Blog Post

2022 IRCC SDI funded projects - Leveraging Technologies to Support Remote Service Delivery

By: Marco Campana
May 26, 2022

IRCC recently funded a number of projects under their Service Delivery Improvements (SDI) funding which "is a dedicated stream within the Settlement Program that invests strategically in projects that offer insights on program design and sector improvements in order to build evidence to support future settlement programming."

Here's a list of projects they funded in 2017, the first round.

While the recent projects appear to have all started or been funded, we're still waiting for a list of projects. Why is it useful to have that list? For the sector to know what's been funded. For projects to connect with each other particularly when there are similar goals. Simply because it's public funding and we should know.

That last point took me to the Government of Canada's Proactive Disclosure site, where you can find information about what each department has funded, grants, contribution agreements, etc. Is it as useful as, say, having the funding stream identified and then projects listed? Nah. You can search by department and year and a few other less than useful filters, but that's about it. The upside is that these SDI projects were funded in 2021 and 2022, not a large funding year for IRCC, so we can sift through and guess what might be an SDI project based on project titles (oh yeah, that's all you get, titles and orgs, none of the actual project descriptions).

So, that's what I did.

I found 34 interesting looking projects I think were funded under SDI. You can use the link above to guess about projects funded through SDI's two other funding priorities (Testing Increased Employer Involvement in Settlement Services to Improve Employment Outcomes, and Supporting Settlement Sector Resilience and Adaptability through Social Research & Development, Building Evidence and Enhancing Anti-Racism Capacity).

Below is a spreadsheet with projects I think are part of the Leveraging Technologies to Support Remote Service Delivery funding priority. I've copied the text from the IRCC SDI site below the spreadsheet so you can get info about what they intended to fund and not fund, in case you're not familiar with the SDI fund.

I don't imagine the spreadsheet is perfect. Most of the project titles are clearly tech related. Some are in the ball park. I've included all the titles that sounded to me like they might be tech related. I'm sure I got some wrong.

The spreadsheet has 4 columns - organization funded, project title (with link if available), project description, amount funded, and a link to the Proactive Disclosure entry for more info. The spreadsheet will be a living document. If you have something to add (especially links and descriptions), let me know in the comments below or through this contact form.

From the IRCC site:

Customized Service (Funding Priority) 1: Leveraging Technologies to Support Remote Service Delivery

In response to the emergence of COVID-19, the settlement sector has had to rapidly adjust the delivery of most in‑person services under IRCC’s Settlement Program to remote service delivery modes, such as on-line and telephone-based services, or through a hybrid approach that combines some in-person with some remote services. Many service provider organizations (SPOs) have been able to pivot quickly to provide services to newcomers remotely. This experience has underscored the value and necessity of SPOs being well-positioned to support newcomers through technology.

There is a need for a clear understanding of which technologies, under which circumstances, and for whom, can effectively deliver settlement services. COVID-19 has also highlighted several challenges related to technology-based service delivery. These include addressing accessibility and digital literacy for vulnerable groups, as well as other issues such as security and privacy-related considerations.

This priority will encourage the building of user-centredFootnote 2 evidence and testing of the use of technologies and other program adaptations to make settlement services more readily delivered online, by phone, or in a hybrid online/in-person format. Through this funding, it is anticipated that recipients will explore existing technologies to determine how we can improve the effective and efficient delivery of settlement services, while also identifying and addressing barriers to equitable access.

Evidence produced through this funding stream will enable the settlement sector and IRCC to move towards proactive implementation of technology-supported service delivery in the medium-term, centred on the newcomer experience and strengthening positive outcomes. A more informed and tailored Settlement Program that uses remote service delivery to most effectively respond to newcomer circumstances could potentially serve more newcomers, while ensuring their successful settlement and integration during the COVID-19 recovery period.

The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated underlying social inequities, including those experienced by newcomers, particularly those with intersectional factors of race, gender and sexuality. Projects under this priority should take into consideration the inequities of technology access and use for newcomers.

This priority is not intended to fund the development of new applications, software or to support the purchase of hardware such as servers, computers or mobile devices.

Examples of project focus

  • Build evidence on the types of newcomers that face the most barriers to accessing remote services, their characteristics (immigration category, age, gender, CLB level etc.) and the services they can’t access and why.
  • Assess which program components and/or settlement services are better delivered remotely, through phone, apps, digital platforms, software solutions and artificial intelligence etc., or through a combination of in-person and remote components, and for which newcomer groups such as:
    • Francophones
    • Those living in rural, northern or remote communities
    • Seniors/women/youth
    • Visible minorities
    • Persons with disabilities
  • Build evidence on remote service options that best support newcomers with significant accessibility issues (such as a disability that impairs access to regular services, low literacy or low digital literacy skills, or lack of official language knowledge) or face steep learning curves to utilize remote service methods.
  • Explore whether offering services remotely (online or by phone) can result in an increased uptake of certain services and if so, which services for which newcomers.
  • Build evidence related to how different technologies can support the settlement and retention of Francophone newcomers in Francophone communities.
  • Study the circumstances of newcomers with high human capital (e.g. Economic Principal Applicants, high level of education, high official language knowledge, work experience in Canada etc.) to determine if they can be supported better through remotely delivered services.
  • Examine the cost implications of remote delivery and whether cost savings can be gained by SPOs in the medium to long-term.
  • Develop professional development tools in digital literacy for settlement sector employees to allow them to use technology more effectively to support improved newcomer outcomes.

Examples of ineligible projects

  • Development of new web-based services or digital applications;
  • Development of information technology infrastructure such as servers;
  • Purchase of technology devices for the direct use of newcomers (i.e., smartphones, tablets).

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