IRCC Evaluation of Language Training Services

Of interest, particularly the differences between settlement service language training clients and non-clients, the greater effectiveness of employment-focussed language training and the overall impact of the socio-demographic profile of clients and non-clients:

This report presents the findings of the evaluation of Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC) Language Training Services. The evaluation was conducted to provide an in- depth assessment of this major program and considered issues of program effectiveness, covering the period from 2015 to 2018.

The Evaluation of the Settlement Program (2018) highlighted the need to further assess the different success factors and approaches to language learning. While language training is helping newcomers improve their language ability, progression was shown to vary by skill (i.e., reading, writing, listening and speaking), as well as client characteristics, which pointed to the need for a greater understanding of progression across skills. As such, the evaluation recommended an in- depth examination and thorough analysis to provide fulsome outcomes results and specific recommendations for improvements to the Department with the aim of improving language training effectiveness.

The language learning services have been evaluated, focusing on two key areas. The main focus was to better understand language skills improvement – what works for whom and under what conditions, with a view to determining the specific characteristics that influence language skills improvement. The secondary area of focus was to examine whether the language learning framework is adapted to address newcomers’ needs.

Summary of conclusions and recommendations

Based on the evidence analyzed, it was found that language learning services are designed to be flexible and effective in meeting the diverse needs of newcomers and to support their progression. The findings also show that language progression for newcomers is mostly positive, but there are differences between clients and non-clients with respect to likelihood of progression. While clients were seen to progress at the same pace as non-clients when assessed in the short term, using an objective measure, clients appeared to progress more than their non- client counterparts when assessed on a longer timeframe using a subjective measure. It was also found that some components of language training are associated with a greater likelihood of newcomers improving their language skills, such as full-time language training and multi-level classes, while others lowered chances of progression, such as continuous intake classes.

Furthermore, when assessing other settlement outcomes, the evidence indicated that:

  •   clients of general formal language training use official languages less frequently than non- clients, while formal language training focused on employment were using it significantly more than non-clients.
  •   clients of formal language training, and clients who took both formal and informal language training, are more likely to report an increase in the frequency of use of official languages.Although not a direct objective of language training, employability remains a primary concern for clients. The evaluation carefully analyzed this theme and assessed the impact of language training on various labour market outcomes. Clients of general language training used English or French at work less frequently and were less comfortable using official languages than non-clients, however taking language training focused on employment contributed to making these gaps smaller. Also, clients often had poorer labour market outcomes than non-clients on the short to medium term. The analysis showed that a large part of the difference in employment outcomes between clients and non-clients could be attributed to socio-demographic profiles of individuals (e.g., education, age, gender, year of admission). This suggests that taking language training is not necessarily a cause of poorer labour market outcomes, but rather that clients and non-clients may have different characteristics that explain their outcomes on the labour market. Furthermore, the evaluation found that employment outcomes of clients do not vary greatly based on how language training is delivered, language training focused on employment generally had a positive impact on employment outcomes, and taking language training during core hours was associated with less favourable results.

While the client progression and their labour market outcomes show mixed results, it should be noted that language learning services correspond to the diversity in clients’ need and IRCC- funded language learning services are designed in a manner to be conducive to language improvement for newcomers.

In response to the findings from the evaluation, this report has grouped the recommendations into two main themes. First, the evaluation proposes three recommendations around the topic of outcomes measurement. Second, the evaluation recommends improvements to the program to foster success. To this end, the evaluation proposes seven additional recommendations to further support clients, instructors and program stakeholders.


Les cours de francisation gagnent en popularité

May be some lessons for settlement services elsewhere in Canada in terms of which supports may be more effective:

La hausse de l’allocation hebdomadaire remise aux immigrants pour leur apprentissage de la langue a fait bondir la popularité des cours de francisation de 10 % au cours de la dernière année. C’est ce que constate le ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration dans son rapport annuel déposé mardi à l’Assemblée nationale.

Près de 31 000 personnes se sont inscrites au cours de français en 2018-2019 comparativement à un peu plus de 28 000 en 2017-2018, la plupart à temps complet. La hausse est plus marquée chez les femmes. Elles étaient près de 8500 à avoir suivi ces cours en 2018-2019, contre près de 7000 en 2017-2018. Une augmentation presque deux fois plus importante que celle des hommes.

L’allocation hebdomadaire remise aux immigrants inscrits aux cours avait été haussée de 25 $ par les libéraux et ainsi fixée à 140 $ en août 2017. Le nouveau gouvernement caquiste a fait de la francisation des immigrants l’une de ses priorités. Le ministre de l’Immigration, Simon Jolin-Barrette, a augmenté cette allocation à nouveau le 1er juillet 2019, à 185 $ par semaine. Il a également ajouté une allocation de transport et de frais de garde, en plus de donner accès à ces cours offerts par l’État à tous les immigrants vivant au Québec, y compris les travailleurs temporaires et les étudiants étrangers. Anticipant une plus forte demande, le ministre Jolin-Barrette avait également annoncé l’ajout de 300 nouvelles classes. Le coût de ces nouvelles mesures s’élève à 70,3 millions.

Si les inscriptions aux cours de francisation à temps plein offerts en territoire québécois ont augmenté, celles aux cours offerts en ligne ratent leur cible. Seulement 30 % des immigrants les ont suivis depuis l’étranger, alors que le ministère visait un objectif de 70 %. La baisse de participation à ces cours sur Internet est attribuable à la diminution du nombre de certificats de sélection du Québec délivrés aux personnes à l’étranger, selon le rapport annuel.

Source: Les cours de francisation gagnent en popularité

The New Collateral Damage in Trump’s War on Refugees

While true that settlement and refugee agencies and organizations will suffer, the main issue is the impact of refugees and asylum seekers:

When the Trump administration announced its intention to slash the number of refugees allowed to enter the United States to the lowest level in nearly four decades, the decision sparked worry among thousands of displaced persons who feared that the nation’s doors were now closed to them. But in addition to the record number of global refugees seeking safety from unrest in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, the admissions cap will likely also harm organizations designed to help the thousands of displaced people who do make it safely to the United States.

As the U.S. government slows the number of legal refugees who can enter the country to a trickle, the nine private voluntary agencies with cooperative agreements with the State Department to help settle those refugees must now contend with a potentially devastating budget crunch.

“It’ll have a tremendous impact on the number of people who are able to access these life-saving services,” Nazanin Ash, vice president of policy and advocacy at the International Rescue Committee, told The Daily Beast. “There’ve been over 150 office closures over the last two years, and that shutters a vital resource in many communities across the country.”

An estimated 25.4 million refugees have fled their homelands worldwide, according to the United Nations—the highest recorded number of displaced people in history. As of 2019, the U.S. will only allow an annual maximum of only 30,000 refugees to legally settle in the U.S., down from the previous record low of 45,000.

“This is heartbreaking for us,” said Melanie Nezer, the senior vice president of public affairs at HIAS, a non-profit that has helped settle refugees in the United States for nearly 140 years. “We have so many layers of uncertainty right now, it’s just unprecedented really… there’s no way that this decision makes us a stronger, more prosperous nation.”

Government grants, provided on a per capita basis tied to the number of refugees assisted, account for as much as 97 percent of the resettlement grants for these organizations. Lower resettlement admissions therefore mean fewer federal dollars—and program funding is now set to plummet as precipitously as the number of admitted refugees.

That loss in grant money threatens a funding shortfall that could endanger community-based resettlement offices nationwide, as well as programs intended to help those who have fled their homes to establish a life in the United States, from housing placement and food support to professional support, English classes and community integration.

“If we don’t have cases for case managers to manage, of course we’ll be reducing staff,” Eskinder Negash, CEO of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, told The Daily Beast. Negash, who served as director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement for six years under President Barack Obama, said that his organization’s main concern wasn’t its financial standing, but its ability to do its job on behalf of vulnerable refugees.

“Our commitment to refugee services and immigrants in this country goes back to 1911,” Negash said. “It’s not about preserving our institution—it’s about not being able to serve those people who need our services.”

When he announced the administration’s refugee policy for 2019 in a press conference on Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended the 30,000 refugee figure as “expansive,” and said it befitted the United States’ “longstanding record of the most generous nation in the world when it comes to protection-based immigration and assistance.”

Under the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, the president has the sole authority, following consultation with Congress, to determine the maximum number of refugees who can be resettled in the United States, called the Presidential Determination. Under President Donald Trump, the Presidential Determination was decreased from 110,000 in 2017 to 45,000 refugees in 2018, one-seventh of its peak. Even then, the cap is a limit, not a requirement—so far, only 20,918 refugees have actually been admitted to the United States this year.

By comparison, the average annual ceiling has been set at 96,229 refugees since the program’s creation in 1980.

The policy is in keeping with the Trump administration’s goal of discouraging both legal and illegal immigration into the United States, in part due to concerns that immigrants from certain parts of the world would fail to properly integrate into American society. In May, White House chief of staff John Kelly prompted criticism when he told NPR that undocumented immigrants are, by and large, “not people that would easily assimilate into the United States, into our modern society… they don’t integrate well; they don’t have skills.”

But slashing government grants tied to refugee admissions would only undermine the objective of quickly assimilating new residents into American society, advocates told The Daily Beast.

“If your goal is to help immigrants and refugees contribute as much as they can to America society, then you would fund these programs,” said Nezer. The motivation behind these reductions, Nezer inferred, isn’t integration. “The goal is to keep people from coming.”

Advocates dismissed the notion—held firmly by the president—that refugees are a cultural or financial burden on the country, pointing to the government’s own studies that have shown refugees to be singularly beneficial to the U.S. economy.

“The opportunities that they are provided here is received with gratefulness and ambition—you get a chance to restart and rebuild in safety and security—and refugees pay back that opportunity in spades,” said Ash. “The administration has characterized refugees as burdensome, when in fact the opposite is true.”

Refugees, Ash noted, have higher rates of employment than many other immigrant populations, their entrepreneurship rates are 40 percent higher—“so they’re job creators”—and are estimated by the Department of Health and Human Services to have contributed a net $63 billion to the U.S. economy over the past decade. (The Trump administration has rejected the validity of that study.)

“Over 80 percent of the refugees who participate in employment programs are self-sufficient in six months,” Ash said proudly. “Show me the evidence that refugees aren’t assimilating! Show me the evidence that they are not economic contributors!”

A decrease in the number of resettlement offices may even even reignite a family separation crisis, warned Nezia Munezero Kubwayo, a community relations officer with the Ethiopian Community Development Council.

“A reduction in numbers and funding could mean that long-awaited family reunifications will never happen,” Kubwayo told The Daily Beast. “Children who have been languishing in refugee camps waiting for an opportunity for a better future will be affected. Every number that is reduced from resettlement represents a person whose hope is taken away.”

Nezer cautioned that the grant reduction won’t just negatively affect the refugees they’re intended to serve, but may foster a sense of isolation and complacency among native-born Americans.

“Fewer resettlement offices means fewer opportunities for people to volunteer and work with refugees,” Nezer explained. “If fewer refugees come, and fewer Americans get to engage directly with refugees, that kind of starts a cycle where there’s less direct connection” with refugee populations.

“As fewer comes and fewer Americans get to have that relationship, then there’s less support for letting refugees in at all.”

Criticism of the lowered refugee admission cap hasn’t just come from refugee resettlement organizations and advocacy groups. In a blistering statement released Tuesday evening, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) lambasted—his words—the Trump administration’s decision to announce the admissions cuts without consulting Congress, as is legally required.

“It is imperative the agencies abide by their statutory mandate to consult with Congress before any number is proposed,” Grassley said. “Yet, for the second year in a row, the administration has willfully ignored its statutory mandate to inform and consult with Congress.”

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, echoed Grassley’s condemnation on Thursday. “The law is clear: the administration must consult with Congress prior to the president’s determination of the annual refugee ceiling,” Goodlatte, a staunch Trump ally on most issues but is retiring after the midterm elections, told reporters. “But this did not happen this year, and the Trump administration has no excuse for not complying with their obligation.”

Grassley, who on issues ranging from the legitimacy of the Russia investigation to the president’s frustration with Attorney General Jeff Sessions has normally been a staunch Trump ally, has criticized the Trump administration for its rogue determination of refugee admission levels before. In 2017, Grassley joined Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the Senate Judiciary Committee’s ranking Democrat, in declaring that the committee’s leadership was “incredibly frustrated” with Trump’s refusal to consult with Congress when White House announced that it would slash refugee admission numbers by more than half.

This time, Grassley’s condemnation came with an implied threat. Noting that presidential determinations can’t be issued without in-person consultation with Congress by a member of the Cabinet, Grassley let slip that the draconian cuts to refugee admissions might now face opposition from an unconsulted Republican-held Congress.

“It is clear by the administration’s action that Congress should take action to ensure the required discussions occur in the future,” Grassley said.

Grassley’s frustrations have rare backing on the Democratic side of the Senate Judiciary Committee, as well.

“This is one of the few areas—consultation with Congress—where there is some bipartisan agreement about the fact that the White House is abandoning past practice of genuinely consulting with Congress on refugee caps,” David Carle, a spokesperson for Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), told The Daily Beast.

Grassley’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment as to what that “action” might look like, but Mary Giovagnoli, the executive director of Refugee Council USA, said that there are many options available if Congress is willing to take on the president.

“Congress can push right now for the President to increase the cap—since the president hasn’t actually signed this year’s Presidential Determination or held the annual consultations as required by law,” Giovagnoli told The Daily Beast. “We need to hold the administration accountable for its failure to meet this year’s cap, its policy reasons for further cutting the admissions goal this year, as well as ensuring that the number, whatever it ultimately is, is actually met.”

Historically, Giovagnoli said, Congress has given the president significant flexibility to set a refugee admission figure that reflected worldwide needs and foreign policy considerations. But when the president refuses to use that authority responsibly, Giovagnoli said, “it makes sense for Congress to revisit the process.”

In the meantime, refugee resettlement organizations are focusing on their mission, at a time when there are more refugees and internally displaced persons than ever before.

“The real issue is that refugees—single moms, children—will not be able to come to this country,” Negash said. “It’s the people that matter—not the finances.”

Source: The New Collateral Damage in Trump’s War on Refugees

Tories worried about base finding out how much they spend helping immigrants – The Globe and Mail

Interesting but not surprising, suggesting that some of the Conservative embrace of immigration and new Canadians may not be fully shared within the party.

But settlement funding, after an initial increase by the Government, has been trimmed and reallocated to reflect more recent immigration trends (i.e., more to the West, less to Ontario), along with efforts to improve the effectiveness of language training (still the bulk of settlement services I think).

Moreover, there have always been questions regarding the proportion of funding given to Quebec in relation to the number of immigrants choosing Quebec:

A briefing note for a Conservative MP suggests the government is worried about how spending on immigration programs is going over with its base.

The House of Commons immigration committee is currently studying how government-funded settlement services can better help the economic integration of immigrants.

A note which appears to have been prepared for Costas Menegakis, the parliamentary secretary for immigration, says the party’s base will learn as a result that the government spends close to $1-billion a year on those efforts.

The note says the other risk of undertaking such a study is that the government’s relationship with Quebec may surface as an issue.

And while the study only began last month and the committee has only just started hearing from witnesses, the briefing note also lays out five recommendations for its the eventual report.

A copy of the note was obtained by The Canadian Press.

Menegakis’ office declined to comment specifically on the note’s contents.

“Committee members are masters of their own proceedings,” said an emailed statement. “As always, we look forward to hearing testimony from all witnesses.”

Liberal MP John McCallum, who sits on the committee, called it “chilling” to see the reference to the party’s base in the document.

“It’s as if they are concerned their own supporters would be aghast at the idea of spending money to help settle immigrants,” McCallum said in an interview.

“It’s good not only for the immigrants, it’s good for the country if the newcomers settle quickly and work and not be receiving welfare and become productive Canadians.”

The Conservatives credit much of their electoral success in recent years to the inroads the party has made among new Canadians. They’ve also massively overhauled the immigration system which they’ve said is partially motivated by concerns raised from within the newcomer community.

Tories worried about base finding out how much they spend helping immigrants – The Globe and Mail.

Imagining the Settlement Agency of the Future

Interesting piece in New Canadian Media by Meyer Burnstein and Carl Nicholson on future models for settlement agencies:

Six potential business areas have been identified for the pilot studies. These include:

  1. Concierge service for employers, helping them to navigate the Express Entry system for processing skilled immigrants;

  2. Pre-arrival services for prospective immigrants helping them to facilitate their labour market insertion and settlement in Canada.

  3. Services aimed at public and private institutions implicated in refugee resettlement but lacking specialized knowledge, and assistance to private sponsorship groups to help with organization, fund raising and preparation;

  4. Support for immigrant entrepreneurs and agencies interested in economic development as well as succession planning for SME’s in smaller centres and remote areas;

  5. Services for international students and educational institutions to boost recruitment and student retention, especially in smaller centres;

  6. Services directed to businesses that recruit highly skilled temporary workers.

Imagining the Agency of the Future – New Canadian Media – NCM.

Literacy Class Visited by Manitoba Minister of Multiculturalism and Literacy

Practical illustration of settlement services and general literacy training in Manitoba:

[Minister of Multiculturalism and Literacy, Flor] Marcelino continues to be inspired by all the success stories that come out of the English and Literacy classes.

“We have 85 or so robust, working, active learning and literacy centres that are truly, truly helping the communities where ever they are. They have transformed so many people’s lives and have opened many doors and offered people many opportunities. And for that were very thankful to all the teachers and administrators and also the students who believe in themselves and in pursuing goals for themselves and their families – and the results are encouraging, amazing and inspiring!”

Marcelino will finish visiting the centres in the Pembina Valley and the South Eastman, then the Winnipeg area in December or January. She promises to work hard in obtaining more support for literacy and learning centres during her term.

Executive Director of South Eastman English and Literacy Services, Jireh Saladaga-Medina, says this non-profit, charitable organization provides free classes for Canadian citizens and landed immigrant adults improve their English speaking, listening, reading and writing skills, as well as free literacy classes for those who want to upgrade their reading, writing, math and basic computer skills. Free child care is provided. To contact Jireh at South Eastman English and Literacy Services, call 204-326-4225.

Eastman Immigrant Services helps newcomers to settle in Manitoba. Services include: reception and orientation, employment counselling and special events. For more information on settlement services phone 204-346-6609.

Literacy Class Visited by Minister of Multiculturalism and Literacy – Local News – Local News –

After 40 years, Immigrant Settlement Program needs an overhaul – The Globe and Mail

Robert Vineberg, formerly Director General of Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s Prairies and Northern Territories Region, on the need to reform and update settlement services (which are primarily language training). One point that he doesn’t make is the need for better information on how effective some of these programs are. If I recall correctly, former Minister for CIC Kenney was frustrated by the lack of performance information and testing results on language training, a valid concern.

And Vineberg’s wish to essentially broaden settlement services to all and sundry has to be balanced by the need to focus on the groups that need it most, given fiscal realities. And while I can see the merit to provide services to refugees and some temporary foreign workers transitioning to permanent residency, I fail to see the need to provide these services to those graduates of Canadian universities. Surely their Canadian experience and language skills surpass anything settlement could offer?

In updating the Immigrant Settlement Program, the federal government should provide services to those in transition to immigrant status, as well as to those who have become Canadian citizens if they are still in need. It must also develop a new funding model that recognizes the ongoing nature of Canada’s Immigrant Settlement Program instead of treating it as something that could end tomorrow.

After 40 years, Immigrant Settlement Program needs an overhaul – The Globe and Mail.