Mr. Chairman, before Mr. Manicom begins, I have a point of order arising out of the email on the estimates sent by the clerk and the publication of the in camera proceedings held by the committee on Monday. We talked about the and the being invited to appear before the committee in relation to the study of the supplementary estimates.
My concern, Mr. Chairman, is with the two ministers appearing for one hour and the members of the department of those two ministers appearing for a second hour. I seem to recall that we tried that once before. I think was here. I think was here when he was first appointed.
If each minister takes 10 minutes to speak, which is normally the custom—and I think they should—and makes introductory comments about the estimates that affect them, then if we're lucky, we would have maybe a first round of questions, which is hardly fair to the members of the committee.
The second issue, Mr. Chairman, is that I believe we should have a meeting with one minister for an hour, another meeting with another minister for an hour, and a meeting with each of the two officials. Each minister would appear alone for one hour, and then, as I say, they'd have an opportunity to make their seven- or 10-minute statements. I can't remember what you allow. Either way, we'd be lucky to get some questions in.
We have to consider the officials from both areas. We would have a pretty big table. We'd have the IRCC, the RCMP, the CBSA and possibly others. It would make it difficult, Mr. Chairman, to narrow down the questions that we have for their respective areas of responsibility.
We have two related issues here, Mr. Chairman, that we would like to question the ministers on.
The first is securing the border, the issues of Roxham Road and the areas in Manitoba and British Columbia that fall under . We now know there have been over 40,000 illegal border crossers in the last two years, and that would definitely require some detailed questions on the supplementary estimates.
We also have the larger issues surrounding immigration in general, which fall under . We have questions for him on a whole group of items, including backlogs, parents and grandparents, and on compensating provinces for increased asylum claims. The list is a long one. These are the estimates, after all. Pretty well any topic related to the department is fair game.
The final issue, which relates to the email sent by the clerk—I don't know whether I have it here, so I'll have to go by memory—is that if you look at the calendar setting forth the time frame we have to do the estimates, I think we sit for one week in March. In February I think there's a week that we're not sitting. So time's awasting, Mr. Chairman.
I believe that you and the clerk should set out two two-hour meetings, one for each minister and their respective officials, to go over these quite complicated areas that we would like to have an opportunity to question them on.
My name is David Manicom and I am the Assistant Deputy Minister for Settlement and Integration at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
I am joined by Corinne Prince, the Director General for Settlement and Immigration Policy, and by Laura Di Paolo, the Director General for the Settlement network.
We hope that our testimony will be helpful to your study.
Immigrants from every corner of the world have made significant contributions to all spheres of Canadian life, and they continue to make influential contributions to science, business, and technology.
Through new perspectives and diverse insights, immigrants also help to drive our country's intellectual and artistic capital. Many of our immigrants also bring with them an entrepreneurial spirit, creating jobs and becoming important drivers of innovation and investment.
Immigration benefits Canada's economic and demographic growth, our innovation and prosperity and our efforts at nation building. With Canada's aging population and growing labour force needs, I think we can all agree, Mr. Chair, that immigration will be vital to the continued growth and success of our country's economy and society. This statement is also supported by research.
Statistics Canada reports that the lion's share of national employment gains, 66% of gains between 2016 and 2017, was directly accounted for by immigrants.
And the most recent labour force survey for December 2018 shows that immigrants' employment rates are broadly in line with the national average.
The unemployment rate for core working-age immigrants stood at 5.7% in 2018.
This is the lowest unemployment rate for this group since at least 2006. This bodes very well for the future of immigration in Canada and suggests that our settlement program is doing a good job of helping newcomers to integrate. This is key, because ensuring that immigration remains advantageous to Canada in the future means that all newcomers are integrated and supported so they may contribute to various aspects of Canadian life.
Settlement services are a key to newcomer success, and investing in that success will be key to our nation's future prosperity and inclusiveness.
By the end of fiscal year 2019-2020, this will represent a 32% increase in settlement funding since 2015-2016.
In 2018-2019, our department has funded over 500 organizations and provided services to approximately 460,000 clients. Of these clients, more than 100,000 accessed language training services, reflecting the critical importance of English and French language skills for successful settlement in Canada.
Looking ahead, the ongoing success of our settlement programming will continue to depend critically upon our partnerships, which go well beyond the Government of Canada. This year we developed a shared national vision on settlement and integration with our partners, including the provinces, territories and stakeholders. That shared vision is that the successful settlement and integration of newcomers benefits Canada by building a more inclusive, diverse and productive nation. This is achieved through a shared effort that helps all reach their economic and social potential.
As you know, improving the delivery of settlement services is one of the commitments identified in 's mandate letter and is a priority that our department is intently focused on.
Our goal is to offer services that will best meet immigrants' needs and produce the best settlement outcomes possible. Our outcomes-based programming will be informed by our research, analysis, evaluation findings and the results of our new pilot projects.
To assess the effectiveness of our services, the department conducted a formal evaluation of the program, completed in May 2017. This incorporated a wide range of perspectives, including program clients, stakeholders and program officials, and comprised the largest-scale survey of newcomers ever conducted to that point, with almost 15,000 respondents. Overall, the evaluation found that our program has been effective at meeting a growing demand for settlement services. A clear majority of clients—96%—reported positive outcomes, such as improving their language ability finding employment, participating in their communities, and so forth.
We also conducted separate evaluations of the pre-arrival services and immigration to francophone minority communities.
The evaluations made several recommendations to improve our settlement program. The department has developed an action plan that is addressing those gaps. This plan will guide future program improvements, and inform the next calls for proposals with service providers, which will launch next month.
To date, improvements to our settlement program have included streamlining our pre-arrival settlement services for newcomers who are still abroad.
A number of projects are also under way to experiment with and assess potential new service delivery improvement projects. This year we will devote $32 million toward a dedicated funding stream for service delivery improvements and innovations.
One of the first of such innovative pilots is employing newcomers in stable, good-paying hotel jobs. This pilot will connect as many as 1,300 unemployed or unemployed newcomers with jobs in the hotel industry while they strengthen their language skills in the workplace.
Our program evaluation shows that combining employment and language training is effective and ultimately improves settlement and integration.
As such, the department is exploring more of these types of projects that combine workplace experience with language training and other supports. The Atlantic immigration program pilot is another example of this type of innovation.
IRCC is also launching other innovative settlement programs to target more vulnerable populations, such as refugees and women. We launched a pilot project this past December to support visible minority newcomer women in gaining access to and advancing in the labour market. Through this project, we aim to support the employment of visible minority newcomer women by increasing existing services, establishing new partnerships and testing the effectiveness of different combinations of employment services.
In addition, we are looking at improving the services that we offer to French-speaking newcomers who settle in francophone and Acadian communities outside of Quebec.
As announced in Budget 2018, and included in the official languages action plan, the department will invest more than $40 million over the next five years on a francophone integration pathway.
We are also looking at improving our settlement services for refugees, which have been especially important for Syrian refugees. This spring, IRCC will issue a major report on the 52,000 Syrian refugees who have arrived in Canada. We have already compiled much data from various sources. Most notably, 57% of Syrian refugees reported that they were employed, a marked increase since our 2016 rapid evaluation findings and, I think we can say, exceeding our expectations. What a wonderful collective effort from Canadians and these newcomers.
Once our report is complete, we expect the overall findings to the positive. More importantly, this will also help guide future improvements to our settlement services for refugees.
The call for proposals process that we will launch next month also will place an increased focus on key areas, including the integration of vulnerable populations, such as youth, refugees and LGBTQ2+, a greater focus on mental health supports and further enhancing our services for francophone newcomers.
The department recognizes that we must continue to assess what is working and what must be improved, and to continuously adapt our settlement programs to the changing needs of newcomers.
Going forward, with true co-planning with the provinces and territories and close co-operation with our partners and stakeholders, we can create a clearer picture of what newcomers need and determine how to collectively meet those needs. Our aim is to maximize the social and economic contributions of all immigrants to Canada, regardless of how they arrive.
As one of our service providers said today at a meeting I was at, it's about building a better Canada one newcomer at a time. With that in mind, Mr. Chair, we look forward to the findings of the committee's study.
Thank you very much.
My name is Matthew Cecchetto. On behalf of the International Organization for Migration, I would like to thank you for this invitation to discuss how the United Nations organization for migration provides pre-arrival services for refugees through the Canadian orientation abroad program.
I would like to show you a short animated video featuring the story of a refugee family and their resettlement journey. lt outlines the plight of refugees and the International Organization for Migration's role in essential aspects of the resettlement and integration process.
As the members of the standing committee saw, in addition to travel assistance and pre-departure health assessment services, IOM provides pre-departure orientation sessions to refugees selected overseas by the Canadian government for resettlement.
IOM has been funded by the Canadian government since 1998 to provide pre-departure orientation to refugees via the Canadian orientation abroad program, and has provided orientation to over 127,000 refugees. IRCC recognized that no other organization has the infrastructure, experience or capacity to deliver pre-arrival orientation services to refugees worldwide at a comparable cost, and chose to enter into a targeted service agreement with IOM for the next 4.25 years.
IOM believes pre-departure orientation is integral to the success of resettlement programs. Unlike economic immigrants, who choose to move to Canada, no one chooses to be a refugee. Some refugees may lack knowledge of Canada, which leads to high levels of anxiety, misperception, and unrealistic expectations. These expectations may not only cause stress to the newcomers upon their arrival but may also put pressure on service providers who work to help them adapt and adjust to life in their new communities.
COA sessions provided by IOM's multilingual, multi-ethnic facilitators help refugees anticipate integration challenges and ease their transition into Canadian society. Some of the topics addressed in the orientation include pre-departure preparations, housing, health, money management, the role of settlement service providers, education, cultural adaptation, and rights and responsibilities. COA sessions last anywhere from one to three days, depending on the setting, on the level of need, and on practical and security considerations. COA sessions are conducted in the participant's mother tongue or with consecutive interpretation. Travel and accommodation allowances are provided to refugees who travel long distances or who may be in precarious financial situations. Meals and childminding are provided free of charge during the COA sessions. These services help promote inclusion and equality and address some of the barriers refugees may face when accessing pre-departure orientation services.
IOM works closely with Canadian counterparts to develop curricula with key messages that are integrated into tailored resources and supporting activities. Refugees learn best and the lessons are more meaningful when the activities are experiential and highly participatory. While accurate information about Canada is relevant, it is equally important to build productive attitudes for successful adaptation, including proactivity, self-sufficiency and resourcefulness.
By empowering refugees to become self-sufficient and culturally knowledgeable upon arrival, pre-arrival services such as the Canadian orientation abroad service also indirectly contribute to improving the public perception of refugees in receiving communities.
In IRCC's rapid impact evaluation of the Syrian refugee initiative in 2016, the department cited that the lack of COA due to logistical issues meant that the basic information Syrian refugees were expected to have upon arrival had to be provided in Canada, making their initial resettlement stages even more difficult, so we have two recommendations for pre-arrival services from IOM.
First, refugees are resilient and positively contribute to Canadian society. Their outcomes improve when they are provided services that are tailored to their needs. All newcomers require support, but for refugees some needs cannot be met by services designed for other categories of immigrants. IOM recommends that IRCC provide appropriate and equitable funding to refugee-specific pre-arrival services and open consultation on the funding levels of these programs.
Second, IOM offers a portfolio of tried and tested services to facilitate the orderly migration of refugees to Canada. IOM recommends that the IRCC proactively plan refugee processing in order to support resettlement stakeholders to achieve better outcomes for the refugees we serve.
Mr. Chair, I sincerely thank the standing committee members for their time. I would be happy to answer any questions they may have.
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and good afternoon.
My name is Queenie Choo and I'm the CEO of S.U.C.C.E.S.S.
I'd like to start off by thanking you for the opportunity to contribute to the committee's important study on settlement services, particularly on pre-arrival.
S.U.C.C.E.S.S. is one of the largest non-profit immigrant and refugee service agencies, with over 30 service locations that support newcomers from 150 countries. We are very unique because we deliver the entire continuum of settlement services from pre-arrival to port of entry to post-arrival in Canada. S.U.C.C.E.S.S. settlement services benefited over 48,000 newcomers last year.
Let me begin by sharing the experience of one of our clients.
Leanna is a skilled worker from the Philippines and she has a background in IT and worked as a business analyst. She was approved to immigrate to Canada last year, but she was worried about her career prospects in Canada. She wasn't familiar with the Canadian labour market, didn't know how to enter the IT sector again, and was concerned that her years of expertise and skills would be lost. S.U.C.C.E.S.S. pre-arrival services, AEIP, provided Leanna with individualized service to help her develop her career plan, along with her knowledge and skills, to succeed in Canada's IT sector. They also connected her with the national IT sector council so that she could enhance her professional connections.
As Leanna was planning to move to Vancouver where the IT sector is thriving, the pre-arrival service also connected her to S.U.C.C.E.S.S.'s post-arrival settlement services in Vancouver. As a result, Leanna was able to seamlessly transition from pre-arrival to post-arrival services. Once she arrived in Vancouver, S.U.C.C.E.S.S.'s settlement services, ISIP, continued to help her establish her new life in Canada. S.U.C.C.E.S.S. provided her with continual career coaching as she applied for jobs and attended interviews.
As she had already started the process prior to arriving in Canada, Leanna achieved results quickly. I'm very happy to tell you that after just two months in Canada Leanna received not only one but two job offers. She is now working again as a business analyst at a major financial institute, continuing to build on the career she had started in the Philippines.
As you can tell from Leanna's story, her settlement journey started off with S.U.C.C.E.S.S.'s pre-arrival services through our Active Engagement and Integration Project, AEIP. Since 2008, our pre-arrival services have accelerated newcomers' settlement and integration processes by providing early information to support newcomers in making informed decisions and taking action to achieve their settlement goals.
Currently, AEIP is delivered through service centres in China and South Korea, through outreach across China as well as online globally to India, the Philippines and other countries to support newcomers who have been selected by IRCC to immigrate to Canada and are now at the stage of preparing to move to Canada.
Our pre-arrival services include information and orientation about various aspects of life in Canada; early support with foreign credential recognition, career planning and job search; opportunities to connect with Canadian employers, even before departure; and bridging to post-arrival settlement services in whichever community they choose to settle in.
Some of the benefits have been, for example, that newcomers are engaged earlier in the settlement process; that they are better prepared for the Canadian labour market; that they have a clearer understanding of different communities across Canada; and that there is a strong uptake of settlement services in Canada as newcomers are informed about and connected to services in the pre-arrival stage already.
There has been an increasing demand for pre-arrival services. In just the last year, our AEIP program served over 5,600 newcomers. This year we are already on pace to exceed last year's number by 30%.
Here are some of the recommendations that I would like to share on opportunities, moving forward, to further enhance services along the entire settlement continuum.
First, there continues to be a significant need for investment into the entire continuum of settlement services, from pre-arrival to post-arrival, to ensure all newcomers have the information, resources and tools to succeed in Canada. Funding for settlement services needs to take into consideration settlement trends, demand for services and patterns of secondary migration.
Second, we need to look at scaling up innovative and integrated service models that accelerate the achievement of settlement outcomes. There are many best practices out there and innovative models that are already being delivered across Canada. We need to think about how we can scale these up to reach more newcomers. For example, S.U.C.C.E.S.S. delivers innovative online employment language training to support newcomers who are attending skills training or are already working but need more support to continue to improve their English proficiency.
Third, at the same time, there also needs to be greater investment into specialized settlement services for newcomers who are more vulnerable.
Fourth, there is a need to increase support for language training for newcomers. As some of you already know, it is not easy to learn a new language, especially in a new country with a new culture, so it is important to start language training, perhaps, from the early onset in the pre-arrival state and reduce the wait times, as well as support various modes of language training such as conversation circles, family literacy and occupation-specific language training.
Fifth, we also need to consider extending settlement services to support long-term success. Once newcomers become Canadian citizens, they are no longer eligible for IRCC-funded settlement services and language training. While some provinces provide funding for services for naturalized citizens, there are inequities in the levels of funding. As a result, depending on where newcomers reside, they could have higher or lower levels of settlement services.
Last but not least, the settlement lens needs to be widened. All sectors, including housing, health, education and business, need to play a role in building communities that are inclusive of newcomers. Settlement services play a key role in bridging newcomers to these sectors, but these sectors must also be ready to serve newcomers. For example, at S.U.C.C.E.S.S. our settlement program works closely with local family doctors to enhance the capacity to serve new refugee families.
I would like to end by encouraging any one of you to visit S.U.C.C.E.S.S. or your local settlement services providers to learn more about the positive impacts of these services. Thank you very much for allowing me to share our story and our experience today.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Members of the committee, thank you for having us today.
Founded in 1997, the Réseau de développement économique et d'employabilité (RDEE Canada), sets up many structuring projects each year to stimulate economic development and employability in all of Canada's francophone and Acadian communities. Our national organization acts as a lever to create business opportunities for each of our members in all provinces and territories, except Quebec. So we have 12 members.
With that in mind and with our network's cooperation, in 2015, RDEE Canada responded to a call for tenders from the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship for the launch of a pre-arrival support project in Canada. That's how we obtained the mandate to provide this sort of service, specifically in French, for francophone clients in the process of immigrating to the country.
To do so, we have partnered with other francophone and bilingual service providers, such as the Information and Communications Technology Council, JVS and La Cité collégiale, with international associations, such as Pôle emploi, in France, and ethnocultural associations in Morocco, Tunisia, France and Belgium. Thanks to the mobilization and expertise of RDEE Canada members in all provinces and territories and our other partners, pre-departure services have become the first francophone employability and entrepreneurship online services for immigrants in Canada.
With the support of our immigration officers in the provinces and territories, who are the primary source of information preferred by clients, RDEE Canada's pre-departure services provide free services in French directly on site. This service structure, which provides personalized and remote advice, ensures better economic integration of immigrants, in addition to connecting newcomers to the host francophone community.
From September 2015 to December 2018, the pre-departure services provided the following support services to immigrant clients. First, participants registered on a web platform. Then, we assessed the needs of clients individually with an expert adviser. We also provided access to online resources and tools, such as fact sheets, webinars or virtual job fairs. We then referred the clients to the RDEE Canada agency in the province or territory matching their destination of choice. This stage ensured local support tailored to their needs. We also ensured that we guided clients carefully to other partner organization that provide settlement services in the destination communities, according to the identified needs. Finally, we developed surveys to obtain feedback on the services received by clients.
We believe that the service structure put in place by RDEE Canada met the needs of francophone clients and helped achieve francophone immigration targets in Canada.
For the last three years, our pre-departure services helped more than 700 francophone clients eligible for immigration, according to IRCC criteria. Our customized support services allowed 75% of the clients to land a job within the first six months of their arrival. That figure went up to 90% after more than six months of job search.
According to the surveys we conducted, 97% of clients were satisfied with the services received, and more than 92% of them responded that they would recommend pre-departure services to others trying to immigrate to Canada.
These results were achieved with an average annual budget of $400,000. We can therefore say that these are best practices that have given convincing results.
At RDEE Canada, we believe that the economic integration of newcomers is an essential component of their immigration journey. We believe that the success of immigrants' arrival in Canada is measured when they obtain a job that matches their skills and can contribute to the economic growth of their communities and host country. The pre-departure services provided by RDEE Canada and its members have also helped to promote the retention of immigrants in francophone and Acadian host communities.
With its Canada-wide background in francophone immigration and the expertise acquired in the field by network members, RDEE Canada was invited to submit a new nation-wide project, in keeping with the criteria set out in the call for proposals, namely that of a one-stop shop for francophone immigration. We therefore responded to the call for tenders issued by the IRCC in 2018.
As part of this project, we proposed a budget and requested financial support of $6 million over five years. The objective was to establish a one-stop shop to provide a continuum of services and make the immigration process even more effective and, above all, client-centred. However, our proposal was not accepted. Since we no longer receive funding, the pre-departure services that we had been offering since 2015 ended on December 31, 2018.
In closing, I would like to make the following two recommendations. Pre-arrival francophone services must be timely, seamless and efficient. Francophone pre-departure services must also include a very well-developed employability and entrepreneurship component.
My thanks to the members of the committee for having us.
We are more than happy to answer your questions.
I wonder whether you have any recommendations for the committee in this regard, because one of the most difficult things for newcomers, whether they're immigrants, refugees or otherwise, is credential recognition, and once they arrive here, the process is enormously difficult.
We hear all the time that in the Lower Mainland we have highly educated people working on the farms or, as an example, driving taxis and so on. The big question is, what can Canada do, no matter what province or territory we are in, to address this issue? What can be done and what needs to be done?
In fact, for all of our presenters, if you have recommendations in that regard, I would ask you to please submit them to the committee so that we can learn from you and then engage in that process. I think it's critically important.
Related to that issue, for refugees and for GARs in particular, there is the question of how documentation is often lost when they flee or leave. They really don't have the capacity to even show their credentials. I've had one person come to my office who had lost all of their documentation. In fact, the institution where they got their credentials was bombed. It doesn't exist anymore. There's no way, no how that they could get that recognition. What do you do in that scenario, right? We're talking about a person who has earned their Ph.D. That's a bit of a thing. In that regard, how do we address this issue as well?
I don't know if anybody has suggestions on how we can address this. To me, this is a critical aspect of recognizing the talent and utilizing that talent here in Canada. I would ask you folks to table any suggestions you might have.
I do want to move along to the other two sets of witnesses that I've heard, but first I think I saw a hand.
Is that correct, Ms. Abdi-Aden?