Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada Settlement and Resettlement Services during COVID-19
Branch/Agency: Settlement Network
- Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is focused on continuity of essential settlement and resettlement services while protecting the health and safety of both its own IRCC employees and those in the Settlement Sector.
- On Monday, March 16, 2020, following the address by the Prime Minister, IRCC reached out to the service provider organizations that provide settlement and resettlement services to newcomers in Canada.
- Organizations were advised to suspend all non-essential services and focus on the provision of critical services only until further notice. They were also encouraged to provide non-critical services remotely whenever possible.
- IRCC has ramped up its contact with the sector and now holds teleconference calls with the sector multiple times a week to deliver key information and answer questions. This is in addition to providing written guidance as required.
- Importantly, this guidance sets out an articulation of critical services which includes: access to income support through the Resettlement Assistance Program to meet basic day to day expenses such as rent, food and medication; the provision of temporary accommodation services for current clients; and continuity of essential orientation services. It also includes crisis counselling for vulnerable clients.
- We have assured service provider organizations that they will be able to claim through their contribution agreement the cost of equipment and supplies to help protect staff working in-person with clients. We have also told them that there will be no financial penalties for organizations that are following the recommendations received from IRCC or local health authorities.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) funds a full array of settlement and resettlement programming engaging over 500 community organizations and civil society across the country to deliver services and create welcoming communities.
Programming builds human and social capital of immigrants and refugees to help them succeed along their integration journey.
Settlement services include: needs and assets assessment and referrals; information and orientation services; language training services; employment-related services; building community connections and support services.
Services that respond to new and emerging needs include: supports for clients with unique barriers (e.g., vulnerable youth, women, seniors, refugees, LGBTQ2+, clients with disabilities); language and employment services; programming that engages employers; consolidating a francophone integration pathway; fostering the entrepreneurial spirit of newcomers; mental health and well-being; and small-centre, remote, and northern services.
The Resettlement Assistance Program provides help to convention refugees upon their arrival in Canada. These services include: reception at the port of entry; temporary accommodations; assistance in finding a permanent place to live; basic household items and orientation and support to starting life in Canada.
IRCC workers are using remote tools to continue their work.
We are committed to ongoing engagement with the Settlement Sector and are fortunate to have strong ties and a mature relationship with settlement and resettlement agencies across Canada.
- IRCC had initiated regular calls with the Settlement Sector before the COVID-19 crisis.
- Since COVID-19, engagement has been increased to multiple conference calls per week with the National Settlement and Integration Council and other key stakeholders to ensure timely and accurate information exchange.
- The National Settlement and Integration Council represents a vast network of settlement and non-settlement service providers from coast to coast (outside of Quebec), as well as provincial and territorial representatives and other national and international organizations, such as the International Organization on Migration (IOM), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada (FCFA), and the Canadian Council on Refugees.
Settlement and resettlement representatives have been providing the Department with on-the-ground intel about the ever evolving situation in their respective communities and have identified areas of concern related to safety and security of their clients and staff and essential service provision. The Department is taking a coordinated approach, bringing in subject matter experts from across the Department as appropriate, to ensure real-time information exchange, problem solving, and sharing of best practices.
IRCC is currently negotiating the next round of contribution agreements with service provider organizations to deliver over $4B in funding over the next five fiscal years. Settlement (direct and indirect services) ranges from $743M in 2020-2021 to $809M in 2024-2025. Resettlement Assistance Program (including knowledge development projects) is funded for $27M per year. With a target date of March 31, 2020, IRCC has completed approximately 40% of agreements for approved projects.
IRCC officers are working diligently with service provider organizations using remote tools to ensure agreements are signed by March 31, 2020, to ensure continuity of services.
Approved by: Fraser Valentine, ADM SIS
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