In order to accomplish its objectives in the first year, the STELIP was provided the mandate:
- Establish a Local Immigration Partnership Council
- Enhance understanding of non-settlement service providers and the community at large of newcomer’s challenges
- Needs and services, strengthen awareness and capacity to integrate newcomers
- Develop a local settlement strategy and an annual action plan that addresses local priorities identified in the consultation process
A Partnership Council comprises fourteen members who represent a wide spectrum of sectors and are themselves long-time key leaders in the communities was established to achieve the following deliverables:
- Establish terms of reference
- Develop a Settlement Strategy
- Develop an annual action plan to implement Settlement Strategy
The community engagement and research aspects of the initiative were designed taking into account the importance of the principle of inclusivity. These outreach and research activities included as many sectors as possible, as well as all regions of the County and different methods to gather information. Surveys for immigrants, businesses, service providers, faith communities, and civic clubs helped us gather information from different stakeholders and were to identify existing services, innovative ways to build capacity to enhance service delivery to a diverse population and ways to establish interagency collaboration. In addition, eight roundtable discussions were offered across Elgin County. This consultation process benefitted from the participation of more than 250 key leaders and community members who provided insightful feedback.
The STELIP looks forward to the next tasks ahead, which involves the development of sustainable solutions through the implementation of the Settlement Strategy for the region.
In 2005, Ontario signed the first Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement (COIA) and as a recognition that municipalities have a crucial role to play in offering newcomers the necessary support and services to successfully integrate, the Municipal Immigration Committee (MIC) was established under COIA to explore municipal interest in immigration. The first Local Immigration Partnerships were established in 2008. The LIPs present an opportunity to connect with each other, build an understanding that raises our awareness, promotes innovation in human, social, political and economic development in our community. LIPs are also instrumental in our collective and proactive plan to offer a welcoming, caring and inclusive community to those who choose to join our beautiful County.
While several Local Immigration Partnerships were being established across Ontario since 2008, in St. Thomas and Elgin County, collective efforts to look into the attraction of newcomers had already started in 2009. The Elgin & St. Thomas Labour Force through its 2010 Development Strategy identified the attraction of new Canadians as one of the priorities.
The need to take concrete actions to understand the needs and quality of life of newcomers was also recognized. As a logical step, a commitment to take action regarding the removal of barriers to employment opportunities was taken by Employment Services, Ontario Works, and YWCA St. Thomas-Elgin in 2010.
In January 2011, under the recommendation of many of the community partners, the YWCA St. Thomas-Elgin entered into an agreement with Citizenship and Immigration Canada to lead the Local Immigration Partnership in St. Thomas and Elgin County. The St. Thomas-Elgin Local Immigration Partnership (STELIP) began its work on February 28, 2011.