Advocacy for change

OCASI Member Agencies - 241

Membership in OCASI gives organizations the opportunity to speak with a strong unified voice on issues that matter, build policy and organizational capacity, and remain informed and connected. This year we welcomed 8 agencies as new members.

Members Supporting Members

We were proud to launch the OCASI support fund for members and by members. The grant provides up to $5,000 to small OCASI member agencies to increase their organizational capacity. This is an ongoing commitment by OCASI member agencies to member agencies. Next year we plan to increase individual disbursement amounts and provide access to one free OCASI Client Management System (OCMS) license. 6 member agencies received a grant of $5,000 each.

Policy and Advocacy

The COVID-19 pandemic revealed the disproportionate disadvantage and exclusion faced by Indigenous, Black and racialized communities. Women and people with precarious immigration status were impacted the most.

OCASI focused policy and advocacy efforts to advance equity for people with precarious immigrant status or no status, and low-income refugees and immigrants. Our priorities included a broad-based and inclusive immigration status regularization program, countering anti-Black racism, anti-Asian racism and anti-Muslim hate, advocating for equitable access to healthcare and vaccines for all, access to income support and poverty reduction measures for all regardless of immigration status and more.

We held virtual issue-based town hall discussions, meetings and webinars for member agencies. We continued to advocate to all orders of government in meetings, through letters and submissions.


We carried out the periodic sector salary survey with member agencies and included demographic questions to better understand the experience of women and racialized workers in our sector. Member agencies told us the survey report is an invaluable resource to develop project proposals and negotiate with funders. We had the opportunity to host a student team from York University to conduct research with member agencies on housing barriers faced by refugee claimants.

We continued to engage actively as a partner in the Building Migrant Resilience in Cities research initiative led by York University, and ‘Beyond Blue Door’ research led by Regent Park Community Health Clinic on healthcare access experiences of people living with HIV. We also continued to collaborate on external research initiatives that focus on advancing equity and justice for racialized people, refugees and migrants.

Colour of Poverty – Colour of Change

OCASI is a founding steering committee member of Colour of Poverty – Colour of Change (COP-COC). Together with COP-COC, we urged all orders of government to collect comprehensive disaggregated race-based data to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on all communities. We called for targeted investments and policy measures to address systemic racial inequities made worse during the pandemic.

Alliance for Racialized, Refugee, and Im/migrant Women / L’alliance pour les femmes racialisées, réfugiées, et im/migrantes

OCASI launched an exciting national effort to convene racialized, refugee and immigrant women’s groups, organizers and feminist leaders from across Canada. The goal was to seed interest in developing a strong, national voice for women in these constituencies. We completed the important first step of learning from seasoned organizers and leaders of feminist and anti-racist movements in Canada. The first meeting drew 26 organizations from 8 different provinces and an Advisory Committee was established. Next year we look forward to holding regional roundtables to look at the potential for a country-wide alliance, culminating in a national gathering.

“Thank you so much to the review committee and entire OCASI for your kindness and generous grant, it will go a long way to support our programs and services to youth from racialized and marginalized communities that we serve. And particularly at this unnerving time when we’re experiencing the deadliest pandemic of our century”


One of the top tweets of the year:

“It took a pandemic to reveal how critically underfunded women-led organizations are, especially those supporting racialized women, girls and gender-diverse folx. NOW is your chance to make a difference. INVEST IN WOMEN”

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