Toronto, Ontario—The Government of Canada recognizes the immense challenges faced by those fleeing conflict and is committed to improving access to vital mental health services for vulnerable newcomers. Since 1989, Kids Help Phone has provided free, 24/7, confidential mental health resources to young people across Canada.
Today, on World Refugee Day, the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced a contribution agreement with Kids Help Phone to provide counselling services for Afghan and Ukrainian youth in Dari, Pashto, Ukrainian and Russian. These new services respond to the urgent need faced by youth fleeing conflicts in Afghanistan and Ukraine. The Minister visited the Kids Help Phone office in Toronto where he saw firsthand how funding provided by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is being used to expand phone counselling services to Afghan and Ukrainian youth.
This funding is part of a larger $2 million agreement that will allow Kids Help Phone to gradually expand its professional phone counselling service via interpreters to 100 languages by 2025 and builds on the previous introduction of Arabic and Mandarin interpretation in 2019.
Culturally sensitive, youth-oriented mental health phone counselling is just one of the supports in place for Afghan and Ukrainian families arriving in Canada.
There are more than 500 service provider organizations across Canada that are funded by IRCC to deliver settlement services to permanent residents, including resettled refugees, and to Ukrainians arriving in Canada under the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel. Many of these organizations offer support directly to youth. These include
- help during and after school
- recreational activities
- leadership and mentorship programs
- help developing skills and preparing for employment
IRCC continues to work closely with provinces, territories and service provider organizations across the country to welcome vulnerable newcomers and help them adjust to life in Canada.
Photos from today’s event are available in Dropbox.
“Canada has a proud tradition of welcoming and supporting the world’s most vulnerable. In order to adjust to life in Canada, we need to ensure that newcomers have access to resources to cope with past trauma and rebuild their lives. Creating this culturally sensitive, accessible safe space is especially important when it comes to vulnerable youth, and this funding will ensure that those fleeing conflict—including Afghans and Ukrainians—have the support they need to reach their full potential while in Canada.”
– The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
“Kids Help Phone has been providing a safe space for young people dealing with mental health and addictions issues in Canada since 1989. Today’s funding will help them continue that tradition by providing young newcomers with access to culturally appropriate and trauma informed mental health supports in their own language, an invaluable asset to youth who have already been through so much.”
– The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health
“To make e-mental health support more accessible through language for any young person across Canada is an important step in ensuring equitable access for those who may be most vulnerable. We appreciate the support and the vision of IRCC to enable the expansion of Kids Help Phone’s language offerings to meet a critical need today, with a view of further expansion of more languages in the coming months.”
– Katherine Hay, President and CEO of Kids Help Phone
- Kids Help Phone has been providing health services to young people in Canada since 1989.
- IRCC is providing a total of $1,966,143 under the Settlement Program between 2022 and 2025 to help Kids Help Phone expand its services in multiple languages.
- Ukrainians who come to Canada as temporary residents under the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel have been given access to settlement services usually reserved for permanent residents.
- The Government of Canada is working hard to resettle at least 40,000 Afghan nationals as quickly and safely as possible. Canada has now welcomed more than 16,000 Afghan refugees, with more arriving every week.
SOURCE Government of Canada
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