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Missing Connections - University of Victoria

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Missing Connections
The Newcomer Settlement Sector, the Canadian Disability Community, and Social ExclusionsRemarks to the 14th National Metropolis ConferenceFuture Immigration Policies: Challenges and Opportunities for CanadaToronto, March 3, 2012
Raising questions
What do the settlement sector and disability movement look like in contemporaryCanada?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?
Making statements
Disablement and settlement are both processes: bundles of activities, actions and inactions, through time and in place, which share many issuesDisablement is a part of the settlement experience of newcomers in CanadaAs human and social phenomenon, both relate to several areas of public policy and practiceBoth sectors face serious problems of policy incoherence and public indifference
Comparing groups
Living common experiences
As fields of public policy
As fields of public policy
Both sectors straining under stress
Contain a mix of single and multi-service agencies; ethno- or impairment-specific, and multi-ethnic and cross-disability agenciesFocus largely on service provision; some attention to community work and capacity buildingReceive funding mainly as annual contracts for particular projects; little, if any, for infrastructure or multi-year supportConstrained by accountability rules and reporting requirementsRestricted ability of most agencies to engage in advocacy on behalf of clients, individually or systemicallyA 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 DisabilitiesReliance by many agencies on family members, friends and volunteers to provide specific services
System Cracks or Structural Chasms?
Cracks:partial fractures or breaks in systems; small breakages in services; narrow gaps or holesMetaphorically, minimizes the extent of problems“Falling through the cracks” individualizes the phenomenonEmpirically, suggests a system of services and supports does exist which, more or less, has reliabilityChasms:deep gaps; wide fractures and profound differences; significant empty spacesPoints to growing social exclusion and persistent economic marginalization of newcomers; and to continuing isolation and systemic segregation of many Canadians with disabilitiesBoth sectors have astonishing fractures and absences in political leadership, investments, and public policy
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 countryImmigrant Serving agencies often are not allowed, under government contracts to provide actual work experience programsEmployment options for disabled extremely limited and frequently in segregated settings
Making connections
Community organizationsEthno-racial, newcomer/settlement, and disability services and rightsSocial theoriesCultural perspectivesMaterialism (historical, feminist)Social constructionSocietal divisionsIntersecting barriers, identities, and experiencesSimultaneous discrimination and multiple oppressionsNew social movementsObjectives of redistribution, recognition, and representationCoalitions of interests
Exercising democratic practices
Inserting settlement and disablement issues into current political and policy debatesQuestioning dominant social images and public understandings of these groupsEmphasizing the significance of disability and immigration in theCanadian social orderFostering shared understandings between communitiesWidening the definitional scope of “disability issues” and “settlement issues”Building structural links with other equality-seeking groups and social movements
Recapping observations
Newcomers to Canada and people with disabilities represent embodied diversities of the population as well as entrenched inequalitiesBoth communities confront a varied and contradictory matrix of images and stereotypesBoth groups are somewhat changeable in compositionBoth are subject to assorted forms of assessment, surveillance, diagnostics, and categorizationBoth sectors are mixed and complex organizational spaces that are under tremendous pressureMaking connections in theoretical, research, and political ways opens up many possibilities for change
Noting some references
Haynes, Roy (2011)None is Still Too Many: An Historical Exploration ofCanadian Immigration Legislation as it Pertains to People with Disabilities.Winnipeg: Council of Canadians with Disabilities., 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.
Thank you
Michael J. PrinceLansdowne Professor of Social PolicyFaculty of Human and Social DevelopmentUniversity of [email protected] Poverty and Enabling CitizenshipCommunity-University Research Alliance (CURA)





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Missing Connections - University of Victoria