Key Action Areas
Through the process of immigrant surveys, community consultation and focus groups the Council identified four key areas where services to better attract, retain and integrate immigrants into our community could be improved. These four action areas are a direct result of information received from community collaboration and reflect the areas that this region needs to address to improve the attraction, integration and retention of immigrants to our community.
The following are the key action areas with coinciding goals/strategies:
Employment - To better assist immigrants at accessing appropriate employment. Most survey responders and focus group participants indicated that finding appropriate employment was a major challenge. The issues are varied, including; proper recognition of skill level, employer attitudes, and cultural barriers to employment retention.
Community Connection, Social Integration - To facilitate successful integration of newcomers for overall social health of community. Most respondents indicated a high level of satisfaction and “feeling at home”, however many did not fully participate in community activities beyond their family unit. Making newcomers feel truly part of the community at large, valuing their input and improving their lifestyles will be a key challenge to retention and integration.
Racism and Discrimination - To promote community education and dialogue to improve acceptance of immigrants. This largely rural region has not been exposed to the level of newcomer arrival as most urban regions. The true meaning of “ignorance” is “lack of knowledge”, and ignorance is, unfortunately prevalent in this region. Misinformation, media negativity and pre-conceived stereotypes feed racism and discrimination. Overcoming misconceptions and highlighting the positive impact of immigrants will be necessary to encourage area residents to create and maintain a “welcoming community” environment.
Newcomer Integration - To ensure newcomers to understand Canadian rights/responsibilities & contribute to society. Education of non-immigrants is indeed necessary but proper guidance for newcomers is also necessary. Cross cultural barriers and pre-conceived ideas on the part of immigrants also hinders true integration. Canada is a mosaic where newcomers are encouraged to maintain their cultures; however an understanding of Canadian society, laws and norms is paramount to true integration.
To improve the ability of immigrants to secure sustainable appropriate employment, the council intends to:
Identify employer champion to assist in development of a community wide campaign highlighting merits of hiring immigrants.
Certain key employers have already developed successful recruitment campaigns for immigrants and have a large percentage of their workforce comprised of immigrants. Assisting these employers by highlighting their practices to the employer network at large will help overcome employer misconceptions.
Promote the development of “plain language” guidelines for self-employment for immigrants.
Starting a business is often a way for newcomers to gain successful employment as well as contribute and integrate into the community. There are programs for business start-up, however the language and complexity of federal, provincial and municipal guidelines is often a barrier to people who may not have a high level of English/French competency. Assisting with the development of step-by-step plain-language guidelines will enable more immigrants to successfully launch new businesses.
Create a network of employers who can work together to champion the cause of hiring immigrants.
Through the identification of employer champions, the creation of a network of employers to further promote immigrant hiring will ensure the sustainability of an employment environment where immigrants are welcomed.
Liaise with RDEE, CESOC and Réseau de soutien à l’immigration francophone to promote hiring of francophone immigrants.
Local organizations already working towards the attraction of francophone immigrants will be encouraged to continue their work. The council will continue to work closely with these organizations at ensuring that all immigrants are assisted with attaining proper employment.
Enhance employers’ relationships with Employment Ontario delivery sites and Local Settlement Agency.
Agencies and employers need to work together more closely to ensure that immigrant employment is addressed. Council will assist with encouragement of collaboration with a view to the improvement of local economic development. Through proper recognition of the importance of immigrant employment, businesses and employment agencies will work more closely together for the betterment of the community at large.
Develop diversity training for employers.
The region has many smaller employers who often do not understand cross-cultural issues nor recognize the value in the development of a multi-cultural workforce. Working in collaboration with existing agencies, diversity training will be developed to further assist employers in gaining proper understanding of this challenge.
Work closely with new supply chain management employers in targeting immigrant workforce (time dependant on new employer start-up).
The region is experiencing huge growth in the supply chain industry. One of our identified champions is a leader in this sector. New industries will be approached prior to the launch of their hiring initiatives and encouraged to include immigrant new hires.
Highlight immigrants who have made successful transition to employment or self-employment through media and newsletter.
Despite the fact that many immigrants are still under-employed and in the process of trying to establish themselves, many have made very successful transitions. Highlighting these individuals will assist at educating employers and the community-at-large of the value of immigrant employment.
To better assist immigrants at more completely integrating into the community, the council intends to:
Develop media strategy-“tip of the month” for multicultural awareness and launch media campaign.
Development of short/positive multicultural awareness messages, delivered through a long term, multi-media campaign will assist at cross education of the community. Overcoming both immigrant and community biases will assist with proper integration.
Begin work on LIP Council newsletter for community wide distribution. Distribute newsletter throughout region.
The development of a newsletter to further educate the community (immigrants and non-immigrants) on the various challenges and benefits of immigration will assist with more open dialogue. Newsletter will be distributed through the network of community agencies and businesses.
Work closely with Social Development Council, Employability Network Group, Immigrant Services and community partners to develop diverse cultural awareness for frontline workers in community agencies.
Many agencies that serve immigrants have little understanding of cross-cultural differences. Proper sensitivity and understanding of immigrant challenges are necessary to ensure that immigrants receive proper community support.
Increase municipal representation on LIP council.
The L.I.P. council currently has representation of two out of ten municipalities on council. It would be unlikely and administratively unwieldy to attempt to include all regions on council. Through existing municipal members the assimilation of a few key members representing disparate regions, municipal participation would be greatly improved.
Identify marginalized newcomer groups i.e. seniors, women, youth.
Certain demographics of immigrants are poorly represented in the community. Seniors, women and youth are often isolated due to their lack of participation in the labour market. Proper identification of these groups will allow council to better communicate with them. Ongoing service would be encouraged through existing community agencies (Senior’s Centres, Boys and Girls Club etc.).
Work closely with Social Development Council towards better social equity and inclusion for immigrants.
The local Social Development Council is working diligently at proper social inclusion for marginalized Canadians (mostly those with economic barriers). Continued collaboration with this agency will encourage the awareness of immigrants’ need for services to ensure social inclusivity.
Map all connections of community resources “no wrong door policy”-strengthening referral system via hub identification.
Immigrants often approach agencies that are ill suited to properly advise and guide their integration. Large scale mapping of ALL community services and a thorough, streamlined referral process will assist immigrants with a seamless transition.
To increase community education on cross cultural issues with a goal of reducing racism, the council will undertake the following actions:
Incorporate forum time in LIP Council meetings for brainstorming and sharing of equity/diversity experience.
The council itself represents the community at large and free-flow discussion has resulted in proper identification challenges. The incorporation of more time for council to explore these issues and formulate creative solutions will ensure better outcomes.
Develop “realities of immigration” articles for media and newsletter.
Misconceptions about the realities of immigration often form the base for racism. Building empathy and understanding of the community at large through real-life stories will build a foundation to overcome racism.
Assist with promotion of local multicultural/inclusivity events (i.e. Parade of Nations).
There are a few local multicultural and ethnic based events. These events are often poorly attended by local residents and viewed as separate from community events. Assisting these events with better marketing to the community at large will encourage greater attendance leading to better cross-cultural understanding.
Encourage schools to include programs such as “Passages to Canada”.
Racism and discrimination start early. The best long term solutions to the eradication of such practices are best aimed at youth. Working collaboratively with local schools to assist with the integration of cultural diversity programming will assist with long term change.
Encourage the Initiation of diversity programs for workplaces, schools, and local groups/clubs.
Development of short, activity based programming such as Word Circles, cultural trivia games etc. which can be used in a variety of settings will assist with the elimination of racism.
Work in partnership with existing foreign student agency to promote better highlighting of international students’ diversity.
There are foreign students attending local colleges, as well as a strong network of exchange students attending local high schools. Through highlighting some of these young people and the value they bring to our community both culturally and economically, the council hopes to use these “good news” stories to undermine racism.
Include language diversity in all LIP-lead /collaborated documents.
Leading by example, the L.I.P. council will ensure that all public materials include language diversity in their content. De-sensitising people to the acceptance of language diversity will encourage acceptance.
Encourage local immigrant groups (Chinese Canadian Club, Italian Club, Multi-cultural Soccer team etc.) to expand and better promote their activities.
Many small ethnically based clubs operate in the region. These organizations are not known by the community at large, resulting in mistrust due to misinformation. Highlighting the true “friendship-based” nature of these smaller organizations will result in lesser assumptions and greater acceptance.
Through proper guidance and education of newcomers, the council will encourage a greater understanding by all immigrants of Canadian culture through the following activities:
Promote Welcome Wagons in 5 counties to expand immigrant focused “welcome to the community” information.
The “Welcome Wagon” exists in all communities and does include materials for settlement services. Staff and volunteers with this organization however, are often ill equipped to communicate effectively with new Canadians. The council will work with this agency to ensure that immigrants’ needs are better addressed.
Identify newcomer “champions” to be models of Canadian Culture.
Many immigrants have made the successful transition to becoming models of Canadian culture while maintaining their heritage. Highlighting these Canadians to newcomers and community members at large will serve to act as models for newcomers and also assist with better integration/acceptance of cultural diversity.
Promote the development of newcomers to Canada “5 county general guidelines” for wide distribution via LIP Council members and identified hubs.
Guidelines for newcomers can be fraught with misinformation and cultural bias. The council will develop broad based, non-biased guidelines to assist newcomers with greater understanding of Canadian and community-based norms values.
Promote mentor systems to facilitate newcomer integration.
Developing a database of mentors, both Canadian and “newcomer champions” to become “bridges” to integration for immigrants. Working closely with small numbers of immigrants, champions and community mentors can assist with smaller everyday challenges.
Promote visibility of newcomer to Canada champions via speaking engagements, meeting attendance in identified hub agencies.
Many local agencies look for guest speakers for a variety of events (staff training, corporate events, social meetings etc.). Development of a network of newcomers who would be willing to speak on any topic (their culture, their path to Canada etc.) would be a non-intrusive was to better link these new Canadians with existing community as well as eliminate negative pre-conceptions