Evaluation of the Overseas Orientation Initiatives

4. Conclusions and recommendations

CIC currently funds three pre-departure orientation initiatives with different stated objectives and depending upon location, eligible participants may include refugees, live-in caregivers, members of the family class, provincial nominees, federal skilled workers, and business immigrants. Over time, some of the initiatives have expanded delivery locations and client groups, however, there has not been a clearly articulated rationale for this expansion. There is no formal articulated common approach or framework in place for the provision of pre-departure orientation, including a definition of what is to be achieved through pre-departure orientation and what information needs to be provided to newcomers prior to departure.

Recent changes have been announced to the selection criteria regarding the economic category, which include requirements for higher language proficiency and more emphasis on pre-assessment of foreign credentials and pre-arranged employment. These changes will likely have an effect on the source countries for economic immigrants, as well as amend the type of information that might be needed by those individuals prior to arrival, and the time at which it is needed.

Recommendation #1: CIC should develop a strategy for the provision of pre-departure orientation, aligned with relevant departmental policies and programs. This strategy should consider, among other factors:

  • a definition of CIC’s objectives and expected results in providing pre-departure orientation;
  • a determination of what immigration categories and statuses (family configuration) will receive in-person pre-departure orientation and why;
  • guidelines for how to prioritize locations for the delivery of pre-departure orientation services within targeted immigration categories;
  • a determination of what and how information will be provided to each of the immigration categories prior to departure; and
  • a consideration of the cost of services and value for money.

There is no federal legislation that requires the government to provide pre-departure orientation. In addition, immigration agreements with provinces do not outline the specific responsibilities related to pre-departure orientation. However, a few interviewees felt that it was the federal government’s role to provide pre-departure orientation and to ensure that it was delivered using a uniform and nationally consistent approach. Some provinces are interested in becoming more involved in providing province-specific information and some have already provided ACCC with information, which ACCC has incorporated into its curriculum. The delivery of specific curricula to PNs destined to specific provinces means that the same level of national information is not being provided to all pre-departure orientation participants.

Recommendation #2: CIC should clarify the respective roles and responsibilities for the federal and provincial governments in the delivery of overseas orientation service, including whether province-specific information should be delivered as part of the orientation curriculum, and if so how it should be delivered.

There are governance structures in place to manage each of the pre-departure orientation initiatives, both within each of the delivery agent and between the delivery agents and CIC. While the centralization of responsibility for the contribution agreements within IPMB has added some consistency to how the contribution agreements are managed, there is a lack of coordination between the Branches responsible for the initiatives, particularly regarding decisions related to who will be served by pre-departure orientation and what information will be provided to participants.

Recommendation #3: CIC should put in place a governance structure with clear roles and responsibilities, and accountabilities to allow for effective decision-making between all CIC Branches involved in pre-departure orientation policy and programming.

One of the over-arching issues identified in the evaluation was related to the way in which the initiatives are currently promoted to economic immigrants. Depending on the initiative and location, eligible participants receive different promotional information at different times in the process. This has contributed to a lack of awareness among eligible participants regarding pre-departure orientation.

Recommendation #4: CIC should ensure that there is a consistent and whole-of-CIC approach in place for the promotion of pre-departure orientation to all eligible participants.

CIC’s pre-departure orientation initiatives have different stated objectives, are designed differently, and operate in different environments. Therefore, drawing conclusions with respect to which of the initiatives is more efficient or effective is not appropriate. That being said, in looking at each of the initiatives individually, the evaluation provides some information that can help guide the future implementation of pre-departure orientation.

Canadian Orientation Abroad

  • Over a six-year period COA provided pre-departure orientation to over 80,000 newcomers in over 40 locations, with the largest proportion of individuals served being FSWs (35.8%) and refugees (34.4%).
  • COA has offered pre-departure orientation to approximately 21% of all FSWs, FC, and LCs originating from countries where they are eligible to take pre-departure orientation and anywhere between 30%-50% of refugees, depending on the year.
  • COA aims to provide information primarily about initial settlement and it has been successful in doing so. COA participants reported having greater knowledge of life in Canada, knowing what to do upon arrival, and knowing how to find assistance in Canada. FSWs consistently found the information slightly less useful, suggesting COA may not sufficiently meet the needs of FSWs. This group also found the information less useful for employment preparation.
  • The biggest gap in information for FSWs, FC, and refugees that participated in COA was labour-market and employment-related information; the biggest gap for LCs was information on rights and responsibilities.
  • COA is delivered using IOM’s existing network, thus taking advantage of facilities and trainers that are used not only for COA purposes. The cost per participant (average of $131) is in-line with what was expected, as COA largely met its participation targets.

Active Engagement and Integration Project

  • Over a three-year period, AEIP provided pre-departure orientation to 2,545 unique clients, with the largest proportion of those being FSWs (55.9%) and business immigrants (20.9%).
  • AEIP is being delivered in countries from which Canada does not receive many of its immigrants (South Korea accounted for 2.5% of FSWs that landed in Canada between 2006 and 2010; Taiwan accounted for 0.7%).
  • The take-up of the program has not been as high as desired, as AEIP is not meeting its targets—despite the marketing and promotion efforts of S.U.C.C.E.S.S. A small number of LCs, in particular, have taken AEIP, which is due to difficulties in having the time to go to a session.
  • Because of the nature of the offerings (i.e., 2-hour orientation, topic-specific workshops), the extent of information that is received by participants is dependent upon the workshops that they take.
  • AEIP aims to provide information about initial settlement as well as labour market integration. AEIP has been successful in meeting expected outcomes related to providing information related to initial settlement, although AEIP participants reported more difficulties with initial settlement than participants to other pre-departure orientation.
  • AEIP has had limited success in helping its participants prepare for employment; the biggest challenges and gaps in information were related to employment.
  • A large majority of initiative expenditures were for salary and benefits, which is related to the fact that AEIP has two offices overseas and full-time staff that are solely for the delivery of AEIP. The cost per participant (average $1,293) for AEIP was higher than expected, given it did not meet its targets.

Canadian Immigrant Integration Program

  • In fiscal year 2010-11 CIIP provided pre-departure orientation to 3,462 unique clients, with most of them being FSWs (98.4%).
  • CIIP is delivered in India, China, and the Philippines, which accounted for 37.5% of FSWs that landed in Canada between 2006 and 2010.
  • CIIP is planning expansion of the program through the development of satellite offices.
  • CIIP aims to provide information primarily related to the labour market and foreign credential recognition. CIIP participants reported that the information received was very useful for preparing for employment in Canada, specifically with respect to understanding workplace norms, looking for a job, having credentials recognized, matching their skills with a job, and learning about job opportunities. The biggest challenges and gaps in information for CIIP participants were employment-related.
  • A large majority of initiative expenditures were for salary and benefits, which is related to the fact that CIIP has four offices overseas and full-time staff that are solely for the delivery of CIIP. The cost per participant ($2,155) for CIIP was lower than expected, given it exceeded its targets.

Recommendation #5: Once CIC has finalized and approved its overseas strategy, it should re-examine the appropriateness of current initiatives to determine how well they align with its new strategy and make adjustments to its current overseas orientation programming as needed.


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