Vision, Governance Structure & Resources 2006-2008
Drivers such as population growth, immigration outcomes, economic conditions, settlement and human services demands and the scarcity of financial resources and settlement sector capacity are influencing Peel Region’s grassroots approach to developing a shared local strategy that can respond to the newcomer services system as a whole. A pivotal event in the development of the Peel ‘Community Plan' was a community visioning session that was held in February 2006. This event benefited from the participation of 136 individuals representing different community stakeholder groups including: employment, health, housing, education, childcare, government, non-profit, business and newcomers and immigrants.
The outcome from the visioning session was to establish a centralized planning table to formulate strategies that can address many of the drivers impacting the settlement and inclusion of immigrant families in Peel Region. As a result, the Peel Newcomer Strategy Group (PNSG) was formed in 2006. PNSG is co-sponsored by United Way of Peel Region and the Region of Peel and guided by the collective voices of community stakeholders representing multiple sectors. PNSG’s position in the non-profit sector is that of a community collaborative. It functions as a facilitator, convenor, coordinator, researcher and community planner and brings together multiple stakeholders from all sectors including: newcomers and immigrants, frontline staff, middle and senior management, and community and business leaders, as well as community foundations, municipal, provincial and federal governments.
Research & Consultation 2008-2010
With funding from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), PNSG was officially launched in 2008 to help facilitate local planning efforts. Since its launch, PNSG’s primary goal has been to champion the development of a Peel-wide strategy that enables the successful settlement and inclusion of newcomers and immigrants.
The work of the Peel Newcomer Strategy Group predates the launch of the Local Immigration Partnership (LIP) initiative which was first introduced under the Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement (COIA) in 2008. In 2010 PNSG became the Peel LIP and has since then been guided by the objectives of the LIP initiative. LIPs have become one of the best practices models of local immigrant settlement and integration planning and have four distinct objectives:
- Improve access to and the coordination of services that facilitate newcomer settlement and integration
- Improve access to the labour market for newcomers
- Strengthen local and regional awareness and capacity to attract, receive, integrate and retain newcomers
- Enhance partnerships and participation of multiple stakeholders in the planning, delivery and coordination of integration services
Improving the immigrant settlement experience is an overarching goal of the LIP initiative underpinned by the requirement to identify and demonstrate measurable outcomes along the way. This has informed the development of the Peel ‘Community Plan’ throughout all phases of the process.
PNSG has drawn on the assets of the existing newcomer services system to develop the proposed model. The model also drew from extensive consultations across multiple sectors and stakeholders. The planning process utilized an inclusive framework that was:
- Grounded in evidence-based research
- Informed by newcomers, frontline staff, middle / senior management, business, community leaders and all tiers of government
- Guided by stakeholders and sector expertise
- Built from existing assets across diverse sectors
- Solution-focused and action-driven
- Specific to Peel’s settlement and inclusion issues and community’s vision
In the process of developing the Peel ‘Community Plan’, PNSG engaged over 2000 stakeholders including new immigrants, employers, service-providers, businesses, policy-makers, funders and community development partners. Consultation sessions were held to solicit input and expertise from diverse sectors and community forums facilitated the exchange of critical information to help inform a local strategy aimed at enhancing the settlement and inclusion of newcomers and immigrants in Peel Region.
From this work four strategic priorities were created to guide the development of a new service delivery model.
- Ensure accessible, people-centred services for all newcomers
- Create a continuum of effective employment strategies
- Enhance the receptivity of the host community
- Strengthen service coordination and planning across Peel Region
In 2010, with the four strategic priorities in mind, six thematic working groups were established based on the systems’ gaps and challenges identified through the consultation process. The purpose of the working groups was to develop carefully planned transition and implementation recommendations with specific actions. The groups included:
- Informal Services Network
- Assessment, Intake, Referral and Case Management Systems
- Employer Engagement
- Host Community Receptivity
- Community Networks/Hub Development
- Communication and Community Engagement