The WE Value project represents a once in a generation opportunity to recast how our community traditionally welcomes newcomers. By collaborating with the community, WE Value aims to create a new settlement model that is data-rich, client-centred, and beneficial to the entire population.

Reliable data on newcomers in our community is scarce – existing primarily in the census (every 5 years). Census data tells us that newcomers (immigrants in their first 5 years in Canada) traditionally have higher unemployment rates and lower participation rates than the Canadian-born population. However, after the first 5 years in Canada, participation rates – those working and those looking for work – tend to be higher than Canadian-born people. The census also reveals insight into ethnic origin, visible minorities, languages, and education levels of newcomers. But, have you ever thought about what’s missing and the limitations of this data set? What this data doesn’t reveal is all the work/change that happens in the life of newcomers in the first five years here – whether that’s accessing language training, primary health care, school system, social networks, recreation programs and more. And when re-surveyed 5 years later (in the next census), only one year’s worth of newcomers is actually resurveyed again making analyzing any statistical changes difficult to attribute. Although this data is great at helping us understand who newcomers are as a whole, this data does not help us understand how services may have helped newcomers settle into a new community.

This is why the aggregate data and research that will be collected from a project like WE Value will be incredibly helpful to government leaders, community leaders, service providers, newcomer and community organizations, as well as the broader public – potentially making it one of the most significant, place-based newcomer research projects in Canada.

The only thing more exciting than all the data and the research that could be created from this project, is the creation of personalized, community-wide, referral plans for newcomers so that they can be referred to the right service, at the right time and at the right location. This silo-busting approach to service will best serve newcomers and their families, leaving these new Canadians in the strongest position to contribute to their country and community. With better service referrals and better outcomes, I think our newcomer serving organizations will not only experience increased service volume, but also stronger community recognition of their work.

The 3-year project funding provided by the Government of Canada to fund the YMCA of Southwestern Ontario’s led project in Windsor, is a rare opportunity to move the needle on how we welcome newcomers to our region. It’s a project being built on the foundation of data, research, innovation and community engagement. Let’s make it happen!


Justin Falconer 

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