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Settlement services provided to immigrants to Canada, 2020

Released: 2022-06-02

Settlement of immigrants is a period of adaptation between newcomers and the host society, during which the federal government provides services to newcomers. Effective settlement paves the way for immigrants to contribute to the Canadian economy and to participate in the social, political and cultural life of Canada.

To support successful integration into Canadian society, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) provides funding to third-party organizations to deliver settlement services in all provinces and territories except for Quebec. The Settlement Program aims to assist immigrants and refugees in overcoming barriers specific to the newcomer experience.

The Longitudinal Immigration Database (IMDB) has incorporated data from IRCC's Settlement Program and Resettlement Assistance Program focusing on services accessed by recent immigrants up to April 2021. The current article examines the settlement services accessed by adult immigrants admitted from 2016 to 2020.

Refugees are the group of immigrants that accessed settlement services the most

By April 2021, close to half (46.3%) of adult immigrants admitted from 2016 to 2020 accessed at least one type of settlement services. Refugees, who came to Canada in order to escape war, violence, conflict or persecution in their home countries, accessed settlement services the most among all immigrants. The vast majority of refugees (89.4%) accessed settlement services. By comparison, dependents of economic immigrants (51.0%), family sponsored immigrants (40.4%), and economic principal applicants (35.2%) relied less on those services.

Information and orientation the most commonly accessed type of settlement services among recent immigrants

Among the different types of services available to recent immigrants, information and orientation services were accessed the most (40.4%). This type of services provides newcomers the knowledge they need to better integrate into Canadian society, including, but not limited to, procedures to obtain official documents, information on how to obtain health and child benefits, as well as information about daily life in local communities.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Proportion of adult immigrants admitted from 2016 to 2020 who accessed federally funded settlement services, by type of services and immigration category
Proportion of adult immigrants admitted from 2016 to 2020 who accessed federally funded settlement services, by type of services and immigration category

Across all types of federally funded settlement services received by adult immigrants, needs assessment and referrals were the second most accessed services (30.4%). They were most used by refugees (77.3%) and least used by economic principal applicants (21.5%).

The third type of most commonly accessed services by adult immigrants was language training (13.4%). Overcoming language barriers is considered an important step to enable immigrants to adapt to Canadian sociocultural life as well as assist them in finding employment in the Canadian labour market. Among adult immigrants, 46.8% of adult refugees, 13.4% of sponsored family immigrants, 11.1% of dependants of economic immigrants and 3.9% of economic principal applicants had language training.

Overall, more immigrant women than men access settlement services

Among immigrant women admitted from 2016 to 2020, 49.5% accessed settlement services, compared with 42.9% of men. Information and orientation services had the biggest difference in terms of access by immigrant women and men; they were accessed by 46.0% of women and 37.0% of men. Language training services had the second biggest difference, with 16.1% of immigrant women using this type of services compared with 10.5% of men.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Proportion of adult immigrants admitted from 2016 to 2020 who received settlement services by sex
Proportion of adult immigrants admitted from 2016 to 2020 who received settlement services by sex

The settlement services module of the IMDB covers federally funded services provided to immigrants. The addition of this information in the IMDB can facilitate future analysis of the roles settlement services play in immigrants' short- and long-term socioeconomic outcomes. For example, it is possible to assess the impact of employment related services or language training on immigrants' wages and salaries as well as other sources of incomes over time.

  Note to readers

The release of the 2020 Longitudinal Immigration Database (IMDB) was initially announced in The Daily on December 6, 2021.

Settlement services were delivered by the provinces in Manitoba (starting in 1999) and British Columbia (starting in 1998), with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) assuming responsibility for these services since 2013 for Manitoba and since 2014 for British Columbia. The federal government provides an annual grant to Quebec to compensate the province for the delivery of reception and integration services in the province. As a result, settlement services in Quebec are administered by the provincial government. For more details, refer to the Evaluation of the Settlement Program.

The settlement services module of the 2020 IMDB released today provides information on federally funded settlement service accessed by newcomers and on the Resettlement Assistance Program, and it enhances the content of the IMDB. Together with other modules of the IMDB, such as the income and children modules, this settlement module has a particular strength in analyzing the impact of services on immigrants' long-term integration outcomes.

The IMDB is the result of a partnership between Statistics Canada, IRCC, and the provinces.

For additional information regarding the data coverage and data quality of the IMDB, users should refer to the Longitudinal Immigration Database (IMDB) Technical Report, 2020.

For more details about the settlement services readers should consult the following Settlement Program.

Today, Statistics Canada is also releasing the 2020 IMDB Express Entry file. It includes data about principal applicant economic immigrants admitted through express entry from 2015 to 2020.

Economic immigrant, principal applicant includes immigrants who have been selected for their ability to contribute to Canada's economy through their ability to meet labour market needs, to own and manage or to build a business, to make a substantial investment, to create their own employment or to meet specific provincial or territorial labour market needs.

Economic immigrant, dependant includes immigrants who are accompanying family member of an economic immigrant principal applicant.

Immigrant sponsored by family includes immigrants who were sponsored to come to Canada by a family member who is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

Refugee includes persons who had a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or for political opinion (Geneva Convention refugees) as well as persons who had been seriously and personally affected by civil war or armed conflict, or have suffered a massive violation of human rights.


Statistics from the module of the 2020 IMDB on settlement services are available upon request. The 2020 IMDB express entry file is now available upon request.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; or Media Relations (

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