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Transforming settlement and integration services during a pandemic (2024)

Posted on:
April 19, 2024

Settlement services are key to Canada's success in welcoming and integrating immigrants. Offered mainly in person prior to COVID-19 by non-governmental agencies reliant on and regulated by government funders, services were forced online and delivered by staff working remotely. The authors document this transition between September 2020 and September 2021 in Ontario, Canada and the conditions that influenced it.

Surveys completed by workers and managers at member agencies of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants reveal how agencies provided services and stabilized organizational resources and capacities. Their success is evident in staff satisfaction with management's responses to the pandemic.

While findings underscore the resilience of the agencies and their workforce, they also challenge many tenets of New Public Management. The survey and discussions with managers suggest that sustained and flexible funding, rapid and respectful communication between agencies and funders and collaborations with other agencies were key to overcoming pandemic challenges.

Previous related research can be found here:

Pandemic Response Survey Results - OCASI Agency Management (2022)
The survey provides insights into the experience and reflections of managers in Ontario settlement agencies beyond the first wave of the pandemic.

Pandemic Response Survey Results - OCASI Agency Frontline Workers (2022)
The survey provides insights into the experiences and reflections of frontline settlement workers in Ontario beyond the first wave of the pandemic that are critical to the sector itself and policymakers from all levels of government who are concerned with the integration of migrants.

The Future of Immigrant-Serving Agencies in Ontario: Meeting the Challenges of Hybrid Service Delivery - Policy Preview (2022)
This report discusses the rapid shift to online delivery of settlement services as COVID-19 took hold, outlining some of the major challenges during the first eighteen months of this transition in the Immigrant and Refugee-serving sector.

Summary

Settlement services are key to Canada's success in welcoming and integrating immigrants. Offered mainly in person prior to COVID-19 by non-governmental agencies reliant on and regulated by government funders, services were forced online and delivered by staff working remotely. The authors document this transition between September 2020 and September 2021 in Ontario, Canada and the conditions that influenced it.
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