Some newcomers may have reached sufficient levels of English proficiency and job skills by the end of their first year in Canada, to allow them to find good full-time employment before the start of Month 13, at which point private sponsorship financial support is no longer formally assured.

That said, the job that a newcomer has at Month 13 may not be his or her “forever job,” and he or she may still be pursuing long-term employment goals by working in an ‘alternative’ or ‘related’ job, undergoing training, or completing accreditation(s).

Well before Month 13, the newcomer should have an understanding of what his or her monthly costs will be and how much income will be required to cover those costs.

Preparing for “Month 13”

Refugee Sponsorship Training Program checklist

The Refugee Sponsorship Training Program (RSTP) recommends that Month 13 discussions between sponsors and refugee newcomers formally commence in Month 9.

RSTP provides a Resources Kit for Month 13 Planning. Included in the kit is a Planning Checklist. Under the heading of “Employment”, there are five items in the checklist for private sponsors to have addressed between Month 9 and the end of the sponsorship period:

  1. If the newcomer is not yet employed, what can still be done before the end of Month 12 to assist with finding employment or self-employment?
  2. Is the newcomer aware of any relevant bridging courses and vocational training opportunities?
  3. Is the newcomer aware of Canadian professional licensing requirements for his or her profession or vocation?
  4. Is the newcomer aware of his or her rights as an employee, or his or her responsibilities as an employer?
  5. If the newcomer is working or will work in the future, does he or she know how to arrange for child care?

If, as many believe and is recommended on this website, the formulation of an employment strategy is to take place long before Month 9, this will require consideration with the newcomer, at an earlier stage than 9 months, of self-sufficiency financial requirements, income objectives, earning potential, and training .

Understanding taxation

The newcomer should also understand the basics of taxation and withholdings. If he or she is self-employed or works on an independent contractor basis, there is a need to be aware of responsibilities and liabilities in terms of taxes. The following video series on Newcomers to Canada and the Canadian Tax System, produced by Revenue Canada, provides more information for newcomers.

Need for on-going mentorship and non-financial support

Even if a newcomer has secured a “good” job by Month 13, and the formal sponsorship period has ended, he or she will likely benefit from ongoing, continued mentorship and support to help with problems at work, performance reviews, negotiating salary increases, increased job responsibilities, and promotions. If a newcomer is terminated or decides to leave a job, support can again be provided around quitting/giving notice, updating the resumé, new job search, etc.

Ontario Works

Some newcomers may reach Month 13 and still need to continue to improve their English or address other employment-related factors, such as mental or physical health issues, before being able to work full time. They may therefore need to apply for Ontario Works (OW) income support or Ontario Disability Support (ODSP).

The rules for eligibility, calculating the amount of support and conditions for receipt are very complicated. An Ontario Works Rate Chart for the City of Toronto, published in October, 2017, can be found on the City of Toronto website. It shows, for example, that a qualifying family of five, consisting of two unemployed spouses and three children, all between the ages of 6 to 17 inclusive, might be entitled to the following amounts, to which we have added Child Benefits and HST Credits:

Support type Monthly Annually
OW – basic needs (2 adults/2 children max) $486 $5,832
OW maximum monthly shelter allowance (2 adults/3 children) $802 $9,624
Sub-total – Ontario Works $1,288 $15,456
Canada Child Benefit $1,350 $16,200
Ontario Child Benefit $344 $4,134
Sub-total – Child benefits $1,694 $20,334
HST credit (2 adults @ $284) $568
HST credit (3 children @ $149) $447
Sub-total – HST Credits $1,015
 
Total support (family of 5) $36,805

By comparison, an unemployed single adult newcomer, with no children, would be entitled to much less:

Support type Monthly Annually
OW – basic needs $337 $4,044
OW maximum monthly shelter allowance $384 $4,608
HST credit $284
Total support (one individual) $1,246 $8,936

Also by comparison to the $15,456 annual amount shown above that might be received from Ontario Works by an unemployed couple with three children and the $8,652 received by an unemployed single person, a newcomer being paid the minimum wage in Ontario of $14.00 per hour for 37.5 hours per week, would earn $27,300 in a year. (The family in the above examples, but not the single adult, would also continue to receive $20,334 in child benefits, since the threshold income, above which the amount of those benefits payable is reduced, is $30,000.)

To qualify for Ontario Works, the adult newcomers must not have sufficient financial resources to meet basic living expenses and must be willing to make reasonable efforts to find, prepare for, and keep a job (unless one or both of them have specific circumstances that temporarily prevent them from doing so, such as an illness or caregiving responsibilities).

While on OW, newcomers will normally have access to additional language training and also employment training, bridging programs, and employment services. Newcomers may also be able and want to work part-time, although this will impact the amount of financial assistance they are eligible to receive. For more information on this, please see Ontario works assistance. A recipient of OW is allowed to earn up to only $200 a month ($2,400 per year) without having his or her financial support reduced. For every $1.00 earned after that, Ontario Works deducts $0.50 (i.e. 50%) from the amount of its support.

For an overview of what types of payment receipts result in a claw-back of social assistance, see the Settlement.org website.