An Analysis of Immigration and Refugee Law Services in Canada

Part Two: Immigration and refugee law services provided by community organizations

Part Two of this report presents information collected from community organizations that provide services to refugees and immigrants in each of the ten provinces. As noted above, it is important to recognize that the information presented in this section is not an exhaustive account of all the assistance being provided to refugees and immigrants at the community level. The scope of this project permitted only a small sample of organizations to be interviewed. In most provinces, there are numbers of additional groups whose programs, resources, and expertise are not captured in the discussion below. For a complete list of the organizations interviewed, see Appendix Two.

As with legal aid plans, the community organizations interviewed were asked for both descriptive information and data concerning their clientele. The descriptive material collected covers the nature of an organization’s services, the types of issues in which it provides assistance, the staff involved in doing this work, and the funding it receives. In addition, respondents were asked to consider the strengths and weaknesses of the current system for delivering services to refugees and immigrants in their province, specifically in terms of what is working well (success stories), what is not working well (problem areas), and any notable gaps. The data collection process was designed to collect information on total numbers of clients, numbers of clients by specific legal issue, programming costs, and client characteristics.

Although the focus of this project was on collecting information about the legal services provided by community organizations, in many cases the agencies that were located deal more with the provision of settlement services. Despite the fact that settlement services are technically outside of the focus of the report, in provinces where few (if any) groups were located that provide legal assistance, a brief overview of the range of settlement programs offered has been included. For provinces in which all of the organizations interviewed deliver some form of legal assistance to refugees and immigrants, no information has been included on the settlement area.

While the descriptive component of the interviews yielded much valuable information, the amount of hard data actually collected from community groups serving refugees and immigrants was quite limited. Some groups simply do not keep a great deal of information on the clients they serve, while many others were unable (or in some cases unwilling) to use limited staff hours to provide the requested numbers. In addition, no data was requested from groups that provide only settlement services, since the data collection process pertained specifically to the provision of legal services. For all of these reasons, the data presented in Part Two of the report should not be taken as representative of the number of clients assisted with immigration and refugee law matters by community organizations.

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