Meeting the Human Service Needs of Immigrants
This paper is funded by the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada
This paper addresses how existing services can be improved to better meet the needs of immigrants. It relies upon the findings of the other five immigration discussion papers commissioned by the Region of Peel and relevant literature about immigrantsí service needs, to propose service delivery principles and put forward recommendations that the Region of Peel may want to implement.
Immigrantsí human service needs are not that different from the rest of the larger population except for the need for language and settlement programs. Like the larger population some immigrants groups have greater needs than others and these needs differ due to various factors, including immigrantsí length of time in Canada and age (where they are in the life cycle). Newcomers also face distinctive barriers (informational, financial, linguistic, cultural, and systemic) to accessing services, and they often have trouble accessing the services they need. Apart from basic services and acute health care, immigrants generally utilize health and social services at lower rates than the broader population. It is also clear that the settlement sector alone cannot meet the full range of human service needs required by newcomers.
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Implications/ Proposed Actions
The paper identifies five service delivery principles that could underlie any immigration strategy:
- Human services should be available, accessible, and adequate or needs-based. Newcomers need to access various types of specialized human services outside the settlement sector.
- Ethnic match - refers to members of an ethnic, racial or cultural group have an opportunity to be served by members of their own group. It boosts service utilization. This discussion paper is funded by the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada
- More collaboration between the settlement sector and mainstream human service agencies is needed. Collaboration between settlement agencies (ethnic specific providers and multi-ethnic providers) and mainstream agencies are often ad hoc, inequitable and top down with decision making power usually residing with the mainstream agencies.
- Consideration should be given to how human service delivery is impacted by ethnic concentration. There is very little research on how the physical and social geography of a neighbourhood impact human service delivery. More study is required.
- Community engagement strategies can best determine what mix of services is optimal in Peel as well as how to reach isolated populations.
The paper proposes recommendations that the Region could adopt to better meet immigrantsí human service needs. They are grouped into 3 broad areas ranging from the macro-level to the more specific:
(1) Promote Social Inclusion: It is critical that the Region of Peel address structural factors that contribute to social exclusion, reduce political, social and economic integration and increase health risk. Infrastructure and policy level supports are needed to address the systemic barriers identified in these discussion papers and to ensure that diversity is reflected and respected in regional departments and community-wide institutions.
(2) Strengthen neighbourhood and immigrant communities: The Region of Peel should develop policies and funding mechanisms aimed at strengthening intra and inter community social capital, including supports to community-based organizations and the development of longstanding and reciprocal relationships with community groups and organizations. Of central importance is the development of culturally and linguistically appropriate communication strategies through personal contact, written material and the internet.
(3). Implementing and supporting the development of regional services that are accessible, available, and adequate: It is critical that the Region of Peel address barriers (e.g., informational, cultural, linguistic, financial) to existing services, and consider the additional service needs of immigrant communities identified in the Discussion Papers (e.g., early childhood education and care, long-term care).
Read Executive Summary (81 KB, 2 pages)
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