The National Steering Committee on Technology (NCST), a committee aimed at using technology to better the Canadian settlement sector through the provision of improved services to newcomers. The committee includes 18 general members and 5 observing members representing settlement and integration sector service providers, stakeholders, and federal, provincial-territorial government.
The Future is Now: Strengthening High-Quality, Inclusive and Innovative Hybrid Service Delivery report uses recommendations highlighted during the past two years to lay the groundwork for the NSCT’s strategic plan. The report’s key recommendations identify the committee’s four goals and their priorities.
The four goals outlined were as follows:
The key conclusion of this report was that organizations and investors in the sector should work together to reimagine how services are designed and delivered in order to increase sector efficiency, capacity, flexibility and service delivery. This would be done through the committee’s recommendation of using hybrid aspects to improve these services.
"Over the last two years, a significant amount of learning and innovation has occurred in Canada’s settlement sector. The pandemic has amplified the role settlement organizations play in enabling newcomers to actively participate in all areas of social, economic, and political life. The sector has increasingly learned, developed, and integrated technologies into service delivery. Moreover, there is an increased recognition of the complementary role newcomers and grassroots groups play in creating novel solutions that contribute to community resilience.
Yet critical gaps remain in moving towards a deliberate and sector-wide hybrid service strategy. These include lack of strategic planning, targeted investment, consistent attention, and dedicated resources to advance innovation and digital transformation. These gaps are further exacerbated by restrictive funding models that often discourage innovation.
In the last two years, a series of key reports by the Settlement Sector and Technology Task Group, Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies (AMSSA), Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), PeaceGeeks and the Association of Canadian Studies (see Appendix A), have helped to reimagine what a revitalized and digitally-enabled settlement model could look like. These reports make it clear that addressing these issues requires putting newcomers at the centre of service delivery and adopting the right strategy, skills, culture, and technology at pace and at scale.
It is not about making incremental improvements that make existing processes marginally better. Instead, it demands that organizations, together with funders and other stakeholders, step into unfamiliar and sometimes uncomfortable conversations, and completely reimagine how services are designed and delivered. To help the sector get there, our goal is to present sector stakeholders with the most salient considerations for hybrid service delivery.
The sector is now at an inflection point. Canada is considered a global leader today in welcoming and including newcomers into Canadian society. Canada now has an opportunity to also become a global leader in leveraging technology and innovation to streamline the newcomer settlement experience and strengthen inclusion. Without the right investment, this work risks failing to deliver the efficiencies, improved service delivery, and experiences that are possible.
Our consolidated recommendations set an ambitious vision where every newcomer is supported throughout their settlement journey with equitable, inclusive, and high-quality hybrid service delivery. The roadmap will help key settlement sector stakeholders take targeted actions to shape the future of the sector in Canada. It will further outline the guidance and resources needed to move this strategy forward.
Getting there requires a lot of work. To effectively achieve its mandate, the newly formed National Steering Committee on Technology requires dedicated, flexible and sustainable financial support in the form of a permanent Secretariat that can help the sector to advocate for and advance key priorities.
This report begins by outlining key gaps and learnings from the reports listed in Appendix A. Aligning with IRCC’s strategic vision, we then provide in-depth explorations of key findings in four major areas: Strengthening the Hybrid Service Environment, Enabling Innovation, Mobilizing Knowledge, and Ensuring High-Quality and Inclusive Settlement Services. We conclude by summarizing the main recommendations into what can become the foundation for a sector-wide strategy and action plan.
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."
You can download the PDF of report as well as access the key sections/recommendations in a series of posts. Each post pulls key recommendation sections from the report to make them more accessible. In each key post, I provide an introduction, along with each sub-recommendation narrative and specific recommendations relevant to the sub-recommendation.