage informed discussion

Our Client Support Services program, which assists government-sponsored refugees (GARs), works with the following organizations to ease refugee settlement in Canada:

The YMCA National Programs also works with Multicultural Association of Fredericton, COSTI in Toronto, and YMCA of Northern Alberta through Path to Homes, for the National coordination of case management project assisting immigrants at risk of homelessness to secure housing.

This is the second of a number of communications on this issue, so please watch this space as our plans to welcome and support the needs of Syrian arrivals continues to evolve.

Your enthusiasm has been wonderful.

Thank you,


Medhat Mahdy,
President & CEO
YMCA of Greater Toronto