Deficient language and literacy skills

  • 1 in 4 newcomers found learning English to be one of the biggest challenges in their settlement process
  • Within 20 years, about 1 in 5 Canadian immigrants with low English literacy will be living in the Toronto region
  • Understanding a new culture and learning a new language are some of the top challenges for newcomers to Canada
  • Many new Canadians have difficulty seeking social assistance and communicating with healthcare providers

Ineffective adult learning environments

  • Traditional class sizes are too large and consist of many students who learn at different speeds and start with varying degrees of proficiency
  • There is a limited number of English classes that cater to students who speak specific languages
  • Few classes are offered at times convenient for adult students


  • For those who do not speak English or are not computer literate, job opportunities in the Canadian market are severely limited
  • Immigrants were more than twice as likely to be unemployed as Canadian-born workers in the Toronto region, at the end of 2010
  • By 2031, nearly 3.2 million adults in the Toronto region may not have the English literacy skills to get into the workplace
  • The Canadian economy loses billions of dollars annually due to underemployment as a result of poor language and literacy
  • Lack of basic computer skills is the third most common operational barrier faced by new immigrants

Poor family dynamics

  • Caregiving role reversal between youth and parents often results in the parentified youth suffering from depression, shame, social isolation, and other internalization issues such as psychosomatic problems
  • Youth who act as their parents caregivers have less time for homework and healthy activities

Disconnectedness from society and a lack of community integration

  • Studies find isolated adults are at risk of decline in social interaction and healthy communication skills, which can result in social isolation, loneliness and increased risk of disease
  • Post-secondary youth must meet 40 hour volunteer requirement but lack meaningful opportunities to contribute
  • Common in Toronto is self-imposed segregation, or “cultural clusters”: concentration of immigrants of the same cultural background living one area