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Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Newcomer Access to Programs and Services in Scarborough - Needs Assessment Report (2022)

Posted on:
November 28, 2022

"The objective of the survey is to assess how has pandemic impacted access to services among newcomer who have limited access to technology and how digital literacy affect service accessibility.

The survey was conducted from September to October 2021 online and there were nine in-person data well also collected. There was a total of 106 data collected during the data collection period.


  • Have better understanding on how online/remote services affected newcomer engagement and modify the programs accordingly.
  • Have better understanding on improvement in digital literacy among new immigrants.
  • Find ways to encourage clients to attend programs/ classes
  • Improve outreach strategy

Conclusion and Recommendations

The pandemic restrictions and safety measures that were implemented by the federal and provincial governments made major impact on delivery of programs and services. As all the organizations have shifted to virtual methods and electronic communication, clients were forced
to either adopt to the new normal or stop accessing newcomer settlement services.

However, computer skills and language skills in either English or French affected the access of programs and services. On the other hand, majority of the members have limited access to devices, limited data and unstable internet connection. A significant number of households have to share the available devices among the family members for school activities, work from home tasks and accessing newcomer settlement services. Though, there were few institutions offered free data and lending devices, the information hasn’t reached the public as expected.

As per the survey results, respondents have been accessing language programs and adult education program whereas, accessing other services such as employment support and settlement support services have been reduced significantly. While majority of the respondents
have used video calls, email/text and phone calls to connect with service providers and access services, majority of the members  preferred virtual meetings and email/text messages as their primary communication channels.

Respondents who have been accessing services virtually had positive experience in using devices and communicating with frontline workers who were friendly and supportive. However, some of continue to face some other challenges such as limited number of devices available
and other responsibilities at home. As students continues online schooling and parents also worked from home, the household tasks also changed.


  • The new normal made clients to get familiar with virtual service model and some of them prefer to access online services continuously. However, there are number of clients prefer to receive services in-person. Therefore, it would be advisable for organizations to adopt hybrid model in the future so that clients with different family situation could be benefited.
  • If the organizations continue virtual service model or hybrid model, they should form partnership with private sector to expand device lending program and data key supplies to needy families.
  • Introducing computer literacy programs in the settlement sector would be another requirement and settlement service providers to consider in the long-run. Organizations could explore building partnership with the organization already conducting computer literacy programs.
  • Programs such as language classes, literacy circles and some of the support groups can be continued virtual. However, periodic in-person sessions would help to better interaction among the clients who are part of group sessions."



The objective of the survey is to assess how has pandemic impacted access to services among newcomer who have limited access to technology and how digital literacy affect service accessibility.