Evaluation of the Citizenship Awareness Program
4. Conclusions and recommendations
The following section provides the overall conclusions and associated recommendations of the evaluation.
- There is a continued need to promote citizenship in order to reinforce its value among all Canadians and maintain high uptake rates.
- Promoting the value of citizenship is aligned with Government of Canada and CIC objectives and priorities; however, there is some indication that emphasis is being shifted from promotional activities to processing activities.
- The current approach of shared responsibility for citizenship promotion, led by the federal government with broader participation from provinces and communities, is appropriate.
The evaluation found that there is a need to promote citizenship to maintain uptake and reinforce its value. Citizenship promotion and facilitating access is aligned with government policy focused on ensuring the full integration of newcomers into Canadian society and the social cohesion of the country, while reinforcing the value of citizenship is becoming increasingly tied to priorities fixed on protecting the integrity of Canada's immigration system. Although the Government of Canada has sole responsibility for conferring citizenship, responsibility for promotion is shared among many stakeholders. At the federal level, both CIC and PCH have mandates to promote citizenship, which is appropriate, but may overlap. Provincial/territorial governments and other organizations also have a role, and all Canadians can play a part.
Participation in CIC promotional activities
- The citizenship study guide (Discover Canada) is widely distributed and available in various formats. It is routinely sent to newcomers applying for citizenship; however, it is unknown to what extent it is being used by the wider Canadian audience.
- There is an indication that the study guide, a key promotional tool, requires a higher level of language proficiency, which may limit its accessibility to some vulnerable groups.
- Although open to the general public, citizenship ceremonies are predominantly attended by new citizens and their guests.
- It is unknown to what extent reaffirmation ceremonies are held beyond those hosted by CIC. Attendance at CIC-led reaffirmation ceremonies is high; however they do not occur on a frequent basis, limiting their reach and profile among a broader audience of Canadians.
- Canada's Citizenship Week provides an opportunity for all Canadians to celebrate citizenship. However, the focus of Citizenship Week activities for CIC has been on ceremonies.
- While the CIC website and advertising campaigns are reaching the general public, other public outreach to schools and promotional activities undertaken by citizenship judges to a wider audience lack a clear direction.
- The reach of the ICC has grown substantially since its inception in 2006-07. Though more concentrated in Ontario, the organization is successful in reaching new citizens through its programming and has engaged a network of volunteers and various attractions across Canada to accomplish this work.
The evaluation found that the program is reaching newcomers, particularly those applying for citizenship, predominantly through the study guide and the citizenship ceremonies, which are also central to the citizenship application process. Much less is known, however, about the reach and impact of citizenship promotional activities to the broader Canadian public. Information and resources are made available to the public, without much building on or tailoring these activities for different audiences, and no tracking or follow-up. The department’s general approach for this broader audience has been relatively “passive” in nature, often using intermediaries, such as schools and libraries, to further disseminate citizenship messaging. Citizenship judges also do outreach, but have expressed a need for more clarity with regards to their role. Outreach is often very closely linked to the study guide and the ceremonies, inviting people to read Discover Canada or attend a citizenship ceremony in their community. Although efficient to use the same products in multiple ways, this approach may not be as effective for some audiences, particularly the Canadian-born.
Knowledge of citizenship rights and responsibilities and value of citizenship
- Using CIC’s study guide or participating in the citizenship ceremony were found to have a positive impact on new citizens’ knowledge of their rights and responsibilities and on valuing citizenship.
- The presence of special elements at ceremonies has a positive impact on new citizens wanting to become more involved as citizens. Of note, ICC ceremony discussion groups were found to provide a good platform to reflect on the meaning of active citizenship for new Canadians.
- There is some indication that efforts to increase the efficiency of citizenship ceremonies by increasing the number of new citizen participants may diminish the effectiveness of these ceremonies.
- Participating in the citizenship ceremony or, to a lesser extent, using the study guide, was found to have a positive impact on valuing citizenship.
- The presence of special elements at ceremonies has a positive impact on how new citizens value citizenship. For example, ICC ceremony discussion groups have a positive impact on helping them to appreciate citizenship.
Using the study guide and participating in the ceremony are helping new citizens to understand the rights and responsibilities of Canadian citizenship, and these efforts, primarily through the ceremonies, are also having positive impacts for new citizens in relation to its value. Ceremonies with special elements, such as discussion groups, can enhance outcomes for new citizens, but come at the cost of greater effort in planning and coordination for the Department. As well, there appears to be a tension between the processing and promotion objectives in relation to ceremonies. From a citizenship processing perspective, larger ceremonies naturalize more new citizens and are more efficient. From a promotion perspective, smaller ceremonies can enhance impacts in relation to understanding rights and responsibilities. A balance must be found between efficiency and effectiveness concerns related to ceremonies in order to meet the objectives of each.
Impacts related to applying for Canadian citizenship
- Promotional activities that reinforce a sense of belonging or permanency influence the decision to apply for citizenship.
Newcomers have various reasons for getting their Canadian citizenship. The evaluation found that reasons for obtaining citizenship such as getting passports, having access to different jobs, being able to sponsor relatives, and having the freedom to live abroad, which are more practical in nature and have direct personal benefits to newcomers, ranked below the more intangible reasons for becoming Canadian, which are more linked to their social integration. While the more practical reasons are personal and less amenable to promotional efforts, these findings underline the role that promotion can have in creating a sense of belonging and permanency for newcomers to further encourage uptake of Canadian citizenship. As such, the evidence illustrates that awareness activities are important to maintain a policy environment that facilitates citizenship for those that make the personal choice to obtain it.
- Information regarding the outcomes of promotional activities is available but only at a broad level which is not sufficient to support program monitoring and policy decision-making.
- Training and support for program delivery is available; however, there are opportunities for improvement, particularly with respect to public speaking training in support of outreach activities and technical supports for the delivery of ceremonies.
- At the federal level, there is potential for overlap in citizenship promotion.
- Within CIC, responsibility for the Citizenship Awareness Program is dispersed and there is no clear program lead, resulting in some inefficiencies in coordination and the absence of an overarching strategy.
From a program management perspective, the Citizenship Awareness Program is a collection of activities distributed across several branches within the Department. Although accountability within branches for specific activities is evident, roles and responsibilities are not well delineated for the program as a whole, and there is no clear program lead. Though still being implemented, many of the concrete activities in the Citizenship Action Plan have been completed, and the new focus is on citizenship modernization, with current efforts focusing on efficiency and program integrity, and a goal of reducing processing times. Future direction for Citizenship Awareness within this context is not clear. Furthermore, recent changes to the operational context, such as closures of local offices and the reduction of citizenship program staff, with no corresponding reduction in workload, may hamper citizenship promotional capacity as limited resources are shifted away from promotion to meet processing targets.
- The investment in the Citizenship Awareness component is relatively small compared to the overall Citizenship Program.
- Partnerships and other means of leveraging resources, where appropriate, are an effective way to supplement citizenship awareness activities.
The evaluation found that partnerships have been successful in leveraging limited funds, but more could be done. In particular, the work of the ICC has contributed to the achievement of outcomes for the Citizenship Awareness Program; however, this organization appears to be mostly engaged by the Department in relation to special ceremonies, with little additional leveraging of this partnership. Moreover, the Multiculturalism and Settlement Programs were also found to support Citizenship Awareness objectives, but the strategic use of these programs has not really been fully developed.
The challenge for the Citizenship Awareness Program in the future will be to continue to promote citizenship to effectively reach a broad audience of newcomers and established Canadians, communicate and reinforce the value of citizenship, and identify opportunities to creatively leverage existing resources and partnerships to achieve these outcomes, all in a climate of transition.
In light of the findings and subsequent conclusions of the evaluation, the following recommendations are put forward:
Recommendation 1: That the Department establish mechanisms to ensure clear whole-of-CIC horizontal governance and management of the Citizenship Awareness Program, including roles and responsibilities with respect to its design, implementation, performance monitoring and reporting.
Recommendation 2: That CIC develop a strategic approach to maximize opportunities to better leverage existing departmental resources and partnerships. As part of this approach CIC could consider:
- Enhancing and formalizing Citizenship Awareness Program involvement in determining priorities and allocating funding to citizenship awareness initiatives through the Multiculturalism and Settlement G&C programs;
- Developing a plan for a second phase of the ICC that builds on its current contributions to the Citizenship Awareness Program and explores opportunities for additional collaborative work;
- Examining and solidifying the respective roles of CIC and PCH in promoting the value of citizenship to all Canadians and identify potential areas for collaboration; and
- Exploring options and developing an approach to engage new partners, including those in the private sector where appropriate, to leverage additional resources towards citizenship awareness.
Recommendation 3: In order to improve the effectiveness of its current promotional activities aimed at newcomers, CIC should:
- Ensure that information contained in the guide is more accessible to those with lower levels of education or language proficiency.
- Explore options and develop an approach to integrate special elements, such as discussion groups, into more citizenship ceremonies to enhance their effectiveness.
Recommendation 4: That CIC develop a strategic approach for citizenship awareness activities aimed at all Canadians. This approach could consider:
- Clarifying roles and responsibilities within CIC, with OGDs (e.g., PCH) and with other potential partners for activities aimed at “all Canadians”;
- Defining the target groups of “all Canadians” that CIC is best positioned to pursue;
- Identifying objectives of awareness activities targeting all Canadians and reviewing and enhancing current activities (i.e., reaffirmation ceremonies, outreach to schools, Citizenship Week activities, outreach by citizenship judges) in light of these objectives;
- Developing an implementation plan, including the provision of supports for existing and potential new activities (e.g., assisting judges in conducting outreach activities); and
- Putting in place the performance measurement systems necessary to monitor associated set of broader expected results.
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