The St. Thomas Elgin Local Immigration Partnership (STELIP) was established in February 2011 as a collaborative community initiative that supports the integration of immigrants in the area. Our work is guided by the STELIP council, which acts as a strategic planning body and is composed of community members and representatives from local businesses, social services, and other organizations. We are funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
Immigration was identified as a priority in the Elgin & St. Thomas Labour Force’s 2010 Development Strategy. This was followed by a commitment that was made by Employment Services Elgin, Ontario Works, and YWCA St. Thomas-Elgin to take action removing barriers to employment for immigrants. In January 2011, under the recommendation of many of the community partners, the YWCA St. Thomas-Elgin entered into an agreement with IRCC to lead the Local Immigration Partnership in St. Thomas and Elgin County.
During our first year of operation, 2011, we:
- Established a STELIP council and council Terms of Reference
- Developed a local settlement strategy and an action plan
- Conducted outreach and research activities to inform our work
- Held eight roundtable discussions
- Conducted a consultation process that reached more than 250 key community leaders
History of LIPs in Canada
In 2005, Ontario signed the first Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement (COIA). Under the COIA, the Municipal Immigration Committee was established, which recognized the crucial role of municipalities in offering newcomer supports and services. From this agreement came Local Immigration Partnerships (LIPs). The first LIPs were established across the country in 2008.
LIPs are now operating in most geographical areas: neighbourhoods, cities, or communities. Their purpose is to coordinate settlement and integration efforts and services within a community, bringing together local stakeholders and acting as a strategic planning mechanism. LIPs are funded by IRCC and led through a partnership with a local community organization. A diverse coordinating council oversees and guides the work of the LIP, particularly the development of a local settlement strategy and targeted action plan. Overall, the goal of LIPs is to strengthen immigrant integration and build welcoming and inclusive communities.