— More than a decade ago, Dr. Michael M. Smith and his team of research researchers, students and friends decided to do something special: they were going to go abroad for two months.
They didn’t know what to expect.
They had never heard of the International Travel Assistance Program (ITAP), a federal program that helps Canadians with temporary job-finding and study abroad expenses.
“We were like, ‘What are we going to do?’
And it was the last thing we expected,” said Smith, a professor in the department of anthropology at the University of Toronto.
“We’re really just doing a one-time study and it’s just for a couple of months, and it was a big mistake.”
It was the beginning of a lifelong learning experience.
“We came home and I just couldn’t believe it.
It was a totally unexpected feeling,” said Adam R. Johnson, an ITAP recipient who works as an associate professor at the university.”
It was like a dream come true.
I felt like we were just going to be in Canada for two weeks.
I’m really glad that we did it.”
It took Smith three years to become a full-time ITAP student, but it has been a transformative experience for the entire research team, including Johnson.
“I have been working in ITAP for a few years now, and I can’t tell you how much I’ve appreciated the fact that it is actually working,” said Johnson, who is also the director of the School of Social Work and director of students at the Ryerson University Graduate School of Management.
“There are so many different things that it has made possible.”
Johnson, who worked as a research assistant in ITAMP for a year, is thrilled with the work it has done for him and the students who are involved.
“To be able to go home and spend time with your friends and family and not worry about having to go to the airport, it’s been incredible,” he said.
Johnson says the program has helped him make a positive change in his life.
“When I started ITAMPL, I was in a really bad place.
I was a low-income person, so it was hard to find employment and I had no resources to make ends meet.
ITAM was great for me because it gave me a lot of resources,” he added.
Smith’s group of students was able to stay in Canada after their first two months of study, but the program is also intended for those who want to go away for longer periods of time, such as for family vacation or holiday.
“A lot of ITAM students don’t get the opportunity to spend a lot more than two weeks with their families,” said Dr. Daniel R. Fiebert, a lecturer in psychology at Ryerson who is the co-author of the study.
“And when you go away, you don’t want to be the only one left behind, and when you come back you want to get back to where you belong.
That’s what we’re trying to do.”
It’s not the only way to help Canadians in needThe program is not the first time ITAM has helped Canadians.
In 2003, the government created ITAM for low- and middle-income Canadians, with funding for up to six months of help.
Since then, the program’s been expanded to help a wider range of people.
In 2015, the Canadian Medical Association voted to endorse ITAM as a first-line of care for medical costs.
It’s been an extremely valuable program, helping people who are in dire need, but also those who are at risk.
“There’s a lot that it’s not just about being able to find work, it is also about having a social support system to help those people with their problems,” said R.J. Brown, a senior policy advisor with the Canadian Association of Suicidology.
As more people benefit from the program, so too does ITAM, which has helped more than 5,000 people in the past two years, said Brown, who has also worked in ITATAP.
“So I think we’re really seeing this really change the way people think about ITAM and the way they interact with it.
And that’s really great.”
The program has also helped other Canadians who are struggling financially.
In 2014, researchers at the College of William and Mary found that Canadians who were enrolled in ITATT could save $1,500 annually by going abroad.
The researchers looked at data from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and found that ITATT helped lower hospitalization rates by 23 per cent and increase spending by $3.2 billion per year, as well as improve mental health.
“If you go to a hospital in Ontario, you are probably more likely to have a psychiatric emergency,” said study co-director, Dr.
“We found that there were very few cases of emergency department use in ITatt,”