National Settlement Service and Standards Framework
Summary of Responses to Questionnaire on National Settlement Framework
Conducted between December 2002 and April 2003
Total number of valid responses: 69
Response Rate: 42% outside of Quebec and 2 responses from organizations
based in Quebec
A summary of the feedback is provided below with selected comments
Definition of Settlement
Settlement may be divided into short-term (initial
orientation), intermediate term (adaptation),
and long-term (integration) processes. The ultimate
goal of settlement is for an immigrant to be able*
to participate fully in, and contribute to the economic, social, cultural
and political aspects of Canadian life.
Ninety percent of the respondents agreed with this definition of settlement.
Many observed that the settlement process is neither neat and discrete
nor a one-directional progression; rather, that it takes place in a complex
societal context and is not necessarily accomplished in a prescribed
- Settlement is a long-term, dynamic, two-way process through
which, ideally, immigrants would achieve full equality and freedom
of participation in society, and society would gain access to the
full human resource potential in its immigrant communities.
- Settlement is a continuum, with people entering and exiting
at different points.
Definition of Settlement Services
Settlement services are interventions (or activities) designed to achieve
the goals of immigrant and refugee settlement. Different service types/modalities
covering a range of service areas commonly provided have been summarized
and proposed as follows: (Table as in Chapter 2)
Ninety-four percent of the respondents agreed with this definition
of settlement services and found that the range of settlement services
their agencies provide are included in the service types. Ninety-three
percent of the respondents found that the service areas named reflect
services provided by their agencies. Some of the service areas are felt
to be unnecessary for agencies in rural areas.
- The 14 service areas are specific. The data collected and categorized
is very general. The nature of settlement work is vast in description.
The captured data does not entirely represent the essence of the
The common positions that specialize in specific services may be categorized
- Employment counsellors, job-search workshop facilitators, job-search
workshop liaison workers
- Employment consultants for foreign trained professionals
- Job developers (make employer contacts for local job leads;
create opportunities for job placements and volunteer work experience
- Technical career facilitators in pre-employment programs (help
with resumes and basic computer skills)
- Housing-program workers [eviction prevention workers] (define barriers
to securing and maintaining housing, and help clients overcome them;
negotiate with landlords; work in conjunction with placement programs)
- Social workers, family resource workers, case managers, seniors
workers, youth workers, and pastoral workers in family support programs,
peer support programs with trained community members in first language
or ESL format, or domestic violence treatment programs
- Adult education officers in citizenship preparation programs, ESL/LINC
programs coordinators and instructors, CLBA assessors, and child-care
- Volunteer coordinators, coordinators of community-bridging or volunteer
programs, qualified professional volunteers for psychological therapy
related to trauma
- Anti-racism and cultural diversity trainers in programs and services
related to multicultural health, gambling, leadership development,
mentoring, recreation, or race relations.
Indicators and Benchmarks of Settlement
While 92 percent of respondents believed it would be helpful to
conduct a longitudinal study of clients to study service impact after
three or six months, and at intervals of one to three years, such a
study appears highly infeasible for settlement agencies. An overwhelming
number of respondents cite the lack of financial and human resources
and expertise for a longitudinal study. Other practical considerations
cited are high mobility of the client population, lack of clear indicators,
client concern about privacy, language barrier, and difficulty in attributing
client changes to the services of the receiving agency. The evaluation
methods commonly adopted by settlement agencies are logic model, outcomes
model, informal consultation or focus groups, anecdotal information
from clients, client referral or complaints, client satisfaction survey,
performance-based outcomes, goal-attainment scaling, annual client
evaluation forms or surveys, and analysis of quantitative statistical
information on demographics, number of services and clients. Some agencies
have generously shared their relevant documents; some have been mentioned
or appended in this document. Other agencies are prepared to share
documents in a workshop setting.
Factors preventing longitudinal studies from being conducted:
- There are many variables affecting the settlement of an immigrant.
The lack of coordination in the service systems of HRDC and CIC keep
the supports for social and economic integration from being delivered
in a holistic way, and thus stand in the way of the development of
an outcome measurement of true settlement. As well, there is a lack
of resources to track outcomes.
- Development of tools; language barriers; staff time/financial
resources; privacy issues and possible misunderstanding of intent.
Agency Accountability Through Competent Board Governance
Seventy-four percent of the responding agencies have benefited from
discussion or information on board recruitment, composition and succession
guidelines compared to 16 percent that have not. Sometimes the board’s
nomination committee will review the skills set required, or implement
recruitment plans. Some agencies provide development or training for
their board and a board manual that discusses rotation and succession.
Some agencies have their own resources, while others access community
resources such as local bodies or provincial umbrella bodies. However,
in smaller communities these may not be as readily available.
- Our by-laws call for rotation of board members and a nomination
committee to recruit candidates.
- Our board of directors has an active governance committee that
organizes and implements a board training program that includes internal
and external information exchange and use of outside consultants.
Seventy-seven percent of the agencies have had discussions or information
sessions on board roles and responsibilities versus management roles
and responsibilities, while half have done the same for governance practices.
Agency Accountability Through Competent Management
Nearly 80 percent of the agencies have benefited from information sessions
or discussions on strategic planning know-how to develop vision, a mission,
and measurable objectives, compared to 10 percent that have not; 10 percent
did not answer. The varying responses reflect the range of agencies across
Canada: from small or young agencies that have never discussed these
items to those that conduct planning annually, biennially, or every three
or five years. Some use external consultants while others attend workshops
provided by provincial bodies.
- The area of measurable objectives is fairly new. Efforts to
provide some agency training and resources for staff and board members
would be beneficial to expand knowledge in this area.
Eighty-three percent of the agencies have had discussions or information
about policy development in various areas such as human resources, confidentiality,
anti-discrimination, volunteer management, and conflict of interest,
while 9 percent have not.
In terms of financial planning, monitoring and reporting, 80 percent
have had information or discussions about the subject, and only 12 percent
have not. Most agencies have their financial planning monitored by board
committees and an external auditor as well as by funders.
- We have a finance manual developed by our accountant.
Agencies use a variety of approaches to settlement services, but the
comments largely reflect a client-centered approach and attempts to set
parameters while remaining flexible. Most respondents checked off more
than one response. Forty-two percent provide services as long as their
clients require them, and make up for the shortfall in funding through
voluntary or fundraising efforts. Thirty-two per cent provide services
within funder-imposed limits, 15 percent provide services within agency-imposed
limits, and 9 percent provide services that the settlement staff decide
to be appropriate.
- The settlement staff use their discretion and are guided primarily
by the needs of clients.
- For us, we have to take 3 factors into consideration: 1) community
need; 2) staff capacity, and agency capacity; 3) risk factor to the
organization and staff.
In terms of program planning and delivery, 54 percent of the agencies
adopt an organic and informal approach, often seizing an opportunity,
while 24 percent adopt a more formal and involved planning process, often
linked to a strategic planning process. A significant number (23 percent)
did not indicate whether their agencies have standard procedures or guidelines
for program planning and delivery. Delivery in some agencies is based
on funders’ guidelines, and a few larger agencies have written
service delivery protocols.
- We have a formal annual planning process that culminates in
a service plan and budget for the following year. This process involves
analysis of service trends and data, identification of gaps, review
of performance of existing programs, review of budget trends and
performance, client feedback, and the priorities of funders.
Core Competencies of Settlement Practitioners
Among the respondents, 59 percent of the agencies have a standard performance
evaluation tool or procedure for settlement service workers, while 28
percent do not; 13 percent did not respond. Again, a wide range is found
among agencies, from no tool to performance management that is based
on outcome or worker competency profile, annual priorities and other
values. Besides the conventional supervisor evaluation, other methods
of evaluation in one agency also include peer evaluation, self evaluation,
video evaluation, and client evaluation.
- The performance management system is outcome based, depending
on annual guidelines and priorities (60 percent). The other component
is based on values, such as initiative and dependability (40 percent).
All are discussed and agreed upon by staff and supervisor.
When asked if they have a pay/salary scale for settlement staff and
perform annual salary reviews, 60 percent responded in the affirmative
while 35 percent responded negatively and 5 percent abstained. The process
for reviewing salaries varies widely. The salaries at some agencies,
mostly in Alberta, have been frozen for several years. There are also
agencies with no pay scale but ad hoc salary increases, and some with
a systematic way of dealing with salary increases, including collective
- We have a salary administration system where staff dependent
on their position is assigned a salary grade. Six incremental step
increases are made over a 10-year period based on the employee’s
length of service.
The median length of stay is more than four years for seventy-four
percent of settlement staff, compared with 49 percent with a median length
of stay of over six years. Nineteen percent have been there between two
and three years, while only 1 percent has been on staff for less than
a year. Five percent did not respond.
- It varies from one year to 11 years. It depends on the program
stability and pay. A number of the staff moves on to other agencies
due to higher pay and stability of programs. It is difficult to provide
individuals an increase in wages or stability without core or multiyear
In terms of qualifications, 77 percent of settlement staff have language
skills that allow them to relate to client groups, along with social
service work experience; 71 percent also have college diplomas or bachelor
degrees in a related field, and a further 25 percent hold masters degrees
or a PhD. This means that 96 percent of staff is highly educated in a
related field. Staff also claim competence in a number of other important
skills, including cultural sensitivity, knowledge of community services
and resources, and sensitivity to and knowledge of immigrant and refugee
issues. Five percent abstained from answering the question.
Increasing the Profile & Recognition of the Settlement
Over half of the respondents were somewhat satisfied with the current
level of outreach to make newly arrived immigrants and refugees aware
of settlement services, but only 7 percent were very satisfied. At the
other end of the spectrum, one-quarter were somewhat dissatisfied and
over 10 percent were strongly dissatisfied with the current level of
outreach. Three percent abstained from responding. There is a significant
level of concern over the role of CIC in delegating outreach authority
to a single agency and over the fact that many immigrants are still unaware
of settlement services upon landing, sometimes for a prolonged period
- Pamphlets at the airport are effective but are not available
to all immigrants. CIC should invest in advertising in the ethnic
- Some CIC information (such as information to family-class immigrants)
has actually informed some immigrants that they are not entitled
Among the responding agencies, 44 percent are strongly or somewhat
satisfied with the current level of collaboration with other sectors,
such as linkages with employers or education sector. Fifty-four percent
are not satisfied, and 3 percent did not answer.
- Linkage with employers as a core activity of settlement service
should be part and parcel of the funding so that clients receive
a continuum of services with employment being the first need considered
in the initial to intermediate phase of settlement process.
- Whereas other agencies, health care, social assistance, educational
agencies are helpful and easy to access, it is a big challenge to
find cooperation from the professional bodies and employers.
Seventy-eight percent of respondents disagree, including 57 percent
that strongly disagree, that the settlement sector has reached the maximum
level of advocacy with various politicians and levels of government to
gain legitimacy and funding support, and the sector is under-funded,
with underpaid highly skilled workers. Multi-year funding is also advocated.
It is felt that the long-term benefits to our society of integrating
newcomers have been under-recognized.
- We also need to encourage the creation of professional associations
across the country to enhance the profession, monitor standards,
and promote professional development opportunities on a provincial
and/or national basis.
- The lack of awareness and support among politicians and levels
of government about the settlement sector and the needs of immigrants
is appalling. The fact that Citizenship & Immigration Canada
has increased its immigration targets but has not increased its budget
for settlement services indicates that there is inadequate support,
from the top down.
A remarkable 78 percent either strongly or somewhat agreed that a national
body dedicated to settlement issues would be critical to raising the
profile of and support for the settlement sector, while nearly one in
five were either strongly or somewhat against the idea. However, the
comments reveal a significant number of qualifications behind the support,
with concerns about another layer of bureaucracy, limited funds directed
away from direct services, duplication with existing national and provincial
bodies, and the effectiveness of a national body in addressing local
and regional issues. Many respondents also indicated that achieving the
goals would require the strengthening of existing local, provincial and
- The time is long overdue for providing resources to help the
development of a Settlement Workers Professional Association.
- Depends upon things such as representation, funding, and mandate.
- It is important to have a dialogue, undertake a feasibility
study and environmental scan to determine the viability but the dialogue
needs to occur.
- The CCR already has a settlement working group which could provide
the focus and foundation for a national body. In the private sponsorship
sector we have RSTP and the NGO-Government Committee.