National Settlement Conference 2013

The 2013 National Settlement Conference took place last week in Ottawa and ERIEC’s Executive Director, Doug Piquette had the opportunity to participate in the event that hosted over 400 delegates.

Major stakeholders gathered from across Canada to discuss Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC)-funded settlement programs around a central theme of “2020 Vision for the Settlement Program”.

Agenda touched upon the changing client profile due to immigration reform; new and renewed partnerships with major delivery agents and other funders; new ways of funding settlement in the future (e.g., social financing); accountability/program Impact; and most prominently, more responsive delivery to ensure positive, comparable newcomer outcomes (e.g., new delivery methods, use of technology, overseas/domestic balance, etc.)

Recent policy changes are likely to result in a greater proportion of immigrants arriving with Canadian experience, increased job-readiness and stronger language ability. A shift in the anticipated needs of clients points to the importance of higher degrees of program innovation and responsiveness by Service Provider Organizations (SPO).

With respect to measuring the success of Settlement Programs, there is a critical need for a solid, comprehensive plan and approach to measuring, reporting on, and evaluating program performance. CIC has developed a new the Evaluation Framework and a new Settlement Program Logic Model which will be an essential foundation for evaluation of Settlement in 2016-17. A Performance Measurement Strategy was recently approved that covers the performance measurement, evaluation and reporting of the Settlement Program for fiscal years 2013-14 to 2017-18.

Interesting presentations addressed foreign credential recognition; successful career path strategies, such as Smart Connections, Biotech Supports for internationally trained professionals and employers; creating greater opportunities to serve clients in areas with limited or no services, such as a “One Stop Shop” for newcomer services offered in Northwestern Ontario and other small and remote communities.

“Seamless Settlement Services Offering, from Overseas to Inland” topic included presentations by organizations offering pre-arrival services to newcomers to Canada. Canadian Immigrant Integration Program (CIIP) reported that 49% of their clients found employment within 3 months after landing, and 72% after 1 year.

The Canadian Orientation Aboard (COA) is a Pre-Departure Orientation initiative implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The Information & Communications Technology Council (ICTC) discussed the employer’s role in overseas delivery. And ISIS, a settlement organization based out of Nova Scotia, shared their experience related to their Settlement Online Program, an integrated pre-arrival service delivery model which uses the skills, experience of settlement sector and enable clients to connect with local agencies, regulatory bodies, and employers as quickly as possible.

An important part of this year Conference discussions was exploring new funding approaches and introducing the concept of Social Enterprise as a finance option that includes social outcomes. The emergence of social finance initiatives globally is being driven by demand from stakeholders within both the private sector and not-for-profit communities seeking a more strategic investment that provides both a social and economic return. A Social Enterprise is a business operated by a non-profit organization involving a large spectrum of organizations that include charities to traditional businesses.

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