First Contact Ontario

Established in 2001, the Canadian Red Cross First Contact Program aims to provide an efficient and humanitarian approach to deal with the most pressing issues of refugee claimants and other categories of migrants. The First Contact program achieves these objectives by providing timely access to information on a variety of issues affecting their survival and well-being (i.e.: emergency shelter, social services, legal referrals, health care, etc.)

First Contact aims to:

  • Mitigate homelessness by providing refugee claimants with accurate information about emergency shelter, social services, legal and health services. 
  • Provide 24hours-a-day-7days-a-week shelter referral to newly arrived refugee claimants; toll-free number available to use for your convenience.
  • In Toronto, provide a drop-in centre that will serve as a point of congregation, provision of referrals and some services especially for refugee claimants who are living in the general hostel/shelter system.

Service 1: First Contact telephone information and referral service
This is twenty four hours, seven days a week information and referral service to refugee claimants, focused primarily on after office hours shelter referrals for newly arriving refugee claimants who do not have alternative accommodations.   

Service 2: Drop-in services during office hours
The drop-in service is located at the Toronto Region office and is open during business hours only.  At the centre, refugee claimants are provided with:

  • Orientation and general information that includes to a general review of the refugee determination process, Interim Federal Health, legal aid, the shelter system, social services, English classes, work permits, and more. 
  • Referrals to shelters and other supports.
  • Interpretation services (with prior arrangements).       
  • Access to a photocopier, internet and phone for local calls. 
  • If needed, a light meal, tokens and other supports will be provided to newly arriving refugee claimants.   

Through an agreement with Canada Border Services Agency at Pearson International Airport the program also assists unaccompanied minors (16 and 17 years of age).  

Ready Tours is an information session on the refugee claim hearing, for more information click here.


Toronto Branch
21 Randolph Avenue
(Dundas Street West and Bloor Street West)

Walk-in service available

Monday through Friday
8:30am to 4:30pm

For more information

Daytime: 416-480-2500
After Hours: 416-771-9540
Toll Free: 1-866-902-4993