Evaluation of the Immigrant Settlement and Adaptation Program (ISAP)

4. Evaluation findings

This section summarizes the major findings of the evaluation regarding program relevance, implementation, results and design.

4.1. Program relevance

The evaluation findings on program relevance focus on the need for ISAP., comparable settlement programs, and the consistency of the ISAP with CIC priorities as well as with federal government roles and responsibilities. Using the evidence from interviews, focus groups, surveys, document and literature review, the following section describes the findings related to relevance.

Key Findings
  1. There was a need for ISAP because of its role in facilitating the settlement and adaptation of newcomers, particularly after they arrive.
  2. ISAP was unique in Canada as it sought to assist newcomers in addressing their basic and necessary settlement needs in a formal setting.
  3. ISAP was aligned with federal and departmental priorities and was broadly viewed to be consistent with the roles and responsibilities of the federal government; however, there are mixed views on the appropriate divisions of roles and responsibilities between the federal and provincial governments.

4.1.1. Program need

Several studies have found that many immigrants have to overcome significant barriers and challenges to settle in CanadaFootnote 14. A consultation process on the settlement needs of newcomers in Ontario conducted in 2006 identified nine main areas of need for newcomers: 1) information and guidance; 2) employment; 3) language training; 4) initial orientation; 5) financial stability (e.g., financial assistance, banking, credit cards); 6) cultural integration; 7) social and emotional support; 8) health; and 9) housingFootnote 15. Similarly, Statistics Canada also points to newcomers’ adaptation needs in areas such as culture, law, language, weather, health care system, housing, work force, education, and tax systemFootnote 16. A review of ISAP documentation indicates that the Program was designed to facilitate the settlement, adaptation and integration of newcomers by addressing a variety of needs.

In addition, stakeholders who participated in the evaluation unanimously confirmed that there is a strong need for settlement services as provided by ISAP, providing an average rating of 4.8 (provincial and CIC representatives) or 5.0 (SPOs), on a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 is no need at all and 5 is a major need. They attributed the strong need for ISAP to its role in helping newcomers understand Canadian life-style and adapt to their new way of life, addressing basic needs (e.g., housing, education, health, employment), reducing social barriers for newcomers and encouraging their participation in community activities.

4.1.2. Comparable programs

CIC Settlement Programs

When comparing the CIC settlement programs with each other, stakeholders agreed that ISAP, the Host Program and WCI complemented each otherFootnote 17. CIC participants explained that ISAP was more formal, Host was more personal, and WCI had a different and larger scope. SPO managers and directors noted that ISAP was more like a crisis intervention program and worked with newcomers; Host was more about engagement and building connections through working with newcomers and Canadians; and WCI more on integration issues and works with broader defined groups including newcomers, businesses, institutions and service providers.

SPO managers and directors, as well as CIC officers, rated the need for ISAP A services somewhat higher than the need for other CIC settlement programs (Figure 4-1). SPOs explained that many newcomers arrive in Canada with limited understanding of how to arrange basic but necessary parts of their lives such as registering children for school, looking for employment, and finding suitable housing. By addressing these types of needs, ISAP services played a critical role in helping newcomers settle in Canada faster and connecting them to the broader community.

Figure 4-1: Comparison of ratings of CIC settlement programs

Comparison of ratings of Citizenship and Immigration Canada settlement programs
Non-CIC programs

When asked about non-CIC settlement programs, each group of stakeholders was able to name a variety of programs available in their region that are intended to address needs similar to those targeted by ISAP, including employment and social services, housing, education and youth services. These programs are funded by other federal departments (e.g., HRSDC) and provincial and municipal governments as well as associations, colleges and universities, United Way, Red Cross, and YMCA.

Within this programming environment, CIC officers, SPOs, and Provincial representatives identified various service characteristics that distinguished ISAP from other settlement programs and services in their regions, including:

  • Having different eligibility requirements and, therefore, different clients;
  • Being able to provide services to newcomers who are vulnerable and underemployed;
  • Being able to provide more intense support on essential matters such as housing, employment and social benefits while other settlement programs provide guidance, social and emotional support; and
  • Not being geographically limited to specific areas.

4.1.3. Consistency with government priorities and roles and responsibilities

Federal Priorities

The government’s commitment to settling newcomers is grounded in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA, 2002). In particular, one of the objectives of this legislation is “to promote the successful integration of permanent residents into Canada.” ISAP and its objectives demonstrate an alignment with the integration objectives as stated in the Act. Moreover, the prominence of settlement as a federal priority was heightened in the 2005 budget when the government announced an additional $298 million over five years for settlement and integration programming in recognition of the increasing demands being placed on these programs and services across the country. It was expected that this additional funding would contribute to the attainment of a number of objectives, including improved labour market outcomes of immigrants across Canada, addressing the settlement pressures facing all jurisdictions, and strengthening bilateral relations with the provinces and territoriesFootnote 18.

CIC Priorities

Providing settlement services such as ISAP is part of the Department’s mission to build a stronger Canada through various means, including supporting the successful integration of newcomers and promoting Canadian citizenshipFootnote 19. A review of the objectives of the ISAP demonstrates that it was aligned with the mission of CIC, especially facilitating newcomer integration in a way that maximizes their contribution to the country and enhancing the values and promoting the rights and responsibilities of Canadian citizenshipFootnote 20. In addition, the objectives of ISAP were aligned with one of CIC’s strategic outcomes as outlined in CIC’s Program Activity Architecture (PAA), which focuses on the successful integration of newcomers into society and the promotion of Canadian citizenship through the implementation of integration programs.

Moreover, CIC participants said that ISAP was consistent with the strategic outcomes and priorities of CIC. When asked to rate their opinion, 71% of the CIC officers strongly agreed and 29% somewhat agreed that ISAP was consistent with the strategic outcomes and priorities of CIC.

Federal Role

The delivery of settlement services to newcomers involves both the federal and provincial governments. While the federal government has assumed a lead role, Section 8 of the IRPA permits the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to enter into agreements with the provinces. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has agreements with three provinces — Quebec, British Columbia and Manitoba — with respect to the provision of settlement programs and servicesFootnote 21. Different co-management models are also practiced in Alberta, where the programs are jointly funded by both federal and provincial governments, and in Ontario, where there is a joint governance structure for management of the settlement services. There are also international models and several approaches to providing settlement services internationally and within Canada. A description of these models is provided in Appendix C.

ISAP stakeholders noted that there are diverse views on the appropriate division of roles and responsibilities between federal and provincial partners in the design and delivery of settlement services in general.

CIC participants at NHQ agreed that Federal Government has a responsibility to provide funding for programs that promote Canadian values and roles. They also mentioned that CIC should establish the scope of such programs as well as standards (e.g., eligibility requirements, para-counselling) to be applied across provinces, but that local organizations are best placed to deliver the services. The majority (89%) of SPO managers and directors also agreed that the development and funding of these types of programs is an appropriate role for the Government of Canada. The remaining neither agreed nor disagreed (9%) or disagreed (2%) and explained that more consultation is needed before any planning or changing of policies. Furthermore, the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) in its 2009 discussion paper on a vision for the settlement sector in the future explained that the Federal Government has an enduring role in immigrant settlement and integration and is in the best position to protect settlement services and fundingFootnote 22.

Data collection included interviews with five provincial representatives; some indicated that, while it is both a federal and provincial goal to facilitate the success of immigrants in Canada, it is difficult for the federal government to realize the uniqueness of the regions and tailor programming appropriatelyFootnote 23. Provincial representatives also discussed that, given that provinces actively seek out immigrants through the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), it is reasonable to expect that they deliver programming to support these immigrants once they are in the province. They suggested that more consultations with provincial governments in terms of sharing responsibilities and coordination are required. In addition, 6 out of 12 CIC managers also mentioned that better coordination and more consultations with provinces are necessary. The issue of federal or provincial administration of settlement services was also presented in the report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration (2003) where it is mentioned that “the provinces should play a greater role in the delivery of these services and the federal government should be responsible for coordination and quality control” Footnote 24.

4.2. Program implementation

The key findings of the evaluation regarding the implementation of ISAP focus on promotion as well as the delivery and use of services. The following describes the findings and related evidence from interviews, focus groups, surveys, as well as the document and literature review.

Key Findings
  1. While almost all SPOs used a variety of formal tools for promotion, informal means of promotion such as “word of mouth” was the most common way in which clients first heard about the Program.
  2. Initial needs assessment and information/orientation were the most typical activities of ISAP; however, SPOs indicated that as there were no formal tools for assessing the needs of newcomers, they were developing their own.
  3. Of all ISAP services, the provision of para-counselling services increased at the highest rate; however, there is uncertainty regarding the nature and scope of para-counselling services that should be provided through settlement programs.
  4. All stakeholder groups confirmed the importance of employment support (including clients who expressed it as the most important reason for approaching a SPO).

4.2.1. Program promotion

According to the client and SPO surveys, the most common way through which clients heard about ISAP, is by “word of mouth.” Although many SPOs reported engaging in promotional activities such as delivering presentations (93%), advertising (92%), distributing their own promotional materials (91%) and CIC promotional materials (91%), only 14% of ISAP clients reported any of these as the means through which they learned about ISAP (see Table 4-1).

Table 4-1: Methods used to promote/hear about ISAP
  How clients heard about ISAP How SPOs promote ISAP
Word-of-mouth 51% 95%
Through another organization or agency 17% 19%
Newspaper or other advertising 12% 92%
Heard about it in LINC/CLIC classes 7% 5%
Through the Internet 5% 12%
Saw/held a presentation on the program 2% 93%
Library 1% 1%
School/Class 1% 5%
Job Fairs 1% 4%
SPO promotional materials 91%
CIC promotional materials 58%
Other (Ethno-cultural & community events, support groups and programs, religious festivals, etc.) 3% 29%

Source: Client Survey (n=567) SPO ISAP Representatives Survey (n=144)

When asked to rate CIC efforts to promote ISAP (i.e., presentations to SPOs and maintenance of a website for newcomers), SPO staff, managers and directors were more likely to agree (69% and 58% respectively) but CIC officers were more likely to disagree (50%) that these efforts were effective (see Table 4-2)Footnote 25.

Table 4-2: Perception of effectiveness of CIC efforts to promote ISAP
The efforts of CIC to promote
ISAP services were effective
Disagree Neither / Nor Agree
SPOs 14% 17% 69%
SPO Managers and Directors 19% 22% 58%
CIC Program Officers 50% 17% 33%

Source: Surveys/ Interviews (SPOs (n=132), SPO Managers and Directors (n=63), CIC Program Officers (n=15)

Both CIC and SPO representatives pointed to the ISAP promotion as an area that needed more attention, noting many newcomers are not aware of these services when they arrive, need these services most, and are still eligible. It was suggested that ISAP promotion needed to be done on a larger scale, using a wide variety of channels and languages. Other suggestions to improve promotion of ISAP included:

  • Centralize promotion and public relations activities for settlement services;
  • Develop newcomers magazine or newsletters;
  • Develop an advertising campaign (e.g., TV ads, billboards);
  • Launch public awareness campaigns in rural areas and urban centers;
  • Provide newcomers with multi-lingual and easy to read resources before their arrival;
  • Provide information about settlement services at the port of entry; and
  • Provide concrete facts on the benefits of immigration to sensitize the communities.

4.2.2. ISAP services

From the perspective of newcomers, ISAP was needed to address the particular settlement issues they can face. In the client survey, one third (33%) of the ISAP clients approached the settlement agency because they were hoping to receive advice on employment such as how to prepare a résumé and how to search and apply for a job. Close to one quarter (23%) said that they approached the settlement agency to receive guidance on issues such as Canadian culture, customs, rights, norms, laws and responsibilities. ISAP clients in the focus groups provided some additional reasons for participating in ISAP including communicating with and meeting educated people, meeting people from their original country, and regaining their confidence in a new country (see Table 4-3).

Table 4-3: Clients’ reasons for approaching SPOs
Why did you approach a settlement agency? What were you hoping to receive? ISAP Clients
Employment advice/job related 33%
Guidance on Canadian culture, rights, norms, laws and responsibilities 23%
Orientation, support and counselling 9%
Guidance with documentation and application processes 8%
Language acquisition 7%
Information on services and benefits 6%
To get involved in the community 5%
Translation and interpretation 4%
Help in own language 2%

Source: Client Survey (n=583)

The use of ISAP services also indicates the great need for these services, especially during the early years of newcomers’ arrival (Figure 4-2). Two-thirds (66%) of ISAP clients who responded to the survey reported using the services within the first year of being in Canada, and of those, 35% started using ISAP services within the first month of being in Canada. This finding was confirmed during interviews and focus groups as provincial representatives and SPOs both expressed that intense services are required to address these needs at the beginning and during the first few years after arrival in Canada.

In addition, most ISAP clients used the services for less than a year. The ISAP clients who had stopped using services at the time of the survey indicated that they had used the services for an average of 10.8 months. This finding is also supported by iCAMS data that suggests that majority of clients accessed the program within one fiscal year (see Table 2-2).

Figure 4-2: Use of ISAP after arrival in Canada

Use of Immigrant Settlement and Adaptation Program after arrival in Canada

CIC does not collect data to measure the demand for ISAP services. CIC officers in focus groups discussed that one of reasons why LIPs (Local Immigration Partnerships) were created in Ontario was to better understand the demand for ISAP at the local level. CIC managers and directors suggested that proper tracking of newcomers and ISAP clients would provide the data to assess the demand for ISAP.

In interviews and surveys, key informants presented their perceptions on the balance between supply and demand. Overall, there is a mixed perception about the balance between the demand and supply among various stakeholder groups. In interviews, CIC managers and directors said that the ISAP supply/demand was unknown. During focus groups, some CIC officers said that supply was higher than demand, as they observed increasing competition between SPOs, particularly in Ontario and Alberta. SPOs in focus groups also confirmed increasing competition in these regions, which they viewed to be disruptive and negatively affecting the quality of their services. However, almost half of the SPO survey respondents (47%) indicated that demand exceeded supply (see Figure 4-3).

Figure 4-3: The view of SPOs on the supply and demand for ISAP services

The view of Settlement Provider Organizations on the supply and demand for Immigrant Settlement and Adaptation Program services

To provide a picture of services clients receive from SPOs, the evaluation analysed available data from iCAMS, the SPO survey, and client survey. iCAMS data suggests that among all services, the provision of information and orientation to newcomers was the most frequently provided (37% of all reported servicesFootnote 26). As outlined in Table 4-4, over the 5 years (2004/05-2008/09), based on available data, services grew by 42% with para-counselling services growing at the highest rate (64%).

Table 4-4: Provision of ISAP services Footnote 27
  2004/05 2005/06 2006/07 2007/08 2008/09 % Change to baseline
Needs assessment 54,001 55,757 52,225 63,242 79,109 46%
Referrals 88,405 86,619 78,652 93,255 119,628 35%
182,692 214,191 177,003 205,437 262,139 43%
68,889 70,195 64,508 84,476 97,378 41%
Para-counselling 54,003 62,672 57,025 72,895 88,742 64%
Pre-employment 49,826 53,248 44,449 53,166 59,675 20%
Total services 497,816 542,682 473,862 572,471 706,671 42%

Source: iCAMS, Baseline: 2004/05

The following section describes the data for each of the services in details.

Initial needs assessment and referrals

Needs assessments determine newcomer needs, strengths and barriers to identify appropriate services and/or referrals. Needs assessments also aim to assist newcomers to set goals and priorities and develop a plan to achieve them. In the survey, the majority of SPOs reported providing initial needs assessments to clients, however just over half (51%) of SPO representatives reported that all of their ISAP clients received an initial needs assessment. Of ISAP clients participating in the surveys, 68% reported receiving an initial needs assessment. iCAMS data shows that provision of needs assessment services grew by 46% over the period 2004/05-2008/09, which was the highest growth after para-counselling.

SPOs noted they were not provided with any tools for conducting initial needs assessments and as a result, many said that they have developed tools internally. The main methods or tools through which SPOs assess client needs include intake forms, interviews, checklists, assessment sessions, focus groups and workshops. The processes and tools most commonly identified by SPOs included:

  • Intake forms, reported by 51% of SPO survey respondents;
  • One-on-one needs assessments or in-depth assessments, reported by 39% of SPOs; and
  • A combination of face-to-face interviews, phone interviews, focus groups, and workshops, reported by 35% of SPOs.

In the focus groups and surveys, SPOs expressed an interest in moving further towards a case management model. According to literature, case management involves individualised service delivery based on continuous assessment that is used to develop a case or service plan. The plan is developed in collaboration with the client and reflects their choices and preferences for the service arrangements being developed. The goal is to empower the client and ensure that they are involved in all aspects of the planning and service arrangement in a dynamic way. CIC managers and directors also referred to a lack of focus on case management as a major gap in ISAP services. CIC managers and directors and provincial representatives suggested that developing more holistic services based on needs assessment, evaluations, and case management will help SPOs better respond to the wide range of settlement needs of immigrants.

Referrals direct newcomers to other resources related to their immediate settlement needs. The most common types of referrals, reported by SPOs, are listed in Table 4-5Footnote 28. The most frequently mentioned were referrals to governmental organisations, be it federal, provincial or municipal. SPOs also referred newcomers to employment agencies, language training, other settlement services related to health, and community services.

Table 4-5: Referral services of ISAP as reported by SPOs
Referrals to Other Agencies/Government Bodies Number of SPOs
Municipal, Provincial, and Federal Government departments and agencies 60
Employment agencies: (e.g., Employment Hamilton) job developers, temp agencies and companies that offer survival jobs 56
Language training; internal programs: LINC, Job Search Workshops, mentoring, Enhanced Language Training, English as a Second Language classes, tutoring 49
Other settlement services related to health, (subsidized) housing, education, employment, social services, legal services, consumer, and recreation 47
Community services: Local community centers, settlement agencies, legal services, community health centers, and library services 42

Source: Survey of SPOs (n=145)

Less than half of clients mentioned they used referrals (48%). Clients mentioned that referrals were important for becoming aware of other services and making connections to these services. However, they also said that occasionally referrals may direct them to wrong organizations that cannot provide any help. They suggested that referrals between SPOs could improve services.

Information and orientation

Having reliable and timely information is crucial to newcomer settlement. Information & Orientation services aim to provide newcomers with guidance and information related to the basic and necessary information to live in Canada. As previously outlined, data from iCAMS indicated that the provision of information and orientation services increased by 43% between 2004/05 and 2008/09 (Table 4-4).

SPOs estimated that the majority of their clients received information/orientation services. SPOs explained that the types of information they commonly provide through this service are: access to social services, banking, money management, insurance, taxes, health services, housing, sponsorships, visa, SIN, citizenship application, driver’s license, job searching/employment, school registration, transportation, and legal issues (e.g., divorce, custody, domestic abuse).

In the survey, over half of the clients reported they participated in an information/orientation session (59%). In an open-ended question, clients reported that the information provided them with appropriate answers to their general questions while helping them to learn about different issues such as Canadian culture and its political, legal, health and education systems.

ISAP clients, when asked how information and orientation could be improved, pointed out that these services were general and not tailored to their individual questions and needs. Also, there were no follow-up sessions that provided them with opportunities to ask their questions about a particular topic.

Translation and interpretation is an essential immediate need for newcomers who have a limited capacity to speak English or French. SPOs reported that translation of a wide range of documents may be provided including forms, birth certificates, marriage and death certificates, divorce proceedings, medical transcripts, educational transcripts/certificates, employment records, reference letters, statutory declarations, driver’s license, and criminal record checks. SPOs also assist clients with understanding legal documents such as contracts and agreements (e.g., lease agreements). The use of translation/ interpretation was reported by clients to a lower extent than the use of other ISAP services (37%).


According to the Canadian Mental Health Association study, newcomers face challenges that can threaten their mental health such as: a drop in their socio-economic status; inability to speak the language of the host country; separation from family and friends; a lack of a friendly reception by the host population; and limited access to an ethno-cultural community to provide social support. Moreover, these challenges may be more pronounced for specific age groups (e.g., those who migrated during adolescence or after the age of 65). Newcomer youth are twice as likely to suffer from depression in comparison with individuals aged 35 and older. Women and seniors may suffer from a greater loss of social support and independence than others. Some newcomers may have experienced man-made disasters such as war, torture or repression. Furthermore, newcomers who need mental health services may be reluctant to seek such assistance due to the stigma attached to this type of illness as well as cultural and linguistic barriersFootnote 29.

Para-Counselling services aim to assist newcomers by helping them to define their problems and identify resources available to them. At the same time, however, SPO activities under para-counselling were reported as: clinical counselling, specialized referral, crisis counselling, counselling on problems related to adaptation, anger management, family mediation, and providing emotional support. SPOs also reported that para-counselling aims to address problems such as post-partum blues and/or depression, assault issues, post-traumatic stress, and family/domestic violence (reported by all SPOs).

As previously reported, iCAMS data indicated a 64% growth in the provision of these services by SPOs between 2004/05 and 2008/09, the most significant growth among all ISAP services (Table 4-4). More than half of ISAP clients surveyed reported they used para-counselling services (59%).

The focus group discussions also highlighted the strong demand for para-counselling services as both CIC officers and SPO staff said that mental health was one of the most pressing issues for ISAP. SPOs also referred to the large number of clients suffering from post-traumatic stress and/or newcomers with mental health problems who sought ISAP services. In focus groups, a frequently mentioned reason for the increase in demand for para-counselling services was linked to the introduction of IRPA and changing eligibility criteria for refugees.

Dealing with mental health was frequently reported by SPOs as a major challenge in the survey and focus groups. SPOs discussed that neither the content of ISAP para-counselling services nor the training provided to staff was adequate to address the newcomers’ mental health issues. There is also considerable uncertainty regarding the nature and scope of para-counselling services that should be provided through settlement services. For example, SPOs were not sure whether services should be limited to referrals only or could include advice as well. The lack of clear guidelines from CIC on how to deal with mental health issues, particularly depression, adds to the challenge that SPOs are currently facing. It was suggested that settlement programs should be provided with funding that enables agencies to hire mental health workers and/or to train SPO staff on how to better deal with mental health issues. Some also suggested that SPOs should partner with hospitals, colleges and universities in order to better serve newcomers with mental health problems.

Pre-employment services

Pre-Employment (Job Search) Services aim to provide information on local labour markets. The Ontario Consultations on the Settlement and Language Training Needs of Newcomers (2006) also identified employment as the highest priority for almost all newcomers who participated in that studyFootnote 30. SPO managers and directors who responded to the survey confirmed the high use of job search services and said that the current economic downturn has made employment issues more significant for newcomers. In the survey, SPOs indicated that labour market information focus on topics such as employment trends, the hidden job market, and jobs available in their community. The types of information and skills that SPOs reported addressing during job search workshops include résumé writing, interview skills, cold calling, workplace culture and ethics, worker compensation, professional networking, cross-cultural diversity training.

As previously discussed, one-third of the ISAP clients approached a settlement agency because they were seeking employment support (see Table 4-3). Overall, 47% of clients reported obtaining information on labour markets, while 59% of survey respondents received pre-employment services.

According to the data available from iCAMS, pre-employment services grew by 20% during the period under review. Various findings of this evaluation reflect a high need for job search activities. SPO managers, directors and staff view the job search services as an important part of ISAP that helped newcomers find suitable employment. In the survey and focus groups ISAP clients also confirmed the importance of these services and how the services assisted them in the process of obtaining a job (e.g., they received information on the job market, good techniques and tips on job search, how to choose an appropriate work position and employer, how to prepare a résumé and cover letter according to Canadian standards, career guidance, and conducting online searches).

Clients identified some shortcomings associated with the job search services, such as:

  • The information was too generic and not related to the real situation (e.g., recession);
  • The services do not explain the logic behind résumé content (e.g., why clients should add the suggested items to their résumé or why they should have multiple résumés);
  • Information was needed about their career options; and
  • ISAP should increase the community awareness of skilled immigrants.

ISAP clients suggested that job search activities could be improved by providing more details about the labour market, companies and employer expectations. They also said that the program should develop more partnerships with employers and recruitment agencies and create more opportunities for clients to meet with potential employers. The services could also play a role with respect to foreign credential recognition, helping skilled immigrants meet with regulatory bodiesFootnote 31.

Service bridging

Service Bridging consists of SPOs reaching out to local organizations to involve them in the provision of settlement services. Nearly all (98.6%) SPO representatives reported that their organization had been active in service bridging to assist or create partnerships with non-settlement organizations and other community organizations to serve newcomers. Of these SPO representatives being active in service bridging, (66.2%) indicated that their organizations have been very active in assisting or creating partnerships with non-settlement organizations and other communities. In the SPO survey, the top three types of organizations are health centres, public libraries and educational institutes. Examples of service bridging initiatives include:

  • Holding workshops, seminars and information sessions in community organizations (reported by 66 SPOs);
  • Participating in community activities of other organizations for networking and establish cross-referrals (reported by 48 SPOs);
  • Utilizing community organizations’ expertise to offer various services such as legal clinics, employment placement and support services (reported by 12 SPOs);
  • Providing settlement services at neighbourhood community organizations (reported by 10 SPOs);
  • Displaying ISAP promotional materials at major locations (e.g., doctor's offices, schools, libraries) (reported by eight SPOs);
  • Advocating/promoting the activities of community organizations related to issues such as elder and women abuse, services to children traumatized by war (Children’s Aid Society) (reported by four SPOs);
  • Assisting other organizations to create a settlement counselling program (reported by one SPO); and
  • Creating volunteer opportunities for newcomers in community organizations (reported by one SPO).

In some instances, service bridging activities are organized at the provincial or regional level. For example, in several provinces, settlement workers are placed in schools to assist newcomer students in their families settle in their school and community (e.g., Settlement Workers in Schools Program [SWIS] in Ontario). These school-based programs have been developed through collaboration between CIC, settlement agencies and school boards.

Client satisfaction

Most of ISAP clients (71%) said they were very satisfied with the services they received and 63% were very satisfied with the extent to which the services met their needs (Table 4-6). Clients attributed their satisfaction to the quality of services received. Clients explained that services were comprehensive, confidential, timely, efficient, available and accessible. Moreover, clients expressed that staff were very helpful by answering their specific questions and providing ongoing support. In an open-ended question, some clients highlighted aspects of ISAP with which they were less satisfied, including lack of adequate time with SPO staff and individualized services, unclear information, and inadequate employment services (e.g., lack of job shadowing and opportunities for volunteering).

Table 4-6: Client satisfaction with ISAP services
How satisfied
are you with:
Not at all Little
Satisfied Very
The assistance you have received to date? (n=571) 1% 1% 10% 16% 71% 1%
The extent the assistance has met your needs? (n=549) 1% 1% 11% 23% 63% 2%

Source: Client Survey

Barriers to participation

The top three reasons that constrained clients’ participation in ISAP were transportation, identified by 18% of clients surveyed, waiting lists (11%), and class schedules (11%) (Table 4-7). In focus groups, clients also referred to the lack of transportation as well as the lack of child minding support as constraining factors to use ISAP services. SPO staff said more funding is required to provide transit tickets or support transportation for their clients to attend workshops or group sessions. Both CIC program officers and SPO managers and directors mentioned the importance of support services such as child minding and transportation as key factors that can contribute to the success of the program.

Table 4-7: Constraining factors to using ISAP services
Are there any factors that may have made it difficult for you to access the services you needed? Percent
Transportation 18%
Waiting lists 11%
Class schedules 11%
Childcare issues 9%
Requirements for enrolment 6%
Language barrier 3%
Other: housing, health issues 3%
Location of agency 1%

Source: Client Survey (n=538)

4.2.3. ISAP B

ISAP B projects were designed to enhance the capacity of service providers to deliver services to newcomers under ISAP A. According to SAP, the number of projects funded under ISAP B, between 2004/05 and 2008/09, was 234 (Table 4-8)Footnote 32.

Table 4-8: Number of ISAP B projects, 2004/05-2008/09 Footnote 33
  2004/05 2005/06 2006/07 2007/08 2008/09
# of ISAP B Projects 26 41 52 44 71
Expenditures $8,962,232 $6,017,991 $9,371,107 $11,863,542 $16,309,425

Source: SAP

It was expected that ISAP A services could be made more efficient and effective by using the products of ISAP B. Stakeholders referred to many common needs of SPOs (e.g., training, tools, capacity building, and research) that can be addressed by ISAP B projects. Based on the ISAP B project survey data and several case studies, while some ISAP B projects had as their main focus the dissemination of information, others aimed to develop new tools and research or develop partnerships. CIC managers and directors in the regions also mentioned that ISAP B projects were utilized to pilot various ideas to ensure their feasibility before operationalizing them on a larger scale.

Based on a survey of ISAP B projects, the most common project activities were research or the development of tools, templates and training materials (Table 4-9).

Table 4-9: ISAP B activities
ISAP B Activities Percentage of Respondents
Research 62%
Developing tools, templates and training materials 62%
Disseminating tools and training materials and best practices 52%
Developing partnerships 43%
Promotion of services 38%
Workshops and training 38%
Conference 29%
Outreach and awareness of antiracism and discrimination 29%
Coordination of existing services 19%
Mentoring 5%

Source: Survey of ISAP B Projects (n=21)

The majority (77%) of ISAP B projects reported the production of more than one type of product or output. The type of product or output most commonly reported (by 52% of the ISAP B projects) involved the dissemination of information through conferences and presentations, and networking events or the production of research reports and studies (52%) (Table 4-10).

Table 4-10: Products generated by ISAP B projects
Type of Product Respondents
Conferences, presentations, and networking events 52%
Research reports and studies 52%
Training panel panel-defaults and workshops 43%
Curricula, tools and resources 38%
Promotional and communications material 38%
Guides and resource materials/DVDs/videos, etc. 29%
Website 24%
Mentoring programs 5%
Coordinated strategy (e.g., Local Immigration Partnerships) 5%

Source: Survey of ISAP B Projects (n=21)

Furthermore, the representatives of ISAP B projects discussed the factors that assisted them to accomplish their projects. ISAP B projects that aimed to develop tools/capacity/research pointed to factors such as introducing best practices or new practices, quality of work and products, and level of influence in decision making as their measures of success. Those that aimed at developing partnerships referred to increased awareness and the number of community partners involved in their projects. The projects that had a focus on dissemination of information explained their success as reducing the burden on SPOs and senior staff when they look for information. The factors that caused these projects to be less successful included onerous administration procedures, insufficient funding, difficulty finding adequate relevant capacity in community organizations, lack of information on best practices and reluctance of some organizations to participate/partner.

4.3. Program results

This section presents the evaluation findings according to the major outcome areas: newcomer settlement needs, job search ability, and accessibility of community organizations.

Key Findings
  1. ISAP services had a major impact in meeting the settlement needs of newcomers. In particular, the services helped ISAP clients identify and address their settlement needs and learn about other services in their community that can help them.
  2. ISAP services had a major impact on helping clients to search for and obtain employment.
  3. SPOs are active in working with community and non-settlement organizations so that they better understand and serve newcomers.
  4. Despite the development of products through ISAP B projects (i.e., tools, conferences, research, promotional materials), formal mechanisms to measure the utilization and effectiveness of ISAP B products were lacking.

4.3.1. Newcomer settlement

Various groups of stakeholders were asked about the success of ISAP in helping newcomers settle in Canada. SPO managers and directors were most likely to rate the program as successful (91%), while provincial representatives were the least likely group to do so (60%) (Table 4-11).

Table 4-11: Rating overall success of ISAP by groups of stakeholders
How successful was ISAP in helping newcomers settle in Canada: Not at all Somewhat Successful Successful NA/Do Not Know
CIC Managers and Directors (n=12) 0% 17% 75% 8%
CIC Program Officers (n=15) 0% 21% 79% 0%
Provincial Representatives (n=5) 0% 20% 60% 20%
SPOs Managers and Directors (n=64) 0% 9% 91% 0%

Source: Surveys/Interviews

ISAP clients who responded to the survey reported a major impact of services in addressing their settlement needs. They identified a major impact in terms of helping them understand their settlement needs (69%), meet their basic daily needs (58%), learn about other existing services in the community (56%), set their goals (54%), and deal with the settlement stress (50%). Over half (52%) of clients also said that translation/interpretation services provided through ISAP had a major impact on their settlement. Moreover, during interviews with provincial representatives as well as focus groups with SPOs, some participants explained that ISAP was most successful when targeting basic needs.

Overall, in the surveys, SPOs rated the impacts of ISAP on settlement higher than clients. This may be due to the fact that, besides advocating their services, SPOs consider the overall feedback and impacts of the services rather than an individual case while for a given client only certain impacts will be relevant (e.g., only some clients are looking for assistance related to translation or interpretation). Despite differences in the degree of impact, client and SPO responses related to the impact of ISAP followed the same pattern. The three ISAP services identified by SPOs as having a major impact were largely consistent with those identified by clients; these included helping clients understand their settlement needs (99%), learn about services in their community (89%), and meet basic daily needs (86%) (Figure 4-4).

Figure 4-4: Clients and SPOs perceptions of ISAP impact on settlement needs

Clients and Settlement Provider Organizations perceptions of Immigrant Settlement and Adaptation Program impact on settlement needs

Examples of comments frequently provided by clients regarding the impact of the services provided include:

  • ISAP services enabled them to become aware of other services in their community that could give them further assistance;
  • The translation and interpretation services were useful, easy to access and free;
  • ISAP increased their access to key services (e.g., medical services/healthcare and education);
  • The psychological support helped them handle stress; and
  • Having information (e.g., on culture, employment, government, transportation, benefits, shelter, food, services and housing) increased their confidence and ability to settle.

4.3.2. Job search ability

Employment plays an important role in the settlement process. The 2006 consultation study in Ontario referred to employment as the highest priority among newcomers consultedFootnote 34. Although the ISAP job search services were designed to provide only basic information and skills, the services were well-received by ISAP clients, who reported significant results. Nearly two-thirds (62%) of clients who responded to the evaluation survey said the job search activities of ISAP had a major impact on their ability to search for employment and 43% said that they found a job after using the services (Figure 4-5). For example, ISAP clients said that job search services had a major impact in:

  • Helping them to develop an effective Canadian resumé;
  • Providing a forum to ask their questions;
  • Helping them establish employment goals; and
  • In some cases, providing them with mentorship and professional networking.

Figure 4-5: Clients and SPO perceptions of ISAP impact on employment

Clients and Settlement Provider Organization perceptions of Immigrant Settlement and Adaptation Program impact on employment

4.3.3. Service bridging

SPOs collaborate with a variety of community organizations as part of service bridging. As a result of service bridging, it is expected that these organizations will be able to become more attuned to the needs of newcomers. In the survey, respondents indicated that service bridging activities have contributed to the expansion of collaboration and partnerships between SPOs and non-settlement agencies (77%). Moreover, 59% of respondents perceived that their project contributed to non-settlement organisations knowing newcomers needs, problems and issues.

Examples of service bridging projects include the development of comprehensive Local Immigration Partnership initiatives in Ontario. For example, in an open-ended survey response, it was noted that the objective of one LIP initiative in Southern Ontario was to create partnerships between settlement agencies and the mainstream organisations also accessed by newcomers (i.e., school boards, libraries, healthcare, etc.). One primary strategy for this LIP initiative was to develop a LIP Council and corresponding terms of reference which outline the membership structure and roles and responsibilities of partners. In addition, a collaborative settlement and integration strategy was to be developed. It was envisioned that this strategy would address three objectives: improved access to and coordination of effective, strategic and comprehensive services/programs that facilitate immigrant settlement and integration; improved access to the labour market for immigrants; and, strengthened awareness and the capacity of the region to integrate an increasing numbers of immigrants.

In addition, from the perspective of clients, ISAP enabled them to strengthen their connections within their communities. Three-quarters (74%) of SPOs and close to half (47%) of clients said that ISAP services had a major impact on client participation in the community (Figure 4-6).

For example, clients who said that ISAP services had a major impact on them reported that they:

  • Received invitations to events, workshops, and community activities;
  • Gained access to community organizations where they could volunteer; and
  • Learned how to build relationships, connect, network and make friends.

Figure 4-6: Perceptions of impact on community participation

Perceptions of impact on community participation

4.3.4. ISAP B

ISAP B projects produced tools and other resources (i.e., conferences, research, promotional materials) to enhance the capacity of stakeholders involved in delivering the Program. The majority (76%) of recipients of ISAP B projects believed that their project was successful, 15% said it was somewhat successful and 10% said it was too early to tell.

In the survey, ISAP B SPOs indicated that ISAP B activities increased the availability of information to support the development of policies and delivery of programs (59%). Moreover, 58% of respondents stated that their project expanded the availability of tools and guidelines to build capacity of service provider organisations to manage and deliver services to newcomers.

Despite the overall perception of the success of ISAP B projects among survey respondents, in most instances, they were not able to identify the extent to which ISAP B outputs (i.e., tools and resources) have been utilized effectively by target users. For example, most respondents indicated that no mechanisms were built into their respective projects through which they could ensure that the resulting products were made available to target users or to follow-up to assess whether the product (e.g., research or tools) had been utilized, whether users were satisfied with the products, and what impacts had resulted.

4.4. ISAP design

The evaluation findings related to the design of ISAP focuses on management and accountability, and program capacity. Data to support findings were obtained through interviews, focus groups, surveys, and the document review.

Key Findings
  1. There have been significant changes to ISAP in recent years, including adoption of the modernized approach and an increase in funding which has facilitated expansion in the number of SPOs and the range of services provided.
  2. Although overall the division of roles and responsibilities and the flexibility of ISAP was viewed positively, stakeholders referred to some gaps in the design of the Program.
  3. CIC and SPOs expressed mixed views on the appropriateness of the monitoring and reporting mechanisms. iCAMS, which is designed to allow CIC to collect client and service information, remains problematic in relation to both data quality and report production notwithstanding the training provided. This, in turn, affects the reliability and utility of the data collected.
  4. Stakeholders expressed that strengthened coordination, communication and partnerships across all levels of government, funders and service delivery organizations could improve service delivery. In addition, there is room for improvement in the tools, guidance, and staff training to better deliver ISAP–type services under the modernized Settlement Program

4.4.1. Program management

To assess the management of ISAP, several key indicators were examined, including the impact of previous changes to the Program, the appropriateness of design, monitoring and accountability, and the extent of partnerships and communications.

Changes to ISAP

During interviews, CIC representatives confirmed that ISAP underwent modifications in recent years. These interviewees noted that there was an expansion of the services provided, particularly in areas such as pre-employment services, as well as an increase in the availability of support services for clients such as child minding and transportation. In addition, according to SAP data, the number of SPOs funded through ISAP A has increased from 125 in 2004/05 to 188 in 2007/08.

According to CIC managers, the rationale behind these changes was to increase the access of newcomers to services, move to a more outcome-oriented system, simplify administration, and achieve greater synergies across services. These respondents noted that the program changes reflected the results of past research, previous evaluations, and consultation with various stakeholders (e.g., COIA consultations 2006; Immigration to Canada studies; 2004 ISAP evaluation).

Although CIC representatives viewed the changes positively, they noted that introducing such changes had been challenging, particularly providing the training, tools and other support needed to bring many new SPOs on-stream and introduce a more-outcome based, modernized approach at the regional and community levels.

Appropriateness of design

The majority of SPOs staff (93%) and managers and directors (87%) agreed that the ISAP objectives, roles and responsibilities were clear. The majority also believed that ISAP was well designed to meet the needs of newcomers (87% and 93% respectively) and the delivery structure was adequately flexible to respond to the local needs (74% and 68% respectively; see Table 4-12).

Table 4-12: Rating ISAP design
(for ISAP and Host)
Disagree Neither Agree Nor Disagree Agree
The objectives of the programs, roles and responsibilities the service providers, and accountabilities of these programs were well-defined
SPO Staff (n=136) 5% 3% 93%
SPO Managers/Directors (n=63) 10% 3% 87%
The settlement programs were well designed to meet the needs of newcomers
SPO Staff (n=135) 8% 2% 87%
SPO Managers/Directors (n=64) 5% 2% 93%
The delivery structure of the programs was flexible enough to be able to respond to local needs
SPO Staff (n=135) 22% 8% 74%
SPO Managers/Directors (n=64) 24% 11% 68%

Source: Surveys/Interviews

SPO representatives who did not agree that the Program had well defined objectives, roles and responsibilities, noted the following concerns:

  • A lack of standardization in the definition of SPO roles, responsibilities and accountabilities;
  • The absence of clear criteria for setting client target numbers for SPOs; and
  • Ambiguity among programs with similar mandates (e.g., ISAP subcomponents such as programs delivered by CIC: ELT, WCI, Settlement Workers in Schools, Library Settlement Partnership Program, and programs delivered by other levels of government such as the Newcomer Settlement Program (NSP) funded and delivered by the Ontario provincial government).

In interviews, CIC managers and directors noted that flexibility and broad diversity in the services provided had contributed to the success of ISAP in meeting the specific needs of local clients. However, some representatives noted that flexibility also carries some risks. For example, there culd have been misunderstandings regarding the focus and priorities of ISAP and differences in how SPOs perceive their roles and responsibilities. Increased flexibility and diversity can also create inconsistencies in terms of services available across communities.

During focus groups, SPOs and CIC representatives identified the following gaps in the ISAP services that impacted the ability of the Program to fully address newcomer needs.

  • Serving currently ineligible groups: Eligibility criteria limit the ability of SPOs to provide services to a broader audience. SPOs said that the ISAP delivery structure should not have been restricted by the immigration status of newcomers (e.g., asylum seekers, temporary residents, Canadians citizens). In focus groups, some SPOs mentioned that they provide services to ineligible clients. Similarly, provincial representatives pointed to the need of providing settlement services to temporary workers.
  • Targeting services to particular groups: Lack of services tailored to particular client groups such as skilled immigrants, youth, women, seniors, clients with special needs, and clients with regulated professions was a frequently reported gap by CIC and SPOs. For example, some SPOs indicated that more work needs to be done to tailor services to better meet the needs and expectations of youth, which can vary significantly from those of adults.
  • Reaching into particular communities: The limited success of the Program in reaching out to some new and emerging newcomer communities and communities at risk (e.g., poorer neighbourhoods) was reported as a gap by both CIC and SPOs.
  • Providing alternative means to access services: Lack of adequate online and distance services, pre-arrival services, and satellite offices were among the gaps reported by CIC and SPOs.
  • Addressing specialized needs: Limited assistance is available to newcomers for issues related to mental health, general health, disabilities, legal information/services, domestic abuse, violence, parenting, and cultural shock. Dealing with mental health issues was reported by SPOs as a significant challenge in service delivery.
Monitoring and accountability

CIC is responsible for program oversight and accountability, which includes monitoring as well as performance measurement and evaluation. The oversight process begins with the assessment of proposals received from the SPOs, to ensure that SPOs have the capacity to deliver the program. SPOs are responsible for submitting monthly financial and narrative reports, inviting CIC staff to Board meetings, keeping CIC staff informed regarding operational challenges, and completing the end of project report. They are also responsible for completing the iCAMS reports each month to provide information on the number of clients they served and the services they delivered. CIC officers are responsible for monitoring the progress under each contribution agreement, which includes a review of the narrative reports on a monthly basis, conducting monitoring visits, and preparing end-of-project reports. CIC officers are also responsible for financial monitoring of the contribution agreements as well as ensuring that SPOs enter iCAMS data accurately and completely.

CIC officers were split regarding the monitoring and reporting system under ISAP. Half believed that CIC had inadequate resources and capability to effectively monitor the programs (Table 4-13) while half agreed that resources and capabilities were adequate. In focus groups, CIC officers expressed concern regarding the lack of time to conduct appropriate monitoring of the projects, in addition to challenges relating to the use of iCAMS (discussed in the next section).

Generally, SPOs expressed a more positive view towards the existing monitoring and reporting mechanisms than CIC staff. Notwithstanding this, SPOs suggested improvements such as having regular feedback on the reports submitted to CIC, having a template for annual reports at an earlier time of a year, more standardization in reporting, and a greater emphasis on measuring quality and outcomes of services. In addition, several SPOs during focus groups believed that CIC is more interested in output information rather than outcomes. Interviews with CIC staff and a review of program documents did not reveal any type of roll-up or comprehensive analysis of projects across regions or at the national level.

Table 4-13: Rating CIC monitoring mechanisms
(for ISAP and Host)
Disagree Neither Agree Nor Disagree Agree
CIC has adequate resources and capabilities to effectively monitor the programs and support delivery
CIC Program Officers (n=15) 50% 0% 50%
Monitoring and reporting mechanisms that are in place for these settlement services are appropriate
SPO Staff (n=133) 23% 9% 68%
SPO Managers and Directors (n=64) 24% 6% 70%
CIC Program Officers (n=15) 39% 8% 54%

Source: Surveys/Interviews


As previously explained in this report, iCAMS is an internet-based system designed to collect performance measurement data. According to CIC’s Contribution Accountability Framework, Performance Measurement and Evaluation, Resource Handbook, the purpose of iCAMS is to provide CIC with information on its settlement programs including Host, LINC, ISAP A, and RAP. SPOs are required to input information into iCAMS as part of the accountability and reporting responsibilities that correspond to their contribution agreements with CIC for settlement program fundingFootnote 35 iCAMS started collecting data on ISAP in 2004.

Despite the crucial role that iCAMS is expected to play in monitoring, accountability, and performance measurement of settlement programs, it does not present a complete and comprehensive profile of clients and services. Not all SPOs are reporting in iCAMS (see Figure 4-7), and CIC officers and SPOs reported that challenges exist that discourage SPOs from reporting in, and using, iCAMS regularly.

In addition, data reported by SPOs are not consistent and show significant variation in reported services. Moreover, it is not possible to present a comprehensive analysis of clients receiving specific ISAP services as a result of the feature of iCAMS that allows for aggregate reporting (20% of clients reported are not linked to activities)Footnote 36. Such challenges have forced some SPOs to create additional monitoring systems for themselves to track all their activities. A comparison of the number of SPOs delivering ISAP A projects listed in SAP with those reporting in iCAMS indicates that, as the number of SPOs has increased, so too has the number of SPOs with contribution agreements that have not been reporting to iCAMS; for example, in 2007-08, there were 188 SPOs identified in SAP while only 129 SPOs reported in iCAMS.

Figure 4-7: Comparison of number of ISAP A SPOs in SAP and iCAMS

Comparison of number of Immigrant Settlement and Adaptation Program A Settlement Provider Organizations in Settlement and Adaptation Program and Immigration–Contribution Accountability Measurement System

CIC officers in the focus groups expressed two general concerns with iCAMS: a lack of adequate training, particularly in producing information and generating reports and a lack of adequate communication within CIC and between CIC and SPOs with regards to iCAMS.

In focus groups, surveys, and field visits, some SPOs noted challenges to iCAMS reporting, such as the inability to report some services provided to clients (e.g., services provided by telephone) and insufficient iCAMS training and/or guidance on how to use the system. For example, if SPOs provided services to a family of five, SPOs were unsure whether to report it in iCAMS as serving five clients or one.

Notwithstanding the aforementioned concerns pertaining to iCAMS training, CIC has developed iCAMS training materials for both CIC officers and SPO settlement workers. The Operational Management and Coordination Branch (OMC) holds iCAMS training sessions regularly across the country. Table 4-14 and Table 4-15 show that, over the past five years, while the number of CIC officers who received iCAMS training in each region was generally consistent per year, the number of SPO staff who received iCAMS training increased each year to accommodate the local demand for training and the increased number of SPOs in Ontario and Prairies.

Table 4-14: Number of CIC Officers that received iCAMS training, 2004/05-2008/09
Location 2004/05 2005/06 2006/07 2007/08 2008/09
Ontario 33 37 37 31 33
Atlantic 11 9 10 6 6
Prairies 17 14 14 14 13

Table 4-15: Number of SPO staff that received iCAMS training, 2004/05-2008/09
Location 2004/05 2005/06 2006/07 2007/08 2008/09
Ontario 354 371 407 454 501
Atlantic 31 32 32 27 30
Prairies 58 72 82 103 114

Source: Operational Management and Coordination Branch

During the focus groups, several participants suggested incorporating a follow-up/feedback mechanism into the iCAMS training. This follow-up may determine issues such as:

  • How SPO staff put their training into practice;
  • How the trained staff transfer their training and knowledge to their organizations;
  • Any inquiries that trainees may have when they put their knowledge into practice (e.g., whether they are able to describe the privacy and security of the iCAMS data to newcomers); and
  • Provide CIC with information on the effectiveness of the training materials and sessions and suggestions for improvement.

In addition, CIC staff suggested that better communication within CIC and between CIC and SPOs can better ensure knowledge of staff turn-over as well as training needs. CIC staff also noted that there are few staff members within CIC with the technical knowledge and expertise to produce comprehensive and informative iCAMS outputs.Footnote 37


The importance of partnerships was highlighted by key informants as well as in the 2009-2010 CIC Report on Plans and Priorities (RPP). It describes that: "In Canada, welcoming newcomers and assisting with settlement and longer-term integration is a shared effort; therefore, partnerships and contributions from the federal government, provinces, territories, employers, service providers, community organizations and others are the key to the achievement of this strategic outcome." The evaluation reviewed three types of partnerships related to the delivery of ISAP.

1. Coordination between the various levels of government

Stakeholders, particularly CIC and provincial representatives, stressed the importance of improving coordination across the various federal, provincial, and municipal departments involved in the provision of settlement services. Better coordination can enable more holistic and comprehensive approaches to meeting the needs of immigrants as well as the priorities of governments. Moreover, increased cooperation among funders and more co-funding can also reduce the duplication of services in a community and increase access to services, including services for newcomers who may not have been eligible under ISAP.

Regional CIC managers and directors highlighted the importance of partnerships in providing comprehensive and integrated settlement services. SPO managers and directors also noted that strong relationships and regular dialogue between CIC and municipal, provincial and federal government organizations encourages greater commitment to settlement programming, coordinates available services, and helps to identify gaps in settlement services and opportunities for improvement.

In addition to partnerships with provincial and municipal governments, CIC managers and directors noted new partnerships that have been developed with other federal departments such as Canadian Heritage, the Public Health Agency of Canada, HRSDC, and Service Canada.

2. Connections between SPOs and other resources in the community

SPO managers and directors mentioned that keys to the successful delivery of ISAP services included strong community connections, networking, and referral systems. Partnerships are one strategy for increasing connections; many SPOs mentioned that their organizations deliver services in partnership with other community organizations such as libraries, hospitals and schools (e.g., SWIS). In addition, SPO managers and directors stated that they partner with some other organizations such as the YMCA and Women’s Society in the delivery of settlement services. During site visits, some SPOs confirmed the importance of partnerships in their management activities and the high priority that they give to enhancing coordination and partnerships in order to provide more comprehensive services to newcomers (e.g., CIWA – Calgary Immigrant Women's Association, Welcome Centre, Vaughn Centre, SISO – Settlement & Integration Services Organization, Hamilton). Examples of other partnerships which have been developed include LIPs (Local Immigration Partnership), SEPT (Settlement & Education Partnerships in Toronto), and the Library Partnership Program (LPP). Key informants suggested that efforts to enhance and strengthen partnerships and improve collaboration between groups will contribute to better coordination in the design and delivery of programming in particular communities as well as at the provincial levels.

3. Collaboration among SPOs

All stakeholders suggested that greater collaboration and information sharing across SPOs could have significantly improved ISAP and eased competition and the potential for duplication of services. CIC referred to the cross-referrals and clients pointed to one-stop shop for all services, which can be achieved through SPOs’ collaboration. The Vaughn Welcome Centre in York, Ontario is a good example of how strong coordination and partnerships can enrich settlement services. The Centre is a product of a unique partnership among five immigrant serving community organizations including COSTI Immigrant Services (Centro Organizzativo Scuole Tecniche Italiane), Catholic Community Services of York Region (CCSYR), Centre for Information and Community Services (CICS), Job Skills and Social Enterprise for Canada. In addition to providing a full range of former ISAP services, it also serves as a hub for many other service providers and a one-stop shop for a wide variety of services for a broad range of newcomers (both CIC eligible and non-eligible newcomers). The service providers are connected to the Centre through primary or secondary partnerships or by simply using the facilities of the Centre to provide their services in that location (e.g., HRSDC provides assistance in filling out Employment Insurance forms on a regular basis; an annual tax clinic is hosted by professional accountants). When newcomers come to the Centre, they complete an assessment form that enables case managers to refer them to the specific services they need. Service delivery is conducted in a professional work environment by staff who have received training to provide the services.


While over half SPO managers/directors and CIC officers agreed that the level of communication and information sharing within CIC and between CIC service providers is appropriate (65% and 54%, respectively), nearly one-half (45%) of CIC program officers disagreed (Table 4-16).

Table 4-16: Rating ISAP communication and information sharing
There is an appropriate level of communication and information sharing regarding the programs within CIC and between CIC and service providers. Disagree Neither Agree
Nor Disagree
SPO Managers and Directors (n=64) 22% 13% 65%
CIC Program Officers (n=15) 45% 0% 54%

Source: Surveys / Interviews

CIC officers identified several factors which constrain communication including:

  • The limited time and resources that CIC has available to commit to communication, both locally and regionally;
  • Comparatively high levels of staff turnover, particularly within SPOs which disrupts relationships, results in a loss of contacts; and
  • A lack of flexibility in ISAP Terms & Conditions (pre-modernized approach), which negatively impacted relationships and contributes to difficulties in communication with SPOs.

Communication issues highlighted by SPOs in focus groups and interviews included:

  • The main focus of existing communication is contribution agreement negotiation and invoicing rather than program needs, impacts, or trends;
  • SPOs are unclear as to CIC expectations regarding the scope and level of information sharing;
  • There are no regular channels of communication in the form of scheduled meetings, e-mail communications, or periodic follow-ups;
  • In the absence of communication, SPOs are unsure as to the extent to which CIC understands and supports their work;
  • There is considerable variation across CIC officers in the extent to which they communicate with SPOs and share information on plans and program changes; and
  • It can be difficult to reach some CIC officers in local offices.

4.4.2. Capacity

Tools and resources

Overall, SPOs felt that the tools and resources needed to support delivery of the settlement services were available. However, CIC Program Officers were much less likely to agree that the management guidance and tools provided by NHQ were adequate to support the delivery of the settlement services (Table 4-17).

Table 4–17: Tools and resources to deliver ISAP
(for ISAP and Host)
Disagree Neither Agree
Nor Disagree
The tools and resources available to support the delivery of these settlement services are effective
SPOs (n=134) 12% 14% 75%
SPO Managers and Directors (n=63) 14% 16% 70%
The management guidance and management tools that are provided by NHQ are adequate to support the delivery of these settlement services.
CIC Program Officers (n=15) 54% 9% 36%

Source: Surveys/Interviews

It was noted that CIC has not been very active in providing guidance or developing tools such as monitoring forms, client forms, program guidelines governing issues such as reporting or dealing with mental health issues, or templates for reports. SPOs indicated that the tools available online were often very outdated. In the absence of standardized tools, many SPOs have developed their own forms for intake, needs assessment and referrals. Similarly, some of the CIC representatives indicated that they have developed their own “activity monitoring” forms. CIC managers and directors at the regional level also expressed their concerns on the effectiveness of the tools and guidance provided to date in translating the modernized approach to the CIC officers. Similarly, CIC representatives tended to view the training they had received less favourably than did the SPOs (Table 4-18).

Table 4-18: Rating training of CIC officers and SPO staff
(for ISAP and Host)
Disagree Neither Agree
Nor Disagree
Adequate training is provided to CIC staff involved in managing and monitoring the programs
CIC Program Officer (n=15) 50% 8% 42%
The nature and level of training provided to settlement workers is appropriate to deliver these programs
SPOs (n=29) 7% 17% 76%
SPO Managers and Directors (n=63) 24% 6% 70%

Source: Surveys/Interviews

CIC officers indicated a desire for further training on financial monitoring, negotiation skills, reporting, capacity building, and working with SPOs. CIC managers and directors at the regional level also referred to a lack of personnel at the local and regional offices who are trained and qualified in accountability, monitoring, and finance.

Both CIC officers and SPOs stressed the importance of having experienced, knowledgeable and dedicated staff. SPOs mentioned that settlement workers should have adequate training as dealing with newcomers is stressful work. Highly motivated, committed and diverse staff allow SPOs to provide more innovative and client- services. While the majority of SPO staff and SPO managers and directors agreed that the level of training provided to settlement workers is appropriate (much of which is provided internally), CIC officers suggested that SPOs would benefit from further training in areas such as proposal writing, report writing, financial management and outcomes measurement. Furthermore, while some SPO staff in the survey referred to case management as one of their key activities, others in the focus groups mentioned that they need further training on how to implement a case management model and conduct a thorough needs assessment. In addition, all groups indicated a need for further training with respect to iCAMS.

Financial resources

SPOs and CIC managers and directors agreed that funding provided for ISAP was adequate (Table 4-19). During focus groups, SPOs that disagreed that the funding provided for ISAP was adequate frequently expressed concerns that not enough of the budget was allocated to particular activities or elements of program delivery.

Table 4-19: Rating ISAP funding
The funding provided for ISAP was adequate Disagree Neither Agree
Nor Disagree
SPOs (n=131) 29% 16% 56%
SPO Managers and Directors (n=64) 28% 6% 66%

Source: Surveys

The concerns most commonly expressed by SPOs and CIC representatives regarding the allocation of the program budget include:

  • More funding should be allocated for the professional development of staff as well as in strategies to reduce the level of turnover, including increasing the compensation paid to settlement workers;
  • More of the funding should be provided to SPOs on a multi-year basis. CIC officers noted that the short-term nature of the contribution agreements can make it more difficult for SPOs to hire and retain employees. In addition, it may make SPOs more reluctant to invest in longer-term staff development;
  • Additional funding should be allocated for support services such as transportation for clients; and
  • Several CIC managers and directors at NHQ said that additional funding should be invested to manage and oversee the Program.

*For Number of ISAP A SPOs the % change as per comparison between 2004/05 and 2007/08.

Table 4-20: ISAP A growth in expenditures and services by fiscal year
  2004/05 2005/06 2006/07 2007/08 2008/09 % change
Expenditures (ISAP core) $33.2M $32.2M $51.6M $93.1M $141.2M 325%
Number of ISAP A SPOs 125 123 144 188 Information
not available
Number of Clients 80,162 83,439 79,554 92,235 118,931 48%
Number of Services 497,816 542,682 473,862 572,471 706,671 42%

The growth in number of clients and number of services delivered did not keep pace with the growth in funding (Table 4-20). Therefore, the Program appeared to be more expensive to run. However, it is unknown whether this was, in fact, the case, or whether the Program was simply been unable to demonstrate its growth because of weaknesses in the data collection systems. As ISAP included many different components and as the sources of data and coding system varied throughout the years, calculating the ISAP expenditures for the components covered by this report was challenging. However, CIC has improved its ability to track budget and expenditures for the ISAP components in recent years. Given the issues encountered on the number of clients and services as well as the challenges related to the information on expenditures it is not possible to assess cost-effectiveness.

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