Canada allocates $100 million to support integration of newcomers during pandemic

Alexandra Miekus
Published: August 14, 2021

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced $100 million in funding to ensure settlement services for newcomers meet their needs during the pandemic.

The funding will be rolled out over the next three years and is aimed at adapting the delivery of settlement services to newcomers so they reflect the pandemic and post-pandemic context.

This funding is provided through the Immigration Department's Service Delivery Improvement (SDI) program, which funds new projects offered by settlement service providers in areas such as needs assessment, information, language training, skills development, employment-related services, and community connections.

Under the 2020 funding process, IRCC selected 78 projects.

"These projects will explore how to better integrate newcomers in their new communities and support the settlement sector as it recovers from the pandemic," IRCC said in a statement.

"Throughout the pandemic, many settlement services have moved online. SDI funding will help IRCC determine the kinds of services newcomers need while taking into account the increased reliance on online service delivery."

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Among the selected projects are one that will test whether artificial intelligence can be used to develop settlement strategies for new immigrants, one that aims to develop service approaches with an anti-oppression framework, and one that will link newcomers with employers in rural communities prior to their arrival to see if this encourages them to settle in these areas.

“Settlement services play a fundamental role in Canada’s immigration system. From work to housing to language training, they set newcomers up for success. During this challenging year and a half, I think it’s safe to say everyone has needed support in some form or another. One can only begin to imagine the additional hurdles this pandemic has presented newcomers trying to start their lives in Canada. These new SDI projects will help us enhance and improve settlement services so every newcomer can reach their full potential here,” said Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, in a press release.

Settlement services provided by the Government of Canada are designed for people who arrive in the country as economic immigrants, through family class sponsorship, or as refugees and protected persons. They focus on helping people overcome the specific challenges of the newcomer experience, such as finding a job, finding housing, or learning English or French, and ultimately helping them succeed in Canada.

IRCC-funded settlement services are available to all permanent residents and protected persons.

According to the IRCC Settlement Outcomes 2021 Report, the majority of newcomers who have received settlement services said that they found the services helpful and relevant to their needs. Newcomers indicated that these services enhanced their knowledge of life in Canada, improved their English or French language skills, prepared them for the Canadian labour market, and helped them connect with organizations in their communities.

During the period spanning April 1, 2015, to March 31, 2019, more than one million newcomers received settlement services in Canada, according to the same report.

As part of its 2021-2023 Immigration Levels Plan, the Canadian government is seeking to welcome at least 401,000 new immigrants per year, starting this year. This is the most ambitious immigration plan in Canadian history. In total, IRCC spends approximately $2 billion per year on grants and contributions related to settlement programs, the highest amount in the world.

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