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Refugee/Newcomer Links and Resources


  • For housing and support services for Government-Assisted Refugees (GARs): Reception House

  • For settlement support for refugee claimants (formerly known as Mennonite Coalition for Refugee Support-MCRS): Compass Refugee

  • For counselling and other services for those in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, including programs for refugees: Carizon Counseling and Family Services



More on refugee health care:




Information on refugees and the refugee process:




Culturally Appropriate Care Resources:





Transportation Assistance:

For more information, visit the Grand River Transit website.




Sponsoring Refugees


The role of private sponsors is crucial in the refugee resettlement process. While care should be taken to avoid paternalism and to allow sponsored refugees to embrace their own cultural expression, it is important for sponsoring groups to make themselves available for financial and social support, especially during the refugees’ first year in Canada.


View a summary chart of sponsors’ responsibilities.

A large component of a sponsoring group’s responsibility is financial. Groups supporting privately sponsored refugees (PSRs) have taken on the commitment to provide income support for 12 months or until the refugees are self-supporting, whichever comes first. This money should cover costs associated with housing, food, clothing, transportation, a living allowance, and any applicable start-up costs. View estimates of the annual cost for sponsors of privately sponsored refugees.

Groups sponsoring Blended Visa Office Referrals (BVOR) are responsible for providing 6 months of income support (during months 1 and 8-12 after their arrival), as well as the applicable start-up costs. The Canadian government will provide income support for the other 6 months, months 2-7, through the Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP). View estimated costs to sponsors of BVORs.

Health care needs of refugees

Sponsored refugees should have health coverage under the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) upon their arrival in Canada. If this is not the case, please contact Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) at 1-888-242-2100. In order to access health care, refugees should bring either their Refugee Protection Claimant Document or their Interim Federal Health Certificate with them to appointments as an alternative to a health card – these documents contain a specific Client ID number for the IFHP.

Sponsored refugees are also eligible for OHIP upon arrival, although they still need to complete the application process to receive a health card. It is usually very helpful for sponsors to assist refugees in completing the application form, finding the correct documents, and getting to a Service Ontario centre to apply in person. Visit Service Ontario's site for more information about applying for a health card.