The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario has launched a new project that is focused on breaking down barriers face by newcomers.

The barriers some newcomers face when accessing health care include language and cultural differences. Newcomers also understandably have little knowledge of Canada’s universal health care system when they first arrive.

CHEO’s Newcomer Navigator program helps newcomers navigate the pediatric health-care system. The hospital has also created a toolkit for other newcomer-serving organizations to use to support clients who want to access health care.

As part of this new project, CHEO plans to create a nationwide Newcomer Navigator Network. This will ensure standardized service delivery by organizations across the country that deliver health care to both children and adults, as well as those in the settlement sector. The National Newcomer Navigator Network will be developed through outreach and needs assessment activities with the provinces.

“CHEO has a proven track record of providing high-quality settlement services for newcomers. Working with them on a National Newcomer Navigator Network is a new and better way to help newcomers succeed in their new country and benefits all Canadians,” the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, said during an event at CHEO on Thursday.

“At CHEO, we know that every day matters for kids. They grow, learn and develop at an astonishing speed. Key to this is good health care,” said Alex Munter, CEO and President of CHEO.

Munter recalled how quickly CHEO acted in 2015 when it was announced Canada would welcome 25,000 Syrian refugees.

A local Newcomer Navigator Program was developed to help these families access health care for their children and youth.

“Now, CHEO is proud to build on this work and lead a national effort to create a network across Canada and across the public sector services — showing our newest Canadians that they are truly welcome,” added Munter.