Evaluation of the Immigrant Settlement and Adaptation Program (ISAP)

2. Overview of the ISAP Program

This section presents an overview of the ISAP in terms of its program objectives, delivery, services and budget.

2.1. Program objectives

In 1974 the federal government launched the Immigrant Settlement and Adaptation Program (ISAP) through which funding for settlement services is provided. The purpose of ISAP was to support the settlement and adaptation of newcomers by funding settlement organizations to provide direct services to their clients. In conjunction with other Settlement services, ISAP was intended to help facilitate a smoother transition of new immigrants when they arrive in Canada by helping to provide them with the guidance and knowledge necessary to meet their basic settlement needs independently, and to adapt to life in Canada. ISAP had two main streams. ISAP A was the core part of the Program and provided various supportive services directly to newcomers as well as service bridging with non-settlement organizations and the broader community so that they better understand newcomer issues and become more accessible and welcoming to newcomers. ISAP B supported a wide range of projects that were designed to enhance ISAP services provided by SPOs to newcomers, such as research, professional development for SPO staff or the development of tools to support program delivery.

The ISAP logic model developed in 2004 to guide the Program during the period under review was updated in 2008 in preparation for this evaluation and is provided in Appendix A. The planned outcomes of the Program related to three outcome areas:

  • Newcomer settlement needs: These outcomes are related to clients’ need identification, linking them to services and resources, and enabling access to accurate and useful information that meets their basic and immediate settlement needs. It also includes outcomes that relate to the ability of clients to deal with immediate crises and the stress of being in a new country. These should eventually prepare newcomers to meet their daily needs and goals independently.
  • Job search ability: These outcomes are related to improving clients’ preparation and skills to apply for and/or find employment. This group of outcomes is also about clients’ understanding of the labour market. A longer term outcome in this area is to provide clients with better job opportunities.
  • Service bridging: These outcomes are associated with community organizations becoming more accessible to newcomers including involvement of these organizations in the newcomers’ issues and needs as well as the accessibility of community organizations and events to newcomers.

2.2. Program delivery partners

CIC and SPOs are both involved in program delivery. 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. In addition, the operational branch in national headquarters also negotiates and manages national and international agreements.

Service Provider Organizations received contribution funding to deliver the Program in their communities on behalf of CIC. Organizations eligible to serve as SPOs for the ISAP Program included not-for-profit and other non-governmental organizations, educational institutions, governments (provincial, territorial or municipal), community groups, private sector businesses, and individuals.Footnote 3

Contribution funding was provided to SPOs to promote the program to newcomers and provide adaptation and settlement services. According to the Integrated Financial and Material System (IFMS) also known as SAP, 204 SPOs were involved in delivering the ISAP Program in the period and regions covered by this evaluation. The number of SPOs increased from 125 in 2004/2005 to 188 in 2007/2008, with most of the increase occurring in Ontario.

SPOs participating in ISAP received funding through contribution agreements (CAs) to support program delivery. CAs established the terms and conditions for funding, including monitoring and reporting requirements. Contributions to SPOs included the costs associated with the delivery and management of the Program, such as salaries for ISAP Program Coordinators, materials and equipment, professional and consultancy fees, publicity, promotion and recruitment, development of tools, as well as allocated overhead costs and capital expenditures.

2.3. Budget

The ISAP budget and expenditures consisted of several sub-programs: ISAP A, ISAP B, Enhanced Language Training (ELT), Going-to-Canada Portal, Welcoming Communities Initiative (WCI), Canadian Orientation Abroad and Francophone Minority Communities (FMC). Given this, calculating the ISAP budget and expenditures for the components covered by this report (ISAP A and ISAP B only) was challenging as the sources of data and coding system vary throughout the years.Footnote 4

Table 2–1 presents the budget and expenditures for the ISAP Program overall (including ELT, WCI, etc.) and a budget and expenditures for the components covered by the evaluation (ISAP Core, also called ISAP A and ISAP B). Over the years under review, the budget for the ISAP Program (including core and other programs) increased from $42.3 million in 2004/2005 to $192.9 million in 2008/09 out of which the budget for ISAP Core grew from $31.3M in 2004/05 to $142.9M (Table 2–1). This includes only the Grants and Contributions (Gs&Cs) portion and does not include any operational costs.

*Information on ISAP A SPOs for 2008/09 was not available at the time of the evaluation. The SAP information is based on May 2008 extract. Number of clients and services – iCAMS.

Table 2–1:  ISAP Program growth
  2004/05 2005/06 2006/07 2007/08 2008/09
Total ISAP Budget (Gs&Cs) $42.3M $48.4M $73.0M $170.3M $192.9M
Total ISAP Expenditures Gs&Cs) $38.4M $42.9M $70.2M $115.1M $181.3M
Budget (ISAP Core) $31.3M $32.2M $40.9M $124.1M $142.9M
Expenditures (ISAP Core) $33.2M $32.2M $51.6M $93.1M $141.2M
Number of ISAP A SPOs 125 123 144 188 Information not available*
Number of ClientsFootnote 5 80,162 83,439 79,554 92,235 118,931
Number of Services 497,816 542,682 473,862 572,471 706,671

Source: Total ISAP Budget and Expenditures – Public Accounts; Number of SPOs – SAP

2.4. ISAP client profile

To be eligible to receive ISAP services, clients had to be:

  • Permanent residents of Canada;
  • Protected persons as defined in Section 95 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act;
  • Persons in Canada whose applications for Permanent Resident status were being processed and had been informed, by a letter from CIC, of the initial approval of their application subject to an admissibility assessment; or
  • Temporary residents working in Canada with a work permit under the Live-in Caregiver Program.Footnote 6

Based on a 2008 extract from the Immigration–Contribution Accountability Measurement System (iCAMS) data (summarized in Table 2–2), a system that captures information on CIC clients and services, there were slightly more women than men (51.4% and 45.3%, respectively) who used ISAP services between 2004/05–2007/08. Most ISAP clients (51.6%) were adults between 25 and 44 years of age; however a significant proportion (18.3%) were youth under the age of 18. Almost half (46.5%) of ISAP clients came to Canada through the Economic Class, around a quarter were Refugees (27.4%), and just over one-fifth came through the Family Class (21.9%).The majority of clients reside in Ontario (82.5%). Almost half (47.4%) did not speak either Canadian official language at the time of landing, however around forty-four percent had some knowledge of English and five percent had some knowledge of French.

In terms of education, almost half of ISAP clients had no post-secondary education (37.8% had secondary school education or less and 11% reported no education); however one third of all ISAP clients had either a Bachelors (23.4%) or post-graduate (9.6%) degree. ISAP clients were most likely to identify China as their country of last permanent residence (18.1%). According to iCAMS, other frequently identified countries included India (10%), Pakistan (6%), Colombia (3.7%), and Afghanistan (3.6%).

Among ISAP clients, 35.5% had arrived in Canada before 2004 and 61.3% arrived between 2004 and 2008. Between 2004/2005 and 2007/2008 the majority (71%) of clients accessed the Program over one fiscal year, approximately one fifth of ISAP clients (19.9%) accessed ISAP services over two fiscal years while 7.9% of clients participated in the Program over three or four fiscal years.

Table 2–2: Characteristics of ISAP clients (2004/05-2007/08) Footnote 7
Gender Male 45.3%
Female 51.4%
Unknown/missing 3.3%
Total number of unique clients 246,740
Age at the
time of landing
Under 18 18.3%
18-24 11.3%
25-34 27.3%
35-44 24.3%
45-54 10.0%
55-64 3.5%
65+ 1.8%
Unknown/missing 3.5%
Total number of unique clients 246,740
Immigration class Family Class 21.9%
Economic Class 20.6%
Refugees (Protected Persons) 25.9%
Other Immigrants 27.4%
Unknown/missing 1.9%
Total number of unique clients 246,740
Family status Principal Applicant 52.8%
Spouse/Common Law 20.1%
Dependent 23.8%
Unknown/missing 3.3%
Total number of unique clients 246,740
Country of last
permanent residence
China 18.1%
India 10.0%
Pakistan 6.0%
Colombia 3.7%
Afghanistan 3.6%
Sri Lanka 3.4%
South Korea 3.2%
Iran 2.8%
Philippines 2.5%
Ukraine 1.9%
Russia 1.7%
Sudan 1.5%
Bangladesh 1.4%
Vietnam 1.4%
Ethiopia 1.3%
Other 34.1%
Unknown/ missing 3.3%
Total number of unique clients 246,740
Year of arrival Prior 1990 0.0%
1991 – 2000 9.9%
2001 6.7%
2002 8.2%
2003 10.7%
2004 15.9%
2005 17.9%
2006 14.4%
2007 11.2%
2008 1.9%
Unknown/ missing 3.5%
Total number of unique clients 246,740
Province of residence Atlantic 2.8%
Ontario 82.5%
Prairies 14.7%
Unknown/ missing 0.0%
Total number of unique clients 246,740
Language ability None 47.4%
English 43.9%
French 5.4%
Unknown/ missing 3.3%
Total number of unique clients 246,740
Level of education None 11.0%
Secondary or less 37.8%
Some post-secondary 14.8%
Bachelor’s degree 23.4%
Graduate and post-graduate degree 9.6%
Unknown/ missing 3.3%
Total number of unique clients 246,740
Number of years participating
in ISAP Program (by fiscal year)Footnote 8
1 year 71.2%
2 years 19.6%
3 years 6.0%
4 years 1.9%
Unknown 1.3%
Total number of unique clients 246,740

Source: iCAMS

2.5. ISAP services

Services provided directly to clients included needs assessments and referrals; information and orientation, including translation and interpretation; para-counselling and referrals to specialised services; and pre-employment services. Additionally, the Program funded non-client services to increase awareness of immigrant issues among non-settlement organizations and the broader community (service bridging) as well as to develop capacity among partners (ISAP B). The activities are described below.

Initial Needs Assessments and Referrals: This service involved assessing the needs of newcomers; specifically in helping them to identify resources, strengths and barriers on their settlement pathway. It often included assisting them to set goals, priorities and develop clear plans. Assessments could be carried out several times depending on the phase of settlement. For example, initial assessments might have on immediate settlement needs like housing, while six months later clients might have requested a vocational assessment. If clients required services outside the scope of the SPO, the service provider could refer the client to another agency or organisation.

Information and Orientation Services: A core component of ISAP involved the provision of guidance and information to newcomers as well as referring newcomers to resources in the community related to the client’s immediate settlement needs such as job search services, health care, legal services, recreation and education. Additionally, the service linked and referred clients to community organisations. The immediate objective, however, was to provide clients with guidance and information so that they can meet immediate and everyday needs including housing, banking, shopping, access to social and health services, and so that they can understand their rights and obligations in Canada. Clients could also receive interpretation and translation services related to essential or immediate settlement needs when they had limited capacity to speak English or French.

Para-Counselling and Referrals to Specialised Services: This service assisted newcomers in problem-solving by helping them to define their problems and to identify resources available to them. It was not psychotherapy, and it typically required between one to five sessions. It might have included helping newcomers and their families to articulate their problems clearly enough to search out appropriate referrals, or to mobilize their informal networks, or to clarify some of the common issues relating to settlement and family reunification. When clients required assistance for problems beyond the scope of expertise of an SPO, a referral to an appropriate resource may have been provided.

Pre-Employment Services: The purpose of this service was to assist newcomers with gaining skills to apply for and find employment. In essence, newcomers should gain a solid understanding of the labour market as it relates to their ability to find employment. Pre-employment services may include providing information on local labour markets and providing general job-search workshops (résumé-writing, interview preparation, etc.). Generally speaking, however, the more intensive employment counselling was provided through Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), provincial agencies and the Enhanced Language Training (ELT) initiative.

Service Bridging: This activity involved assisting non-settlement service providers and the broader community to understand and serve newcomers. For example, a service provider might join a committee at a local hospital to improve the admitting procedures for newcomers. Service bridging may be undertaken on a one-to-one basis, (e.g., with landlords) or in a group, (e.g., with police officers or health care workers). It does not include any form of political advocacy.

ISAP B: ISAP B projects on activities such as developing partnerships, research, capacity building, developing tools, and delivering conferences and training programs. The CIC Settlement Manual (February 2006) provides examples of ISAP B projects including: professional development conferences; initiatives to raise awareness of and combat family violence and racism; and development of an accreditation process for settlement workers. Although ISAP B projects may have had a variety of beneficiaries, the projects eventually targeted SPOs and their clients.

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