Scarborough is a place of newcomers. In fact, more than 20 per cent of its population of 630,000 has recently arrived from somewhere else in the world.
But while the area is a popular destination for immigrants to Canada, settling can be a challenge, marked by a lack of services. And where those services do exist, they can sometimes be siloed and hard to access.
The Toronto East Quadrant Local Immigration Partnership (TEQ LIP) is working to change that. The partnership works with community partners, organizations, service providers, institutions, community groups in Scarborough to try to improve collaboration and service coordination around the needs of newcomers.
“We work with community partners, with organizations, service providers, institutions, and community groups in Scarborough to look at how we can support collaboration and service coordination to address needs of newcomers.” Says Irmtraud Hutfless, Project Manager at TEQ LIP.
TEQ LIP is one of four community based local immigration partnerships in Toronto. LIPs are place-based initiatives, driven by the local needs of the community. TEQ LIP focuses on who the key players are in Scarborough, identifying assets in the community, and determining the specific needs of the community and the gaps in service. They then take this information to identify and work on what is needed to improve the settlement experience of newcomers.
While there are a number of organizations that are doing great work individually, they can have a much larger impact in the community when they join forces.
“What the LIP has been able to do is provide a platform that brings organizations together. That enables sharing and exchange of information, ideas, resources, and enables organizations to get to know each other better, to form partnerships and collaborations,” says Hutfless. “There is representation of the health sector, the employment sector, settlement, government, funders, the housing sector, senior services, women and youth services,” says Hutfless.
U of T Scarborough is a member of the partnership council and has worked with TEQ LIP on a number of projects. One example is the Scarborough newcomer needs and trends project. The campus has taken on the role of building a data pooling platform [CG1] and assisting TEQ LIP with technical and research expertise. This project will help support member organizations at TEQ LIP to be able to better use their data to inform service and program planning, and have more cohesive information on service needs and trends.
Along with many other projects, UTSC also partnered with the Toronto East Quadrant a few years ago on a research project that focused on underserved newcomer groups. Students were able to conduct a scan for newcomer groups who were underserved throughout the Scarborough community. This project made way for the partnerships Francophone initiative as well as their LGBTQ+ support initiative and “really formed the ground work,” says Hutfless.
TEQ LIP also considers the many challenges that newcomers have when settling in such a large geographic area like Scarborough – these include availability of transit, and the related problem of underserved neighbourhoods being scattered around Scarborough.
“There are high needs in Scarborough and it is really important for us to find ways to make sure that people who live in our community have the support that they need and can feel at home, and feel welcome, and feel like this is the place they want to be, where they can establish and build their lives,” says Hutfless.