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Strategic Plan for Settlement and Language Training

Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement

Introduction

The governments of Canada and Ontario have undertaken a major commitment to help newcomers to Ontario integrate successfully. Under the first-ever Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement (COIA), signed in November 2005, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) plans to invest $920 million in new funding (subject to parliamentary appropriations) for settlement and language training programs and services in Ontario over five years.

The Immigration Agreement begins a new era of federal-provincial collaboration with respect to immigration and the integration of newcomers to Ontario. The primary objectives and areas of activity for the Agreement are:

  • Improving outcomes for newcomers — successful social and economic integration
  • Building partnerships with municipalities — engaging municipalities and communities in areas of immigration related to their interests.
  • Increasing economic benefits of immigration — Ontario pilot Provincial Nominee Program and Temporary Foreign Worker Agreement.

To guide the new investment under the COIA, the federal and provincial governments, with input from stakeholders, have jointly developed this strategic plan. The overall goal of the plan is to support the successful social and economic integration of immigrants in Ontario.

The strategic plan outlines the strategies and actions that will be funded to achieve the following long-term outcomes:

  • Newcomers are welcomed and fully integrated into Canadian and Ontario communities
  • Newcomers are engaged and participate in all sectors of Ontario/Canadian society — economic, social, political and cultural
  • Ontario/Canadian society and communities benefit from the contribution of newcomers.

This plan is focussed primarily on the delivery of settlement and language training services. These supports to newcomers are essential, but cannot be considered in isolation. The connections with Ontario’s labour-market initiatives, educational programs, and social services are critical to achieving the goal of successful integration of newcomers to the province.

Context

The Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement acknowledges the importance of immigration to Ontario’s future. Immigrants contribute to the province socially and economically. They bring skills and growth to Ontario’s labour market. They increase Ontario’s global competitiveness. They also energize and foster diverse communities.

One of the key goals of the Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement is to ensure that immigrants can contribute to their full potential. The increasing complexity of the labour market requires new and effective supports to help newcomers succeed. Over the past 20 years, immigrants have fallen behind economically in comparison with Canadian-born residents. In multiple studies, this trend is attributed to several barriers:

  • Lack of proficiency in English or French, especially for knowledge work that requires advanced language skills
  • Employers’ reluctance to recognize international experience and credentials
  • Lack of social and professional networks
  • A complex array of services that present challenges for coordination, maintaining accurate information, and ensuring access at the right time and place.

The increasing diversity of newcomers to Canada requires a wider range of services, new approaches and better coordination to result in positive outcomes for individuals and their families. Although labour market integration is of vital importance, it is not enough for successful integration. Newcomer services must provide a continuum of supports, and be responsive to the needs of specific client groups such as seniors, women and youth. Newcomers need to become fluent in the language and customs of their communities, and Ontario’s communities need to become more responsive in welcoming and engaging newcomers from every part of the world.

Immigration is particularly important to the vitality of Francophone communities in Ontario. Effective strategies are essential to attract and support the integration of French-speaking immigrants.

Findings from Consultations and Research

The development of the Strategic Plan was informed by a series of consultations throughout Ontario in July and August 2006 with a wide range of newcomers and service provider organizations. The consultations gathered inputon needs and services throughout the settlement process, from pre-arrival to integration.

Other inputs to the Strategic Plan include a review of research and literature on factors leading to successful settlement and integration, and relevant recommendations gathered from multiple studies and consultations carried out by or with stakeholders in the settlement sector since 2002.

The settlement process is complex and lengthy, covering everything from pre-arrival information to full integration into Canadian life. Accordingly, the COIA consultations identified a wide range of needs to support successful integration. Some of these needs and issues are outside the scope of the COIA, but many can and will be addressed through the strategies and actions outlined in this plan.

Findings from Consultations held in July-August 2006

The three main needs expressed in the consultations were employment, language training, and better information and guidance.

Employment needs:

  • Better information prior to arrival
  • Guidance on how and where to find work in Canada
  • Timely professional and skills accreditation
  • Employers who value diversity in the workplace and recognize skills that newcomers bring.

Official language (English/French) proficiency needs:

  • Effective language assessment both pre- and post-arrival
  • Accessible client-centred official language referral and training
  • Work-related language training.

Information and guidance, and initial orientation:

  • Accurate, relevant, practical and accessible information, pre- and post arrival
  • Orientation to life in Canada.

Other needs identified during the consultations:

  • Opportunities to interact socially with Canadian residents and other newcomers
  • Emotional and social support
  • Sources for financial assistance and related tools
  • Affordable housing
  • Access toappropriate health care, including mental health services.

Needs of Specific Client Groups, including Francophones

Women, youth (ages 13-19), seniors and Francophones identified specific needs during the recent consultations as follows:

Women

  • Affordable day care for their children so that they could seek employment
  • Special services to address spousal abuse and family violence in the home.

Youth (ages 13-19)

  • Specific supports for youth, including youth-oriented settlement services
  • After-school programming
  • Participation in social, cultural and recreational activities with their Canadian peers
  • Understanding of the education system.

Immigrants over 50

  • Employment opportunities
  • Interpreters to assist them during key life activities such as visiting a doctor.

Francophone community

  • Settlement services in French
  • Networks that support French-speaking immigrants.

Strategies for Action

The COIA Strategic Plan lays out the following four strategies to guide the funding, development and implementation of actions to support the successful integration of newcomers:

  1. Develop a flexible, coordinated system of settlement services with strong linkages and clear pathways to services newcomers need such as language-training, labour-market integration, and social services.
  2. Build on existing services to develop and implement a comprehensive language assessment, referral and training system that assists newcomers to become competent in English or French as quickly as possible.
  3. Work with municipalities and federal-provincial government departments to enable partnerships that will integrate newcomers in the economic and social life of Ontario communities.
  4. Design, fund and administer settlement and language training programs based on how well they support desired outcomes.

These strategies and their related actions will support the successful integration of newcomers into Canadian life. Successful integration is defined as three long-term outcomes:

  • Newcomers are welcomed and fully integrated into Ontario communities
  • Newcomers are engaged and participate in all sectors of Ontario/Canadian society ― economic, social, political and cultural
  • Ontario/Canadian society and communities benefit from the contribution of newcomers.

Intermediate outcomes describe the desired results of settlement and language training after approximately three to five years. These outcomes are intermediate for two reasons. They reflect a shorter time frame than the very distant long-term outcomes listed above, and are therefore easier to measure. They are also intermediate logical steps between the long-term outcomes and the immediate impacts of the services.

The intermediate outcomes of the strategic plan are:

  • Newcomers can access the full range of community resources and services
  • Newcomers participate in the economic, cultural, social and civic life of their communities
  • Newcomers have sufficient English or French skills to support social and economic integration
  • Newcomers have paid work consistent with their education, skills and experience
  • Communities welcome, retain and support newcomers, including minority official language communities
  • Local communities benefit from the contributions of newcomers.

Each of the settlement and language training activities outlined in the Strategic Plan has one or more key short-term outcomes that logically lead to the intermediate outcomes listed above. These short-term outcomes, along with the intermediate and long-term outcomes, are summarized in the Logic Model for Settlement Services and Language Training on the final page of this document. Short-term outcomes may be achieved immediately or within about one year after an activity is completed.

Outcomes must be measured by indicators that can reveal whether the service system is actually meeting its performance objectives. The development of valid and accurate indicators is a vital element of effective performance management.

Many factors will impact on any particular newcomer’s success on a short-term outcome. For example, when the general unemployment rate rises, newcomers will probably face greater difficulties in their job searches which would be reflected in lower success rates. Effective settlement services will minimize the impact of negative environmental factors, but indicators must be sensitive enough to take environmental issues into account.

Action Plan

As first steps toward achieving the objectives of each of the four strategies outlined in this Plan, COIA funding will support a range of actions in 2006-07 and 2007-08. These are outlined in the Appendix. Further actions and initiatives will be developed with stakeholder input and announced over the term of the COIA Agreement.

Canada and Ontario are committed to the principle of accessibility for all newcomers to any programs and services developed under the Strategic Plan for Settlement and Language Training.

Strategy 1

Develop a flexible, coordinated system of settlement services with strong linkages and clear pathways to services newcomers need such as language-training, labour-market integration, and social services.

This strategy aims to:

  • Address current and emerging settlement needs
  • Increase access to services
  • Build a seamless network of services that support newcomer integration.

Strategic directions to achieve this will include:

  • Expand the availability of pre-arrival services
  • Build effective information and referral systems that link newcomers to the resources they need through all stages of the settlement process
  • Establish visible entry points or “first-stop” centres by co-locating services
  • Increase access to services through innovative partnerships among service providers and other stakeholders
  • Support the development of responsive, innovative services and delivery models that meet local conditions and/or engage employers
  • Improve access to services in French
  • Facilitate stakeholder participation
  • Build capacity to engage newcomers in social networks.
  • Build capacity to engage newcomers in social networks.

CIC will systematically move funding towards models of service delivery, from pre-arrival to full integration, that incorporate features such as:

  • Up-to-date relevant and accurate information and tools
  • Services that are available at the right time and place
  • Innovative partnerships to increase access to services for clients
  • Services that address diverse needs of diverse populations
  • Services that focus on strengths of newcomers rather than weaknesses
  • Outcome-oriented approaches
  • Availability of services in both official languages
  • Services designed to address local needs
  • Support for professional and organizational development
  • Support to develop local capacity for planning and coordination.

 

Strategy 2

Build on existing services to develop and implement a comprehensive language assessment, referral and training system that assists newcomers to become competent in English or French as quickly as possible.

Fluency in English or French is essential to achieve integration into Ontario and Canadian life. Newcomers are excluded from engaging in diverse social networks and limited to a narrow range of occupations if they do not have adequate fluency in the official language of their community.

This strategy aims to:

  • Address gaps in the availability and accessibility of higher-level and occupation-specific language training
  • Expand language assessment capacity up to Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB), or Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens (NCLC) levels12
  • Provide enhanced referral to appropriate language training services
  • Improve coordination and linkages with the provincially funded adult language training program.

Strategic directions to achieve this will include:

  • Expand and develop new programming at CLB/NCLC levels 7 –12 to ensure that newcomers have the language competencies to study at the post-secondary level and/or have access to employment training
  • Develop and implement an ongoing system of occupation-specific language training supported by new partnerships
  • Coordinate and implement common standards for assessment and evaluation, and expand the current system to cover CLB/NCLC 1-12
  • Expand the role of language assessment centres to include assessment and referral to a range of programs
  • Develop and enhance FSL (French as a second language) tools and curriculum materials
  • Establish language in the workplace programs where appropriate
  • Develop client-centred programming.

 

Strategy 3

Work with municipalities and federal-provincial government departments to enable partnerships that will integrate newcomers in the economic and social life of Ontario communities.

Newcomers settle in communities throughout Ontario. Successful settlement and integration essentially means the involvement of newcomers in local social networks, local labour markets, local civic activities and local schools.

In addition, newcomers are dependent on a strong municipal infrastructure —libraries, schools, public health and transportation systems. Municipalities have a stake in planning and legislation that affect their residents.

Local employers and industries are central players in the integration of newcomers. They offer opportunities for employment which is a primary objective for most newcomer families and their host communities.

This strategy aims to:

  • Engage municipalities in the planning of integration services for their communities
  • Foster community partnerships to develop and implement local solutions to newcomer integration challenges.

Strategic directions to achieve this will include:

  • Fund innovative programs at the local and regional level that address employment and labour market integration and improve access to a wide range of newcomer services
  • Fund the development of online and other municipal resources to facilitate newcomer integration
  • Provide opportunities for municipalities to share information and participate in the planning of integration services for their communities.

 

Strategy 4

Design, fund and administer settlement and language training programs based on how well they support desired outcomes.

MCI and CIC commit to designing and funding settlement and language training programs based on the extent to which they can demonstrate that they are achieving the outcomes defined in the COIA Logic Model.

This strategy aims to:

  • Ensure accountability for funding provided to service provider organizations
  • Assess the effectiveness of settlement and language training programming through research and evaluation
  • Use the findings of research and evaluation to improve the design and delivery of the programs and services provided to newcomers
  • Further the body of research pertinent to settlement and language training programs.

Strategy 4 will be guided by the following strategic directions:

  • Monitor service delivery (including costs) and program results through ongoing or periodic review of the performance information collected by service provider organizations.
  • Conduct periodic program evaluation studies that assess implementation, service delivery, program results and cost-effectiveness.
  • Conduct literature reviews, research studies, and data development and analyses to further the knowledge base underlying settlement and language training policy and program development.
  • Employ evaluation and research results to further evidence-based program design and delivery.
  • Review CIC’s management information needs and explore the development of responsive management data systems to support the effective administration of funding.
  • Support communities in their planning efforts through information sharing and consultation.
  • Support the capacity of service providers to collect and use accurate, relevant data.

Conclusion

The implementation of the Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement marks a new era of federal-provincial collaboration with respect to immigration and integration of newcomers to Ontario. The new investment of $920 million over five years will significantly enhance the capacity of service providers in the settlement and language training sectors to meet the current and emerging needs of newcomers more effectively.

The development of the Strategic Plan for Settlement and Language Training carefully considered the results of the recent stakeholder consultations and other relevant research and recommendations. The Plan outlines strategies with clear objectives and directions to support the successful social and economic integration of newcomers to Ontario. It identifies the outcomes necessary to achieve integration and supports accountability and effective programming. This framework will guide the investment of the new COIA funds for a wide range of programs and services designed to help newcomers become full participants in all aspects of life in Ontario.

The Appendix outlines a number of actions as first steps towards achieving the goals of the Strategic Plan. Further actions and initiatives will be developed as the work of the various implementation committees progresses.

Implementation of the Strategic Plan will be guided by the Settlement and Language Training Working Groups that are part of the governance structure set out in the Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement. These groups are comprised of officials from the federal department of Citizenship and Immigration, the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration and Municipal representatives.

The Research and Accountability Working Group, consisting of federal and provincial government representatives will oversee the accountability, research and evaluation objectives of the Strategic Pan.

The Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement has committed the resources needed to move forward with the Strategic Plan. Both levels of government are committed to engaging stakeholders and municipalities in the implementation of the Plan to maximize the conditions for success.

CIOA Settlement and Language Services Programs Logic Model

Appendix: Actions

As first steps toward achieving the objectives of each of the four strategies outlined in this Plan, COIA funding will support a range of actions in 2006-07 and 2007-08. Further actions and initiatives will be developed with stakeholder input and announced over the term of the COIA Agreement.

Strategy 1

Develop a flexible, coordinated system of settlement services with strong linkages and clear pathways to services newcomers need such as language-training, labour-market integration, and social services.

Innovative partnerships and coordination of services

Address needs in under-serviced areas

 

 

 

 

Discussions with the regional governments and stakeholders will result in individualized plans to upgrade the capacity of the regions with growing immigrant populations to serve the settlement needs of newcomers. The plans will consider options for providing visible, “first-stop” newcomer centres, regional coordination of services, and linkages to other service providers and resources for newcomers.

Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS) Expansion

 

 

SWIS increases access to settlement services by providing settlement information, counselling and referral to newcomer children, youth, and their families directly in schools. The existing SWIS programs will be enhanced and the initiative will be expanded to other communities.

Effective information and referral

Expansion of pre-arrival services

 

 

In addition to already agreed to partnerships and projects, Ontarioimmmigration.ca and the federal Going to Canada web site will work together to identify and develop new online services and information for prospective immigrants.

Newcomer Information Centres (NIC) and development of “first-stop” centres

 

 

Newcomer Information Centres are self-directed settlement information banks co-located with LINC assessment centres. They will be expanded to include Scarborough, North York and Ottawa.

Etablissment.org

 

 

Additional resources will be allocated to the creation of content in French that will benefit both the Francophone newcomer and the minority language communities in Ontario.

Supporting employer engagement

Regional Newcomer Employment Networks (RNENS)

 

 

The success of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council has stimulated an interest in other municipalities to develop regional networks or associations that involve local employers and create employment opportunities for newcomers. Funding will be provided to support programming initiatives developed by emerging RNENS.

Employer initiatives

 

 

Funding will be provided to support initiatives designed to engage employers, such as conferences that educate employers on the value of a diverse workforce and encourage employers to provide labour-market opportunities for newcomers.

Improving access to services

Access to client-centred settlement services

 

 

Settlement services will be located in locations frequented by newcomers, such as libraries, schools, faith institutions, employment centres, and community colleges. The sites will be provided with enhanced resources to serve newcomer populations.

Feasibility study for expansion and coordination of Interpreter services

 

 

There is an increasing demand for spoken language interpreter services to enable newcomer access to justice, health, and social services. As a first step, CIC/MCI will conduct a feasibility study to guide future program development and spending on spoken language interpreter services.

Settlement programs through ethnic media

 

 

A review of settlement-related programming available in the mainstream and ethnic media will provide recommendations for expansion of programming through media.

Building capacity

Support for settlement workers and agencies

 

 

Funding will be available to cover the full salary and administrative costs associated with programming supported by CIC.

Professional and organizational development

 

 

CIC will continue to support initiatives by organizations to give staff engaged in programs opportunities for learning and networking.

 

Strategy 2

Develop and implement a comprehensive language assessment, referral and training system that assists newcomers to become competent in English or French as quickly as possible.

Expand higher-level and occupation-specific language learning

Expansion of Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC )

 

 

 

 

Introduce higher levels of language instruction-LINC 6/7(CLB 10). Curriculum guidelines will be developed for LINC 6/7. Training providers will include existing delivery organizations and new partners. Determine feasibility for language training beyond CLB 10.

Language training for employment

 

 

Fund the language and communications components of (Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration) MCI’s Bridge Training projects. This partnership will be extended to new Bridge Training projects as they come on stream.

Occupation-specific language training system

 

 

Provide occupation-specific language training through community colleges, community employment training agencies and other partners to enable skilled newcomers to reach adequate English/French proficiency to work in their chosen fields.

Language assessment, evaluation and referral

Centralized language assessment for LINC and Ontario ESL/FSL

 

Expand a centralized assessment and referral system that covers the needs of both the federal and provincial language training programs.

Language assessment and referral capacity

 

 

Implement consistent assessment tools.

Develop specific assessment tools required for certain sectors.

Expand referral capacity.

Evaluation systems

 

Develop exit-test system to support effective referral for ongoing training.

Increasing access and client-centred programming

Additional LINC Home Study seats across Ontario

 

 

Expand opportunities for home study by expansion of the current program.

Explore other alternatives and methods of providing language training to remote locations.

Additional Infant Care/ Childminding for LINC program

 

 

Additional infant care, childminding spaces, and workers will address increased needs from the new LINC Level 6 & 7 classes and from waiting lists.

ESL/FSL in the workplace

 

 

Develop guidelines for the piloting and delivery of language training partnerships with employers.

Enhancement of computer-assisted language learning

 

 

Provide LINC delivery organizations with new hardware and software to upgrade existing computer labs or establish new ones.

Assess the potential of additional language lab tools and resources.

Language mentoring

 

 

Study and potentially expand pilot mentoring programs that connect language learners with language proficient adults.

Additional LINC Literacy classes

 

 

Increase availability of LINC literacy opportunities.

Create specific LINC literacy classes with small class size to provide these high need learners with more direct and targeted instruction.

 

Strategy 3

Work with municipalities and federal-provincial government departments to enable partnerships that will integrate newcomers in the economic and social life of Ontario communities.

Engaging municipalities in settlement/language training service planning

Municipal Immigration Committee

 

 

 

 

MCI and CIC will share information and consult with municipalities regarding integration policies and plans through the Municipal Immigration Committee (MIC) which is co-chaired by AMO and includes representation by AFMO.

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City of Toronto

 

 

The City of Toronto will have the opportunity to participate in the development of settlement and language training policies and programs through the implementation of the trilateral MOU between Canada, Ontario, and the City.

Participation in Settlement and Language Training Working Groups

 

 

Representatives from both the City of Toronto and the Municipal Immigration Committee have joined the Settlement and Language Training Working Groups under COIA, which will be responsible for implementing this Strategic Plan.

Municipal resources

Municipal Immigration Information Online Program

 

 

The program will provide funding for Ontario municipalities to develop online resources for newcomers. Potential and landed immigrants will be able to learn about Ontario communities and find the local information and services they need. The municipal resources will be available from the Ontario Government’s website for newcomers: OntarioImmigration.ca. The first five municipal sites will be launched between January and March 2007. Opportunities under this program will be made available to other municipalities in 2006-07.

Innovative partnerships

Address needs in under-serviced areas

 

 

As outlined under strategy #1, innovative local solutions will be developed with the involvement of the regional/municipal governments to address the need to coordinate and establish new integration services to keep pace with growing immigrant populations.

Regional Newcomer Employment Networks (RNENS)

 

 

As outlined under strategy #1, COIA funding will support programming initiatives developed by emerging RNENS. Delivery models will be unique to each community and seek the input and participation of local government.

 

Strategy 4

Design, fund and administer settlement and language training programs based on how well they support desired outcomes.

Key Actions

  • Develop measurable, valid and credible indicators of success for outcomes identified in the Settlement Services and Language Training Logic Model.
  • The Research and Accountability Working Group will develop a multi-year evaluation plan, identifying the specific evaluation activities and related timing to be conducted under the COIA Agreement.
  • The Research and Accountability Working Group will develop a multi-year Research Plan, identifying the specific research activities and related timing to be conducted under the COIA Agreement.
  • Share research findings with service providers, municipalities and other funders to support communities in their planning efforts.
  • Review existing committees as a mechanism for consultation with service providers and municipalities, and establish other committees or venues as required.
  • Adopt, to the extent possible, common data (including data dictionaries and standard taxonomies) for CIC and MCI requirements.
  • Analyze logic models to ensure that there are no gaps in the quantitative data captured in settlement data collection systems.