Fatima is a 58 year old client who received primary care at AA since 2010. She came to Canada as a refugee and does not speak English. She has several complex medical conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure and mental health challenges. Securing affordable housing in central Toronto has been a challenge for Fatima and her family. As a result they had no other choice but to move to another region in the GTA where housing was more affordable. Despite missing several appointments at AA and with her specialists, Fatima was insistent to stay at AA for her health care.
Fatima was referred to the Health with Dignity Systems Coach and Navigator for support to find a new Family Doctor. The HWD systems navigator worked with the interprofessional team at AA to identify the challenges that Fatima was encountering navigating the system. It was learned that Fatima and her family approached 2 other doctors to transfer primary care however they were not accepting new clients; Fatima’s children were unable to accompany her to appointments at AA because they struggled with their own competing demands of school, jobs and family responsibilities. Although interpreter services are available at AA, Fatima could not could regularly attend appointments. These barriers negatively impacted Fatima’s timely access to health care.
The HWD health system navigator identified that Fatima’s eldest daughter – Sara was the decision maker in the family. A phone call was arranged with Sara to identify what was needed to help Fatima. Together they made a collaborative plan. The HWD navigator coached Sara on how to connect Fatima to a new family doctor closer to their home who speaks their language. Helpful resources were mailed to Fatima and Sara. In following up with Fatima and Sara it was confirmed that they found a new family doctor closer to their new home who speaks their language. Sara and Fatima were grateful for the support they received. All medical records were sent to new doctor who will be managing Fatima’s health care. Fatima said she feels confident about continuing follow up care with her new family doctor in her new community.
Nem arrived from a country where she received no medical care previously. She had pain in the bone region. However, Nem did not apply for OHIP upon her arrival in Canada and she could not afford medical tests that were urgently needed. Her physician at Access Alliance referred Nem to meet a settlement worker in the same office, and the settlement worker helped her apply for OHIP. As soon as she received her health card, medical imaging and lab tests were arranged. Unfortunately testing showed metastatic cancer to the bone. The primary source of cancer was found. She is in the process of being assessed by oncologist now and we hope she will have a favourable outcome.
Nem is separated from her family, and being alone in a new country dealing with cancer is very stressful for her. She initially refused a referral to see a social worker. But after a couple of visits with the physician and some convincing, she is now receiving counseling. She recently reported to the physician that she is benefiting from the social worker visits.
Cervical cancer screening rate (PAP Tests)
diabetes care rate
Rooftop Volunteer Personal Testimonial
I volunteer as a gardener on the rooftop garden at Access Point on Danforth every Saturday. I occasionally volunteer in many other programs of Access Alliance. When I volunteer I gain all sorts of experiences and skills to build my knowledge. When I garden and attend the EnviroLeaders academy, I am being part of extraordinary opportunities to grow myself to become a better gardener, an environmental activist, and a better presenter. I supplement my current knowledge about growing plants that I can garden better when I am in my own backyard.
I learn about gardening techniques and I learn about gardening techniques and I learn about gardening techniques and companion plants, the symbolism of plants to help each other to prevent pests and to grow faster, and a self-watering container to give plants the right amount of water without human action. From EnviroLeaders, I have learned to become a better presenter. I can present in front of a group of people about plant cuttings and herbal tea. It may seem scary to be in front of a huge group of people and having to talk to them, but with time and practice from volunteering, I am able to step out of my comfort zone and present.
Personally, I was born with a profound hearing loss in both ears. I wear cochlear implants to help me hear. When I went to APOD for the first time with my parents, I was afraid of this place because everything was new to me. I was afraid of being bullied because I wear cochlear implants. Soon, I found out that the people and staff were friendly and I know that this is a welcoming, diverse environment for anyone of all ages, race, religion, culture, disability, and sexual orientation. I feel open due to this accepting environment for my disability.
One program I enjoyed was Kids Can Cook. I gained cooking skills to create a pizza. I was proud to gain this skill because making a pizza is challenging, but it is super tasty to eat. Afterwards, I decided to give back to the community because I have gained so much resources from APOD. That is how my volunteering journey has started. When I volunteer, I feel good to give back to the community and to help keep it a vibrant place. Volunteering is a gift to the community because volunteers are committed to spend their time and hard work to create a welcoming public environment.
Peer outreach group activities
Unique clients who accessed LGBTQ+ support
Hours spent on AccessPoint on Danforth Green Roof
of organic produce harvested
The youth started coming to Access Alliance with his older sister, then eventually registered to the Youth Program when he turned 13 years old. When he first started coming to the program, he was very shy and kept to himself. He participated in activities and volunteered but was very quiet. The past couple of years he had taken leadership opportunities that were provided with in the program, and also joined other programs offered in the HUB like the EnviroLeader and volunteered in the Bike Hub.
He joined the Youth Planning Council and supported many community events such as the annual summer splash, fundraising for United Way, and have participated the CN Tower Climb, as well as being part of workshops like public speaking workshops and also had the opportunity to facilitate his own workshops with his peers. He had built confidence and is now one of the youth program lead in many events. Recently, he volunteered to emcee a big community event and was a great success. He also spoke at an external event about his experience with one of the departments he is currently volunteering in front of over 200 people. He also currently just landed his first job. He is becoming more self-confident and it is definitely showing with the choices he makes.
Total youth sessions
Total number of participants
Youth drop-in sessions
Client came for assistance to request immediate approval and issuance of his PR care. He applied for renewal of this document sometime in December 2016, but had not received it. The urgency of this request was due to a message from his family back home, informing him that his mother would be undergoing surgery soon, and requested that he come back home to be at her bedside. The client is a medical doctor by profession.
Access Alliance assisted by emailing IRCC directly, however, John didn’t have the necessary supporting documents. The client attempted to send his request without the necessary supporting documents but the request was refused. Access Alliance was able to provide a Doctor’s Note as a part of the request package, and two weeks after the follow-up request, the client received a call from IRCC to inform him that the request had been approved.
Client came back to Access Alliance after receiving his PR card and during his preparations to go back home in May 2017. He thanked the settlement workers for the assistance he received. The stress of potentially not being able to take care of his mother weighed on him heavily, and the support Access Alliance was able to provide was appreciated by the entire family.
Langauge Services Interpreter Debrief Sessions
In 2016, Access Alliance Language Services conducted an evaluation of its interpreter debrief sessions. Debriefing is a process where support is given to individuals or groups that have experienced an incident, with the intention of relieving stress at an early stage. In the case of the Access Alliance Interpreter Debrief Sessions, interpreters are:
- Given a space for interpreters to share their experiences with peers in a calm, supportive environment
- Train interpreters to provide one-on-one peer support
- Train interested interpreters to lead debriefing sessions
- Provided capacity-building and professional development opportunities for those who are seeking further support
(in particular, for self-care and vicarious trauma) through the provision of a tools and resources list.
Over the twelve sessions that took place in 2016, attendance averaged four participants per session, with some individuals participating in multiple sessions. A total of 38 evaluation forms were filled out for all twelve sessions.
As a result of the sessions, participants of the Debrief program experienced positive changes in knowledge and attitude as demonstrated by the responses to evaluation questions regarding their understanding of their own emotional responses, self-reflection, and mindfulness. One participant explained: “It is very helpful relieving your stress. We can learn from each other’s experience and how to take care of ourselves.” In the post-pilot FG, facilitators described how the act of interpreters sharing feelings and experiences was empowering, especially for those used to struggling with these on their own, and especially when held in a safe space (e.g. confidential and non-judgmental).
The findings from this report will inform future program planning to support AALS interpreters to more effectively cope with the emotionally challenging and potentially distressing aspects of their work, through access to necessary resources, and through capacity-building. These learnings can be used to understand the challenges in the field of community interpretation, and can be taken as an opportunity to reduce language barriers and ultimately improve equity in healthcare.
Advocacy for $15 Minimum Wage and Decent Work
Together with partners from Decent Work and Health Network and Workers Action Centre, Access Alliance played a key role in advocating for $15 minimum wage and decent work. Together with our Community Action Leaders (Nadira Begum and Mohamad Sarker), we helped mobilize the Paid Sick Days campaign, made multiple evidence-informed submissions and deputations to the Changing Workplaces Review consultation process, organized community workshops, and made delegation visit to our local MPPs to get them to champion decent work and fair wages. In response to ongoing province wide advocacy, the Ontario government is committing to raising the minimum wage to $15/hour by 2018 and introducing Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act (currently in second reading), to advance decent work regulations in Ontario. This success shows that research and advocacy works.
Best Practices for Refugee Health and Settlement Services
Access Alliance conducted a community based research study to document how health and settlement agencies from Toronto, Peel and Waterloo region responded to the arrival of large cohort of Syrian refugees within a short time frame in order to identify best practices to inform future response efforts to similar situations. In particular, we wanted to understand what kinds of cross-sector collaborations were mobilized to provide health, settlement and other services to Syrian refugee families. We organized a best practices symposium on June 28th, 2017 where we presented the study findings and hosted a panel discussion. Our two Syrian peer researchers (Tarek Kadan and Iman Malandi) were actively involved in data collection, analysis, writing and organizing the symposium.