Evaluation of the Multiculturalism Program

4. Conclusions and recommendations

The following section provides the overall conclusions and associated recommendations of the evaluation, organized by evaluation issue.

4.1 Conclusions


There is a need for multiculturalism programming in Canada and the federal government has a role to play in that programming. There is substantial academic research to support the approach used by the Multiculturalism Program to support integration.

Canada, as an immigration-based country, has always been multicultural. However, the nature and complexity of this diversity has increased dramatically over the last few decades, and is expected to continue to do so in the future. Evidence suggests that problems associated with diversity, such as intolerance, prejudice and discrimination, continue to be an issue in Canada, pointing to the need for efforts to address these problems. The Multiculturalism Program’s approach, which facilitates interaction among different communities in order to increase mutual awareness and understanding, has been found by a variety of academic research to be an effective means to promote social cohesion.

While multiculturalism is not solely a federal responsibility, current legislative requirements, as well as the scope of the problem and the federal responsibility for immigration, support the need for a federal response to this problem. In addition, while many provinces and territories have their own multiculturalism polices and programming, funding is limited and it is often directed towards immigration-related services (e.g., providing information in multiple languages).

CIC is, in many ways, the appropriate department to assume the lead for federal responsibilities related to multiculturalism. However, inclusion of the Multiculturalism Program within CIC has broadened the department’s mandate (to include longer-term integration issues), and clientele (to comprise all Canadians). The impact this will have on CIC policies and programs has yet to be determined.

The transfer of the Multiculturalism Program from PCH to CIC entailed a substantial expansion of the mandate of CIC and its clientele. Previously, CIC was responsible for new immigrants and the services provided to these immigrants generally focussed on settlement, or short-term integration issues. The Multiculturalism Program, in contrast, is directed to all Canadians, and addresses some of the longer-term integration issues, such as prejudice and discrimination, that may result from living in an ethnoculturally diverse country. While the department has reflected the broadening of its mandate in its PAA by expanding the SO3 outcome, it is not yet clear how, or if, the inclusion of the Multiculturalism Program will be reflected in the overall provision and delivery of CIC integration services.

Design and delivery

The Multiculturalism Program objectives are very broad. While this means they are sufficiently flexible to allow the program to be responsive to the needs of different communities, this breadth results in a lack of focus with respect to the types of activities that might best support the program objectives. These objectives are also larger than what can reasonably be achieved, given current program resources and activities.

The Multiculturalism Program implemented new objectives in 2010, which target three separate domains: Canadian society; public institutions; and the international community. These domains are extremely broad, and the specific objectives in relation to each domain are similarly broad: to build an integrated, socially cohesive society; improve the responsiveness of institutions to a diverse population; and actively engage in discussions at the international level. While this scope allows substantial flexibility in what activities can be funded or undertaken, there are many ways in which these terms can be interpreted. Ultimately, they do not provide a lot of direction in relation to what are the most appropriate activities to support these objectives.

Further, the relatively small size of the Multiculturalism Program in relation to these broad objectives also points to the need for more specificity in what work can, and should, be done. For example, CIC’s activities in relation to institutions have been limited to the coordination of the Annual Report; and organizing and chairing the FPTORMI and MCN meetings. Further, with the current level of resources, the program was able to perform only administrative-related tasks associated with these responsibilities. There has been limited opportunity to identify and implement changes—such as streamlining and harmonizing reporting requirements, or sharing best practices on multiculturalism activities beyond employment equity—that could have a bigger impact in this area.

There are three key factors with respect to the design and delivery of the program that have hindered its successful implementation. These include governance, performance measurement, and the approval process:

  • insufficient communication, coordination and shared decision-making between the different organizational units responsible for the program;
  • a lack of basic performance measurement data, with which to assess how well the program as a whole, or individual projects and events, are performing; and
  • the timeliness and lack of transparency of the approval process.

With the move to CIC, the Multiculturalism Program was reorganized to align with the CIC model, which is highly decentralized. While all program components were housed within a single branch at PCH, they are now located in three different sectors and three different branches. This has resulted in a lack of clarity with respect to roles and responsibilities, and challenges with respect to ensuring the appropriate units are involved in decision-making.

The performance data collected for the Multiculturalism Program is largely at the output level, and the information available in GCIMS is frequently incomplete, inconsistent and unreliable. While funded projects are required to submit an evaluation as part of their contribution agreement, there is no direction provided to them on what this review should entail and they are designed to assess individual project objectives. Consequently, they did not provide information on the achievement of program outcomes. Further, the findings from these evaluations are not synthesized, analysed, or used by CIC staff to manage the program. The program has developed a performance measurement strategy and implemented client feedback tools for projects and events, but does not yet have a plan for compiling and consolidating performance data.

While the new CFP helped to add consistency and transparency to the project assessment process, 751 proposals were received, of which 567 were eligible, 39 were recommended to the Minister for approval and ultimately only 25 projects were funded. Interviewees considered the number of applications received to be very large.

The approval process for projects and events was identified by many stakeholders as the single biggest impediment to the effective operation of the program. The lack of transparency and lengthy timelines associated with this process made it very difficult for program staff to manage their clients or expend their budgets. Efforts to address this problem—implementation of the CFP and Green Light processes—have improved the assessment of projects, but without changes to the approval process, transparency and timeliness continue to be a problem.


Given the challenges with performance measurement, there is currently limited evidence to demonstrate to what extent the Multiculturalism Program is achieving its expected outcomes. There is some recent performance measurement information to suggest that projects are having a positive impact with respect to increased civic memory and pride, respect for core democratic values, and intercultural / interfaith understanding.

The Multiculturalism Program has funded a wide range of projects and events aimed at increasing civic memory and pride, respect for core democratic values, and intercultural / interfaith understanding. Information from the project feedback forms for two projects indicates positive results in this respect. Participants reported that a project helped them learn about the issues and challenges of other cultures and believed they would take action as a result. Participants also reported that a project helped them to be more appreciative of the rights we have as Canadians and that they felt more proud to be Canadian. While caution must be used in interpreting these results, as they are not representative, these examples do provide some evidence that the projects are having the desired impact. As more responses are received from the feedback forms, additional information will be available to further examine these impacts.

Much work has also been done in support of the public education and outreach initiatives, including the development and distribution of promotional materials through various means (e.g., print, electronic, social media). This work has resulted in public interest in these initiatives, as shown by the website activity and downloads of information material. However, there was no evidence available to assess the impact of these activities in relation to the expected outcomes.

The Multiculturalism Program supports projects and undertakes activities to increase institutional awareness on how to be responsive to meet the needs of a diverse society. While many projects have been funded that are intended to support this outcome, many of these appear to be doing so in an indirect manner. For example, they are partnering with an institution to deliver a project, rather than trying to influence the policies or procedures of that institution to be more responsive to diversity. In addition, as discussed, the activities with respect to the institutional component have been largely administrative, and have not provided a lot of information or direction to help institutions be more responsive. Therefore, there has been little progress in achieving this outcome.

Through the international engagement component, CIC has been present in international fora and events and prepared material to share internationally and this has resulted in the sharing best practices with respect to how Canada address’s diversity. It is unclear how information from these activities has been used by CIC or whether it has been shared with other federal institutions.

The overall efficiency of the program has been affected by the length of time it has taken to make decisions on project proposals. Consequently, the program lapsed a substantial amount of Gs&Cs funding in 2008-09 and 2009-10, although the amount lapsed diminished significantly in 2010-11 and is expected to decrease further in 2011-12. The fact that program resources were not fully utilized limits the potential impact of the program.

Under the continuous intake process, very few projects received approval before they were actually supposed to start. While this improved under the CFP process, there were still projects that were approved after their planned start date. In addition, the 90-day standard was met in many cases, however, there were still projects that were approved nine months following the closure of the CFP. The delays in approval resulted in the lapsing of 75% of the funding in 2008-09 and 64% of the funding in 2009-10. The CFP process seemed to have improved this, as a smaller amount of funding was lapsed in 2010-11 (37%) and 77% of the funds have already been expended or committed this for the current fiscal year. However, ultimately during that time period, the production of program outputs was affected.

4.2 Recommendations

  1. Given that the Multiculturalism Program has broadened CIC’s mandate (to include longer-term integration) and its clientele (to include all Canadians), CIC should ensure that multiculturalism is fully integrated into CIC policies and programming.
  2. With the relatively small amount of funding available for CIC’s Multiculturalism Program, the objectives and expected outcomes of the program need to be better aligned with available resources and strategically focused on core priorities and needs. The department needs to assess how best it can do this.
  3. Further efforts are required to improve the transparency and timeliness of the approval process for projects and events.
  4. The governance for the Multiculturalism Program needs to be improved to support better communication and coordinated decision-making among the responsible branches and units for the program.
  5. Given the issues identified with respect to performance measurement, the program needs to implement a robust performance measurement strategy. This will require:
    • a review of, and possible revisions to, the performance measurement strategy framework developed during the planning phase for this evaluation;
    • improvements to the present data collection system;
    • a review of the current requirement for funding recipients to submit a project evaluation, to determine how it can be used to compile consistent and comparable data on CIC’s program outcomes; and
    • implementation of a process for ensuring that the project and event feedback forms remain up-to-date, and are regularly compiled and analysed to assist with the assessment of project and event outcomes.

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