Evaluation of the Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) Program

1.0  Introduction


A key strategic goal of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is to support the settlement, adaptation and integration of newcomers to Canada. Settlement involves meeting the initial, basic needs of newcomers; adaptation refers to immigrants’ ability to realize some of the benefits of settling in this country; and integration is the ultimate goal of this process, whereby immigrants become fully functioning members of Canadian society. CIC’s three settlement programs, individually and collectively, contribute to this strategic outcome: Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC); the Immigrant Settlement and Adaptation Program (ISAP); and the Host Program. The 2003–2004 actual expenditures for these three settlement programs were $92.7M, $36.7M and $2.9M, respectively.

In 1998, the federal government negotiated agreements with British Columbia and Manitoba, whereby these two provinces would receive federal funds to administer their own settlement services. In addition, since 1991, the federal government has provided funding to Quebec under the Canada-Quebec Accord for settlement services delivered in that province. In the other provinces and territories, the federal government is responsible for settlement programs and delivers these services through contribution agreements with SPOs.

The LINC Program, established in 1992, is a key element of the federal immigrant integration strategy. The program aims to facilitate the social, cultural and economic integration of immigrants and refugees into Canada by providing language instruction in either English or French, as well as information that helps newcomers to become oriented to the Canadian way of life. In addition, the program endeavours to train the same proportion of women and men as is reflected in the local immigrant population.

Program Description and Logic Model

The LINC program involves three major areas of activity:

  • Language Assessment: Clients are first assessed — using the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) framework for English and the Standards linguistiques canadiens (SLC) framework for French — in order to determine their level of language proficiency. These assessments are conducted by 60 LINC-funded Assessment Centres across the country. Ontario has the largest number of Assessment Centres (24) of any province or region. Based on the language assessment results, a client needs assessment is then done (e.g., to assess the client’s personal circumstances, needs and readiness for language training) and clients are referred to a suitable language training provider in their community.
  • Language Training: The language training is provided in a variety of ways (e.g., full time, part time, home study, distance learning, training at/near work site, itinerant teachers serving small communities), and the amount of training varies depending upon each client’s background and abilities. The progress of each client is rated and monitored based on CLB/SLC level descriptors, and he/she is awarded a LINC certificate upon successful completion of training.
  • Delivery Assistance: Funding to assist with or improve the delivery of LINC activities for the direct benefit of clients is available for a number of activities (e.g., analysis of training needs of local immigrant client groups, development of training materials, training for assessors, research and innovation).

The SPOs delivering the language training are typically different from those providing the language assessments, although in some small communities the same SPO may provide both services. SPOs include educational institutions, not-for-profit organizations and private businesses. In addition, other types of service providers support the program at the local, regional and national levels (e.g., by developing tools, conducting research, professional development, running the national conference and providing input for magazines/publications).

The following persons are eligible to participate in the LINC program:

  • permanent residents of Canada;
  • protected persons;
  • persons determined by the Immigration and Refugee Board (Refugee Protection Division) to be a Convention Refugee; and
  • persons in Canada applying to become a Permanent Resident and who have been informed, by letter, of the initial approval of the application, subject to an admissibility assessment.

Moreover, to be eligible to participate in the LINC program, clients must be of legal school-leaving age within their applicable province or territory. The clients also have to be assessed by a qualified CLB/SLC assessor as eligible to receive language training under the LINC program. Resettled refugees admitted under CIC’s Annual Immigration Plan, newly arrived immigrants, eligible Employment Insurance immigrant clients, and immigrants who receive social assistance should have priority access. Communities may identify local priorities.

The LINC logic model – outlining the program’s key activities, outputs and outcomes, as well as the relationships among these components – is presented in Exhibit 1.1.

Exhibit 1.1 - The Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada logic model

Evaluation Objectives and Issues

In 1999, CIC began the development of a Contribution Accountability Framework (CAF) to ensure the accountability of departmental expenditures and to guide the monitoring of service delivery and evaluation of the effectiveness of its settlement and resettlement contribution programs, including LINC. More recently, an advisory committee consisting of CIC national and regional representatives, provincial officials, service providers and other stakeholders agreed on a strategy and timetable for the evaluation of settlement programs.

The strategy and timetable for the LINC evaluation, the first settlement program to be evaluated, includes the following components:

  • consultation with the advisory committee on the draft strategy (which has been completed);
  • gathering of information on existing results and indicators (which has been completed);
  • development/updating of expected results and indicators for LINC, in consultation with colleagues and SPOs (completed in December 2003);
  • updating of August 2000 evaluation framework (completed in January 2004);
  • conducting the LINC evaluation (from February to April 2004); and
  • final reporting on the LINC evaluation results (in June 2004).

The evaluation focused on the language training managed directly by CIC. Provinces that have signed agreements with the federal government to deliver their own settlement services (Quebec, Manitoba and British Columbia) were not included.

A range of issues in four broad categories was examined in the LINC evaluation study:

  • Program Rationale: To what extent do the settlement programs (LINC) remain relevant to federal government priorities and the needs of newcomers to Canada?
  • Program Delivery: To what extent are the design and delivery of the program appropriate?
  • Effectiveness and Efficiency: To what extent do settlement services (provided by LINC) involve the most appropriate, efficient and cost-effective methods to meet their objective?
  • Success: To what extent have settlement programs (LINC) been successful in achieving their desired outcomes?

The Evaluation Framework [note 2] for CIC’s Settlement Programs provided a list of 20 evaluation issues (and associated indicators and methods/data sources) common to all settlement programs, as well as 10 issues specific to LINC. These 30 evaluation issues are listed below.

Program Rationale

Common Issues for All Settlement Programs

  • Is there a continuing need for federal government programming to provide settlement assistance and is it consistent with current government priorities? (1.1)
  • Are newcomers adequately prepared for the settlement, adaptation and integration experience prior to coming to Canada? (1.2)
  • Are the priorities and criteria for the programs appropriate? Are there other services that would assist the integration of newcomers that are not included in the settlement programs? (1.3)
  • Are settlement programs complementary with each other and with other programs for newcomers (e.g., resettlement program, provincial/territorial settlement programs)? How can links between programs be strengthened? (1.4)

Program Delivery

Common Issues for All Settlement Programs

  • To what extent are the objectives of the settlement programs and the roles and responsibilities of CIC HQ, CIC regional offices, CIC local offices and service providers clearly defined and understood? (2.1)
  • Does the application process result in the most appropriate service providers being funded to deliver settlement services? (2.2)
  • To what extent have settlement programs been successfully promoted to newcomers and other stakeholders? Which mechanisms have been more effective? (2.3)
  • Are potential clients able to access settlement services in a timely fashion, or are there barriers for potential clients accessing settlement services? (2.4)
  • To what extent do service providers have adequate tools and support for the delivery of settlement services? (2.5)
  • Is there an appropriate balance between consistency in delivery of services across CIC jurisdictions and flexibility to accommodate changing needs and regional priorities? (2.6)
  • Are there adequate financial controls in place to monitor program delivery? (2.7)
  • To what extent does the program monitor, evaluate, report and use information on results; share best practices; and use information to contribute to program improvements? (2.8)

Issues for LINC

  • How appropriate are the assessment tools available to LINC assessors (including CLBA, Canadian Language Benchmark Literacy Assessment, CLBPT, É-CLIC)? Are these the most efficient and effective assessment tools? (LINC–1.1)
  • Are LINC clients being placed in a timely manner and in the appropriate program level? (LINC–1.2)
  • To what extent do the eligibility review and needs assessment result in clients being appropriately referred to other programs and services? (LINC–1.3)
  • How appropriate are the guidelines used to define the amount of language training for which each client is eligible? (LINC–1.4)
  • Are the language training programs being offered of high quality, and is the content of the curriculum relevant for users? Does the content enhance the client's knowledge and appreciation of Canada? (LINC–1.5)
  • To what extent do the research services contribute to program improvements? (LINC–1.6)
  • Is the approach to testing language acquisition from LINC appropriate? Is there a need for a standard exit test? (LINC–1.7)

Effectiveness and Efficiency

Common Issues for All Settlement Programs

  • Is program delivery through external service provider organizations effective and efficient? (3.1)
  • Are program funding allocations appropriate to meet client needs? (3.2)
  • Are there alternative service delivery approaches? (3.3)


Common Issues for All Settlement Programs

  • Are clients satisfied with the settlement services they receive and do they meet their needs? (4.1)
  • To what extent have settlement services contributed to the intermediate outcomes of clients? (4.2)
  • To what extent have settlement services contributed to longer-term outcomes of clients? (4.3)
  • To what extent have settlement services contributed to an increased public awareness of the benefits of immigration and the challenges of the settlement process? (4.4)
  • To what extent have settlement services contributed to an increase in public cultural sensitivity and appreciation of diversity among Canadians? (4.5)

Issues for LINC

  • To what extent do clients improve their language abilities? (LINC–1.8)
  • To what extent is knowledge of Canada and of Canadian civics being improved? (LINC–1.9)
  • To what extent are skills being developed for interaction in a culturally diverse environment? (LINC–1.10)

Given the length of this list (30 issues), each methodological approach was focused on the issues that could be most convincingly addressed by a particular method/data source. Also, it was not possible to examine long-term client outcomes (common issue 4.3) comprehensively, though some related questions were asked of LINC graduates in focus group discussions.

The analysis of the evaluation issues was guided by an overall intellectual framework involving the application of a number of “lenses” — Gender-Based Analysis, Ethnic Diversity Analysis, Socio-Economic Analysis and Linguistic Analysis (Official Languages Perspective). In other words, to the extent possible with the methodologies utilized for this evaluation, LINC was analyzed to determine if there are differential impacts based on clients’ gender, ethnic origin, socio-economic status and official language status.

Purpose and Organization of the Report

The purpose of this document is to present the methodological approach and findings for the LINC evaluation study. The methodology is described in detail in Chapter 2. Then, the evaluation findings are presented, by issue, in Chapter 3. Finally, the evaluation conclusions and recommendations are presented in Chapter 4.


2. Source: Evaluation Framework for Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s Settlement Programs.

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