Evaluation of the Strategic Plan for Settlement and Language Training under the Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement (COIA)

1. Context of the strategic plan

1.1. The Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement

In November 2005, the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario signed the Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement (COIA) (referred to in this document as the Agreement) which established a five-year framework for cooperation between the two levels of government in the area of immigration.

The COIA defined roles and responsibilities of the two governments and outlined several objectives related to recruitment, selection and settlement of newcomers in Ontario. To support the settlement-related objectives, in addition to existing base funding of $108M per year, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) planned to invest $920M in new funding for settlement and language training programs and services in Ontario over a five-year period from 2005/06 to 2009/10. This funding was to bring the federal per capita investment in Ontario to the $3,000 per newcomer, as recommended by the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration in its 2003 report.Footnote 4 The COIA was extended for 2010/11 and additional funding in the amount of $428M was committed for that year.

1.2. The strategic plan for settlement and language training

To support the investment, the Agreement stipulated that one of the key priorities was to undertake the joint development of a four-year strategy for settlement service delivery in Ontario.Footnote 5

In 2006, CIC and the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration of Ontario (MCI) began to work together to identify specific needs and gaps in the settlement and language sectors in Ontario. This exercise, which involved a review of existing research and consultations with newcomers and organizations providing settlement services, identified a set of specific needs (see Exhibit 1) and groups that were under-served: women, youth, seniors, and Francophone immigrants. This needs assessment exercise informed the design of the Strategic Plan for Settlement and Language Training (referred to in this document as the Plan).

Exhibit 1: Identified Needs

Employment needs:

  • Better information prior to arrival;
  • Guidance on how and where to find work in Canada;
  • Timely professional and skills accreditation;
  • Employers who value diversity in the workplace and recognize skills that newcomers bring.

Official language (English/French) proficiency needs:

  • Effective language assessment both pre- and post-arrival;
  • Accessible client-centred official language referral and training;
  • Work-related language training.

Information and guidance, and initial orientation:

  • Accurate, relevant, practical and accessible information, pre- and post arrival;
  • Orientation to life in Canada.

Other needs:

  • Opportunities to interact socially with Canadian residents and other newcomers;
  • Emotional and social support;
  • Sources for financial assistance and related tools;
  • Affordable housing;
  • Access to appropriate health care, including mental health services.

Source: Strategic Plan, 2006

The main purpose of the Plan was to “support the achievement of the following long-term outcomes:

  • Newcomers are welcomed and fully integrated into Canadian and Ontario communities;
  • Newcomers are engaged and participate in all sectors of Ontario/Canadian society — economic, social, political and cultural; and
  • Ontario/Canadian society and communities benefit from the contribution of newcomers”.Footnote 6

In support of the achievement of these long-term outcomes, the following intermediate outcomes were identified in the Plan:

  • Newcomers can access the full range of community resources and services;
  • Newcomers participate in the economic, cultural, social and civic life of their communities;
  • Newcomers have sufficient English or French skills to support social and economic integration;
  • Newcomers have paid work consistent with their education, skills and experience;
  • Communities welcome, retain and support newcomers, including minority official language communities; and
  • Local communities benefit from the contributions of newcomers.

To enable the achievement of these intermediate outcomes, the Strategic Plan outlined four strategies and related actions that were to guide the programming in Ontario for the next four years, linked to a number of immediate outcomes. Table 1-1 identifies the linkages between the immediate outcomes and the four strategies.

Table 1-1: Linkages between immediate outcomes and plan strategies

Immediate outcomes Strategy
  • address gaps in availability and accessibility
  • improve the capacity of the settlement sector to manage and deliver the COIA settlement and language training activities
  • improve client pathway management

Strategy 1: Develop a flexible, coordinated system of settlement services with strong linkages and clear pathways to service newcomers’ needs. Examples of activities under this strategy included expanding the availability of pre-arrival services, building an effective information and referral system, developing responsive and innovative services and delivery models, and improving access to services in French. Other activities were to be identified during the implementation of the Plan. In addition, activities targeting the capacity of the settlement sector were also identified.

Strategy 2: Build on existing services to develop and implement a comprehensive language assessment, referral and training system that assists newcomers to become competent in English or French as quickly as possible. Some activities under this strategy included expanding language training levels, developing and implementing occupation-specific language training, common standards for assessment and language learning evaluation, and creating linkages with settlement services. This strategy also focused on capacity development within the language training sector.

  • engage partners, municipalities and employers
  • align mechanisms and partnerships
Strategy 3: Work with municipalities and federal and provincial government departments to enable partnerships that will integrate newcomers in the economic and social life of Ontario communities. Examples of activities included funding innovative programs at the local level, funding the development of online and other municipal resources, and providing opportunities for municipalities to share information and participate in the planning of integration services for their communities.
  • improve the availability of information
  • improve program accountability
  • ensure program management is needs- and outcomes-focused
Strategy 4: Design, fund and administer settlement and language training programs based on how well they support desired outcomes (evidence-based). Examples of activities included but were not limited to: monitoring of service delivery and program results, conducting evaluation studies, literature reviews, research studies, and improving management information systems.

The logic model developed for the Strategic Plan can be found in the Methodology Appendix.

1.3. Settlement and language training programs

Through the four Strategies, the Plan provided direction on how the existing settlement and language training programs should be enhanced and how the linkages between them strengthened. The settlement and language training programs delivered by CIC and MCI during the implementation of the Strategic Plan are described briefly below.

1.3.1. CIC Programs

During the years under review, CIC delivered four main settlement and language training programs in Canada, including in Ontario.Footnote 7 Table 1-2 provides a general description of each of these programs and their link to the four strategies.Footnote 8

In 2008, during the implementation of the Strategic Plan, CIC merged all its settlement programs, including language training programs, under an integrated settlement program (the Modernized Approach) with 5 streams; however, since no projects were delivered in the period under review using this approach, it did not affect the implementation of the Strategic Plan.

Table 1-2: CIC Programs and their link to the four strategies

Program Description Strategies
1 2 3 4
The Language Instructions to Newcomers in Canada Program (LINC)/Cours de langue pour immigrants au Canada (CLIC) LINC/CLIC A Direct delivery of language training in English (LINC) or French (CLIC) to newcomers   [X]    
LINC/CLIC B Capacity building for language training and assessment services organizations and the sector, including teacher training, development of new tools, etc.   [X]    
Performance measurement/research and evaluations of language training programs or needs assessment for those services       [X]
LINC/CLIC C Newcomer language assessments to assess competency levels in English or French prior to accessing training   [X]    
The Immigrant Settlement and Adaptation Program (ISAP) ISAP A Direct delivery of services to newcomers, including needs assessments and referrals, information and orientation, para-counselling, and pre-employment counselling [X]      
ISAP B Indirect support to develop the capacity of the settlement sector, such as tools, training, and coordination [X]      
Development of coordinated approaches and the creation of partnerships     [X]  
Performance measurement/research and evaluations of the settlement programs       [X]
The Enhanced Language Training (ELT) Program Higher level and/or occupational-specific language training to improve knowledge of language in a given profession beyond the training provided by the LINC program   [X]    
Mentoring and internship opportunities for newcomers to enable them to gain Canadian experience [X]      
The Host Program A volunteer-based matching program in which Canadians were matched with newcomers to develop social networks and learn about their respective cultures [X]      

1.3.2. MCI Programs

MCI delivers settlement, language training and employment-focused programs to newcomersFootnote 9 in the Province. The budget for operating expenditures and grants and contribution funding allocated to these programs grew from $92M in 2005/06 to approximately $133M in 2009/10.Footnote 10 With the exception of the Municipal Immigration Information Online (MIIO), these programs did not receive funding through COIA. That said, given the Plan’s intent to increase collaboration and harmonization between CIC and MCI programs, Table 1-3 outlines the various MCI programs and their link to the four strategies.

Table 1-3: MCI Programs and their link to the four strategies

Program Description Strategies
1 2 3 4
Newcomer Settlement Program (NSP) Provides settlement services such as assistance with finding housing, registering children in school and referrals to other services [X]         
Learn English or French/ Adult Non-Credit Language Training Program Known as English/French as a Second Language (ESL/FSL), this Program provides language training instruction through tuition-free language programs delivered by school boards   [X]    
Language Interpreter Services Grants Provides grants to social, health care, and legal service providers to provide interpreter services to help victims of domestic violence whose language is neither English nor French, available in 60 languages, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Administered by MCI and Funded by the Ontario government’s Women’s Directorate [X]      
The Ontario Bridge Training Program (OBTP) (Co-funded with CIC for the ELT Component) Assists skilled newcomers to access licensure and employment in their field, without duplicating previous training and education. Services include academic and technical training, opportunities to gain Canadian work experience, employment services, and workforce integration strategies. [X] [X]    
Global Experience Ontario A multi-channel (phone, email, and in-person) access centre providing information and referral services to internationally-trained individuals (ITIs) to help them qualify for professional practice in Ontario [X]      
Municipal Immigration Information Online (MIIO) funded through COIA budget. Provides information to newcomers about specific municipalities, their offerings and services available [X]      
MIIOs provide funds to municipalities and engage them in the settlement process     [X]  

1.4. Stakeholders

The key stakeholders involved in the delivery of the Strategic Plan were CIC and MCI, Ontario municipalities, service provider organizations, and newcomers and Ontarians at large.

  • CIC: The Ontario Regional office and local CIC offices throughout the province (Peel/Halton, York, Ottawa, Toronto (2), Sudbury, London, Kitchener, Hamilton and Windsor) manage settlement programs in Ontario, including the establishment of contribution agreements with service-provider organizations and participation in COIA working groups and committees. At National headquarters (NHQ), several Branches also participate in the Strategic Plan through participation in various committees and working groups.
  • MCI: The Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration of Ontario (MCI) delivers several settlement and newcomer language training programs in the Province. MCI was actively involved in the development of the Plan, in its governance and working group structures. While not directly involved in project administration or management, MCI received reports from CIC on the expenditure of COIA funds.
  • Municipalities: Municipalities are a stakeholder in the area of settlement as they are involved in addressing newcomer settlement needs in their communities. The involvement of municipalities in the Strategic Plan was defined under Strategy 3, which focused on engaging them in planning municipal-level strategies for attracting, retaining and serving newcomers. As well, they were to be increasingly involved in settlement services planning and implementation through their participation in the Strategic Plan governance structure.
  • Service Provider Organizations (SPOs): Service provider organizations in the context of this evaluation are the 347 organizations that received funding to deliver their program or provide services under the Strategic Plan. SPOs include settlement organizations (those that provide services mainly to newcomer clients) (192 of the 347 organizations), community and mainstream organizations with newcomer clients (such as school boards) (94) and organizations such as consulting or research companies that provide indirect services, such as capacity-building, the development of tools or research (61) (see Exhibit 2).
  • Newcomers were the main beneficiaries of the Strategic Plan as they were to benefit from the investment through improved services. Newcomers include permanent residents and, in the case of provincial programming, they also include refugee claimants and Canadian citizens.
  • Ontarians were to benefit from newcomers’ economic and social contributions to the Province, which the Strategic Plan aimed to facilitate.

Exhibit 2: Role of Service Provider Organizations

Settlement programs are not delivered directly to newcomers by CIC or MCI. Rather, CIC and MCI provide funding to service provider organizations (SPOs) to deliver services to clients. Frequently, the same SPOs receive funding from both levels of government. SPOs may include not-for-profit and other non-governmental organizations, educational institutions, community groups, private sector businesses, and individuals.

1.5. Roles and responsibilities

1.5.1. Governance

The COIA was governed by a set of committees under the lead of the Joint Steering Committee, co-chaired by the Deputy Ministers of CIC and MCI (see Exhibit 3). The Management Committee was charged with identifying overall annual priorities and workplans for COIA, including the settlement and language training components.

Within the COIA governance structure, several committees contributed directly to the management of the Strategic Plan (elements not highlighted in Exhibit 3). Among those, the Settlement and Language Training Steering Committee was created to support the effective implementation of the Strategic Plan through identifying new topics for research, analyzing and approving recommendations received from the Working Groups, and establishing annual work plans for the overall Strategic Plan-related programming. This Committee was supported by two working groups: the Settlement Working Group and the Language Training Working Group. Both Groups were established in 2007 and were comprised of officials from CIC and MCI and municipal representatives. Their main roles and responsibilities were to provide input to the implementation of the Strategic Plan, develop annual work plans for their respective areas, and propose new initiatives based on research of emerging needs and service gaps. The Working Groups were also responsible for facilitating opportunities to harmonize programs and strengthen cross-program collaboration and coordination. Two other groups were also part of the Strategic Plan governance structure: the Evaluation and Accountability Sub-Committee and the Research and Accountability Working Group. These two groups were in charge of providing support to the performance measurement and evaluation functions of the Strategic Plan and provided input to this evaluation.

Exhibit 3: COIA Governance overview: Strategic plan focus

(Performance Measurement Plan, CIC, 2008. Sourced as from COIA Governance Overview, CIC August 2007)

Text version: COIA Governance overview: Strategic plan focus

1.5.2. Program management

While the two orders of government, through participation in the consultation process and in the governance structure, identified key areas for new types of activities, the majority of the program implementation was managed by CIC’s regional and local offices. The exceptions were the MIIOs and OBTP which were managed by MCI.

1.6. Resources

Under the Agreement, the federal government committed to providing a total of $920M in new funding to support settlement and language training services in Ontario over the period 2005/06 to 2009/10 in addition to $540M in base funding previously allocated to the province. Out of the new funds, approximately $849M was allocated to support settlement programming in Ontario and the remainder, around $70M, was allocated to the management of other COIA activities and to national projects. National projects, funded through commitments from all provincial allocations, fall outside the scope of the Strategic Plan as they are guided by a set of different priorities.

As all ISAP, LINC, Host and ELT projects delivered in Ontario between 2006/07 and 2009/10 were guided by the Strategic Plan, to facilitate the analysis of the value added of the new funds, an assumption was made that the base funding was spent first and the new funds were spent once base funding was depleted. Table 1-4 shows that of the $849M in new funding that was committed for the Strategic Plan, $671M was actually spent for a variance of $178M. In addition, of the $70M allocated to other COIA activities, $30M were not spent, for a total variance between allocated COIA resources and expenditures equal to $207M.

Even though COIA was signed in the year 2005, the delivery of programs in the year 2005/06 was largely unaffected by the Strategic Plan or by additional COIA funds. Therefore, while the report presents information on the total budget and expenditures, by comparing the level of investment and number of activities in 2005/06 (supported largely by the base finding only) and the level of investment and activities in subsequent years, the evaluation focuses on an assessment of the value added of the new resources.

Table 1-4: Number of Projects and Expenditures for Employment-Specific Programming – Resources ($ Millions)

Fiscal year 2005/06 2006/07 2007/08 2008/09 2009/10 Total
Alloc. Exp. Alloc. Exp. Alloc. Exp. Alloc. Exp. Alloc. Exp. Alloc. Exp. Var.
Strategic plan resources
Vote 1-New funds - - 3 7 8 5 5 7 8 8 21 24 3
Vote 5-New funds 3 3 63 52 180 117 287 191 295 285 828 648 180
Total New funds 3 3 66 59 188 122 292 198 303 293 849 671 178
Vote 5 - Base 108 108 108 108 108 108 108 108 108 108 540 540 -
Total 111 111 174 164 293 231 400 306 411 401 1,389 1,211 178
Other COIA resources
Vote 1 - - 11 5 10 9 13 8 14 8 47 28 18
Vote 5     1 1 1 2 8 4 13 5 23 11 12
Total Other COIA - - 11 5 11 11 21 11 27 13 70 40 30
Total Funds 111 111 185 169 304 241 421 317 437 414 1,459 1,252 207

Source: CIC financial systems
Note: Vote 1 refers to operating resources while Vote 5 refers to grants and contributions resources. Vote 5 Strategic Plan resources, in addition to Ontario Region funds, includes also ELT funds distributed to Ontario Region by NHQ in 2006/07 and the MIIO funds provided to MCI.

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