Most immigrants know about settlement services but still do not know how to access these services.
Many do not know how to benefit from Canada’s government-funded settlement services. Though we know that these service have so far been proven to help the majority of the newcomers.
Immigrants can access settlement services by both Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and the Ministry of Immigration, Francisation and Integration (MIFI) for Quebec-bound newcomers, even before arrival.
Almost all who received services said they were useful, and the majority at least somewhat agreed that these services helped them on their journey to settle in Canada. You could check IRCC’s first ever Settlement Outcomes Report.
Pre-arrival services are not going to benefit someone who has already landed in Canada, for example. About 70 per cent of people surveyed who did not receive settlement services said they did not know about them, and among the ones who did, about a quarter said they did not know how to use them.
About 23 per cent of newcomers used them in their first year, and most got the help they needed. On the other hand, the majority of people who reported no difficulty accessing services were connected by federally-funded referral services.
Settlement services before coming to Canada
IRCC lists free newcomer services on their website. These pre-arrival services are for approved permanent residents outside of Canada, and not people who are coming temporarily. There are settlement services funded by multiple levels of government that can help you even before you arrive in Canada.
In-person services are offered in China, India and the Philippines, although most have reportedly moved online due to the pandemic. On the federal level, IRCC offers services to help you prepare to live in Canada. These services help you get information about life in Canada, such as healthcare, housing, and transportation. They can also refer you to more specific community services, depending on your needs.
IRCC also has a list of services to help you prepare to work in Canada. These resources can help you get a job in Canada, write a resume, get your credentials recognized. There are also some industry-specific resources for those working in architecture, engineering, trades, finance, tech, construction, nursing and others.
The federal webpage also lists the links to province-specific settlement services.
Help for finding Settlement services
IRCC website offers tools to help locate services that will address specific needs of newcomers. Quebec settlement services are not listed in this, as the province has its own immigration system, and resources such as a settlement service search tool in French. However, it does offer a province-specific page that lists settlement resources for future Quebeckers.
Categories of settlement services
Support services refer to translation, child care, and transportation, and others. They are extremely important to those who face barriers to access IRCC Settlement Programs. Without them some people would not be able to take advantage of settlement services.
Information services provide information to help IRCC clients settle in Canada. Although most settlement service clients report getting information from their friends, the second biggest sources of information are settlement service providers. Among non-clients, the Internet was the biggest source of information, yet it was the least-used source for clients.
Needs assessments help immigrants identify what services they need to support their settlement journey and how to get them. Only about 23 per cent of clients use them, but IRCC’s report said if more immigrants used them it would help them get better connected to services. Also, it would provide IRCC with a greater understanding of newcomers needs, the report said.
Language training help immigrants develop language skills. IRCC puts the biggest portion of its budget into language training. It is a crucial area to immigrants’ success in Canada. Not only does it help immigrants get jobs, and connect with locals, but in order to be eligible for citizenship you need to have at least a basic fluent level of English or French.
Employment services help immigrants prepare for working in Canada. Some of the long-term and short-term services include work placements, mentorship, licensure and certification preparation, networking opportunities, job search skills and matching services, as well as employment counselling. About 78 per cent of users said these services helped them prepare for the Canadian labour market, although employment services had the lowest uptake rate of any settlement service among clients.
Community services help immigrants meet friends and get involved in local activities. After employment services, community services was the second-least used of all programs. About 60 per cent of those who did use them, reported meeting their close friends through community organizations. Both clients and non-clients of IRCC settlement services reported nearly equal participation rates in community activities. Most engaged in religious activities, followed by school or civic, cultural, and finally sports and recreations.