Evaluation of the Citizenship Awareness Program
Purpose of the evaluation
This report presents the results of the evaluation of the Citizenship Awareness Program, including the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC). The evaluation was conducted in fulfillment of requirements under the Financial Administration Act and the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) Policy on Evaluation, and focuses on activities undertaken, outputs produced, and results achieved over the five-year time period between fiscal years 2007-08 and 2011-12. Data collection was undertaken by the Research and Evaluation Branch (R&E), Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), between October 2012 and April 2013.
Citizenship Awareness Program profile
Since the passage of the Citizenship Act in 1947, Canadian citizenship policy has embodied two distinct objectives: i) to encourage and facilitate naturalization by permanent residents; and ii) to enhance the meaning of citizenship as a unifying bond for Canadians. Citizenship Awareness, the focus of the present evaluation, aims to enhance the meaning of Canadian citizenship for both newcomers and the Canadian-born and to increase a sense of belonging to Canada. Through knowledge of Canada's history, institutions and values, as well as the rights and responsibilities associated with citizenship, it is expected that newcomers and the Canadian-born would be better equipped for active citizenship and can contribute to the development of an integrated society.
Citizenship is promoted through a variety of activities and products intended to increase knowledge of the roles and responsibilities of Canadian citizenship, and to increase its perceived value. These include study materials for the citizenship test, citizenship ceremonies, special events and projects, outreach efforts, and the activities of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC). In addition to the activities under the Citizenship Awareness Program, the Department supports activities in alignment with the objectives of citizenship awareness under its Multiculturalism and Settlement Grants and Contributions Programs.
Governance of the Citizenship Awareness Program is distributed across various Branches within CIC, with responsibility for the management and delivery of the different awareness activities residing with individual Divisions. At National Headquarters (NHQ), Citizenship and Multiculturalism, Operational Management and Coordination, and Communications Branches all play an important role, and CIC regional/local offices and the Citizenship Commission are involved in implementation. In 2011-12, the total expenditures for the Citizenship Awareness Program was $4,130,807, representing approximately 11% of the resources for the Citizenship Program as a whole. This amount, however, does not include the resources dedicated to the program through Communications Branch or the Citizenship Commission.
The evaluation examined the Citizenship Awareness program activity (PA3.2.1 of the CIC Program Alignment Architecture (PAA)), including the Grant to the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC), and was designed using a program logic approach, supported by a detailed evaluation matrix. The study assessed both program relevance and performance, and used multiple lines of evidence, including:
- Interviews with CIC (NHQ, Regions), Citizenship Judges, Partners/stakeholders, OGDs;
- Site visits to Halifax, Montreal, Mississauga, Calgary and Vancouver offices;
- An exit survey of citizenship ceremony participants during the site visits;
- A survey of new citizens who received their citizenship between 2007/08 and 2011/12;
- Analysis of program administrative data;
- A literature review; and
- A document review.
A case study looking at the work of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC) was also conducted as part of the evaluation. The case study assessed the Grant to the ICC in relation to the objectives set out in the Grant Agreement. A case study report was prepared as Appendix A. Key findings from the case study were also integrated into the report where appropriate.
Program relevance was assessed in terms of continued need, alignment with government and departmental objectives and priorities, and consistency with respect to federal roles and responsibilities. Key findings are highlighted below.
- 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.
Program performance was assessed by examining program results in terms of effectiveness, as well as efficiency and economy (or resource utilization). Key findings are highlighted below.
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 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.
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.
Impacts related to applying for Canadian citizenship
- Promotional activities that reinforce a sense of belonging or permanency influence the decision to apply for citizenship.
Program management and resource utilization
- 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.
- 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.
Conclusions and recommendations
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.
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. 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. Although newcomers have various reasons for getting their Canadian citizenship, the evaluation found that practical reasons, such as getting passports, ranked below more intangible reasons linked to their social integration, highlighting a role that promotion can have in creating a sense of belonging and permanency for newcomers to further encourage uptake.
Lastly, the evaluation found that citizenship awareness activities are distributed across various branches within the Department, and that 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. Furthermore, recent changes to the operational context, such as closures of local offices and the reduction of citizenship program staff, may hamper promotional capacity as limited resources are shifted away to meet processing targets. Alternatively, the evaluation found that partnerships have been successful in leveraging limited funds, but more could be done.
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 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.
- 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.
In some cases, suggestions were also provided to further clarify the recommendations. These suggestions are elaborated in the full report.
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