Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) works with many partners that deliver crucial services to newcomers to support their integration into Canadian communities. Service delivery improvement (SDI) projects test new ways of improving settlement programming to make it more responsive to newcomers’ circumstances.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in substantial changes, challenges and opportunities in the settlement sector. The SDI projects highlighted below, underway since 2018, are examples of how IRCC’s investments in innovation can help communities, service providers and newcomers as they adapt to the pandemic environment.

Health Literacy Partnerships: Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association (Calgary, Alberta)

Newcomer women, including refugees, play a key role in the management of the health of their families, so it’s important that they understand how the health-care system works in Canada. This project brings together health-care professionals, newcomers and language instructors to develop a series of multilingual tools and resources.

Knowledge about the health-care system is vital during a public health crisis, to keep newcomers and all Canadians healthy. Many newcomers are not aware of available services or how to access them, and often face difficulties communicating their concerns to health-care professionals.

Digital Literacy Training for Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada clients: Immigrant Services Society of British Columbia (Vancouver, British Columbia)

This project provided a course to participants who needed both language training and help to learn how to use digital technology. Without digital skills, newcomers face barriers to accessing the information on government, health and education services, and difficulties in using online settlement tools and resources.

The use of digital tools and technology has also been critical during the pandemic because many services normally delivered in-person suddenly moved online.

We Value Partnership: YMCA of Southwestern Ontario (Windsor, Ontario)

The YMCA of Southwestern Ontario designed a customizable settlement and integration management system that allows service providers to streamline the initial assessment and referral of newcomers. Newcomer assets and needs are analyzed in real-time so that the broader community can leverage a newcomer’s skills and experience—and support their integration—with services and opportunities like mental health supports, friendship clubs, soccer coaching, requests for volunteers, and language training. The ability to quickly identify and respond to changing circumstances and gaps in services is especially helpful in evolving situations like COVID-19.