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MISSING CONNECTIONS The Newcomer Settlement Sector, the Canadian Disability Community, and Social Exclusions Remarks to the 14th National Metropolis Conference.

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Presentation on theme: "MISSING CONNECTIONS The Newcomer Settlement Sector, the Canadian Disability Community, and Social Exclusions Remarks to the 14th National Metropolis Conference."— Presentation transcript:

1 MISSING CONNECTIONS The Newcomer Settlement Sector, the Canadian Disability Community, and Social Exclusions Remarks to the 14th National Metropolis Conference Future Immigration Policies: Challenges and Opportunities for Canada Toronto, March 3, 2012

2 Raising questions What do the settlement sector and disability movement look like in contemporary Canada? How do these two communities compare? What are their similarities and their differences? How might these sectors better connect for the aims of community inclusion, economic opportunity and social justice? What are potential implications of closer connections between the settlement sector and the disability movement? 2

3 Making statements Disablement and settlement are both processes: bundles of activities, actions and inactions, through time and in place, which share many issues Disablement is a part of the settlement experience of newcomers in Canada As human and social phenomenon, both relate to several areas of public policy and practice Both sectors face serious problems of policy incoherence and public indifference 3

4 Comparing groups Newcomers to CanadaPersons with disabilities Population2 million people (previous 10 years) 6.3% of population 4.4 million people (2006 survey) 14.3% of population MakeupDiverse ethnicities, races, nationalities Diverse impairments: physical, cognitive, mental LocationConcentrated in 3 provinces and urban centres (94%) Distributed across all provinces/territories, rural and urban (68%) Age profile (2001-2006)Less than 4% age 65 and over Nearly 40% aged 65 and over Educational levelsHigher than general population Tend to be lower than general population Health statusTend to be in better health than general population Poorer health than general population 4

5 Living common experiences Newcomers and Persons with disabilities in Canada EvaluationRefugee determinations, medical assessments IncomeRelatively lower income than all households HousingLower home ownership rates than other households EmploymentOver-represented in precarious jobs, difficulties of recognition of skills and capacities, limited accommodations at workplaces EducationChallenges of inclusion in public school system PovertyOver-represented in conditions of persistent poverty Ambivalent images Economic burden/hard workers Add to rich tapestry/national security risks Sick or tragic figures/inspiring role models Social risksIsolation, marginalization, prejudicial attitudes, discriminating actions of “mainstream society” 5

6 As fields of public policy Immigrant/SettlementDisability Official discoursesHelp newcomers adapt to Canada; to participate in all segments of society; to embrace diversity; to combat discrimination and racism; groups at risk Promote the inclusion and full participation in Canadian life; to address discrimination; vulnerable groups Core program areasImmigration and refugee, settlement services, human rights, translation and interpretation, language training, legal assistance, employment services, social services, housing Personal supports, technical aids and equipment, social assistance and other income supports, tax credits, employment assistance, social housing, special education 6

7 As fields of public policy Immigrant/SettlementDisability Clientele emphasisPermanent residents and Convention refugees Persons with permanent and severe impairments Time focusFirst-stage settlement (short-term) Various age groups with problems of transition Lead federal organizationCitizenship & ImmigrationHuman Resources and Skills Development Federal spending trendsRelatively static over last decade Selective and modest new expenditures Intergovernmental relations Shared jurisdiction Devolution of federal role to certain provinces Shared and separate jurisdictions Devolution of labour programs to all provinces Primary service delivery systems Immigrant/newcomer serving agencies Community-based non- profits/service clubs 7

8 Both sectors straining under stress Contain a mix of single and multi-service agencies; ethno- or impairment-specific, and multi-ethnic and cross-disability agencies Focus largely on service provision; some attention to community work and capacity building Receive funding mainly as annual contracts for particular projects; little, if any, for infrastructure or multi-year support Constrained by accountability rules and reporting requirements Restricted ability of most agencies to engage in advocacy on behalf of clients, individually or systemically A few organizations active in advocacy work: Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, Canadian Council for Refugees, Canadian Association for Community Living, Council of Canadians with Disabilities Reliance by many agencies on family members, friends and volunteers to provide specific services 8

9 System Cracks or Structural Chasms? Cracks: partial fractures or breaks in systems; small breakages in services; narrow gaps or holes Metaphorically, minimizes the extent of problems “Falling through the cracks” individualizes the phenomenon Empirically, suggests a system of services and supports does exist which, more or less, has reliability Chasms: deep gaps; wide fractures and profound differences; significant empty spaces Points to growing social exclusion and persistent economic marginalization of newcomers; and to continuing isolation and systemic segregation of many Canadians with disabilities Both sectors have astonishing fractures and absences in political leadership, investments, and public policy 9

10 Policy Chasms: examples “At any given time, tens of thousands of immigrants, refugees, and other newcomers to Canada live without provincial health coverage.” Sarah Wayland (2006) “Most employment training is administered by Service Canada, but eligibility hinges on having a Canadian employment history, thereby disqualifying newcomers.” The same barrier applies to thousands of people with disabilities across the country Immigrant Serving agencies often are not allowed, under government contracts to provide actual work experience programs Employment options for disabled extremely limited and frequently in segregated settings 10

11 Making connections Community organizations Ethno-racial, newcomer/settlement, and disability services and rights Social theories Cultural perspectives Materialism (historical, feminist) Social construction Societal divisions Intersecting barriers, identities, and experiences Simultaneous discrimination and multiple oppressions New social movements Objectives of redistribution, recognition, and representation Coalitions of interests 11

12 Exercising democratic practices Inserting settlement and disablement issues into current political and policy debates Questioning dominant social images and public understandings of these groups Emphasizing the significance of disability and immigration in the Canadian social order Fostering shared understandings between communities Widening the definitional scope of “disability issues” and “settlement issues” Building structural links with other equality-seeking groups and social movements 12

13 Recapping observations Newcomers to Canada and people with disabilities represent embodied diversities of the population as well as entrenched inequalities Both communities confront a varied and contradictory matrix of images and stereotypes Both groups are somewhat changeable in composition Both are subject to assorted forms of assessment, surveillance, diagnostics, and categorization Both sectors are mixed and complex organizational spaces that are under tremendous pressure Making connections in theoretical, research, and political ways opens up many possibilities for change 13

14 Noting some references Haynes, Roy (2011) None is Still Too Many: An Historical Exploration of Canadian Immigration Legislation as it Pertains to People with Disabilities. Winnipeg: Council of Canadians with Disabilities. many Prince, Michael J. (2009) Absent Citizens: Disability Politics and Policy in Canada, Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Rice, James J., and Michael J. Prince (2012) Changing Politics of Canadian Social Policy, Second Edition, Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Richmond, Ted, and John Shields (2005) “NGO-Government Relations and Immigrant Services: Contradictions and Challenges,” Journal of International Migration and Integration, 6 (3/4): 513-526. Vernon, Ayesha (1999) “The Dialectics of Multiple Identities and the Disabled People’s Movement,” Disability & Society, 14 (3): 385-398. Wayland, Sarah V. (2006) Unsettled: Legal and Policy Barriers for Newcomers to Canada, Law Commission of Canada. http://www.cfc- 14

15 Thank you Michael J. Prince Lansdowne Professor of Social Policy Faculty of Human and Social Development University of Victoria Disabling Poverty and Enabling Citizenship Community-University Research Alliance (CURA) 15

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