ARCHIVED – Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration, 2013 – Section 4: Integration of Newcomers and Canadian Citizenship

Immigration is fundamental to the development of Canada’s economy, society and culture, and Canada strives to be a world leader in maximizing its benefits. To create a stronger nation benefiting both newcomers and Canadians, Canada is one of the few countries with a managed immigration program directed toward newcomers ultimately becoming full citizens. The successful settlement and integration of new immigrants to Canada is an important objective of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Settlement

The Settlement Program of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) funds projects to assist newcomers in making linkages with Canadians and their local communities in support of an integrated society. Services include: information and orientation, language training, initiatives to facilitate community connections and labour market participation, and support services to provide access to CIC settlement programming. CIC manages settlement services in provinces and territories outside of Quebec and British Columbia. As announced in Budget 2012, CIC resumed management of settlement services in Manitoba in April 2013 and will resume management of settlement services in British Columbia in 2014–2015. This will allow CIC to provide consistent, effective and efficient settlement services across the country, and strengthen federal leadership for ensuring comparable results for newcomers.

In 2012–2013, CIC supported services for an increased number of clients both in Canada (outside Quebec, Manitoba and British Columbia) and overseas, growing from 213,346 in 2011–2012 to 220,794 in 2012–2013. Domestically, the Department reached more immigrants in 2012–2013, serving 203,558 clients in Canada, a 6.7-percent increase from 2011–2012.

The Department continued collaborative efforts with provinces and territories on the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Vision Action Plan for Immigration that includes a work plan to improve coordination and streamlining of settlement service delivery, as well as a pan-Canadian framework for settlement outcomes. The purpose of the framework is to provide a cohesive, national approach for defining and measuring settlement outcomes and to establish the evidence base for better accountability and policy decisions. In 2012–2013, CIC worked in partnership with provincial and territorial governments to administer a nationwide survey with the goal of assessing settlement outcomes across Canada and identifying the factors that influence successful settlement within the first five years after landing in Canada. CIC received the national results at the end of 2012–2013 and will receive additional province-specific data in 2013–2014. After an in-depth analysis of the information collected, CIC will work with provinces and territories to develop a roadmap to improve the settlement outcomes of newcomers in Canada.

CIC continued to support local immigration partnerships (LIPs), which are local tables seeking to facilitate community-level planning and coordination as well as to engage a variety of stakeholders in the integration process. In 2012–2013, most LIPs in Ontario initiated or pursued the implementation of their local immigration strategies and found collaborative ways to address local barriers to integration. LIPs also expanded outside of Ontario: a new partnership was created in Calgary and pilot projects are under way in Halifax and St. John’s.

In 2012, CIC launched its first national Call for Proposals (CFP). The CFP model is the primary method through which the Department seeks applications for grants and contributions funding under its settlement, resettlement and multiculturalism programs. In the past, each region and program had a separate CFP, which led to some duplication of efforts across the country. A centrally coordinated national CFP allowed for a standard assessment of each proposal, thereby facilitating consistency and replacing some 20 individual CFPs. CFP 2012 received over 950 applications, just under 400 of which will receive funding. Close to 85 percent of the required contribution agreements were in place by the beginning of fiscal year 2013–2014.

In March 2013, innovative partners of the International Qualifications Network were recognized at an awards ceremony held in Ottawa. The Network is an online forum where employers, regulatory bodies, governments and immigrant-serving organizations can share best practices in foreign credential assessment and recognition, thus facilitating newcomers’ integration into the Canadian labour market.

Over 2012–2013, CIC finalized two additional initiatives aimed at assisting the integration of newcomers: the updated Welcome to Canada guide and the new Living in Canada tool. The new version of the Welcome to Canada Guide contains twice as much information and offers practical details on many different topics including how to access language classes, basic information about Canada’s education system, laws and the justice system, the labour market, and much more. This is the first time the guide has been revamped since it was first introduced in 1997. Two videos were also produced to provide information to newcomers on Living in Canada. The online Living in Canada tool produces a semi-customized settlement plan filled with tips, next steps and useful links based on user responses to a short settlement needs questionnaire. Users can also find local immigrant-serving organizations with the integrated Find Services map, and can bring with them their settlement plan for additional, personalized support.

The Federal Internship for Newcomers Program was expanded in 2012, and is gaining recognition within the Government of Canada and private sector organizations. Since 2010, more than 200 interns have been placed in 24 participating departments and agencies and five private sector organizations within the four delivery locations. In 2012, a survey was sent to program graduates to assess their employment outcomes after completion of the internships; preliminary results indicate that more than 75 percent of those who participated in the Program were subsequently able to enter the Canadian work force.

Canadian Citizenship

The acquisition of citizenship is a significant step in the integration of newcomers. Granting citizenship to eligible applicants allows newcomers to acquire the full range of rights and encourages them to fulfil the responsibilities of citizenship. The acquisition of citizenship also helps newcomers secure a stronger sense of belonging to Canada and share a common bond as part of the Canadian family. Supporting citizenship involves providing an environment where civic participation and the expression of identity are fostered through tools for promoting and celebrating citizenship, and through enhancing the meaning of Canadian citizenship.

The purpose of the Citizenship Program is to administer citizenship legislation and promote the rights and responsibilities of Canadian citizenship. In 2012, CIC continued to focus on enhanced program integrity and strengthening the value of Canadian citizenship by instituting greater scrutiny when verifying applicants’ eligibility for citizenship, as well as ensuring adequate language proficiency of newcomers. The Department also implemented measures to increase efficiency and prioritized addressing citizenship fraud. In addition, CIC continued to promote civic participation and the value of citizenship to both newcomers and long-standing Canadians, with a focus on Canadian values, history, symbols and institutions, as well as the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. In 2012, CIC released an updated audio version of Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship. This citizenship audio study guide features the voices of prominent Canadians such as former Governor General, the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, actor Albert Schultz and broadcaster Ian Hanomansing. Strengthening the essential knowledge base for citizenship is a key goal of the Citizenship Program. Various promotional activities such as Celebrate Citizenship Week and citizenship and reaffirmation ceremonies took place in communities across the country, often in partnership with community organizations. The Department held 1,658 citizenship ceremonies, of which 262 were enhanced ceremonies (i.e., in partnership with community organizations). In 2012, activities focused on the Commemoration of the War of 1812 and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The Department also hosted, as part of the Royal Tour, a special citizenship ceremony with Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, in Saint John, New Brunswick.

In 2012, CIC processed 193,243 applications for citizenship, resulting in 126,571 individuals becoming Canadian citizens. CIC also issued 46,032 citizenship certificates (proofs of citizenship) to existing citizens.

CIC continues to explore where modernization efforts can support greater operational efficiency and reduce risk in the Citizenship Program. For example, under the Citizenship Modernization initiative, CIC reinforced roles and responsibilities of officers in maintaining program integrity by implementing expanded mandatory system checks at strategic points in the citizenship grant application process to identify applicants who may not meet the residence obligation. A number of tools and procedures were implemented to assist citizenship officials in the detection of fraud. In partnership with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) a consent mechanism was added to applications to allow the Agency to provide to CIC the applicant’s travel history of entries into Canada, and to allow CIC to collect and use this information in determining whether residence requirements have been met. Work also took place to develop a new citizenship certificate along with an electronic validation portal, allowing CIC to move to an easier-to-produce certificate while ensuring partners can validate citizenship in a highly secure manner. The new certificate and portal were launched in February 2012.

New regulations to require citizenship applicants to provide objective evidence of their language ability at the time of application were published in the Canada Gazette on October 10, 2012, and came into force on November 1, 2012. These regulations will enhance the integrity of the Citizenship Program by making language assessment more objective, while improving language outcomes for newcomers and streamlining processing. This could also lead to improved employability and earnings for permanent residents by providing an incentive to enhance their language skills before applying for citizenship; Canadian employers benefit as well by an increased pool of available employees with good language proficiency.

Finally, recognizing that the legislative framework for the Citizenship Act has not undergone a comprehensive update in more than 30 years, CIC continued its review of the legislation in 2012 with a view to possible improvements in areas such as access, program integrity and fraud, and streamlined processing. CIC also provided support for consideration of a private member’s bill, Bill C-425, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (honouring the Canadian Armed Forces), by the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.

Multiculturalism

The majority of Canadians support immigration and their support is underpinned by their pride in Canadian multiculturalism. The Multiculturalism Program supports the government’s efforts to build an integrated, socially cohesive society. Its objectives emphasize fostering intercultural and interfaith understanding, civic memory and pride, respect for core democratic values, and equal opportunity for all Canadians.

Inter-Action, a component of the multiculturalism grants and contributions program, funds both long-term, multi-year projects and small, community-based events that promote intercultural understanding between various communities. In 2012–2013, CIC allocated $8 million in funding through this program.

The Canadian Multiculturalism Act requires the promotion of a coordinated approach to implementing multiculturalism policy. CIC continues to provide guidance to federal institutions on the implementation of the Act and reports on progress in the Annual Report on the Operation of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act. CIC also chairs the interdepartmental Multiculturalism Champions Network, made up of 90 champions across the Government of Canada, which allows federal institutions to collectively address short- and medium-term priorities for implementing multiculturalism and addressing federal institutional challenges.

In March 2013, Canada assumed the chairmanship of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. In preparation, CIC worked in partnership with key government and community stakeholders to develop a strategy to support the Canadian Chair. CIC also initiated the preparatory work to host two meetings of the Alliance, one in Berlin (June 2013) and the other one in Toronto (October 2013).Footnote 5

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