National Newcomer Navigation Network


AUDIENCE   Health, settlement and social sectors

POPULATION OF INTEREST   Immigrants and Refugees

LOCATION   National

THE NEED   Newcomers to Canada face numerous systemic barriers to accessing optimal healthcare due to various social determinants of health such as language, precarious employment and financial stresses.  Professionals struggle to know how to adapt their approach to optimize the care and outcomes for newcomer clients and patients.

WHAT'S PROMISING   The National Newcomer Navigation Network (N4) provides the first intersectoral platform for newcomer serving professionals.   N4 provides a one-stop platform for professional development, education, virtual discussions, networking, and sharing of data and resources. Designed   for the health, settlement, social and educational sectors, it supports inter-sectoral collaboration through opportunities to identify colleagues, share diverse expertise across different disciplines, access e-learning and resources, and contribute to working groups aimed at the development and promotion of leading and best practices with newcomers.   Membership is free.


N4 is a dynamic national platform for professionals serving newcomers to connect, learn and collaborate around system navigation. It offers:

  • Live and recorded webinars given by subject matter experts
  • Curated on-line learning
  • Sponsorship to a university level micro-certificate program in newcomer navigation
  • Discussion forum to connect with peers across Canada from health, social and education sectors
  • Curated data and resources to inform and support your practice
  • Working groups to address common issues facing newcomers

National Newcomer Navigation Network


Though one in five Canadians were born outside Canada and can face many barriers to receiving care or services, they are often overlooked as needing help to navigate our systems.  Indeed, in Ontario, Public Health reported them as twice as likely to test positive for COVID-19 due to factors such as language barriers, housing and being hyper-represented in public-facing jobs.  Some were also We also see them as victims of the recent rise in hate crimes.

A national needs assessment showed that newcomer serving professionals have many innovative practices which remain in sectoral or geographical silos resulting in both gaps and duplication in their desired knowledge.  In addition, there are barriers in knowledge translation which impede evidence based and culturally safe practices from being adopted into frontline practices.  Ultimately, newcomer experience inequities when accessing and experiencing health and social services.

How did the initiative come about?

In 2017, CHEO documented newcomer navigation experiences in a website called Simplifying the Journey. The intent of the website was to help hospitals and other healthcare organizations determine if a newcomer navigation program would be beneficial for their clients/patients and how to develop and maintain such a program. Based on this success, in 2019 CHEO was funded by IRCC to develop N4.

What are the services offered?

Network Components


  • Webinars

N4 webinars feature subject matter experts in the most current and sought out topics. The webinars are offered live for interactive exchanges, as well as being recorded to view at your convenience.  Following the webinar, the conversations with the subject matter experts and members continue in our platform’s virtual Meeting Place.  Certificates of attendance are offered to support your need for professional development hours.

  • Online learning

Our learning contributors’ webinars, videos, and short learning vignettes have been curated to enhance your professional development through the online portal on the N4 website.   N4 also provides you with a convenient tool to assist with tracking your professional development hours.

  • Newcomer Navigation Online Program :

N4 sponsors professionals to obtain a Certificate in Ethics and Contemporary Social Issues: Immigration and Integration co-designed with and offered by its educational partner; the School of Ethics, Social Justice and Public Service at St. Paul University.  This program assists established health and social service newcomer serving professionals to further develop their expertise in the knowledge and skills necessary to support new Canadians.  St. Paul's, affiliated with the University of Ottawa, is a bilingual university specializing in the humanities and social sciences. This 12-month online program consists of eight consecutive courses and two practicums in the participant's current organization.

  • Conferences & Pop-up Events

N4 hosts in-person and virtual events to support networking, platforms for knowledge exchange, and to help advance research in this field. All events are free of charge and will include subject matter expert presentations.


  • Discussion Forum

The N4 platform hosts a moderated discussion forum where professionals from across Canada can connect to ask questions, share resources, and develop solutions to their common challenges.

  • Data and Resource Toolkit

The database provides simplified, searchable data on immigration and practices in newcomer service organizations at a local and national context. The data is drawn from both publicly available data and data provided by members. In addition, N4 members share tools and resources to facilitate professional practice with newcomers.

  • Community of Practice

The CoP is based on the Ottawa Hospital model, which brings together working groups for defined periods of time, with N4’s support, to obtain their results-focused objectives to address a common challenge in service provision to newcomers.

What impact does this initiative have on the mental health of immigrants and refugees?

The overall goal of N4 is to promote best practices in the field of newcomer navigation with the ultimate goal of improving the experience and health outcomes of new Canadians. You can view our welcome video and some examples these practices here.

To access this promising practice, visit:

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