Evaluation of the Host Program

3. Overview of the Host Program

This section presents an overview of the Host Program in terms of its history, Program objectives, delivery, services and budget.

3.1. History and background of Host Program

Integration is characterized as a “two-way street” that requires accommodations and adjustments on both sides (i.e., both newcomers and Canadians). The “two-way street” principle involves helping immigrants learn about Canadian values and helping Canadians understand the diverse backgrounds of newcomers. This principle, which was introduced in 1990 in the Federal Integration Strategy, involves more than assisting newcomers to adapt to and understand Canadian values, customs, rights, and obligations; it also requires that Canadian society grow and evolve as it absorbs new people and cultures and adapts to their needs. Integration is therefore a two-way street that requires respect and tolerance on both sides.

This principle of mutual responsibility of Canadians and newcomers in the integration process was reflected more recently in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), where one of the objectives is “to promote the successful integration of permanent residents into Canada, while recognizing that integration involves mutual obligations for new immigrants and Canadian society.”

The Host Initiative was introduced as a pilot in 1984 and began as a community-based service to sponsor refugees. Sponsoring groups, mainly churches, matched newly-arrived refugees with individuals or families, who then assisted their ‘friends’ to cope with all of the challenges of moving to a new country. Host was extended to other classes of immigrants when it became a permanent program in 1990 with the introduction of the Federal Integration Strategy. Among all CIC programs, the Host Program and the Privately Sponsored Refugees Program are the most direct examples of the application of the two-way street principle. Later, the Welcoming Communities Initiative (WCI) and the Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS) initiatives also incorporated the two-way street approach.

CIC Modernized Approach Streams:

  • Information and Orientation
  • Language and Skills Development
  • Labour Market Participation
  • Community Connections
  • Needs Assessments and Referrals
  • Support Services

With the introduction of the CIC modernized approach in 2008, CIC reorganized the CIC settlement programs under one single program with six streams (see text box). The Community Connections stream currently includes all the programs that emphasize the two-way street principle including Host-type activities. The focus of this stream will be on connecting vulnerable groups with Canadians, local support networks, and local culture while providing opportunities for cross-cultural interaction in their local community.

3.2. Program objectives

The specific objectives of the Host Program are to facilitate the settlement of newcomers in Canada. The Host Program logic model which was updated in preparation for this evaluation (Appendix E) details Host’s immediate, intermediate and long term outcomes, which are summarized below.

The Program Management component includes activities related to policy, program and project planning and development, promotion of the Host Program, development of tools for program delivery stakeholders, monitoring, audit and evaluation activities, as well as sharing lessons learned. These activities are carried out by program delivery stakeholders, including CIC and SPOs. The purpose of these activities is to ensure that policies, program and projects are needs and evidence-based, that the stakeholders have a clear understanding of objectives, roles and responsibilities, and that the accountability mechanisms are appropriate. Ensuring information sharing between partners and development of their capacity is also an outcome of this component of the Program.

The Program Delivery component of Host focuses mostly on SPO implementation of the Program. These activities include volunteer selection and support, newcomer assessment, and client matching or organizing group activities. The expected outcomes from these activities ensure that SPOs have a pool of interested and qualified volunteers who understand the Host Program, their roles and responsibilities, and are well prepared to guide their newcomer partners in their settlement. The preparation of newcomers aims to ensure that they understand the benefits of the Program, have reasonable expectations and that their specific needs are identified. In addition, SPOs should ensure that timely matches and group activities are provided and are appropriate to meet the needs of clients.

The expected outcomes for newcomers and volunteers are grouped under three main themes: settlement and adaptation; networking; and two-way exchange. Immediate and intermediate outcomes under these main themes are listed below.

  • With respect to settlement and adaptation, immediate results include facilitation of various aspects of client’s settlement, such as meeting basic needs, lowering settlement-related stress, learning official languages, gaining knowledge about available services and resources and learning about their community. In the longer–term, the ability of clients to function independently, access and use resources, communicate in English/French, and address upcoming challenges should increase.
  • With respect to community, social and professional networking, immediate results include the development of social and professional contacts and networks and the use of those networks in the longer term.
  • With respect to the two-way exchange, clients and volunteers are expected to develop an understanding of their respective cultures which should lead to clients’ engaging in community life and feeling a sense of belonging in the longer term. Given that this is a two-way exchange, volunteers are to become more knowledgeable about immigrants’ challenges and their contributions to Canada.

In the long term, it is expected that:

  • Newcomers will be enabled to contribute to the economic, social and cultural development of Canada; and
  • Newcomers will be fully integrated and engaged in Canadian life.

3.3. Program delivery partners

CIC and SPOs are both involved in program delivery. Their respective roles and responsibilities are briefly described below.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada is responsible for setting the policy and Program direction related to settlement and establishing operational guidelines and standards to support national implementation of settlement policy and programming. CIC Regional/Local Offices liaise, negotiate, and manage contribution agreements with SPOs.

Service Provider Organizations receive contribution funding to deliver the Program in their communities on behalf of CIC. Organizations eligible to serve as SPOs for the Host Program include not-for-profit and other non-governmental organizations, educational institutions, governments (provincial, territorial or municipal), community groups, private sector businesses, and individuals.Footnote 7 SPOs deliver services to eligible newcomers which include: permanent residents of Canada; protected persons as defined in Section 95 of the IRPA; persons in Canada whose applications for Permanent Resident status are being processed and have been informed of the initial approval of their application subject to an admissibility assessment; and those working in Canada with a work permit under the Live-in Caregiver Program.

Contribution funding is provided to SPOs to recruit and train volunteers familiar with the Canadian context, promote the Program to newcomers, and match volunteers with newcomers. Volunteers deliver activities to newcomers with support from the SPOs. According to the SAP data, 58 unique SPOs were involved in delivering the Host Program in the time period and regions covered by this evaluation. The number of SPOs annually increased from 37 in 2004/05 to 54 in 2007/08, with most of the increase occurring in Ontario.

SPOs participating in the Host Program receive funding through contribution agreements (CAs) to support program delivery. CAs reflect the established Terms and Conditions (Ts and Cs) for funding, including monitoring and reporting requirements. Contributions to SPOs include the costs associated with the delivery and management of the Program, such as salaries for Host Program Coordinators, materials and equipment, professional fees, publicity, promotion and recruitment, volunteer training and the development of tools, as well as allocated overhead costs and capital expenditures. Eligible costs for the Host Program also include costs associated with criminal record checks of volunteers and volunteer appreciation expenditures.

3.4. Budget

The budget for the Host Program increased from $2.8 million in 2005/2006 to $14.9 million in 2008/09 (Table 3-1). Program expenditures, however, were lower than budgeted for 2006/07 and 2007/08. By 2008/09, Program expenditures exceeded the budget.

Table 3-1: Host Program Growth
  2004/05 2005/06 2006/07 2007/08 2008/09
Budget $2.8 million $2.8 million $7.4 million $10.1 million $14.9 million
Expenditures $3.1 million $3.3 million $5 million $8.1 million $15.6 million
Number of SPOs 37 39 40 54 Estimated 74Footnote 8

Source: RPP (budget), DPR (expenditures), SPOs (SAP)

3.5. Host-client activities

Depending on the needs of clients, Host activities may involve an individual/family match and/or group activities. While SPOs prepare and match clients and volunteers, specific activities are conducted by volunteers.

Individual/Family matches

A match occurs when a Host volunteer or a group of volunteers and an eligible newcomer or group of newcomers agree to be matched with each other. Matches are considered to be formal arrangements in which volunteers are recruited from the general public, screened, trained, matched with eligible newcomers, and offered ongoing support. Matches may include one-on-one matches or family matches, whereby volunteers spend time with an individual or family with whom they have been matched. A wide variety of individual activities may be organized by volunteers including, but not limited to:

  • Introducing newcomers to the basic services, such as using public transportation, banking, shopping for groceries, and finding schools for their children.
  • Taking newcomers on a tour of the major places of interest in the local community, such as libraries, hospitals, museums, religious institutions, and playgrounds.
  • Introducing newcomers to local people and community events.
  • Providing career mentoring to newcomers by encouraging them in their job search, by providing job leads, advice and guidance on writing job applications and coaching for interviews (through regular matches or specific business mentoring arrangements).
  • Organizing activities such as picnics, dinners, leisure activities, or field trips.

Group activities

Group activities are planned events, either one-time or on-going sessions, which involve at least one volunteer and multiple newcomers. They provide opportunities to expand relationships, encourage learning about diverse cultures, and further help newcomers adapt to Canadian society. The objectives of group activities include establishing or expanding social and professional networks, sharing information and experiences, and providing newcomers with the opportunity to practice conversation skills. Examples of on-going activities include: peer networks for specific client groups such as seniors, women and youth; activities for improving language ability such as conversation circles; and tutoring and helping with homework. One-time ad-hoc activities involve groups of volunteers and clients coming together for specific events such as field trips and holiday celebrations.

3.6. Host SPO activities

Host SPOs undertake tasks that make the host-client activities possible, including Program promotion, volunteer training, client orientation, and other support. Most of the work to support delivery of the Host Program is done by Host Coordinators whose roles include the following activitiesFootnote 9:

1. Recruitment and Assessment

  • Promote Program and recruit participants from immigrant and host communities.
  • Assess immigrant clients’ and Host volunteers’ needs and suitability to participate.
  • Arrange reference and security checks.
  • Brief immigrant clients and Host volunteers about the Program and clarify roles and expectations.

2. Orientation and Training

  • Provide training/workshops for Host volunteers to better equip them to help immigrants.
  • Provide joint workshops for newcomers and hosts to allow for sharing of information and discussion.

3. Placement and Matching

  • Organize special gatherings/events to allow newcomers and Hosts to get to know each other.
  • Place volunteers (individuals/families) into appropriate positions, either matching them with immigrant individuals/families from another culture, or placing them into other volunteer services for immigrants (such as assistance with filling out forms, conversation clubs, homework clubs).
  • Assist pairs or small groups to establish agreed-upon goals that lead to intended outcomes.

4. Newcomer/Host Activities

  • Develop activity ideas with Host volunteers and immigrant clients.
  • Monitor and support pair or small group activities.
  • Connect with other existing community programs, activities, and cultural events.
  • Organize occasional group events to recognize the volunteers and to further promote cross-cultural interaction.
  • Arrange occasional field trips to educational, recreational and cultural facilities.

5. Referrals and Accompaniment

  • Refer immigrant clients to basic and specialized services and community resources.
  • Accompany immigrant clients as they access community and government services – usually delivered through Host volunteers.

6. Service Support

  • Participate in, and contribute to, community and government consultations related to the delivery and enhancement of settlement services.
  • Participate in professional development.

3.7. Host client profile

Newcomers are intended to be the main beneficiaries of the Program. Based on the Immigration–Contribution Accountability Measurement System (iCAMS) (data summarized in Table 3-2)Footnote 10, there are slightly more women than men (53% and 47%, respectively) among Host clients. The majority of Host clients reside in Ontario (64%) and Alberta (19%). More than half of the Host clients (56%) did not speak either Canadian official language at the time of landing. A little more than one third (36%) had some knowledge of English and three percent had some knowledge of French.

In terms of education, Host clients were more likely than the general population of immigrants to have (at the time of landing) little or no education (39% had secondary school education or less and 17% reported no education); however, just over two-thirds of those with no education (71%) were 18 years of age and younger. About a third of all Host clients had either a Bachelor (22%) or Master’s (7%) degree.

Host clients are most likely to identify China as their country of origin. According to iCAMS, other frequently identified countries include Columbia (11%), Afghanistan (7%), Iran (6%), Sudan (5%) and Thailand (4%). Almost half (48%) of the Host clients came to Canada as Protected Persons. Most Host clients (49%) were adults between 25 and 44 years of age; however, a significant proportion (28%) were youth under the age of 18. Between 2004/2005 and 2007/2008 the majority (87%) of Host clients participated in the Program for one year.

Table 3-2: Characteristics of Host clients Footnote 11
Gender Male 47%
Female 53%
Total number of clients 18, 350
Age Under 18 28%
18-24 11%
25-34 24%
35-44 25%
45-54 9%
55-64 2%
65+ 1%
Total number of clients 18,210
Immigration class Family Class 9.5%
Economic Class 43%
Refugees (Protected Persons) 48%
Other Immigrants 0.5%
Total number of clients 18,210
Immigration category Principal Applicant 45%
Spouse/Common Law 21.5%
Dependent 33.5%
Total number of clients 18,155
Country of birth China 16.5%
Columbia 11%
Afghanistan 7%
Iran 6%
Sudan 5%
Thailand 4%
India 3%
Pakistan 3%
Congo 2%
Egypt 2%
Korea 2%
Russia 2%
Somalia 1.8%
Ethiopia 1.5%
Iraq 1.2%
Other 32%
Total number of clients 18,155
Province of residence Ontario 64%
Alberta 19%
Saskatchewan 8%
Nova Scotia 5%
New Brunswick 1.5%
Newfoundland and Labrador 1.4%
PEI 0.9%
Yukon/Northwest Territories/Nunavut 0.2%
Total number of clients 18,350
Language ability English 36%
French 3%
Bilingual 6%
None 56%
Total number of clients 18,155
Level of education None 17%
Secondary or less 39%
Trade/certificate/no university degree 13%
Bachelor's degree 22%
Graduate degree 7%
Postgraduate degree 1%
Doctorate degree 1%
Total number of clients 18,155
Number of years
participating in Host
One year 87%
Two years 12%
Three and four years 1%
Total number of clients 18,350

Source: iCAMS

3.8. Host volunteer profile

Volunteers play an important role in the Host Program. In addition to being Program delivery partners and directly involved in the planning and delivery of activities, volunteers also benefit from participating in the Host Program by interacting with newcomers from different countries and learning about other cultures. Volunteers can be Canadian citizens or permanent residents who are established in the community and can guide newcomers in their early settlement and adaptation processes. They must have an interest and commitment, as well as the skills, cultural awareness, and experience to meet the needs of newcomers.

According to the surveyFootnote 12, 68% of Host volunteers were female, and they were more likely to have been born in Canada (59%) than outside Canada (41%) (n=163). Those not born in Canada had lived in this country for an average of 16 years (n = 68). Volunteers were somewhat more likely to be between 25 and 34 years old (20%); the remaining 80% were evenly distributed among other age categories except for those within the age group of 65 or older (9% of volunteers). Most Host volunteers (96%) were not previous clients of the Program. More than one-quarter (26%) of Host volunteers were students and 15% were retirees. Among those who were employed, 12% of volunteers were in the health care and social assistance fields and were doctors, nurses, social workers, and employment counsellors. For a list of other occupations, see Figure 3-1.

Table 3-3: Characteristics of Host volunteers
Gender Male 32%
Female 68%
Total number of respondents 163
Age category Under 18 15%
18-24 15%
25-34 20%
35-44 15%
45-54 10%
55-64 17%
65+ 9%
Total number of respondents 163
Country of birth Canada 59%
Outside of Canada 41%
Total number of respondents 163
Program clients Previously clients of the Program 4%
Not clients of the Program 96%
Total number of respondents 163

Figure 3-1: Occupations of Host volunteer survey respondents

Figure 3-1

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