Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization (OCISO). January 2019.
The settlement services sector in Canada has over recent years, become one of the busiest human service providers due to the waves of refugees and immigrants making Canada their new home. The Government of Canada lists 1220 agencies offering various types of Newcomer Services in all regions of the country. These organizations range in size considerably and in the array of programs they offer. The commonality for them is their non-profit status and associated dependency on federal, provincial, sponsorship and donation funding. While front line workers and organizations respond admirably to the increase volume, new challenges are being heard from their clientele.
The sector’s digital capacity lags behind newcomer’s capacity as almost everyone has a cell phone today which allows all of us to interact and maintain contact with family and friends all over the world through free online applications like Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook and others. Upon arrival in Canada, the expectation of many newcomers is that access to settlement workers ought to be available in a similar manner, begging the question: Why not? The challenges relate to a number of factors:
Through exploring how an online service delivery model could be rolled out across the newcomer settlement services sector, a number of challenges were identified from which we can learn. Key hurdles included:
That said, there was strong interest expressed by agencies in adding the option of online service delivery to meet their client's needs, indicating the sector is ready to make the move to improved digital services. By addressing and implementing best practices, the result will be a strengthened Canadian infrastructure to support newcomer settlement and integration.
The aim of this research initiative is to explore online client intake and service models of Canadian human service organizations to distil best practices to share across the sector.
Through the analysis of all data gathered in this project, the following conclusions can be drawn: