Blog Post

Digital Supports in the 2024 IRCC CFP - what you should be looking for

By: Marco Campana
December 12, 2023

IRCC appears to be funding two basic digital supports that you need to apply for in your proposal - Digital Navigators and Device Lending. I'm going to outline why these are going to be crucial for you to ask for and operationalize. And where in the CFP documentation IRCC outlines what you can ask for.

What to ask for

Digital Navigators

If you’re going to run digital skills support sessions for your clients, you’ll need staff. The best model for this type of staffing is a Digital Navigator. You might need a full-time position (or even more than one) or part-time. Part-time might mean part-time, or it might mean part of someone’s job in your organization. 

During the pandemic, this position revealed itself as incredibly important and useful, in both Settlement and Language-learning contexts. 

Here are some useful, articles, reports, interviews, and resources related to what a Digital Navigator can look like in the Settlement context. Resources include exploring the Digital Navigator model that has its home in the digital inclusion community in the United States, how some Settlement organizations have brought this role into their work, and additional research and evidence showing the positive impact of Digital Navigators on communities.

And here are some sector-specific Digital Navigator job postings to help you start to think about and craft a description of the position you need to apply for with your IRCC proposal, and in your future job postings.

Look closely at IRCC's language below. They outline very narrowly what the role of digital skills support sessions are: "Digital supports for eligible clients who need assistance in accessing any IRCC-funded settlement services being delivered remotely."

IRCC makes the distinction between this narrow focus and a broader focus that Digital Navigators might provide support on - digital literacy. IRCC won't fund broader digital literacy supports: "Costs associated with digital literacy activities are not an eligible support service under digital supports. Digital literacy is its own distinct term, pertaining to the ability to use technology or the internet in the most appropriate way for personal or professional purposes."

As an aside, this "definition" of digital literacy is an IRCC invention that doesn't exist anywhere else where digital literacy is discussed (not even in the government of Canada's own definitions - scroll down to What is considered fundamental digital literacy training?). IRCC is trying really hard here to not fund something they've actually already funded previously, and which all evidence indicates is needed.

As you will see in the articles, reports, etc., linked to above, a Digital Navigator role can and is generally much broader than what IRCC outlines in terms of narrowly-focused digital support services. But it is the role you're looking for. And it has been implemented in this narrower way in our sector already.

So tread lightly in your proposal.

Device Lending

Numerous SPOs implemented device lending libraries during the pandemic. We’ve never really seen an exploration or sharing of these models or lessons learned shared in a meaningful way. However, a U.S.-based organization shared their Digital Device Lending Library program, guidelines, staff and client documents. You can find that here: Replicate a successful Digital Device Lending Library Program

During the pandemic, like many orgs, 2Life Communities built an accessible, community-supported, user-friendly Digital Device Lending Library (DDLL) for low-income elders who have little to no experience with technology. They created a replicable model for effectively connecting linguistically diverse, low-income older adults to services, programs, and each other through technology.

The library of DDLL documents contains two sections:

  1. Infrastructure Guidelines that support your ability to replicate the technology infrastructure for a DDLL
  2. Instruction Guidelines that support your ability to replicate the instructional component of the DDLL

In their PDF they provide all the links you need to created your DDLL, including how to customize their DDLL Model to Your Specific Needs. It is a replicable model you can use with Newcomers.

Your Digital Navigator may be the one who manages your DDLL, so factor that into any position asks in the CFP and job posting descriptions.

From the IRCC CFP

Here's where you'll find the details you need about each of these supports.

From the Support Services document

“7. New for CFP 2024: Digital Supports

Digital supports for eligible clients who need assistance in accessing any IRCC-funded settlement services being delivered remotely. Digital supports can take on two forms:

  • Digital skills supports: sessions/assistance for eligible clients who have demonstrated a need for help navigating online/digital technologies in order to access IRCC-funded settlement services; and
  • The provision of digital devices: in the form of an IRCC-funded loan of laptops, tablets and cell phones, to eligible clients who do not have their own device, do not have access to a device through other means (e.g., a school or library), and who require one to be able to access an IRCC-funded digital settlement service.

Note: Digital literacy is its own distinct term, pertaining to the ability to use technology or the internet in the most appropriate way for personal or professional purposes (e.g. knowing appropriate use of social media). Digital literacy activities are not an eligible support service under digital supports. Recipients should work with organizations funded under other Government of Canada programs that support digital literacy to respond to broader client needs.

Digital devices are loaned when needed and are only for the duration that clients are accessing specific direct settlement services, not for the duration that the individual continues to be a client of the service provider organization (SPO). The SPO should have a tracking policy in place for loaned digital devices.

Support services are also provided to facilitate access to Resettlement Assistance Program services as part of the Immediate and Essential Services delivered by resettlement service providers. Support services under the Resettlement Assistance Program are to be funded separately through a resettlement proposal. Learn more about the Resettlement Assistance Program and associated support services.”

From the Budget Guidance document

“Digital Supports

  • Digital supports is a new support service for eligible clients who need assistance in accessing any IRCC-funded settlement services being delivered remotely, including:
    • The provision of digital devices in the form of an IRCC-funded loan of laptops, tablets and cell phones, to eligible clients who do not have their own device, do not have access to a device through other means (e.g., a school or library), and who require one to be able to access an IRCC-funded digital settlement services;
    • Digital skills supports, for example sessions/assistance for eligible clients to help them navigate online/digital technologies in order to access IRCC-funded settlement services; and
    • Salary, wages and benefits associated with digital training sessions. These costs should be listed under the Program Delivery cost category, under Salary, Wages and Benefits, when provided by applicant employees. When these services are provided by a third party, they should be listed under the line item Professional and Consultant fees.

Note: The provision of digital devices costing more than the equivalent of $1,000 (CAD) as part of digital supports activities should be captured under the Capital cost category. Multiple items purchased in bulk exceeding $1,000 are considered capital, even if individual units cost less than $1,000. Refer to the Capital cost category for additional information.

Ineligible Costs

  • Costs associated with digital literacy activities are not an eligible support service under digital supports. Digital literacy is its own distinct term, pertaining to the ability to use technology or the internet in the most appropriate way for personal or professional purposes.”

UPDATE: IRCC provided additional information in their CFP FAQ section, which you may missed since it's not in the main application:

"Are digital literacy workshops still eligible under other streams such as Information and Orientation or Employment-related Services?

For CFP 2024, digital literacy is defined as the ability to use technology or the internet in the most appropriate way for personal or professional purposes (e.g. using social media).

Information and Orientation (I&O) services provide clients with settlement-related information through products such as fact sheets, brochures, the website or through services like orientation sessions. The "information" portion refers to sharing information on topics relevant to a newcomer’s journey. The "orientation" portion includes providing information and raising awareness about topics relevant to a newcomer’s journey.

Under these definitions, I&O doesn’t provide clients with training to achieve a specific goal unrelated to settlement. As such, digital literacy workshops/training as a standalone topic are not eligible under I&O.

However, activities such as sharing general information on how to safely access and navigate the online environment to support the newcomer journey (e.g. banking, transportation, job-seeking, etc.) falls under “sharing/providing information” and would therefore be eligible.

Under Employment-relates Services (ErS), digital literacy may be a funded activity if it’s proposed as part of a settlement service that aims to help newcomers develop the skills and knowledge necessary to prepare for the Canadian labour market and connect with employers. Employment-related services support non-technical, non-academic skills training based on the Skills for Success framework, including Digital Literacy.

IRCC defines digital supports as activities assisting eligible clients in accessing IRCC-funded settlement services being delivered remotely. If you’re interested in offering digital supports, make sure you review the Digital Supports activity under Support Services."

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