Immigration and Refugee Settlement in Canada: Trends in Public Funding

Project Researchers

Dominique Clement
Project Lead

Associate Professor at University of Alberta

Project Description

This project is a collaboration between the University of Alberta and the Alberta Association of Immigrant Serving Agencies (AISSA). AISSA is among many SPOs in Canada concerned that federal funding for SPOs and settlement services for immigrants and refugees is not proportionate to the number of newcomers in each province. This is especially concerning in Alberta, which has seen an influx of immigrants in recent years and now accepts more newcomers than British Columbia. However, there is no concrete data on federal funding.

The Principal Investigator (PI – Clément) has spent the past year working with the Research Assistant (RA – Braun) to collect data on provincial funding for immigrant and refugee services. To provide a more comprehensive review of settlement funding in Canada, it is would be ideal to also document trends in federal funding. The RA has spent the past year learning how to use of freedom of information legislation. She will apply her training to this study by using the federal Access to Information Act to secure data on federal funding. The primary deliverables includes developing a new community-university partnership, SPO capacity building, publications and writing a report for public distribution.

There are potentially vast disparities in the services available to newcomers across Canada. Alberta accepts almost double the number of refugees and humanitarian classes of immigrants than British Columbia. But our initial research suggests that Alberta has fewer SPOs that receive federal grants for settlement. This disparity can have a profound impact on the successful integration and settlement of newcomers. In the case of Government-Assisted Refugees, a visa officer’s decision about which province to destine a family could significantly impact the course of their integration. Moreover, provinces such as British Columbia and Ontario, which have a longer history of admitting large numbers of immigrants, have sophisticated programs and service delivery for large-scale settlement. As our SPO partner argues, however, Alberta has not had the same time and resources to develop comparable programs. Moreover, as our recent research has demonstrated, Alberta underfunds settlement services. Federal funding is therefore critical in addressing this gap.

The PI and RA will use the Access to Information Act to collect data on funding for immigrant and refugee settlement across Canada between 2010 and 2018. The research questions driving this project include (a) Has federal funding matched landing rates across time and jurisdiction? What are the discrepancies between provincial landing rates and federal funding? The research will be conducted in three stages. First, the PI and RA will collaborate with AISSA to identify federal funding programs for immigrant and refugee settlement, including programs targeting refugee youth (who represent a disproportionate number of refugees admitted to Canada). AAISA has an extensive settlement network and a strong relationship with IRCC to help identify these programs. Secondly, Braun will submit access to information requests to the requisite federal ministries to collect data on funding and program mandates. Finally, the PI, RA and AAISA will work together to produce a report on the findings.