CIMM Committee Report
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Government Response to the
Report of the Standing Committee
on Citizenship and Immigration
Settlement and Integration:
A Sense of Belonging--"Feeling at Home"
The Government is pleased to respond to the Report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, Settlement and Integration: A Sense of Belonging--"Feeling at Home."
Settlement and integration programs and services are integral features of the immigration program, and provide newcomers with initial services such as information, orientation and referral to mainstream agencies, adaptation and mentoring programs, and language training. The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of investing in newcomers. The report provides us with valuable advice to improve our settlement programs and services. It gives us ideas to explore with our partners in other government departments, provinces, territories and non-governmental organizations.
We have considered each issue addressed in the report, and we have explored them with our partners within Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and in other government departments. We will continue to work diligently with our partners toward the successful settlement and integration of newcomers into Canadian society.
Specific responses to each recommendation follow.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada should expand and enhance the Canadian Orientation Abroad Program and make it available to all classes of immigrants.
Response: Canadian Orientation Abroad (COA) services are designed to assist in the integration process. Applicants selected for permanent residence in Canada or the Live-in Caregiver Program are referred to the services. COA is offered by an international service providing organization in regions of the world that are high source countries for refugees and immigrants.
COA is available to all categories of persons selected for permanent residence in Canada or for the Live-in Caregiver Program. Priority is given to those most in need: first to government-assisted refugees, then to independent immigrants and finally to members of the family class and live-in caregivers. Of the 229,091 people that landed in Canada in 2002, 9,600 received COA sessions.
CIC currently spends approximately $1 million each year on COA. CIC is currently examining more cost-efficient approaches to providing settlement information that will be accessible to a larger number of immigrants and refugees. For example, CIC is exploring the development of a COA course on-line that will enable immigrants to access settlement information and services before coming to Canada. Combining direct and on-line information services will improve access to orientation information for all classes of immigrants.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada should develop a program that would facilitate the exchange of information between visa officers overseas and settlement workers in Canada. The program should ensure that visa officers are aware of the settlement challenges in particular regions of the country and should provide information that will assist settlement agencies in planning for their future clients' needs.
Response: CIC supports various forms of information sharing between its staff and settlement workers and is interested in exploring new means of improving this. CIC is already committed to information sharing with the settlement sector via umbrella and national organizations, and through the Voluntary Sector Initiative.
Training programs, both for settlement workers and for visa officers, will be reviewed.
CIC has an immigration application process that enables the majority of interactions between mission staff and prospective immigrants to take place in writing. Therefore, there are limited opportunities during the application process for in-person counselling.
CIC is exploring innovative means of improving access to settlement and labour market information for prospective immigrants and permanent residents. CIC, in partnership with Industry Canada and Human Resources Development Canada, is developing a strategy for an Internet portal intended to provide on-line information and services to prospective immigrants, new permanent residents and settlement agencies. The following components are being considered for development as part of the on-line portal initiative: tailored information on Canada's labour market, education system, culture, regions and communities (including minority language communities); language skills and foreign qualification assessment; learning opportunities to meet qualification gaps; job and internship search tools; job mentoring opportunities; information for employers and the public about the contribution immigrants have made and will make to Canada; Canadian orientation and settlement information; and immigrant and employer success stories.
Currently, some non-governmental organizations that recruit newcomers under the Provincial Nominee Program provide pre-arrival counselling or settlement information to those selected. There is clearly a role for the provinces to play in this regard.
Visa officers and provincial representatives overseas should provide information to successful applicants for permanent residence so that the newcomers can contact settlement agencies and other organizations that assist immigrants in the regions in which they intend to settle. Provinces who do not have representatives overseas should be encouraged to promote themselves in this manner.
Response: CIC currently provides successful applicants for permanent residence orientation materials or referrals to information Web sites through missions overseas and through major Canadian ports of entry. Newcomers are referred to Internet resources, such as the general CIC Web site and the Government of Canada Web site for newcomers. The CIC Web site includes links to Provincial Nominee Program Web sites, service provider agencies and other settlement information. Contact information on settlement agencies in all provinces is also listed on CIC's Integration-Net Web site. The resource materials distributed to many newcomers can include A Newcomer's Introduction to Canada; fact sheets about Government of Canada services; and Welcome to Canada: What You Should Know. These documents, distributed to every adult immigrant on arrival at major ports of entry, list the service providing organizations across the country.
Since the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) has come into force, changes were made to the CIC Web site to provide better and more complete information to potential immigrants. The use of the Internet is an efficient mechanism to share information and the Government is currently working to develop a strategy to provide better and more targeted on-line information and services to assist immigrants. This initiative will complement other similar on-line initiatives developed by provinces such as British Columbia and Ontario.
Most provinces with provincial nominee programs make efforts to connect their nominees with settlement services upon arrival to the province of destination. In many cases the province works with local groups to identify nominee candidates. These groups are also active in assisting candidates to settle and integrate after landing. The level of provincial assistance varies by the maturity of their Provincial Nominee Program.
To address gaps in service, Citizenship and Immigration Canada should develop a better coordination strategy for the various federal and provincial departments involved in the provision of settlement services. Provinces without a settlement agreement with the federal government should be encouraged to pursue such an arrangement.
Response: CIC continues to discuss increased cooperation in the planning, development and funding of settlement and integration programs and services through such initiatives as the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Working Group on Settlement and Integration. At present, CIC has realignment agreements in place with British Columbia and Manitoba (Quebec settlement programs are funded through the Canada-Quebec Accord). Agreements with British Columbia and Manitoba enable these provinces to be responsible for the design, delivery and administration of settlement and integration programs and services. Committees established with these provinces provide a forum for further bilateral discussions and information sharing relating to settlement and integration issues. In addition, CIC and Alberta continue to have a successful partnership in co-managing settlement services in that province. A statement of understanding between Canada and Alberta outlines the commitment to effective administration and service delivery to immigrants.
In March 1999, then Minister Robillard wrote to all other provinces and territories informing them that CIC would no longer actively seek their position on realignment opportunities, but that if they were interested, they should approach the Department. The door remains open to discuss realignment opportunities with other provinces and territories. However, there is a low level of interest at this time.
CIC meets regularly and continues to work with other federal departments, including Human Resources Development Canada, Industry Canada, Canadian Heritage and Health Canada toward horizontal policy development and enhancements in the areas of economic and social integration of immigrants. This strategy also includes further enhancements to partnerships with provinces and territories, including those provinces with settlement realignment agreements, toward a more coordinated approach to addressing settlement and integration issues. For instance, a new initiative will provide higher levels of language training, including labour market specific language training, and will be developed and delivered through partnerships at the federal, provincial and territorial levels and with employers and NGOs.
Recent trends have also seen coordinated movements from local groups coming together to form regional organizations. CIC remains in contact with these groups and considers them key stakeholders in settlement issues.
Overall funding for settlement programs should be augmented to reflect the increase in immigrant arrivals with a benchmark of $3,000 per newcomer being dedicated to settlement services.
Response: Settlement funding for language training, immigrant settlement, adaptation and mentoring programs outside Quebec has remained constant since 1996-97. The annual amount available for distribution to provinces and territories is set at $173.35 million, subject to annual parliamentary approval. Funding for settlement programs is assessed by the Government within the scope of broader government priorities.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada should participate in discussions with service provider organizations and the provinces to ascertain the most appropriate funding models for settlement services. In reviewing national funding formulae, Citizenship and Immigration Canada should consider a per capita model that would ensure that basic settlement services are available in all regions.
Response: CIC has recently completed a thorough review of its allocation model, including discussions and correspondence with all the affected provinces and territories. Service provider organizations also provided input both directly to national headquarters and at the regional level. Several options were discussed at a Federal/Provincial/Territorial Working Group meeting in Ottawa in June 2003, including a per capita allocation, and these are under active consideration.
The allocation model is designed to be transparent, impartial, relatively simple, and responsive to shifts in recent immigrant flows. It provides stability by using a three-year rolling average of adult immigration intake per province or territory. A maximum reduction rule limits funding decreases in any one province or territory in any one year, thus preserving infrastructure. Factors such as knowledge of an official language and the intake of refugees are applied as these have a significant influence on the degree to which settlement and integration services are required. The model also takes into account different cost factors in larger and smaller regions, and a minimum allocation rule is applied to territories with low immigrant intake.
The Government will continue to consult with provincial and territorial stakeholders in developing future allocation models.
The funding of settlement services should be flexible enough to account for the needs of regions of low immigration and should ensure that the core operating costs for settlement agencies are addressed.
Response: The current allocation model has safeguards to assist smaller provinces and territories to preserve infrastructure. The minimum allocation rule ensures that lower intake provinces and territories are given a fixed amount of funding each year. A three-year rolling average minimizes the impact of severe annual fluctuations, and a maximum reduction rule ensures that each province or territory receives no more than a small reduction over the amount they received the preceding year.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada should work toward multi-year funding agreements that provide stability to service providers and allow them to engage in long-term planning.
Response: CIC continues to implement its national Contribution Accountability Framework, which will ensure the accountability of settlement expenditures through monitoring service delivery and evaluating program effectiveness and efficiency. The Resettlement Assistance Program already allows for multi-year arrangements with service providers. CIC is currently examining the feasibility of multi-year arrangements for other settlement services.
Under a separate initiative, CIC and the settlement sector are also looking at ways to implement the principles and practices contained in the Voluntary Sector Initiative Code of Good Practice on Funding. This code was developed as an implementation tool for the Accord between the Government of Canada and the voluntary sector. Among other things, the Code recommends multi-year funding agreements.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada must ensure that funds transferred to the provinces for settlement purposes are spent on specified settlement programs and that reporting requirements are in place to ensure that funds are not diverted to other provincial programs.
Response: Realignment agreements, through which funds are transferred to provinces for settlement purposes, currently exist with the provinces of Manitoba and British Columbia. To ensure funds are spent on specified settlement projects and are not diverted to other programs, settlement realignment agreements contain accountability clauses that require provinces to report on the use of funds and service delivery. CIC recently renewed its realignment agreement with Manitoba. This new agreement continues to include accountability requirements. CIC is currently renegotiating its realignment agreement with British Columbia, which will include similar accountability requirements.
As a pilot project, Citizenship and Immigration Canada should contract with selected established settlement agencies to provide settlement and integration services, specifying the final outcomes and allowing the agencies significant flexibility in determining how to best serve their clientele. The results should be monitored to determine if there is an improvement in end results with less ongoing CIC administrative oversight, while maintaining overall financial accountability.
Response: CIC enters into contribution agreements with service provider organizations, and also provides funding to provinces with settlement realignment agreements (British Columbia and Manitoba) and to Quebec, to deliver specific services to help immigrants settle, adapt and integrate both economically and socially. These agreements specify the final outcomes expected while allowing flexibility for the agencies and provinces to determine how to best meet the needs of immigrants in the communities.
For example, in the coming months, enhanced language training projects will be developed with partners, including provinces, territories, NGOs, employers and other federal departments. The projects will clearly outline expected outcomes and will include data collection, evaluation and reporting plans. The partnerships will allow flexibility in the delivery of the services to enable each project to meet the needs of newcomer women and men in the community, while at the same time providing strategic outcomes that can be enhanced or expanded to other areas of Canada.
As part of its Contribution Accountability Framework, CIC will undertake evaluations of all of its settlement programs. CIC will also adopt results-based management practices as a requisite for meaningful program evaluation and will undertake a collaborative, participatory exercise to define program-level outcomes (including final outcomes) and indicators before proceeding with formal evaluations of its settlement programs. CIC will launch this process by working together with stakeholders in the fall of 2003 to develop outcomes and indicators for the Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada program.
There should be greater flexibility in determining the length of time individuals are eligible for particular settlement services, with the determination of eligibility being primarily guided by the client needs assessment done by the service provider organization.
Response: While settlement services are designed primarily to meet the needs of newly arrived immigrants, eligible recipients may receive settlement services at any time after their arrival in Canada, up to the time they become Canadian citizens. Terms and conditions of programs do not establish time limits on settlement service eligibility. Individual regions, however, may determine priority groups based on community needs in consultation with stakeholders.
The Committee recommends that refugee claimants be eligible for settlement services that will enable them to better support themselves while awaiting determination of their claims.
Response: Canada has a proud tradition of welcoming people who are genuinely fleeing from persecution, and the Government intends to maintain this commitment. However, settlement programs and services are specifically targeted to assist eligible newcomers to settle as quickly and successfully as possible. Refugee claimants are not included because their need for refugee protection in Canada has not yet been recognized.
There are services offered by other orders of government to assist refugee claimants.
The Committee recommends that live-in caregivers be eligible for settlement services.
Response: Live-in caregivers are eligible for Immigrant Settlement and Adaptation Program (ISAP)-related services. This includes services such as reception, orientation, translation and counselling. However, live-in caregivers are not eligible for language training programs as proficiency in an official language is a requirement to be accepted into the program. They are not eligible for mentoring/buddy programs because they are already living with families in Canada.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada should ensure that higher levels of language instruction for newcomers are available throughout the country and should work toward implementing national standards.
Response: Canadian language training programs for newcomers offer many levels of language instruction from levels 1 to 7 within the 12-level Canadian Language Benchmark framework. Based on local consultations, individual regions may choose to allocate resources to certain levels of language training according to needs and available funds. This maintains a certain amount of flexibility in the system to ensure programs can be adapted to local needs.
CIC is currently implementing a Contributions Accountability Framework tool. This tool will provide a better picture of what services are available across the country.
Newcomer language training is based on the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) and the Standards linguistiques canadiens (SLC) frameworks. Both frameworks were developed with CIC support, and are promoted by the Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks.
The Committee recommends that LINC funding be provided for language training programs that are specifically geared toward finding employment.
Response: The federal budget (February 2003) provided for an allocation of $5 million per year toward the development and implementation of cost-sharing projects. Federal departments are working with provinces, territories, municipalities, employers, educational institutions, community organizations and NGOs to provide higher levels of language training, including labour market specific language training for adult immigrants.
Higher levels of language training will be designed, delivered and funded through cost sharing and seed funding projects with partners, including projects to support the regionalization strategy. The regionalization strategy element of the initiative will help to share the benefits of immigration across the country by ensuring that settlement services are available in small centres that may not otherwise have the capacity to support those services. The higher levels of language training will include the labour market specific language training that skilled immigrants need in order to practice in their field of expertise (e.g., nursing, engineering, etc.)
The federal-provincial-territorial working group established to address the recognition of foreign credentials should move as quickly as possible in this endeavour.
Response: The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of addressing issues of foreign credential recognition in a timely manner. The sooner immigrants gain work experience in their areas of expertise, after arrival in Canada, the better they will be able to advance and remain in their profession. This will reduce the likelihood of underemployment and will positively impact Canada's economy.
As highlighted in the Speech from the Throne (SFT), the Government is committed to working with the provinces and territories to help immigrants integrate into the Canadian work force quickly and successfully. The 2003 federal budget allocated $13 million over two years to address the issue of foreign credential recognition. Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) has the federal lead on foreign credential recognition. In cooperation with other departments, including CIC, HRDC will develop initiatives to make progress on the SFT commitment.
To this end, the Government continues to work in partnership with provinces and territories, as well as with regulatory bodies, to develop processes to assess and recognize foreign credentials before and after an immigrant's arrival. Discussions are ongoing, under the auspices of the Forum of Labour Market Ministers and the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Working Group on Access to Professions and Trades, regarding this issue in particular and other labour market access issues for immigrants. In addition, HRDC and CIC continue to work together toward developing a "whole of government" coordinated approach to the successful attraction, selection and integration of immigrants to Canada.
The Committee recommends that Citizenship and Immigration Canada immediately establish an office to facilitate professional and trade assessments and accreditation for immigrants.
Response: As highlighted in the Speech from the Throne (SFT), the Government is committed to helping skilled immigrants integrate into the work force quickly and successfully. The 2003 federal budget allocated $13 million over two years to address the issue of foreign credential recognition. HRDC has the federal lead on foreign credential recognition. In cooperation with other departments, including Citizenship and Immigration Canada, HRDC will continue to develop these initiatives to help fulfil SFT commitments.
The Government continues to work in partnership with provinces and territories, who are responsible for the regulation of occupations, to develop fair, transparent and consistent processes to assess and recognize foreign credentials before and after an immigrant's arrival. Discussions are also being held on a multilateral and bilateral basis with the provinces and territories to develop a strategy to deal with the issue. As well, following discussions with HRDC, CIC will raise the issue of improved foreign credential recognition processes at the fall federal-provincial-territorial meeting of ministers responsible for immigration.
The Government of Canada should provide greater support and assistance to foreign-trained workers through loan and internship programs, as well as other means.
Response: The Government of Canada assists foreign-trained workers through a variety of means and is supportive of exploring new ways of facilitating the entry of foreign-trained workers into the job market.
The Government of Canada has instituted more flexibility through regulations surrounding the Immigrant Loan Program. Regulations in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) allow loans to be used to assist permanent residents to become established in Canada.
The Government is engaged in reducing complex and costly barriers often associated with foreign credential recognition. The Government is developing a strategy for an Internet portal to assist immigrants to prepare for Canada's labour market while they are abroad and after arrival. This strategy is intended to provide on-line information and services to prospective immigrants, including foreign-trained workers. In partnership with provinces, territories and regulatory bodies, the Government will continue to support the development of foreign credential recognition processes that are fair, transparent and consistent.
Settlement programming and client needs assessments should be sensitive to mental health issues and, in particular, the needs of refugees and other newcomers with stress-related disorders.
Response: CIC acknowledges the importance of sensitivity in relation to the assessment of mental health issues of newcomers.
As part of settlement services, funded through the Immigrant Settlement and Adaptation Program (ISAP), immigrant-serving agencies refer immigrants and refugees to a range of services. ISAP workers are trained to recognize the signs of mental health issues. They refer newcomers to general practitioners who will in turn refer patients to mental health specialists or directly to clinics that deal with mental health issues, when such clinics are locally available.
CIC also provides funding to the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture (CCVT), a non-profit charitable organization. This organization's mandate is to respond to the continuing, unique needs of survivors of torture and their families, as well as to engage in public education. CCVT provides assessment, settlement counselling and crisis intervention. The centre coordinates referrals with doctors and psychiatrists, provides language training for newcomers, and delivers an art therapy program.
CIC ensures, as much as possible, that government-assisted refugees from abroad are destined to cities with the most appropriate services available to treat particular mental health issues and stress-related disorders.
CIC also encourages the sharing of best practices among service providing organizations through initiatives such as the Voluntary Sector Initiative and the Integration-Net Web site.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada must ensure that the Interim Federal Health program addresses the mental health needs of those fleeing persecution or who are otherwise forced to leave their home country.
Response: The Interim Federal Health (IFH) program provides coverage for the mental health needs of refugee claimants and certain refugees who have no other insurance and cannot pay for the service themselves.
CIC is aware that special mental health problems need to be addressed for certain newcomers to the country. In Canada, general practitioners (GPs) have the responsibility to provide primary health care services and are ideally suited to initiate and recommend medical treatment. It is important that GPs who have the appropriate linguistic skills or access to appropriate translation remain the first line in the treatment of patients as an initial physical and mental evaluation is necessary. GPs have knowledge of the network of health-care providers in their community and can refer to appropriate mental health-care professionals.
Access by IFH recipients to paramedical services such as psychologists is problematic because these are not expenses covered by provincial insurance plans and this can be seen as discriminatory toward other Canadian residents.
The IFH program has established operational arrangements with provincial community health centres who deal with a large population of migrants and who staff not only doctors, but social workers, nurses and psychologists. This model is already working in Montréal and similar collaborations will be sought with other community health centres and similar institutions in the future. By cooperating with provincial community health centres, access for all residents according to need is preserved.
Funding should be provided to train local mental health professionals in the treatment of mental health issues that arise from the immigration and refugee experience, including post-traumatic stress disorder. Cultural sensitivity should be included as a component of this training.
Response: Under the Immigrant Settlement and Adaptation Program (ISAP), CIC provides funding to organizations or individuals to host conferences, develop educational materials and conduct research, and to engage in needs assessments. This includes funding for workshops and training materials for health-care professionals and volunteers on mental health issues.
Mental health professionals in Canada possess substantial expertise and experience in the field of migrant health and post-traumatic stress disorder in particular. CIC considers that fostering links with knowledgeable and willing health-care providers is key to providing good health care for the refugee population. The Interim Federal Health program favours nurturing these preferred relationships with health professionals and will continue to try to improve procedures relative to the delivery of services.
The Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture (CCVT) is a non-profit charitable organization to which CIC provides funding. The organization serves those, including immigrants and refugees and their families, who are survivors of torture. CCVT responds to the range of continuing needs of their client group, including post-traumatic stress disorder. The centre also coordinates referrals with doctors and psychiatrists.
As Canada has become increasingly multi-ethnic, so has the composition of its health-care providers with resulting benefits with respect to cultural sensitivity. The Government is continually striving to find ways to improve how we assess the complex needs of immigrants and refugees, including mental health needs, so that settlement and resettlement programs can be more responsive.
To combat racism and xenophobia, and to promote inclusiveness and a sense of belonging, the federal government should launch a public education campaign to provide information about immigrants and refugees and their economic, social and cultural contributions to Canada. The federal government should also monitor hate crimes and prosecutions in Canada and report the findings to Parliament.
Response: The Government is determined to combat racism and xenophobia and to promote inclusiveness and a sense of belonging in Canada.
Through CIC's "Canada: We All Belong" campaign, the Government celebrates and promotes the values of freedom, respect and belonging to newcomers and all Canadians. These values are widely discussed in resource materials, speeches and activities organized for occasions such as Celebrate Canada Week (including Canadian Multiculturalism Day), Citizenship Week, and the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The Government funds the development and distribution of a number of educational resources to schools and youth groups, such as Cultivating Peace (teaching resources that promote conflict resolution among youth) and My Commitment to Canada (a teaching resource that explores the themes of freedom, respect and belonging while stimulating thought and debate about citizenship). In order to better educate youths and the general public about the many social, cultural and economic contributions immigrants and refugees make to Canada, the Government has supported the launch of the Speaker's Bureau. In this initiative, immigrants and refugees speak in schools about the challenges and successes they have experienced as newcomers to Canada.
The Department of Canadian Heritage organizes an annual anti-racism campaign, commemorating the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 21. In addition, through the Mathieu da Costa Challenge, the Department encourages students to explore the contributions to Canadian society of people of diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds. The Department's sponsorship of Asian Heritage Month and Black History Month contributes to greater understanding among different ethno-racial communities in Canada.
The Canadian Heritage research program, Multiculturalism Issues in Canada, explores contemporary challenges inherent to social exclusion, racial discrimination and alienation. In part, policy approaches that are conducive to an inclusive society are developed based on this and other research. For example, the Multiculturalism Program continues to work in partnership with the RCMP, other governments, local police and municipalities to strengthen the foundation of ethno-cultural/ethno-racial communities and law enforcement agencies.
An interdepartmental committee on public education and outreach was established post September 11 and the World Conference Against Racism, to provide Government with a concerted approach to the development of tools and initiatives to assist in public education strategies, and public awareness programs to promote social cohesion and shared citizenship, respect, diversity and connections between Canadians.
The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, a branch of Statistics Canada, has undertaken a pilot project regarding the collection of statistics on hate crimes. As this study has yet to be concluded, it would be premature to commit to collecting such statistics on a regular basis.
The Government of Canada should examine further incentives to encourage immigrants to settle in areas of low immigration, such as waiving or refunding the Right of Landing Fee for immigrants who settle in these regions, the use of tax credits, and loan programs.
Response: The Government of Canada, through its regionalization strategy, is working with provinces and territories to develop strategies to share the benefits of immigration more evenly across the country. In October 2002, ministers responsible for immigration agreed to develop flexible approaches to attract newcomers to smaller centres, including official language minority communities. These initiatives will build on the successes of our existing federal/provincial/territorial approaches, such as the Provincial Nominee and Temporary Foreign Worker programs.
CIC will use funds allocated in the federal budget of 2003 to work with the provinces and territories and their communities to facilitate the entry of newcomers to Canada under pilot projects. However, it will be incumbent on the provinces and territories and their communities, including the private and voluntary sectors, to support the capacity of smaller centres to attract and retain newcomers through the availability of employment opportunities, the existence of educational opportunities and the creation of welcoming conditions. CIC will strive to ensure that settlement programming for permanent residents who enter under the pilot projects is comparable to that available across the country.
Under the auspices of the Voluntary Sector Initiative, a working group composed of government and settlement sector participants is currently exploring ways to increase the capacity of smaller centres to welcome newcomers. The working group will report on its findings at the second National Settlement Conference in October 2003.
The Government of Canada does collect a landing fee for immigrants. This fee, which was brought in as part of the 1995 federal budget, was intended to offset general government financial pressures.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada should facilitate the active involvement of members of the local community in the settlement and integration process.
Response: CIC currently facilitates the active involvement of members of the local community in the settlement and integration process and is continually examining additional means of expanding local participation.
One of the underpinnings of CIC's settlement programs is the two-way process of integration. Integration involves commitment on the part of newcomers to adapt to life in Canada and on the part of Canadians to adapt to new people and cultures; it is a two-way street. Part of the adaptation process involves improving communication and understanding between newcomers and Canadian communities. CIC's Host program provides an example of a way in which members of a community and newcomers can form friendly relationships, better understand each other, and facilitate integration. Volunteer hosts, familiar with the Canadian way of life, help newcomers learn about available services and how to use them, practice English and French, acquire contacts in their field of work and participate in the community. At the same time, host Canadians learn about new cultures, other countries and different languages. They make new friends and strengthen community life. Host matches can include an individual host paired with a newcomer family, a host family matched with a newcomer family, or an individual host paired with a newcomer. Based on available data, in 2001, there were approximately 3,700 matches between hosts and newcomers (excluding Quebec, Manitoba and British Columbia).
CIC is also committed to working with Francophone minority communities to develop strategies to attract, integrate and retain French-speaking immigrants outside of Quebec. CIC established the Francophone Minority Communities Steering Committee to facilitate the selection, reception and integration of newcomers in Francophone minority communities.
Through CIC's program of private sponsorship of refugees, groups of individuals are able to become actively involved in the settlement and integration of refugees through private sponsorship arrangements. Sponsors commit to providing settlement assistance to refugees for one year from the date the refugee arrives in Canada. This assistance can take such forms as accommodation, clothing and food. However, sponsors often become actively involved with the newcomers by providing moral support and introducing them to various aspects of Canadian life. In recent years, CIC has landed approximately 3,000 privately sponsored refugees per annum.
Provinces and territories have shown a willingness to work with CIC to develop strategies to share the benefits of immigration more evenly across the country. CIC is currently exploring with provinces and territories the possibility of pursuing projects that would take a community-based approach to regional immigration. Community participation in these initiatives will be essential to their success. By pooling the collective resources and knowledge of various levels of government, communities can be assisted to promote themselves and create a climate that will attract and retain new Canadians.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada should provide greater resources specifically designed to ensure that settlement services are available in the French language in areas that have been identified as having an immigrant Francophone minority.
Response: CIC is committed to working with the Francophone minority communities to develop strategies to attract and integrate French-speaking immigrants. In March 2002, the Honourable Denis Coderre, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, announced the creation of the Citizenship and Immigration Canada - Francophone Minority Communities Steering Committee. The Committee is composed of representatives of these communities, senior CIC officials and representatives of other federal and provincial departments. The members of the Steering Committee were given the mandate of developing strategies to increase the number of French-speaking immigrants in Francophone minority communities and to facilitate their reception, integration and retention.
The Steering Committee is developing a strategic framework to be launched in autumn 2003. Since the scope of the framework is not limited to CIC's mandate, the Department will work in partnership with the communities to engage the federal, provincial and territorial government partners. They also have a role to play in the selection and reception, and the economic, social and cultural integration of immigrants in order to develop and implement the national, provincial and territorial action plans.
The Committee recommends that Citizenship and Immigration Canada encourage settlement agencies to develop or augment programs directed at immigrant children and their families, and provide the necessary funding to do so.
Response: English (or French) as a Second Language training for children falls within provincial/territorial jurisdiction.
However, CIC acknowledges that the children of immigrants have particular needs and can benefit from assistance to integrate into Canadian society. In the 2002 Speech from the Throne, the Government committed to working with "Canada's largest cities to develop targeted strategies to reduce the barriers faced by new immigrants in settling into the social and economic life of their new communities. It will introduce targeted measures to help children of recent immigrants to learn French and English, so that they can realize the opportunities that brought their parents to this country."
CIC supports the successful Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS) initiative. This initiative facilitates the integration of newcomer children into Canadian schools. Through this initiative, settlement workers operate in schools with high numbers of immigrant children, providing services to the parents, the children and to the school system. SWIS workers act as cultural brokers and facilitators between students, parents and the schools. For example, SWIS workers orient parents and children to school rules, teacher expectations and grade placement processes; refer children to appropriate agencies in cases of domestic violence; act as intermediaries between parents and teachers; and provide general information about Canadian society, culture and climate.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada should work with service providers to develop settlement models that address the needs of newcomers from the initial assessment stage to full integration in Canadian society and the acquisition of citizenship.
Response: CIC settlement programs provide initial bridging mechanisms to assist immigrants in accessing services available to all Canadians. The Government of Canada designs and funds integration programs and services to encourage newcomers to become participating and contributing members of Canadian society, able to access mainstream services. Most newcomers apply for Canadian citizenship soon after the initial three-year residence period. In recent years, the number of new citizens corresponds to about 85% of new immigrants admitted to Canada, three years prior.
CIC officials work with other federal departments, provinces, territories and others involved to coordinate the delivery of these settlement services.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada should conduct a review of salary and compensation packages in the settlement sector to ensure competitiveness with comparable positions in the labour market.
Response: CIC contracts with service provider organizations for the delivery of settlement services. Salary and compensation packages for staff engaged by service providing organizations are determined by agreement between the employer and the employee, and not by the Government. Service providers must respect and comply with all provincial labour laws and current workplace standards. CIC will, however, continue to take note of salaries in the settlement sector in terms of reviewing settlement funding allocations.