The Mission of OCASI is to achieve equality, access and full participation for immigrants and refugees in every aspect of Canadian life.
OCASI asserts the right of all persons to participate fully and equitably in the social, cultural, political and economic life of Ontario. OCASI affirms that immigrants and refugees to Canada should be guaranteed equitable access to all services and programs.
OCASI believes that Canada must be a land of refuge and opportunity, a country known for humanity and justice in its treatment of immigrants and refugees. OCASI believes that in cooperation with other groups and communities which promote human rights and struggle against discrimination, OCASI will see these principles realized.
OCASI – 44 Years
OCASI is incorporated in 1978 as the provincial umbrella organization for immigrant serving agencies in Ontario. Annual membership dues were set at $24.
- We decide to accept government funding. We hire 1.5 staff and hold the first sector conference. It eventually grows into an annual professional development conference and the premier sector gathering in Ontario.
- We lead a letter-writing campaign to defend federally funded immigrant settlement services. The campaign was a smashing success, generating 6000 letters in a pre-email era! The federal government has funded immigrant settlement services continuously to this day.
- In 1988 together with our allies, we advocate to the federal government to set yearly immigration at 1% of the population. The government agrees, but it will take at least three more decades until it becomes a reality.
- We succeed in having the federal government fund the computerization of the immigrant and refugee-serving sector.
- We are a leading Ontario voice against a proposal to shift federal government responsibility for immigrant settlement and integration to the provinces. The federal government agrees and retains the responsibility, giving the sector more stability and assuring immigrants of continued settlement services.
- We launch Settlement.Org, the trusted source of information for newcomers to this day. Settlement.Org wins an Ontario Trillium Foundation Award.
- We launch Positive Spaces Initiative and the Accessibility Project, to build sector capacity in serving LGBTQIA+ immigrants and refugees and people with disabilities.
- We create a Francophone Consultative Committee of member agencies.
- We are a member of Every Child’s Right to OHIP Coalition, and win healthcare coverage for Canadian-born children of parents without full immigration status.
- We succeed in having same-sex spousal sponsorship included in the new immigration legislation, together with advocates across Canada.
- We co-found Colour of Poverty – Colour of Change to build awareness of the racialization of poverty and advocate for racial equity and racial justice.
- We establish a Francophone Director position on the Board.
- OCASI members create a Women’s Caucus; we establish a Women’s Director position on the Board.
- We receive a Canadian Race Relations Foundation Award of Excellence for the Accessibility Program.
- We launch a successful public education campaign to counter Islamophobia, racism, and anti-Black racism.
- We establish the Immigrant and Refugee Communities - Neighbours, Friends and Families Campaign and other programs to prevent gender-based violence.
- We launch the OCASI Client Management System, an online client data system designed by the sector for the sector.
- We create SettleNet.org, a national community of practice, with other sector umbrella organizations across the country.
- Thanks to our advocacy jointly with others, Ontario enacts the Anti-Racism Act and establishes the Anti-Racism Directorate. The federal government develops a national anti-racism strategy and later a National Anti-Racism Secretariat.
- The decade begins with the COVID-19 pandemic. We advocate to governments to address the disproportionate impact on racialized, refugee and migrant communities.
- We establish a Members Supporting Members Fund to support small organizations.
- We collaborate across networks to educate and inform on public health and safety and provide reliable and trustworthy vaccine information.
- The federal government deems immigrant and refugee settlement and integration services to be essential during the pandemic. We successfully advocate to the government to provide funding flexibility and build the IT capacity of sector agencies.
- We support member agencies to resettle Afghan refugees and Ukrainians.
SettleNet.org / Réseau-Etab.org, OCASI Conferences, Professional Education and Training, Online Learning, SettlementAtWork.Org / SecteurEtablissement.Org, Maximizing Governance, Allies in Refugee Integration, Journeys to Active Citizenship (JAC)Read More
Positive Spaces Initiative, Accessibility Initiative, Mental Health Promotion in Immigrant and Refugee Serving Organizations, Immigrant and Refugees Community Neighbours, Friends and Families Campaign, Building Leadership Capacity to Address Gender-Based Violence against Non-Status, Refugee and Immigrant Women across CanadaRead More
Operational Priorities - Year 1
This year was the first year of OCASI’s new 3 year strategic plan.
Strengthen our organizational health, capacity and infrastructure
Create a workplace that fosters health, wellbeing and an exceptional workplace experience.
Operational Priorities - Year 1:
- Develop a framework and begin to engage staff in the implementation of a plan to enhance organizational culture
- Develop an Executive Director and senior leadership succession plan
- Explore new working arrangements that support staff e.g., office space, technology needs, policies, procedures, etc.
- Develop a funding strategy including increasing core funding and commercializing training, OCMS and other offerings beyond current base.
Foster the Collective Capacity of the im/migrant and refugee serving sector
Strengthen the im/migrant and refugee serving sector by providing excellent member services, advocating for appropriate policies, processes and resources and fostering leadership capacity.
Operational Priorities - Year 1:
- Contact Francophone, rural, women’s sector and other agencies/sectors to learn about and develop plans to address these members’ unique or shared issues/needs
- Develop frameworks and approaches to advocate for members’ resource needs
- Advocate for and facilitate access to resources that will increase member agencies’ digital access and literacy and their capacity for remote service delivery technology.
Advocate for Equitable Policy Outcomes
Amplify the voices of member agencies and allies to end white supremacism, promote anti-colonialism and champion solutions for the most pressing issues facing historically marginalized groups.
Operational Priorities - Year 1:
- Develop a strategy for integrating the TRC’s Calls to Action and MMIWG Calls to Justice into OCASI’s work
- Create and begin to implement a mechanism to regularly engage members in identifying and prioritizing advocacy and policy issues to focus on
- Identify lead agencies that can champion issues/initiatives/projects on behalf of the sector
- Take stock of data and research that is available to demonstrate the impact of the sector and begin to develop vehicles for communication and advocacy by OCASI and by member agencies
- Develop and begin to roll out a comprehensive communications strategy, plan and goals for members and partners, funders, government, and media.
Behind the scenes
City of Toronto
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
Employment and Social Development Canada
Women and Gender Equality
Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services
United Way Greater Toronto
WES Mariam Assefa Fund
Canadian Women’s Foundation
A special thank you to our funders, partners and collaborators.
A special thank you to our many volunteers for your generous contributions.