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The countdown begins: decoding IRCC's national Call for Proposals and its implications for sector digital transformation

The next IRCC national call for proposals is coming. It might be later this year. It might be next year. Funding could roll out as soon as 2024. It might be in 2025. I'm starting to hear rumblings of sector consultations. This call for proposals is crucial. It will indicate how serious IRCC is about sector digital transformation and hybrid services.

It will also indicate how much they've listened to the sector. Given recent trends, I'm not particularly optimistic. But I'm quite happy to be wrong.

In 2022 the sector gave IRCC a roadmap leading up to this national call: The Future is Now: Strengthening High-Quality, Inclusive and Innovative Hybrid Service Delivery. As we wrote: "While each of the reports consulted focuses on different perspectives and priorities, the recommendations ultimately complement one another and collectively pave the way to a comprehensive sector-wide roadmap. This complementarity signals a shared readiness for and commitment to digital transformation across the sector. What is urgent now is to build on this momentum and take concrete action towards making this strategy a reality as the sector leads up to IRCC’s 2024 Settlement and Resettlement Assistance Programs Call for Proposals. The time to invest strategically and to catalyze this change is now."

That sense of urgency does not seem to have been taken up by IRCC. I've written about this in a few posts, so won't rehash all that here. Read them if they're of interest:

So what we can we learn from past consultations?

Learning from past consultations

So, I don't know what's happening now. Or what is planned.

But we can look back at the previous national call for proposals to see what that consultation looked like.

This report from IRCC is useful: Summary Report: Consultations on Priorities for the Settlement Program and Resettlement Assistance Program 2019 National Call for Proposals.

Context:

"Consultations were held over the summer and fall of 2018 on the priorities for the Settlement Program and Resettlement Assistance Program 2019 National Call for Proposals. The objectives of these consultations were to:

  • Collect insight and obtain input from participants on recommended priorities for the National Call for Proposals for the Settlement and Resettlement Assistance Programs.
  • Build a shared vision for the settlement and integration of newcomers that could then be realized through the Settlement Program and its priorities.

The approach was designed to ensure representation from a large range and number of stakeholders."

The report is useful. But, kind of ironically, lacks details. And by details, I mean the findings of each local and regional consultation. 97.3% of consultation survey respondents agreed that "Knowledge sharing among all actors involved in settlement (e.g., exchanging best practices, evaluation results) would enable better, more innovative programming."

But there isn't significant knowledge sharing in this report. And that seems important. Because regional nuances are very important to capture and share. As the report indicates "there were 43 regional roundtables/summits held across Canada from August to October 2018. These were organized and hosted by umbrella organizations, with the exception of in Ontario, where they were hosted by Local Immigration Partnerships (LIPs) with validation by the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI)."

In that spirit, I offer you the Ontario reports, which represent more than half of these events. Here's what happened in Ontario:

Ontario:

  • 21 LIP-organized consultations
  • 1 employer’s table organized by TRIEC
  • 2 RIF-organized consultations
  • 5 weeks: Sept 25 to Oct 31 2018
  • 1172 stakeholders invited
  • 835 attendees from 648 organizations

Toronto:

4 LIP-organized consultations

  • 1 employer’s table organized by TRIEC
  • 1 RIF-organized consultation covering Central Southwestern Ontario
  • 3 weeks: Oct 3 to Oct 19 2018
  • 179 stakeholders invited
  • 147 attendees from 136 organizations

My big suggestion here is, if you're invited to one of these consultations, ATTEND!

Summaries of the Ontario finding were shared to OCASI member EDs and to the Settlement Network Newcomer Leadership Table (see below), but were they ever shared broadly with the sector? You may be able to find some reports on some LIP websites, but likely not all.

So, in the spirit of knowledge sharing to enable better, more innovative programming, I offer you a repository of 2019 consultation reports from across Ontario. Someone should analyze these to see what and how these consultations were incorporated into sector programming, planning, and outcomes in the past 4 years. That would be an interesting research project...

My big question to you is, what are you hearing about consultations this time around?

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2 comments on “The countdown begins: decoding IRCC's national Call for Proposals and its implications for sector digital transformation”

  1. I wonder if IRCC will share their definition of “client-centred” and if we can get some shared foundations for what we are supporting when it comes to digitalization in LINC. We have some questions coming forward in the PNT region, and they revolve around when/how a client should be able to choose modalities (is being able to choose online class because of “convenience” doing them or teachers any good if they lack digital literacy or are not able to handle online learning?) and our dwindling provincial capacity of trained and effective blended/online/hyflex/hybrid LINC teachers. We also continue to see a great need to build in more digital support roles (n.b. Stage 2 also needs supports; not just Stage 1 learners) and be allowed more flexibility with our capital budget lines (i.e. allow moving over slippage for more hardware as needs fluctuate). We also need to update the CLB document for more digital-friendly language/tasks/skills, and allocate some more resources into the Avenue.ca/ New Language Solutions team for better Moodle capabilities. The last CFP helped clean some programs up and I welcome another CFP that hopefully takes quality over quantity even more.

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and questions Mel. The definition IRCC offers for client-centred is: "Programming that is tailored to meet specific clients’ profiles. This includes ensuring Francophone services for those who want to live and work in French, and a focus on clients who are vulnerable, marginalized or face barriers."

      I think it's up to the sector to add to, change, and improve that definition. IRCC's "CORE Principles" are still in effect, as far as I can tell from recent funding calls (https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/partners-service-providers/funding/rap-gov-assisted-vulnerable-newcomers-funding-guidelines.html#A).

      I think your concerns about modality choice is incredibly important. Building on what you wrote and IRCC's previous statements that seem to prefer online to in-person service delivery, what responsibility does IRCC have to ensure that Newcomers have adequate digital literacy (including devices and bandwidth) to be able to access or move between in-person and online service delivery? And what supports, like what New Language Solutions provides to the language side of the sector, are necessary for the entire sector?

      There are many things we don't know enough about yet. Thank you for opening and building the needed conversation. I just hope IRCC will be listening!

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