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

Executive summary

Background

This report presents the findings of the evaluation of the Strategic Plan for Settlement and Language Training under the Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement (COIA). Data collection for this evaluation was undertaken between July 2010 and February 2011.

The purpose of the evaluation was to provide an objective assessment of the relevance of the Strategic Plan in terms of:

  • need for the Strategic Plan;
  • consistency with government roles and responsibilities defined in COIA;
  • alignment with priorities and objectives;

and the performance of the Strategic Plan in terms of:

  • progress in implementing the actions proposed in the Strategic Plan; and
  • the effectiveness of the implementation of the Strategic Plan, including its design and delivery, and the capacity of the delivery partners to lead, manage, and monitor activities.

The COIA, signed in November 2005 for a five-year period, defined roles and responsibilities of the two governments in the area of immigration and outlined several objectives related to recruitment, selection and settlement of newcomers in Ontario.

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 and groups that were under-served: women, youth, seniors, and Francophone immigrants. This research informed the design of the Strategic Plan for Settlement and Language Training, introduced in December 2006.

The main purpose of the Strategic 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”. [Note 1]

To support the achievement of these outcomes, the Strategic Plan outlined four strategies and related actions, in alignment with immediate outcomes (see Table 1). These strategies and actions were to guide the programming in Ontario from 2006/07 to 2009/10. It is important to note that no new programs were created in light of the Strategic Plan; rather, existing CIC programs (Immigrant Settlement and Adaptation Program (ISAP), Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) the Host Program and Enhanced Language Training (ELT)) were expanded or enhanced to enable achievement of the Strategic Plan. Two MCI-led programs also received funding in support of the Strategic Plan (the language component of the Ontario Bridge Training Program (OBTP) and the Municipal Immigration Information Online (MIIO)).

Table 1: Linkages between immediate outcomes and plan strategies

Immediate outcomes Strategy
  • address gaps in availability and accessibility
  • improve client pathway management
  • improve the capacity of the settlement sector to manage and deliver the COIA settlement and language training activities
Strategy 1: Develop a flexible, coordinated system of settlement services with strong linkages and clear pathways to service newcomers’ needs.
 
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.
  • 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.
  • 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).

Resources

Under the Agreement, the federal government committed to provide 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 2 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 was not spent for a total variance between allocated COIA resources and expenditures equal to $207M.

Even though COIA was signed in the year 2005, 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 2: 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

Evaluation approach, methodology and limitations

The evaluation looked at the relevance, performance, and design and delivery of the Strategic Plan. It covered the period since its inception in fiscal year 2006/07 to 2009/10. Where appropriate, information from 2005/06 was used as a baseline to assess progress under the Strategic Plan.

Lines of evidence used in the conduct of this evaluation include interviews, a document review, an analysis of administrative data, ten case studies and a survey of service-provider organizations (SPOs).

The evaluation was subject to certain data limitations, in particular the lack of a central, complete and comprehensive database that would provide detailed project information. This lack of information resulted in the potential under- or over-representation of project activities. To mitigate this situation, data from various CIC databases and administrative documents was combined and projects were subsequently coded by strategy based on a predetermined coding scheme. As a result, data limitations did not significantly affect the findings, conclusions or recommendations of the evaluation.

Key Findings

Relevance

Consistency with Government Roles and Responsibilities

In the Canadian context, the federal and provincial governments share responsibility for immigration, including immigrant integration. The Strategic Plan enabled both levels of government to collaborate in a joint and strategic approach to direct federal investments in settlement services in Ontario.

That said, the views of both levels of government differ regarding who should be leading the delivery of settlement services in the province. While both levels of government agree that municipalities play a key role in local planning and identifying local needs, representatives from each level of government felt that their respective level of government was best positioned to provide settlement services, with the other level of government providing input and helping to set broad directions.

Alignment with Priorities and Objectives

During the period under review, priorities of both levels of government were aligned as they shared a desire to ensure successful economic and social integration of newcomers and a vision for collaborative and coordinated efforts to achieve those outcomes. Given the variety of options available to put those priorities into action, having a joint plan that established specific strategies and supported a coordinated approach was appropriate. The Strategic Plan, however, only provided direction regarding federal settlement programming, thereby limiting its reach and scope.

Need for the Strategic Plan

Through the Strategic Plan, which provided a more focused approach to settlement and language training while allowing for flexiblity and innovation, funders and service providers were in a better position to address a variety of needs and react to the changing environment in which they operated.

Performance

Strategy 1 – Settlement services

The purpose of Strategy 1 was to develop a flexible, coordinated system of settlement services with strong linkages and clear pathways to services newcomers need. Strategy 1 sought to address gaps in availability and accessibility, improve client pathway management and increase the capacity of the settlement sector to manage and deliver settlement activities. [Note 2]

Addressing gaps in availability and accessibility

Under the direction of the Strategic Plan, activities were undertaken in Ontario to address service gaps. As a result, more information became available to newcomers through self-help and assisted activities, referrals were improved and the provision of services through non-settlement organizations was expanded.

At the time of the inception of the Strategic Plan, many immigrants reported a lack of information on the Canadian job market and difficulties in having their credentials recognized. Efforts were made under the Strategic Plan to assist newcomers to find employment and work with employers to increase their ability to hire newcomers. Although the challenges in this area go far beyond service delivery, particularly with respect to credential recognition, there remains a need to provide employment-related services to newcomers and to educate employers.

Among the four target groups identified under the Strategic Plan, significant progress was made over the past five years in the number and variety of programs targeting youth. While projects focusing on the needs of women, seniors and Francophone immigrants were delivered, progress was not as significant.

The resources provided through the Strategic Plan have addressed several barriers to accessing settlement programs and services by, for example, expanding service hours, addresing the need for qualified interpreters, and expanding childminding services. SPOs have also expanded the way they deliver their programs to bring services closer to home through online, remote or itinerant services.

Improving client pathway management

While most (75%) SPOs surveyed as part of this evaluation felt progress had been made in the development of information and referral systems that link newcomers to the resources they need through all stages of their settlement and integration process, fewer (66%) felt that a coordinated network of services had been achieved by the two levels of government. SPOs and government representatives agreed that some duplication still exists, particularly in cases where parallel programs and services are offered by each level of government. This duplication, however, is seen to be only partial, as eligibility requirements differ between the programs. In other cases, efforts were seen to be complimentary, with each level of government funding separate components of a particular program.

Strategy 2 – Language training services

The purpose of Strategy 2 was to 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. Strategy 2 also sought to address gaps in availability and accessibility, improve client pathway management and increase the capacity of the settlement sector to manage and deliver activities. [Note 3]

Addressing gaps in availability and accessibility

Over the last five years, there has been an increase in the number and range of language assessment and training programs and services to fill the gaps identified under the Strategic Plan. An increase in employment- and occupation-specific language training and the expansion of LINC training to include more advanced levels of proficiency took place. In addition to expanding language training services, the linkages between language training and settlement services have also improved.

Some progress has been made in addressing barriers to accessing language training, especially with respect to LINC/CLIC childminding support that enables parents to participate in language training. Access has also increased through the expansion of LINC services, especially in large centres, and the introduction of innovative approaches (e.g., home study) in smaller or more remote centres.

Improving client pathway management

There are two systems of language assessment and training services in Ontario: federally funded programs known as LINC/CLIC and provincially funded programs known as ESL/FSL. Each system includes three basic components: the assessment of language skills, referrals and the provision of training.

Through efforts under the Strategic Plan, particularly the development of the Coordinated Language Assessment and Referral System (CLARS), the assessment components under CIC’s LINC/CLIC Program and MCI’s ESL/FSL are becoming coordinated. Some progress is also being made in the development of a coordinated referrals system. The delivery of language training has not been formally coordinated although it has been to some extent harmonized by using common tools in both language programs.

Strategy 3 - Partnerships

The purpose of Strategy 3 was to work with municipalities and federal-provincial government departments to enable partnerships that will integrate newcomers in the economic and social life of Ontario communities. Strategy 3 was designed in order to engage partners, municipalities and employers, and align existing mechanisms and partnerships.

Engaging partners, municipalities and employers

While the Strategy sought to engage other federal-provincial government departments, the resulting actions identified in the Plan focused largely on engagement at the local level. At this level, the implementation of the Strategic Plan provided an opportunity to bring together various partners and led to the involvement of a broader range of local stakeholders, including municipalities, in providing services to newcomers. The most widely-cited examples of initiatives are the MCI’s Municipal Immigration Information Online (MIIO) program which resulted in the engagement of municipalities, settlement organizations and other local organizations in the development of local web portals, and the CIC’s Local Immigration Partnerships (LIPs) which brought together a wide range of stakeholders to develop local strategic priorities and action plans for service delivery.

Aligning mechanisms/partnerships

At the local level, under the Strategic Plan, the number of partnerships between traditional SPOs and other institutions such as libraries, police services, educational institutions, employers and professional associations increased. These new partnerships were seen to have resulted in the establishment of services that better address the needs of newcomers, the provision of a wider range of services, and an increased capacity to plan and coordinate settlement services locally. At the same time, these partnerships were seen to have resulted in a greater understanding among non-settlement organizations of newcomer needs.

Strategy 4 – Evidence base

The purpose of Strategy 4 was to build the evidence base to support the design, funding and administration of settlement and language training programs. This strategy was designed to increase the availability of information, improve program accountability, and ensure program management was needs- and outcomes-focused.

Increasing the availability of information

The Strategic Plan design was the product of extensive consultations in Ontario, including reaching out to settlement organizations and newcomers. Through the years, efforts were made to increase the availability of information on emerging needs of newcomers through various research studies, pilot projects and evaluations. This included needs assessments, pilot project reviews, and research on the needs of specific target groups or communities.

The Settlement and Language Training Working Groups used this research to develop recommendations for consideration by the Steering Committee on Settlement and Language Training, which ultimately led in some cases to new calls for proposals to help address specific needs and desired outcomes or amendments to existing contribution agreements.

Improving program accountability

Program accountability, in particular the measurement of project outcomes, has not been done extensively by CIC due to a lack of information. In addition, in the absence of an approved Performance Measurement Strategy for the Strategic Plan, the on-going collection of performance information was not implemented.

Ensuring program management is needs- and outcomes-based

At the SPO level, data collected through ongoing client satisfaction surveys, focus groups or more informal communications with newcomers has generally been integrated into the planning and management of services to ensure a focus on needs. The collection of data that can speak to project and program outcomes remains a challenge.

Design and delivery

Design and delivery questions focused on the capacity of service providers and the federal government to manage and/or deliver the settlement and language training activities. It also looked at the efficiency of the overall governance structure put in place for the Plan.

Improving Capacity

While it took some time to build the capacity of service provider organizations, the increase in financial resources that accompanied COIA and the capacity-building activities it supported enabled SPOs to expand and improve the quality of their services, experiment with innovative approaches to service delivery, and generally improve their management capacity.

Given the rather sudden increase in funding, interviewees across all stakeholder groups (i.e. federal and provincial governments and SPOs) felt the human resources required within CIC to launch and implement the COIA Strategic Plan were underestimated. This was perceived to have delayed the implementation of new projects resulting, in some cases, in funding lapses. While the capacity of the federal government to support the delivery of an increased number of projects in Ontario is perceived to have increased over the last two years of the Strategic Plan, further improvement is still required, mostly in terms of the timely processing of calls for proposals by CIC.

Governance

While the Settlement and Language Training Working Groups at the core of the governance structure provided important guidance throughout the implementation of the Strategic Plan, overall, the governance structure was deemed by interviewees to be cumbersome. Some felt that the structure could benefit from streamlining, particularly given that many of the same individuals participated on the committees created for the Strategic Plan and those created for the broader COIA. Others indicated that while progress was made by the Working Groups, the fact that many of their recommendations were never implemented limited their effectiveness. While the evidence could not be corroborated through the document review, suggestions were made that many of the Working Group recommendations were outside of the scope of CIC’s mandates and priorities or were not feasible given existing resources and as such, could not be implemented.

Conclusions and recommendations

The recommendations arising from this evaluation are as follows:

In the event that a new partnership arrangement is put in place in the future, it is recommended that the two orders of government assess current needs and determine priorities to develop a new joint plan to guide services to newcomers.

In a highly dynamic environment of shifting immigration trends, difficult economic conditions, and a significant increase in federal investment in settlement and language training programs since 2005/06, the Strategic Plan was largely successful in providing a strategic direction and overall parameters to guide the range of stakeholders providing support to newcomers in Ontario. Informed by extensive consultations with key stakeholders, the Strategic Plan also allowed for flexibility in the development and implementation of approaches to address newcomer needs. Five years after its introduction, while progress has been made, in cases where projects are just now entering their implementation phase, such as the LIPs, it is not entirely certain that progress is sustainable without a similar mechanism to guide and support future efforts. There is a strong rationale for developing a new joint plan founded on current needs, gaps and barriers that would provide timely and relevant direction and guidance in the event of a future partnership arrangement between the two levels of government.

During the development of any future joint plan, it is recommended that a more comprehensive and a whole of government approach is adopted by including both federal and provincial programming and by taking into account other relevant emerging broader policy frameworks.

Careful consideration should be given to the appropriate scope of a new Strategic Plan. The scope of the first Plan included only the federal programming. While the province of Ontario has taken into account the objectives of the Strategic Plan, its programming was not systematically integrated with the Plan. This has posed some challenges in understanding the full scope of the investment, programming and results in Ontario that flow from both federal and provincial initiatives. The scope of the Plan was also restricted due to limited direct involvement of relevant federal and provincial ministries (other than immigration) in program design and delivery. At the same time, any emerging relevant policy frameworks such as the Modernized Approach, which will drive settlement services, and the Canada-Ontario Labour Market Agreement, which will drive employment services, will need to be considered in determining the scope and content of any future Strategic Plan.

It is recommended that the governance structure of any future joint plan be streamlined and redesigned, reducing the number of committees, and establishing clear roles, responsibilities and accountabilities.

The governance structure to guide the implementation of the Strategic Plan was established within the broader COIA structure. This was not as effective as originally hoped as it was considered to be too cumbersome by many provincial and federal government interviewees. While the Settlement and Language Training Working Groups that formed the core of the structure to deliver the Plan undertook a significant amount of work, many of the recommendations they made to the Steering Committee for Settlement and Language Training were not implemented.

It is recommended that any future joint plan, in addition to settlement and language training, include a separate strategic priority to address employment in a comprehensive and structured way, taking into account the roles played by various stakeholders in this area.

The Strategic Plan has contributed to addressing a number of gaps and barriers to the development of new and innovative services, and to increasing access to services. While employment needs were addressed through a variety of activities for newcomers and employers, labour market integration issues were understated in the design and directions provided by the Plan. Given the critical role of economic integration in ensuring successful settlement outcomes, and the wide range of stakeholders involved in ensuring successful economic integration, it is important to build on the partnerships currently in place, including those with other federal and provincial departments, Service Provider Organizations, potential employers, professional associations, and credentialing bodies, to facilitate the economic integration of newcomers.

As the two orders of government pursue the full implementation of the coordinated language assessment and referral system (CLARS), it is recommended that they investigate the feasibility of creating a harmonized language training system.

It is widely recognized that language skills are the foundation for the successful social and economic integration of newcomers. Progress has been made in implementing a coordinated language assessment and referral system (CLARS). While there is a strong rationale for having a standard assessment approach, the development of an increasingly harmonized approach to programming should be investigated to determine whether synergies, efficiencies and enhancements to the quality of instruction could be gained and client pathways improved. While there are differing eligibility requirements for newcomers under the two programs, an integrated system would ensure that the client will have a clear and seamless path to language training, irrespective of eligibility criteria.

It is recommended that any future joint plan include the development and implementation of a performance measurement strategy to guide on-going joint performance data collection activities and to ensure information is available to support future evaluation activities. As part of this strategy, a review of existing federal and provincial databases and systems should be undertaken, with a view to ensuring the availability of performance information to assess outcomes, while not over-burdening SPOs and others who will be tasked with providing data. The systems should also be supported by tools, guidance and training to ensure the reliability and validity of the data collected.

The collection of performance measurement data is the responsibility of program management and should be undertaken on an on-going basis. Generally speaking, the measurement of progress under the Strategic Plan was limited. While some data was collected on activities and outputs by program management, it was housed in different databases, making it extremely difficult to assess progress. For the purposes of this evaluation, information from a variety of existing databases was assembled by the evaluators to create a comprehensive picture of activities and clients, which allowed for the assessment of some outputs (projects, activities and partially, clients) and immediate outcomes.

Evaluation of the strategic plan for settlement and language training under the Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement (COIA) – Management response

Recommendation 1: In the event that a new partnership arrangement is put in place in the future, it is recommended that the two orders of government assess current needs and determine priorities to develop a new joint plan to guide services to newcomers.

Response:

The Department agrees that, if a new arrangement is put in place, an outcomes-focussed, needs-based joint plan is a useful tool to guide joint priority setting and settlement program design and delivery in Ontario.

Given shared interest in successful settlement and integration outcomes for newcomers in Ontario, CIC recommends a meeting with MCI to take stock of current needs and determine priorities.

CIC anticipates that the development process for a joint plan would differ from that for the COIA Strategic Plan. CIC recommends that a plan should provide an adequate timeframe for consultations and planning processes, as well as the development and implementation of planned joint activities.

Other stakeholders (Service Provider Organizations, academics, other government departments (OGDs), municipalities, etc.) would be consulted as deemed necessary by the joint parties.

Action/Deliverables:

  • Between January-April 2012, CIC will invite MCI to DG-level meetings to take stock of current needs and determine priorities and will produce a statement of joint stock-taking results and identification of priorities. Completion date: Q-1 FY 2012-13

Accountability:

DG, Ontario Region is overall lead, in collaboration with NHQ.

Action/Deliverables:

  • If a formal COIA successor arrangement with Ontario is put in place, CIC would work with Ontario’s Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration (MCI) to develop a joint plan. Completion date: TBD

Accountability:

Co-approval of Plan by Directors General Ontario Region, Integration Branch and IPMB and the MCI equivalent, subject to MCI agreement.

Recommendation 2: During the development of any future joint plan, it is recommended that a more comprehensive and a whole of government approach is adopted by including both federal and provincial programming and by taking into account other relevant emerging broader policy frameworks.

Response:

CIC agrees that a whole of government approach and relevant federal frameworks should be taken into account with the involvement of other partners as required.

The Department recommends strengthening the outcomes of any joint plan through the inclusion of, and a strengthened alignment with, provincial programming and municipal partnerships.

Information sharing for this purpose should be timely and as transparent as possible on the part of both governments.

CIC would engage municipalities and a representative sample of service providers, including umbrella organizations such as OCASI, during the development of the plan.

Action/Deliverables:

If a future formal COIA successor arrangement with Ontario is put in place, CIC will provide briefings, materials and involve OGDs relevant to the plan. From the federal perspective, the plan could be informed by, for example: ongoing joint work underway since COIA; immigrant -focused policies and programming by OGDs; the outcomes embedded in the Modernized Approach; results of the modernized approach CFP in 2010; gaps identified through CFP development; LIPS action plans; and, national needs assessment and settlement planning work currently underway. Based on those activities, CIC will produce (Completion date: Subject to signing an agreement, within 6 months of signature.):

  • Record of bilateral consultations with OGDS.
  • Minutes of meetings with MCI, including participation of OGDs and other stakeholders and supporting documents used at meetings.
  • Links and reference to other federal frameworks and programs will be identified in the final plan.

Accountability:

DG Ontario Region, in collaboration with DG Integration and the MCI equivalent, subject to MCI agreement.

Recommendation 3: It is recommended that the governance structure of any future joint plan be streamlined and redesigned, reducing the number of committees, and establishing clear roles, responsibilities and accountabilities.

Response:

The Department agrees that the governance of the strategic plan should be efficient with clear roles, responsibilities and accountabilities established at the outset.

The Department notes that while governance of the strategic plan under COIA may have been viewed as cumbersome, the working group activities did lead to significant changes in programming and the participation of municipalities in program design through the working groups did increase the municipal understanding of settlement issues. The working groups created a significant number of viable recommendations which were implemented or are being implemented by CIC.

The Department will discuss with MCI how to accord governance of the plan with the outcomes of the plan, using existing governance mechanisms and/or new ones (e.g. LIPs, permanent and ad hoc structures such as working groups, advisory committees and/or planning tables).

International and Inter-Governmental Relations Branch will lead on the broader governance issues for any COIA successor arrangement.

Action/Deliverables:

Subject to a future formal successor arrangement, CIC, in collaboration with MCI will develop an efficient, flexible governance and committee structure for the plan, including clear roles and responsibilities.

Deliverables will include (Completion date: Subject to signing an agreement, within 6 months of signature):

  • governance structure
  • terms of reference of committees
  • action plans for each structure.

Accountability:

DG Ontario Region, in collaboration with DGs Integration and IIR, and subject to MCI agreement.

Recommendation 4: It is recommended that any future joint plan, in addition to settlement and language training, include a separate strategic priority to address employment in a comprehensive and structured way, taking into account the roles played by various stakeholders in this area.

Response:

The Department agrees with this recommendation. CIC supports the objective of a vibrant Ontario economy and is partnering with OGDs and Ontario to achieve optimum economic outcomes of immigrants.

The Department also recognizes that provincial activities funded through federal funding via the Labour Market Agreement form an important part of comprehensive, structured programming. To that end CIC and MCI are currently co-leading a Labour Market Working Group established under the COIA to support the development of outcome-focused, coordinated services and delivery models that match immigrants’ labour market needs and Ontario’s labour market conditions, and to define and clarify approaches to labour market integration programs and services for newcomers.

CIC is also working closely with the Province of Ontario through a $22M contribution to the MCI Bridge training program which supports bridging programs for newcomers to Ontario, to help them develop their knowledge of the Canadian labour market and official languages.

Action/Deliverables:

CIC will participate in the Labour Market Working Group, in line with federal priorities.

CIC will monitor results of the bridging contribution agreement to ensure that desired outcomes meet federal priorities and respond to the evolving needs of newcomers in Ontario.

CIC will continue contributing to the ON Bridging Program until its expiration on March 31, 2013, as appropriate and subject to federal funding priorities.

CIC will produce the following deliverables:

  • Calls for proposals include employer outreach.
    • Completion date: December 2011
  • Labour Market Working Group terms of reference, records of meetings and activities.
    • Completion date: December 2011; ongoing reporting on environmental scans, reviews and related projects.
  • Bridging agreement performance reports and assessments
    • Completion date: Documented outcomes and outputs at the end of each year of the multi-year bridging CA.

Accountability:

DG Ontario Region in collaboration with DGs Integration and IPMB.

Recommendation 5: As the two orders of government pursue the full implementation of the coordinated language assessment and referral system (CLARS), it is recommended that they investigate the feasibility of creating a harmonized language training system.

Response:

The Department agrees with the recommendation to investigate if there is a need to further harmonise language training and has a strong interest in the establishment of shared goals and objectives leading to increased complementarity of language training programming in Ontario. CIC notes that significant progress has been made with the federal and provincial harmonisation of language assessment processes, through the development and piloting of the Coordinated Language Assessment and Referral System CLARS) and views this approach as a model of cooperation between the two orders of government. Full implementation of the CLARS pilot, contingent on the results of its evaluation, would, in itself, contribute significantly to the harmonisation of language programming in Ontario. CIC favours an approach that will achieve efficiencies, avoid duplication and strive to reduce programming gaps. With complementarity, gaps would be examined to see the partner best placed to deliver specific language programming. CIC would work closely with MCI to ensure that complementarity between the federal and provincial language programming leads to positive results for newcomers in Ontario.

Action/Deliverables:

CIC will work with MCI to implement CLARS, subject to evaluation of the pilot with the following deliverables:

  • Evaluation of CLARS pilot (including an interim cost-sharing arrangement and a programme implementation model).
    • Completion date: December 2011
  • CLARS guidelines available province-wide for implementation MCI clients in HARTS; cost-sharing agreement with MCI.
    • Completion date: December 2012
  • Implementation of plan with ongoing cost-sharing agreement.
    • Completion date: FY2013-14, Subject to MCI Agreement

CIC will work with MCI to achieve and document sufficient complementarity of language programming in Ontario, including (Completion date: December 2012):

  • Development of definitions for “complementarity” and “harmonised programming”.
  • Development of shared goals and objectives for complementary programming.
  • Determination of implications for programming and learner pathways.

Accountability:

DG Ontario Region leads son CLARS, in collaboration with DGs Integration and IPMB, and subject to MCI agreement.

DG Integration leads on feasibility of harmonisation of language system, in collaboration with DG, Ontario and subject to MCI agreement.

Recommendation 6: It is recommended that any future joint plan include the development and implementation of a performance measurement strategy to guide on-going joint performance data collection activities and to ensure information is available to support future evaluation activities. As part of this strategy, a review of existing federal and provincial databases and systems should be undertaken, with a view to ensuring the availability of performance information to assess outcomes, while not over-burdening SPOs and others who will be tasked with providing data. The systems should also be supported by tools, guidance and training to ensure the reliability and validity of the data collected.

Response:

The Department strongly supports performance measurement and is implementing a performance measurement system for its Settlement Program. CIC is also increasing its report generation capabilities through its iCAMS data collection system. CIC does not agree that a separate performance measurement strategy for an Ontario plan is necessary. From the federal perspective, it is intended that the outcomes of CIC’s Settlement Program would be incorporated into the plan, reflecting program terms and conditions. Outputs and outcomes from federal programming resulting from the plan could be measured using the performance measurement system and outcomes measurement activities. The Department agrees that joint data collection activities for co-funded and co-managed activities, where feasible, could assist in reporting and measurement of outcomes of joint activities. Data sharing arrangements with MCI would help ensure that output data would be reported in iCAMS. CIC works closely with various stakeholders and SPOs to improve data gathering and reporting of outputs while reducing the administrative burden on them. Any joint reporting on data would need to be assessed for its impact on this reporting burden. CIC also notes that MCI is participating in the work to develop and maintain a national settlement framework which will permit CIC, MCI and other Provinces/Territories to know more about outcomes of newcomers and improve their interventions to ensure that newcomers fully integrate into Canadian society.

Action/Deliverables:

Where feasible, joint data collection to assist reporting on outcomes of joint activities.

Alignment of the outcomes of the plan with the outcomes of CIC’s Settlement Program and its terms and conditions.

Implementation of a suite of measures to better measure immediate and intermediate Settlement program outcomes.

Deliverables will include:

  • Formal information sharing agreements with MCI such as Memorandums of Understanding
    • Completion date: Subject to signing of a formal partnership arrangement
  • Annual report on usage of applicable settlement services by eligible clients in Ontario
    • Completion date: End of each FY
  • Ontario report from Pan-Canadian client survey for settlement.
    • Completion date: Subject to timing of report – expected March 2013

Accountability:

DG Integration


Footnotes

  • [1] Source: Strategic Plan for Settlement and Language Training. [back to note 1]
  • [2] Issues related to the capacity of the settlement services sector are addressed under “design and delivery”. [back to note 2]
  • [3] Issues related to the capacity of the settlement services sector are addressed under “design and delivery”. [back to note 3]
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