Hi Everyone,

Welcome to the first edition of the O2O & ISC Newsletter! We intend to make it a quarterly publication and use it to stay connected with you, and to share relevant news and updates related to the Orientation to Ontario (O2O) and the International Student Connect (ISC) programs.

COSTI is the Provincial Coordinator of O2O and ISC. O2O has been designed to expedite and facilitate the settlement of newcomers to Ontario and help them make better informed choices. ISC offers settlement information and orientation to international students pursuing a post-secondary education in Ontario in collaboration with educational institutes and settlement agencies. We have the honour of working with 54 settlement agencies and education institutions. Both programs have served over 73,000 clients over the last 9 years.

A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, it is safe to say that these unprecedented times have opened a path to a new world where cooperation and collaboration are crucial to moving forward.

A recent survey conducted by the Environics Institute in partnership with the Future Skills Centre and the Diversity Institute called Work at home or live at work: The complexities of new working arrangements, reveals that the advantages of working from home in the pandemic are spread unevenly throughout the workforce. Below are some of the survey's key findings:
  • Some worry that working from home will negatively impact their career. Young workers aged 18 to 24 (56%), immigrants (44%) (including 60% or recent immigrants), racialized workers (46%), and Indigenous workers (60%) are all more likely than average to express this concern.
  • Those working in white-collar jobs or earning higher incomes are much more likely to have been able to protect themselves by working from home. Conversely, Canadians who are more economically vulnerable are also more likely to be vulnerable to the virus due to their need to continue to work outside the home.
  • Most Canadians say that new information or computer technologies have changed the way they do their jobs. Only minorities indicate that these changes have made their job less enjoyable, more difficult, less well paid or less secure.
According to the Future Skills Centre, despite the overall positive assessment derived from the survey, there is some evidence that the effect of new technologies in the workplace may be to widen already existing gaps. Furthermore, "when Canadians think about what is needed to succeed in the modern workplace, they have in mind a broad range of skills that extend beyond technical know-how. This is reflective of the contemporary nature of work, which across all occupations requires teamwork, problem-solving and communication skills".

We need to help those around us who are struggling by equipping them with the skills they need to thrive in an age of constant and rapid change. As a result of COVID-19 and the physical distancing requirements, last year we quickly adapted to deliver all O2O and ISC services online. The O2O workshops and ISC sessions moved to web-conferencing platforms. We were also able to provide tools, resources, and professional development opportunities to all partner organizations to serve their clients virtually.

Since March 2020, more than 525 settlement workers have completed our online training on the use of web-conferencing platforms. Thanks to these efforts, during this past project year 427 O2O workshops were delivered and 4,894 participants were served, and 316 ISC Let's Connect and One-on-One sessions were delivered, with 7,128 international students served.

We appreciate the hard work and dedication of all our partners and are looking forward to another successful year. We believe newcomers and international students are a valuable asset to the country and we are here for you to help you serve them. 
Stay safe and stay positive,
The O2O and ISC Team

O2O Chatbot is now available
on WhatsApp and Telegram

Smartphones and mobile apps have become an integral part of our lives. They provide easy and convenient ways to get and share information, especially during a pandemic.
We are excited to announce the launch of the Orientation to Ontario (O2O) Bilingual Chatbot on WhatsApp and Telegram. Newcomers can now access standardized information about settling in Ontario 24/7 from their mobile phones. It is a one-stop information hub right at their fingertips! It is also a great tool for front-line staff at Service Delivery Agencies (SDAs) serving newcomers remotely.

The chatbot also connects users to local settlement service providers across the province and 211 Ontario. It can be accessed at any time on the ISC website via a smartphone, tablet, or computer.

To learn more about how the chatbot works, watch this video.

New pathway to permanent residency for essential temporary workers and international graduates

The Government of Canada announced an innovative pathway to permanent residence for over 90,000 essential workers and international graduates who are actively contributing to Canada’s economy.

These special public policies will grant permanent status to temporary workers and international graduates who are already in Canada and who possess the skills and experience we need to fight the pandemic and accelerate our economic recovery.

The focus of this new pathway will be on temporary workers employed in our hospitals and long-term care homes and on the frontlines of other essential sectors, as well as international graduates who are driving the economy of tomorrow.

To be eligible, workers must have at least 1 year of Canadian work experience in a health-care profession or another pre-approved essential occupation. International graduates must have completed an eligible Canadian post-secondary program within the last 4 years, and no earlier than January 2017.

Since May 6, 2021, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is accepting applications under the following 3 streams:
  • 20,000 applications for temporary workers in health care
  • 30,000 applications for temporary workers in other selected essential occupations
  • 40,000 applications for international students who graduated from a Canadian institution
The streams will remain open until November 5, 2021, or until they have reached their limit. Up to 90,000 new permanent residents will be admitted under these 3 streams.

To promote Canada’s official languages, 3 additional streams with no intake caps have also been launched for French-speaking or bilingual candidates. Communities across Canada benefit from French-speaking and bilingual newcomers, and this pathway will contribute to the vitality of these Francophone minority communities.

To learn if they are eligible, temporary workers and international graduates can use the Migrant Workers Alliance tool by clicking here.

NEW WEBINAR: Job search during COVID-19 

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the way people work and apply for new professional opportunities. By watching the webinar below, newcomers and international students in Ontario will learn how to update their resume and cover letter, apply to jobs online, network remotely, and ace their virtual interview.
This webinar has been developed in collaboration with Polycultural Immigrant & Community Services. We hope you enjoy it!

How to support international students in Canada

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused tremendous stress and uncertainty among international students regarding their studies, careers, and pathways to permanent residency in Canada. Many of the current challenges facing international students existed prior to the pandemic, but the pandemic has highlighted these vulnerabilities, as well as the limitations of educational institutions’ responses to these challenges.

The International Student Connect project was invited to participate in the public forum How to support international students in Canada organized by the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) and the Building Migrant Resilience in Cities / Immigration et résilience en milieu urb ain (BMRC-IRMU) Partnership to discuss international students’ access to services during the pandemic.

Panelists included Rahila Mushtaq, General Manager, O2O & ISC at COSTI; Armin Boroumand, Coordinator, The International Students Department, Centre Social D'Aide Aux Immigrants (CSAI); Sarom Rho, Migrant Student Worker Organizer, Migrant Students United (MSU); and David Cashaback, Senior Director, Settlement and Integration Policy at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Click the video below to watch the full recording of this event.

Federal Government extended the status restoration period for visitors, workers and students

Workers, visitors, and international students in Canada need to have a valid status as temporary residents during their time in the country. If their status has expired, they now have until August 31, 2021 to apply to restore it.

To be eligible, an applicant must:
  • have valid status on or after January 30, 2020, and their status expired on or before May 31, 2021
  • be in Canada
  • apply before August 31, 2021
Applicants can only restore their status and authorization to work or study in Canada to what they held before it expired. They can’t change their permit until they restore their status and original authorization. If they’re eligible after restoration, they may also be able to apply for a different permit.

To learn more, visit 

Ontario will help Francophone newcomers find jobs

The Ontario government is investing more than $1.5 million to help skilled Francophone newcomers receive the additional training they need to get a license or certificate to work in their trade or profession in Ontario.

The funding is provided through the Bridging Participant Assistance Program and the Ontario Bridge Training Program and will help connect hundreds of Francophone newcomers with good jobs.

To learn more, click here.

Facts and figures: international students in Canada

Did you know that Canada is the world’s third-leading destination for international students? Newly released numbers from Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reveal that Canada welcomed 530,540 foreign students in 2020. This represents a 17% decrease from the previous year.

In 2019, there were 642,480 international students in Canada, a 13% increase over 2018, and a 80.5% growth from 2015 to 2019.

Here are more relevant facts and figures:
  • 60% of the international students have plans to remain in Canada after graduation
  • In 2019, 827,586 international students held valid study permits in Canada. Of these, 402,427 new study permits were issued (a 15% increase from 2018)
  • In 2019, 11,566 study permit holders were granted permanent residency
  • International students contribute to Canada’s prosperity and have a greater impact on Canada’s economy than exports of auto parts, lumber or aircraft
  • In 2018, international students in Canada spent an estimated $21.6 billion on tuition and other expenses
To learn more, please read the 2020 Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration or visit the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE).

What is Orientation to Ontario (O2O)?

Orientation to Ontario (O2O) is a bilingual program designed to ease the transition of newcomers by providing access to standardized information about settling in Ontario. It is coordinated by COSTI, and funded by IRCC and the Government of Ontario.
Information is provided through customized workshops at over 30 Service Delivery Agencies (SDAs) across the province. O2O offers helpful online resources: a workbook, webinars, fact sheets on various settlement topics, and a chatbot.

Check out the O2O Workbook in English and French, and learn more about the program here.

What is International Student Connect (ISC)?

International Student Connect (ISC) is a bilingual project that provides settlement support and orientation to international students pursuing post-secondary education in Ontario. It is coordinated by COSTI and funded by the Government of Ontario.

Our goal is to help international students integrate successfully should they choose to settle in Ontario after graduation. Information is provided through one to two hours Let’s Connect sessions or One-on-One sessions at Colleges and Universities.

Check out the ISC Handbook and learn more about the project here.

We want to hear from you!


Your feedback is important to us. Send us an email to and let us know what information you would like to receive in the next issue of the O2O & ISC Newsletter.
Copyright © 2020 International Student Connect. All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:

COSTI Immigrant Services
2301 Keele Street, Unit 102
Toronto, ON
M6N 3Z9

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
International Student Connect · 2301 Keele Street · Unit 102 · Toronto, On M6N 3Z9 · Canada

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp