Frequently Asked Questions

Community Development & Integration Program

How early can I apply for my Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Pension?
You may apply as early as 11 months before your qualifying age. For example, if you are applying for your Canada Pension Plan at regular retirement age of 65, you may apply the month following your 64th birthday. If you are applying for early retirement (starting as early as the month following your 60th birthday) your first qualifying month is the month after your application is received by Service Canada.
I have never been to Abrigo, how do I make an appointment to see a counsellor?
You can call us in Toronto at 416-534-3434 or drop-in, weekday afternoons between 1-3 pm. and we will have an intake worker respond to your inquiry by telephone as soon as possible (usually on the same day). A decision will then be made on the most appropriate course of action to meet your individual needs.
How can I obtain a Portuguese Birth, Marriage or Death Certificate?
Certificates may be requested through the internet at:
www.portaldocidadao.pt

If you have relatives or friends in Portugal they may request a certificate on your behalf.

Portuguese Consulate, www.djaccp.pt/toronto
438 University Avenue
Suite 1400
Toronto, Ontario
Tel: 416- 217-0966
How do I apply for my Portuguese, Brazilian, French, German or British Pension?
These countries have pension agreements with Canada and you may apply with the assistance of the respective countries’ Consulates or Embassies.

You may request your application through HRSDC International Operations. This form maybe obtained at any of the HRSDC offices or downloaded from http://www.sdc.gc.ca and click on Income Security Programs.

In the case of Portugal you may also visit the “Seguranca Social” site www.seg-social.pt
How do I know if I qualify for a Canadian pension?
Both the Canada Pension Plan and the Old Age Security pensions have specific qualifying criteria.

You should contact the national HRSDC line at 1-800-277-9914, visit your local office or their website www.sdc.gs.ca, Income Security Programs for details regarding your individual circumstances.
How do I obtain Brazilian Birth, Marriage or Death Certificate?
Brazilian documents maybe requested through: www.certidao.com.br If you have relatives or friends in Brazil they may request a certificate on your behalf but you may need to give written authorization. For more information contact: Consulate General of Brazil, www.consbrastoronto.org 77 Bloor Street West Suite 1109 Toronto, Ontario M5S 1M2 Tel: 416-922-2503
If I have a child born in Ontario how do I register and obtain a birth certificate?
The first step is to register the birth of your child using the form “Statement of Live Birth” available at your local hospital.

After you receive acknowledgement of registration you may obtain a birth certificate on line, see below, by downloading the form from the website or visiting your local registry office. You may also call 1-800-461-2156 or locally in the Toronto area at 416-325-8305.

For a Birth Marriage or a Death certificate visit the website http://www.mgs.gov.on.ca/english/index.html where forms can be downloaded.
What documents do I need to apply for my Canadian Pensions?
The usual documents requested are; a birth and marriage certificate, a death certificate for the survivors’ pension, immigration landing document (IMM1000), social insurance card and in the case of those who are married the above is required for both spouses.

For more information go to: www.sdc.gc.ca
What happens to my pension if I leave Canada?
If you plan on leaving Canada for more than 6 months in a one year period, you maybe considered a non resident. This will require adjustments to your pensions and you should contact your local HRSDC office or call 1-800-277-9914.

For more details go to: http://www.sdc.gc.ca


Family Services

My family has so many different issues going how do I know if this is the right place for us?
Feel free to call and speak to a counsellor. The counsellor will let you know if we can help. The counsellor will be honest with you and help you figure out whether we are the right place. If there are other places that could serve your needs better the counsellor will help you research the best
My husband and I don’t get along very well and he sometimes hits me. He wants us to come in for marital counselling so that I can stop making him so mad. Can you help us?
Marital counselling is available through this program but not where violence and intimidation in the couple’s relationship. We are prepared to assist a couple where there is violence through our other programs. Where violent family members have made significant changes and have stopped and taken responsibility for their abusive behaviour then family and marital counselling is available.
My husband I have problems. Can you talk to him and tell him that he has to treat me differently?
We are able to help persons who want to be helped. We provide information, referrals and support to the people who come to our office and want to receive services.
How do I get to see a Family Counsellor?
Any member of the family can call to explain what the family is looking for and to book an appointment. We will help you plan how to get your family involved in the counselling.
Who can benefit from the Family Services program at Abrigo Centre?
Any member of a couple or family who speaks Portuguese is eligible for this program. It is a program that helps individuals, couples and families with children or grand parents to improve how their family communicates with each other.


Men in Transition

How are clients referred to the Men in Transition program Abrigo Centre?
Individuals may be referred to the Program through the Early Intervention or the Coordinated Prosecution streams of the Domestic Violence Court Program, or as a condition of a Section 810 Peace Bond Order. In addition, individuals who have been convicted of a non-domestic violence offence and have been identified as being abusive or controlling to a partner (and have been referred to PAR by a supervising Probation and Parole Officer), may also be referred to the Program.
How are victims supported by Abrigo Centre while perpetrators attend the PAR group counselling program?
Partner contact is intended to be a service to the victim/partner. The purpose of initiating and maintaining partner contact throughout the offender’s involvement with the PAR program is to:

• provide safety planning, support and information to victims/partners
• reduce isolation
• provide referrals to community resources that may assist the victim/partner
• provide information to the victim/partner that may help them to make informed decisions about their safety and their relationship with the offender
Is there any cost to the clients for participating in PAR program at Abrigo Centre?
As part of taking responsibility, there is a fee for each session. Clients are given the opportunity to apply for a fee reduction, should they wish to do so, and the fee will be based according to each individual’s income on a pro-rated sliding scale. Please note that for clients to be considered for reduced fee, their financial information is required.

I have been ordered to attend the PAR Program at Abrigo Centre; what should be my first step?
In order for you to enroll, completing a PAR Intake is the required first step; you may call us or present yourself in person for the intake process. Please note: When you contact us, please make sure you have a minimum of twenty minutes available so that we may complete the PAR Intake with you. Once the intake is completed, we will provide you with a PAR Orientation appointment date.

During the PAR Orientation the PAR Program and its principles will be reviewed with you. The counsellors will explain the Client Agreement and Fee Policy, and once you have agreed and signed the terms of the Partner Assault Response Program Client Agreement and Fee Policy, you will be enrolled in the PAR Program. Once the PAR Orientation is completed, we will provide you with a PAR Program start date.

The PAR Orientation may take up to two hours.
What if I do not speak English (or Portuguese)?
Interpreters are provided for those who need them at no cost to the participant.
What is the PAR program (known as "Men in Transition" at Abrigo Centre)?
The PAR program is a Domestic Violence Court initiative that delivers a specialized community-based group education/counseling program to offenders who have been mandated by the court to attend the PAR program in response to a criminal charge involving domestic violence. The PAR Program is a court-ordered sanction that provides offenders with an opportunity to examine their beliefs and attitudes towards domestic abuse, and to learn non-abusive ways of resolving conflict. PAR programs aim to enhance victim safety and hold offenders accountable for their behaviour.

Program Principles
• Domestic violence is a crime.
• Abusive behaviour is a choice.
• Abuse is the sole responsibility of the abuser.
• Abusive behaviour is not an anger management problem.
• Victims/partners are entitled to receive support, safety planning and referrals to community services.
• Victims/partners have a right to information about the PAR program, its philosophy, structure, content and limitations.
• PAR programs must not operate in isolation from other Violence against Women (VAW) community stakeholders.
• Domestic violence offenders and victims/partners have the right to be treated with respect.

What is the structure of the PAR program?
Individuals are mandated to attend an orientation session prior to starting the PAR program. During the PAR Orientation the PAR Program and its principles will be reviewed with you. The counsellors will explain the Client Agreement and Fee Policy, and once you have agreed and signed the terms of the Partner Assault Response Program Client Agreement and Fee Policy, you will be enrolled in the PAR Program. Once the PAR Orientation is completed, we will provide you with a PAR Program start date.

The PAR Program is twelve-weeks in length, once a week for two hours every week. Clients choose which group they prefer to go into. English groups run on Tuesday evenings from 7:00pm to 9:00pm, Wednesday evenings from 6:30pm to 8:30pm and Saturday mornings from 10:30am to 12:30pm.

Portuguese group runs on Monday evenings from 7:00pm to 9:00pm
What topics/issues are covered in the PAR program at Abrigo Centre?
Topics that are covered include:

• How Beliefs and Attitudes Affect Behaviour;
• Domestic Violence - Defining Abuse;
• The Effects of Abuse on Children, Partners and Self;
• Understanding Triggers / Warning Signs
• The Impact of Substance Abuse;
• Healthy Relationships;
• Respectful Communication;
• Dealing with Conflict;
• Responsibility and Accountability.
There will be homework assignments throughout the twelve weeks. If you have issues with reading or writing, please let the counsellors of the PAR Program know; arrangements can be made for the counselor to meet with you in office in order to complete the assigned tasks.



Violence Against Women

I am tired. My husband has not changed in all the years we have been married. He has gotten worse, the abuse has gotten worse. Now our children are grown and left the home and we have retired. I just want peace and rest but he has not stopped. What
A counsellor is there to help clients sort through their feelings and problem-solve in a way that is helpful to the client. The counsellor is not there to tell clients what to do. A counsellor will not tell you to leave your partner. The counsellor will help you figure out what you want to do with your life and help you figure out how to handle your problems your way.
I am unhappy with my marital situation and would like to talk to somebody but I do not want to leave my partner what should I do?
A counsellor is there to help clients sort through their feelings and problem solve in a way that is helpful to the client. The counsellor is not there to tell clients what to do. A counsellor will not tell you to leave your partner. The counsellor will help you figure out what you want to do with your life and help you figure out how to handle your problems your way.
I do not have legal immigration status in the country. I do not like it when my partner and I are fighting. He has hit me in the past. I am afraid. If I call the police will I be deported?
If someone calls the police and they request a person’s immigration status, the police officer is not obligated to inform Immigration. A person who is not in status always runs the risk that Immigration will find them or receive information that they are not in status. Consult with a lawyer to find out the options available to you.
I do not speak English very well. I do not know where to get help. What can I do the next time he starts beating me or calling me names?
Many services are available in different languages. At Abrigo Centre we are able to help you in English or Portuguese. The information line for Toronto, dial 211, can refer you to an agency that speaks your language. If you are being abused, you can call 911 and speak the name of your language and an interpreter will be connected to you in less than 60 seconds. The Assaulted Women’s Helpline of Ontario 1-888, in Toronto, 416-863-0511, is available 24 hours a day to information and support in several languages.
I left home with my children. Does my partner and father of our children have to support me and our children?
When you separate there are many decisions to be made. Usually the person with the higher income will be required to pay support. To understand your legal rights you should speak to a lawyer. Ontario has laws to protect you and your child from violence. A lawyer can explain restraining orders, separation, custody, access, child and spousal support and division of assets.
My husband is a good man. Sometimes he drinks. When he drinks too much, he gets angry and we have fights. How can I help him to stop drinking?
Information and programs are available to help people who want to stop drinking. The person can contact their doctor, community agency or go to hospital. If the person wants to change their behaviour, only they have the power to do so. If a person does not want to enter a program we do not have the power to force them. Drinking may be a symptom of a different problem.
My husband sponsored me to come to Canada and I have the Permanent Resident Card. Can he take away my Permanent Resident card or call Immigration and have me deported?
No he cannot. Once you obtain permanent residency status no one can hold your card or remove your status. Citizenship and Immigration will only revoke permanent resident status if the status was obtained with false information.
We are having difficulties with our teenage children. We don’t know how to speak with them anymore. Could you help us?
We would be happy to meet with parents with or without their children to assist them through difficult child rearing years. Various issues impact on children’s lives and every child is different. It is important that parents receive support and that they receive useful information on the various stages that their children go through in order to help them be the best parents that they can be.
My husband tells me that if I try to leave then I will have no rights to my house. Is it true that I will lose everything that I have been working to pay for all of these years?
No it is not true. In any marital separation it does not matter who leaves the relationship or the matrimonial home, unless there is a prenuptial agreement, both partners have equal rights to property and assets that belonged to the marriage or couple.
What does confidentiality mean?
Confidentiality means that counsellors do not discuss the conversations you have with them without your written consent. From time to time it is in your best interest that the counsellor speaks with someone like another professional to help you reach your goals. A counsellor will always ask your permission verbally and in writing before doing this.
There are some limits to confidentiality. If a child under the age of 16 years is being physically or sexually hurt by someone, we are obligated by law to report this information with or without your consent. Whether you are under or over 16 years of age if we believe that you are going to hurt yourself or someone else we also need to get you help and will do this with or without your consent.
We will always try to communicate with you first when we need to break confidentiality. You need to understand that it is very important to us to ensure our client’s safety and well-being and that whenever we need to break confidentiality we do it with these objectives in mind.
What is abuse anyway?
No one has the right to abuse another person.

Abuse can include verbal, emotional, financial, spiritual, psychological, physical or stalking.

Below are examples of abusive behaviours.

Verbal abuse includes insults, shouting, swearing and put-downs.Emotional & Psychological Abuse includes when someone threats to hurt you or kill you or to hurt those you care about such as your children, your family or your pets. It also includes threats to take the children away and threats to commit suicide. Emotional and psychological abuse aims to induce fear, intimidation. When a partner is accusatory of false things and is excessively suspicious overly jealous of their partner, not allowing their partner to see their family and friends and undermining her self-esteem they are emotionally and psychologically abusive.

Financial abuse includes controlling the family finances and not sharing information such as how much income the couple has where money is kept and how much money or assets exists.

Spiritual Abuse includes degrading another person’s spiritual beliefs, not allowing them to practice or forcing them to adhere to another belief system.Sexual assault includes any act or sexual behaviour that is unwanted. A husband does not have the right to force any sexual act on his wife.

Physical Abuse includes slapping, hitting, pinching, punching, pushing, shoving, hair-pulling, beating, torture, stabbing,assault with a weapon.

Stalking or Criminal Harassment: includes persistently following someone, harassing telephone calls, and threatening someone.


Youth Outreach

I am a youth and want to get some help, but I don’t want anyone to find out it’s me. What should I do?
You may want to send us an e-mail for starters if you find that you have questions that you would like to ask before deciding whether you want to use our youth counselling services.

You can e-mail us at: info@abrigo.ca

If you want total anonymity (that is, to make sure no one can trace you), you can connect with the Kids Help Phone either by telephone or through their website. They have a ton of information for young people and they do not ask you for your name & address. At Abrigo Centre & at the Kids Help Phone we do not trace calls, we don’t have call display and we don’t track IP addresses.
Kids Help Phone Line: 1-800-668-6868
Website: www.kidshelpphone.ca
I am a teenager with some questions...what can I expect when I call?
When you call Abrigo Centre, a receptionist will answer your call. You can let the receptionist know that you are calling for the first time and that you are a youth who would like to speak with a counsellor. The receptionist will try to find an intake worker to speak with you right away. If an intake worker is already with another client, you can leave a telephone number where you can be reached or if you are not comfortable leaving a telephone number the receptionist can let you know when you can call back.

The intake person asks you for some information on the issue you are calling about and will let you know if we can help you. If we don’t have expertise in the area of your concern, the intake worker will give you the telephone number of a place they believe will be in a better position to help you. If we can help you, the intake worker will at this time ask you for information such as your full name, date of birth, address and a telephone number where you can be reached. If at this stage you are not prepared to provide this information, no stress! You can let the intake worker know that you are not comfortable right now leaving this information and you would first like to meet with the counsellor.
I am teenager seeking help...what does confidentiality mean exactly?
Confidentiality means that counsellors do not discuss the conversations you have with them without your written consent. From time to time it is in your best interest that the counsellor speaks with someone like another professional to help you reach your goals. A counsellor will always ask your permission verbally and in writing before doing this. There are some limits to confidentiality. If you are being physically or sexually hurt by someone and you are under the age of 16, we will get you help with or without your consent. Whether you are under or over 16 years of age if we believe that you are going to hurt yourself or someone else we also need to get you help and will do this with or without your consent.

We will always try to communicate with you first when we need to break confidentiality. You need to understand that it is very important to us to ensure our client’s safety and well-being and that whenever we need to break confidentiality we do it with these objectives in mind.
What is youth counselling?
Counselling is an opportunity to talk about problems. Youth have very challenging lives and it’s sometimes good to speak with someone who can help you figure out what the problems are, express your feelings and help you look at the various options to your problems/concerns. There is no such thing as a small problem. If something is bothering you it’s good to speak with someone who is going to listen, not going to judge you and where you know your conversations are confidential. That’s what counselling is all about.
What type of issues do you usually help youth with?
We assist young people with all of the issues listed below: • Relationship concerns (with family, friends and partners)
• Dealing with abusive people in our lives
• Dealing with being an abusive person and wanting to make changes
• Anger and managing anger
• Handling addiction
• Dealing with peer pressure
• Supporting lesbian/gay/bi/trans youth
• Any other problem a young person may be dealing with and could use some emotional support on that has not been mentioned in the above list!
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