Frequently Asked Questions - YMCA of Three Rivers Waterloo Region

Frequently Asked Questions

Settlement Frequently Asked Questions            Language Frequently Asked Questions              Community Connections Frequently Asked Questions


Is there a cost for your programs and services or are they free for the participant?

All of our programs and services are offered at no cost to eligible clients.

Who is eligible for the programs available at YMCA Immigrant Services?

All of our programs have some differences in eligibility. You will need to check your eligibility with the program or service of your interest. Most of our programs are for new residents to Canada, and may include:

  • Permanent Residents (also called Landed Immigrants)
  • Intent to Land (approved to apply for residency)
  • Recent Canadian citizens
  • Refugee claimants

Some services may be available to visitors and people with other residency status for a fee, depending on program requirements. If you are not eligible for our services, we will refer you to a program in the community that can help.

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What are the different school systems in Ontario?

Ontario has four publicly-funded school systems:

  • English Public

  • English Catholic

  • French-language Public

  • French-language Catholic

At what age do children attend school?

The Education Act is the law that governs public schools in Ontario. It says that children aged 6 to 18 must attend school. Many children begin elementary school in a kindergarten program at age 4 or 5.

Elementary schools provide kindergarten programs for children aged 4 and 5. They also provide instruction from grades 1 to 8. Generally, students begin elementary school at 6 years of age and graduate at 13.

Secondary schools, often called "high schools," provide instruction from grades 9 to 12. Generally, students begin high school at 14 years of age and graduate at 18. 

Does it cost anything for my child to attend school in Ontario?

No. In Ontario there are four publicly-funded school systems. There is no tuition cost to send your child to one of these schools. Generally, students do not have to pay for textbooks. You are responsible for buying paper, binders and other materials your child needs to study. You may also have to pay for school trips.

When do children begin and end school each day?

Junior and Senior Kindergarten students usually attend for half a day, but this may be changing to a full day program.

Most children bring lunch with them to school. Some children go home for lunch if they live close by and if a parent is at home. There are also usually short breaks in the day known as "recess," when children are free to play in the schoolyard.

What does a student need to graduate from high school?

To graduate from high school and receive an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) students must:

  • Earn 30 credits, of which 18 credits are compulsory. This means that students must take these 18 courses from a list of required subjects. The remaining 12 credits are optional. Students choose their optional courses from the full range of courses that their school offers.

  • Pass the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) or Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course (OSSLC).

  • Complete 40 hours of community involvement (volunteer work).

The high school program is based on a credit system. Students get one credit for every 110-hour course successfully completed.

Although students may take eight credits per year and complete secondary school in four years, many students take a fifth year or an additional semester. Extending their studies this way allows them to take fewer courses each year (or explore their interest in other school subjects.) Some students take more courses than are necessary or take courses during the summer and finish faster.

How do I receive a YMCA membership?

We offer some complimentary short term YMCA memberships to our clients and volunteers. Some eligibility and restrictions apply. Contact us for details.

General memberships are available through our Family YMCA Centres.

How is this program funded?

Program Funders

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How long will the assessment take?

We ask the client to reserve three hours for the assessment. This gives the assessor and the client enough time to complete all tasks for the four skills tested and answer questions during the referral process.

How do I know if I qualify for a language assessment?

Call the Language Assessment Centre and ask about your immigration documents. The intake person can help you to determine if you qualify before booking your appointment.

What should I bring to the assessment?

Bring your original landing document, Citizenship card, Permanent Resident card or document that acknowledges that you qualify for the assessment. The Language Assessment Centre can assist you with this if you are not sure. Dictionaries, cell phones, and other electronic devices are not permitted in the testing area.

I have small children. Can I bring my children to the test?

The YMCA has no safe facility for young children to wait during the assessment. We ask that the parents make other arrangements for their children.

What if I cannot come to the assessment appointment?

It is very important that you call to reschedule your appointment. A simple call allows us to accommodate other clients. 

What is the difference between LINC and ESL?

Both programs offer English language training and focus on the four skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking. LINC (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada) is available for those new to Canada. LINC teachers teach English and also focus on settlement themes, teaching newcomers about their new country. ESL classes focus on English for both newcomers and those learners who have been in Canada for a longer time and who want to improve their English.

What is LINC Home Study?

LINC Home Study is a program for Permanent Residents who, due to special circumstances (e.g. mothers with new infants, geographical distances), cannot attend a LINC class. Minimum benchmarks are required. LINC Home Study learners receive reading and writing assignments electronically or by mail and practice conversation with a teacher on the telephone. For more information on the LINC Home Study program, please visit Language Education at a Distance.

How long before I need my next assessment? 

Your benchmark scores are valid for 12 months from the date of your last assessment or the date when you leave a LINC or ESL language program. While you are attending a LINC/ESL class, your teacher will assess and update your Canadian Language Benchmark scores during the school's normal assessment cycle.

When will I get my results?

As long as you present your original immigration documents at the time of your assessment, you will receive your assessment results upon completion.

When will I be able to begin my classes?

As long as the school of choice has space, you may begin your classes immediately. However, keep in mind that if your preferred school is full, you may have to wait. You will always be given options for alternative schools.

Can I change my class schedule at any time (for example, if I move or start working)?

Yes, feel free to speak with your assessor or the school if you need to change your schedule or school.

Can I use my assessment to meet Canadian citizenship language requirements?

Currently, our centre's assessments are not accepted as proof of language ability for Canadian citizenship application purposes. However, assessors can enroll you in LINC or ESL classes where you can get a certificate with required benchmark 4+. This certificate should be acceptable to meet the Canadian citizenship language requirements. For more information, please click here or speak to one of our Immigrant Services Settlement Workers.

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Community Connections

How much time is a volunteer expected to give?

Volunteers are expected to spend a minimum of two hours per week for a period of four months to one year.

Can I volunteer for several activities at the same time?

Yes, you can. There are no limits on the number of activities that you can participate in. 

How much money does it cost to join the program?

There is no cost to any of the programs.

I came to Canada as an immigrant. Can I be a volunteer?

Yes! Many immigrants, including former clients, are volunteers. They go through the same application and training process as all other potential volunteers.