News / Toronto

Toronto to get a newcomer council

Settlement services want to see more input from immigrants themselves about how to better serve newcomers

A Syrian refugee family is seen arriving at Pearson airport in December 2015. A new initiative in Toronto is looking to create a newcomer council where immigrants can contribute to decisions about serving newcomers.

Torstar News Service file.

A Syrian refugee family is seen arriving at Pearson airport in December 2015. A new initiative in Toronto is looking to create a newcomer council where immigrants can contribute to decisions about serving newcomers.

Newcomers in Toronto will soon have a louder voice at City Hall.

Members of the Local Immigration Partnership are recruiting civic-minded immigrants from across the city to join the Toronto Newcomer Council – a grassroots platform that aims to give newcomers better representation at decision-making levels.

“What we’ve found is that it’s really important for the newcomer communities to have a voice in the planning of services,” said Irmtraud Hutfless, project manager at Catholic Crosscultural Services, a settlement agency in Scarborough.

“We want to see them involved in influencing programs that are designed to help other newcomers, because they understand the issues better than anyone else.”

The council will be made up of approximately 40 people from different backgrounds and different communities of Toronto. A particular focus will be paid to women, youth, the elderly and other under-served groups.

Group members will receive training on how the municipal government works and what’s expected of them, before the council starts up this summer.

Hutfless said giving newcomers an exclusive platform will help Toronto better serve its growing immigrant population.

“We often hear immigrants say ‘I don’t think I can tell the city how they should do things,’” she said. “But that’s exactly what the city wants, and the council will be the perfect place for such opportunities.”

More on Metronews.ca