Access Alliance Annual Report 2016 2017-09-28T20:07:25+00:00

Make Yourself at Home

Annual Report

Download the PDF summary of the annual report here »

Message from the Chair of the Board

Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services improves health outcomes for the most vulnerable immigrants, refugees, and their communities.

Erik Landriault – Chair of the Board

Axelle Janzcur – Executive Director

In this past year, more than ever, our commitment to our mission has been central to the work of the board of directors, staff, volunteers and our engaged community members. Providing services to the most vulnerable groups in Toronto – those facing barriers to access and addressing system inequities that impact the health of our communities – has been driving our collective efforts.

Health system transformation continues to be a critical issue in Ontario. A key initiative led by the provincial government was passing Bill 41, The Patients First Act, in December 2016.  The government hopes this will provide patients with faster access to the right care; better home and community care; the information they need to live healthy; and a health care system that is sustainable for generations to come. We worked hard to ensure that health equity, as well as a focus on health promotion, was included in the legislation. We are firmly committed to working collaboratively and demonstrate this by our participation at a number of network tables and regional projects.

Notably, we have played a leadership role in advocating for improvements to the Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act. Through the Changing Workplaces Review, we worked with key stakeholders and community members to prepare submissions that will result in changes to impact vulnerable communities including pay and benefits equity for precarious workers, overcoming contract misclassifications, reducing scheduling uncertainty, and improving compliance. Our submissions advocate for employment security and benefits using evidence/lens from health and community health.

Moreover, our organizational strategic priorities continue to be the framework that organizes our efforts. Working collaboratively with key CHC partners, we are leading on an initiative called On Board which will provide better access to services, linkages and pathways for residents of Ontario with irregular status that face barriers to accessing healthcare. We continue to be part of a west end collaboration that strengthens our quality in healthcare, resulting in improved performance in cancer screening, access initiatives and data collection. Finally, we are leading a provincial partnership initiative that is strengthening our health equity capacity, supporting the work of champions to use this lens when planning and evaluation a number of demonstration projects.

Other highlights of this past year include:

  • Our continuing work with Syrian refugees. We led a research looking at best practices in providing services to refugees; we also initiated a number of special projects that strengthened our peer outreach work as well as youth programming to include Syrian newcomers.
  • Our Nahom Berhane Scholarship for Leadership and Inclusion provided its first awards to two very deserving youth embarking on their post-secondary education.
  • We wrapped up Phase 1 of our research project looking at Cervical Cancer Screening in the Somali community; we will be disseminating our findings and working to increase access to services for this under screened community.
  • Finally, but not least, we carried out a merger initiative with Neighbourhood Centre in the Taylor Massey Region that ensures the investment of resources in the community will be protected for the future by strengthening the services provided by this feisty addition to our organization.

The coming year promises to be as full of strategic and operational challenges. We will utilize the solid work of the past year to inform our future and we look forward to building on our numerous partnerships to face and overcome any challenges together.

Thank you.

Mission, Vision and Values


Access Alliance provides services and addresses system inequities to improve health outcomes for the
most vulnerable immigrants, refugees, and their communities.


Toronto’s diverse communities achieve health with dignity.


Client Centered:
Our clients are encouraged and supported to make informed choices and decisions that relate to their health.

Our partnerships increase knowledge, strengthen systems and maximize resources so we can take action effectively.

Equity, Access and Inclusion:
Our commitment is to challenge systemic barriers that reduce health outcomes for vulnerable populations.

Innovation and Excellence:
Our organization fosters a culture of continuous learning, quality improvement and best practice.

Our Stakeholders see a full and transparent use of evidence and resources that focus on positive client impacts.

Programs and Services

Access Alliance provides services and delivers programming to various locations across the City of Toronto. This access point model is an innovative approach that brings services into the areas where people are, for better and easier access to strengthen communities from within. Taking a client centered approach to service delivery means that we are continually evaluating the effectiveness with which we are breaking down the barriers to service, and looking for new partners and strategies to build capacity in our communities. Working together to broaden our reach and build leaders from within communities has proven to have the most effective impact on the individuals we serve.

Primary Healthcare Services

identifier-dark-pinkHealth Clinic
identifier-pinkNewcomers Cooking Together;
identifier-orangeDiabetes Education Program

Our interdisciplinary team includes diabetes educators, community health nurses and nurse practitioners, physicians, administrative support staff, interpreters, psychiatrists, registered dietitians, registered practical nurses and counsellor therapists.

Child and Family Program

identifier-women-childrenWomen & Children’s Programs
identifier-early-yearsEarly Years Outreach
identifier-expressive-artsExpressive Arts Program

A team of Health Promoters and Peer Outreach Workers provide community programs to women, men, children, and seniors. The Peer Outreach Model reaches families with children aged 0 to 12 years to create links with other newcomer women and children who speak the same language.

Youth Program

identifier-youth-programPrograms and services for youth aged 13 to 24 years range from primary health care to one0on-one counselling, peer mentorship, social and life skills workshops, educational sessions, arts, field trips, cultural and recreational projects.

Settlement Services

identifier-settlement-servicesThrough one-on-one settlement support and group workshops, Settlement Workers provide orientations to the Canadian systems, information about rights and entitlements, assistance completing forms and applications, referrals to programs and services, support and advocacy to deal with the effects of migration.

Language Services


This program is a social enterprise and works to help individuals and companies manage the language barriers they face in the delivery and receipt of services. It is an independent fee-for-service program offering high-quality interpretation and translation services. The RIO Network is a product of Language Services providing immediate over the phone and video interpretation.

Green Access Program

identifier-green-accessPrimarily located at the 6,500 square foot Green Roof at AccessPoint on Danforth, this program strengthens the health outcomes of our programs and services. The broader goal is community engagement, increasing access to healthy foods, community gardens in which to grow them, and environmental education that’s relevant to an inner city context.

Community-Based Research Program

identifier-community-based-researchResearch on the types of health issues faced by newcomers (e.g., diabetes, mental health issues) and about the social and economic factors that cause these health issues (e.g., poverty, access barriers, language barriers) conducted by, for and with communities with the goal of bringing positive social change.

LGBTQ + Services

identifier-lgbtqWorkshops and one-on-one support in an LGBTQ+ knowledgeable environment that recognizes that LGBTQ+ newcomers face particular challenges when settling in a new country. Working from an anti-oppressive framework is key to the services provided, creating safe, welcoming spaces to foster healthy communities.

Service Locations

Make Yourself at Home

Access Alliance exists to help Toronto’s diverse communities achieve health with dignity. We work towards this goal through our many service areas, including…

Primary Health Care


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.


Client encounters


Cervical cancer screening rate (PAP Tests)


Colorectal cancer
screening rate


diabetes care rate

Community Programs

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


Youth Participant

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


Homework clubs


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.


Total workshops/
group sessions


Total number
of participants

Language Services

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:

  1. Given a space for interpreters to share their experiences with peers in a calm, supportive environment
  2. Train interpreters to provide one-on-one peer support
  3. Train interested interpreters to lead debriefing sessions
  4. 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.


Face-face requests


Over-the-phone requests

Research and Advocacy

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.

Financial Statements (Audited)

Total 2016 Expenditures

  • 0.1% Amortization

  • 21.6% Operating Expenses

  • 25.0% Service Delivery

  • 53.5% Personnel Expenses

Total 2017 Expenditures

  • 21.1% Operating Expenses

  • 26.4% Service Delivery

  • 52.5% Personnel Expenses

Total 2016 Revenue

  • 1.5% Municipal Grants

  • 2.7% Foundations

  • 3.0% United Way Toronto

  • 8.3% Other

  • 9.3% Federal Grants

  • 22.3% Fees for Interpretation

  • 52.9% Provincial Grants

Total 2017 Revenue

  • 1.4% Municipal Grants

  • 3.5% United Way Toronto

  • 4.0% Foundations

  • 6.8% Other

  • 9.1% Federal Grants

  • 24.1% Fees for Interpretation

  • 51.1% Provincial Grants


  • 1.3% Municipal: City of Toronto

  • 2.7% Other

  • 3.5% United Way

  • 4.0% Foundations: Green Shield Canada, The Ontario Trillium Foundation, Metcalf Foundation, CHUM Charitable Foundation

  • 4.2% Other Organizations

  • 9.1% Federal: HRSD Canada, ESD Canada, Citizen & Immigration Canada

  • 24.1% Fees for Interpretation

  • 51.1% Provincial: Local Health Integration Network, Ministry of Citizenship & Immigration, Ministry of Seniors Affairsvation

Our Impact


Number of Clients by Site

  • 21.4%(3,302): College

  • 34.8%(5,376): Access Point on Jane (APOJ)

  • 43.8%(6,765): Access Point on Danforth (APOD)

Students and Volunteers


Student and Volunteers


Hours Contributed

Client Experience Survey


clients across all Access Alliance site said that they were satisfied with the programs and services at Access Alliance.


clients strongly agreed or agreed that they would refer Access Alliance to their friends or family members.


clients felt comfortable and welcome at Access Alliance.


clients thought that Access Alliance had a positive impact on their community.


clients thought that the programs and services at Access Alliance helped improve their overall health and wellbeing.

Staff, Partners, Funders

The volunteers and students that contributed their time over the past year are an essential part of the Access Alliance community. Volunteering provides invaluable experience, meaningful connections, and the opportunity to contribute to the community in a truly impactful way. Without the combined effort of our students and volunteers, Access Alliance would not be able to do all that we do.

Thank you!


Aarti Kibedi
Abeba Kifle
Abigayhil Vera Aponte
Adesh Avinash Ramsaroop
Ahmad Shah Omary
Akm Alamgir
Alexandra Grace Eagan
Amanda Mcintyre
Amy Huang
Amy Soberano
Anabela Azevedo
Anantpreet Kaur
Andrea Da Silva
Anita Fortuno
Anita J. Basu
Antonia Aleluia
Araceli Legasto
Axelle Janczur
Betiel Debessai
Bice Amoroso
Carla Moses
Chibuikem (John) Anyachor
Christine Chan
Christopher Trotman
Claire Tranter
Clifford Ledwos
Diana Wahidi
Donna Yong
Drew Baird
Duncan Eby
Elaine Morris
Elena Mae Poblacion
Erin Chiara Purcell
Fatima Mussa
Fouzia Rana
Gisela Vanzaghi
Gloria Maraga Musonye
Helena De Oliveira
Hilary A Shackleton
Honey Ali
Jacqueline St Kitts Myers
Jaime Elliot-Ngugi
Jasmine Li
Jennifer Atkins
Joyce Fung
Julie Anna Htoo
Justin Mensah
Kalyani Vimalesan
Keisha Tamika Cooke
Khanh Le
Krystyna Moore
Lara Mrosovsky
Mahbub-Ur Rahman
Maria D’Addese
Maritza Monsalve
Michael A Lukenda
Miranda Saroli
Mohammad Yousuf Ghafory
Monica Diaz
Monika Dalmacio
Morris Beckford
Muhammad Salman Saeed
My Nghi Dang
Nadia Jamil
Naghma Anwar Ali
Naw Lorna Pu
Nickole C Worrell
Nicole Nitti
Ranjith P. Kulatilake
Rebecca Au Duong
Rebecca Fortig
Rejwan Karim
Saira Ansari
Saleha Khan
Saynay Htoo
Serena Nudel
Shadwa Mohamed
Shaheda Azami
Shankari Balendra
Sideeka Narayan
Sopuluchukwu I. Nwaka
Syed Jalal
Thushari Gomez
Thuy Tran
Tomoko Fukushima
Victor H. Huynh
Violetta Barczay
Winttana Debessai
Yatti Tjipto
Yetnayet Alito
Yogendra Shakya
Yousra Dabbouk
Ziadh Rabbani


Afghan Women Organization
CEED garden
Black Creek Community Collaborative Co-ordinating Committee
City of Toronto’s Taylor Massey Neighbourhood Action Partnership (TMNAP’s)
CAMH-Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
CARE- Care Centre for Internationally Educated Nurses
CARES Project (Cancer Awareness: Ready for Education & Screening)-St. Michael’s Hospital
Central East Community Care Access Centre
Clean Air Partnership
COSTI Immigrant Services
East End Community Health Centre
Harmony Hall
East Scarborough Storefront
Greenwood Secondary School – TDSB
Institute for Clinical Evaluation Sciences (ICES)
Kensington and West End Midwives
Kids Up Front
Language Line Services Inc.
Jane Finch Early Years Program
Jane-Finch Community and Family Centre –
Karen Project Partnership Group
Life Labs
Medical Mart Supplies Ltd. and Great Toronto Community Health Centres Network
New Life Centre of Toronto
NIA Centre for the Arts Incorporated
Riverdale Immigrant Women’s Centre
Ryerson University
School of Enviroment
St. Christopher House
St. Joseph’s Health Centre
St. Stephen Community Hours
Syme Woolner Neighbourhood and Family Centre
Taylor Massey Neighbourhood Action Partnership
The Institute for Work and Health
TEGH-Toronto East General
Toronto District School Board ( TDSB)
Toronto East Local Immigration Partnership
Toronto Public Health
Toronto Urban Health Alliance (TUHA)
Toronto West LIP
TSH-The Scarborough Hospital
University Health Network
University of Ottawa Heart Institute
University of Toronto
Victoria Park Hub
West Toronto Diabetes Education Program (WTDEP)
Weston Mt Dennis Service Providers Network
Women’s College Hospital
Working Women Community Centre
York Community Services
York University

Summer Students

Agan Leyli
Kelsey Courtney Franklin
Laura Katherine Henning
Mariya Andriyevska
Maya Lesley Martineau
Nick Vo
Rebecca MA
Robert Spencer Garel
Sandra Audrey D’souza
Shahal Ahmed
Taylor S Matosas-Khan
Tieasha Rose Walker Campbell
Victoria Jiang Yun Chan

Board List

Erik Laundriault – Chair
Tania Hossain – Vice-Chair
Terry Guerriero – Treasurer
Arman Hamidian – Secretary
Linda Nicolson – Director
Sarah Vanderburg – Director
Alfred Chuang – Director
June IP – Director
Ida Hersi – Director
Mohamed Malik – Director
Michael Huynh – Director
Vanessa Redditt –Director


CHUM Charitable Foundation
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (Federal)
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (Provincial)
City of Toronto
Employment and Social Development Canada
Green Shield Canada Foundation
Home Depot
Local Health Integration Network (LHIN)
Metcalf Foundation
Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MHLTC)
Ministry of Seniors Affairs
Ontario Trillium Foundation
Scarborough Bike Hub
Service Canada (HRSDC)
St. Michael’s Hospital
TD Financial Literacy Grant Fund, Prosper Canada
The Institute for Work and Health
The McLean Foundation
Toronto Public Health
United Way Toronto and York Region

340 College St., Ste. 500
Toronto, ON M5T 3A9
Tel: 416.324.8677

3079 Danforth Ave.
Toronto, ON M1L 1A8
Tel: 416.693.8677

761 Jane St., 2nd Floor
Toronto, ON M6N 4B4
Tel: 416.760.8677

340 College St., Ste. 500
Toronto, ON M5T 3A9
Tel: 416.324.2731

Get In Touch

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Charitable Registration No. 12363 6664 RR0001