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The Canadian Council for Refugees was taken aback by Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s surprise announcement on Tuesday April 12 that the devolution agreements that allowed the provinces of Manitoba and British Columbia to manage their own immigration settlement programs would be terminated.
We are deeply concerned about the way this decision was made: behind closed doors and without consulting the service providers or provincial governments involved, despite their expertise and the impacts this change may have on them. The announcement comes as a great surprise given that British Columbia and Manitoba have developed model settlement programming responsive to the needs of their particular newcomers and socio-economic contexts.
As settlement services and programs in these two provinces will be recentralized at the federal government level, the CCR emphasizes the importance of CIC engaging in dialogue with the provinces and with organizations in the settlement sector to transfer the promising provincial practices to the federal level. Settlement organizations in British Columbia and Manitoba had developed highly responsive relationships with the provincial funding bodies and it is hoped that CIC will make it a priority to develop this sort of relationship with the sector. This is also an opportunity to establish more transparent communications, and for CIC to commit to providing more information and feedback on funding decision-making processes.
The CCR calls on CIC to work to establish durable solutions to challenges in service delivery and administration, as outlined in the 2007 Blue Ribbon Report on Grants and Contributions by the Treasury Board of Canada, the report Best Settlement Practices by the Canadian Council for Refugees, and Voluntary Sector Initiative’s Code of Good Practice on Funding.