Citizenship and Immigration Canada cuts $5 million of SISO’s funding after audit reveals ‘insufficient internal management controls’
Author: Danielle Wong
Reference: The Hamilton Spectator, October 9, 2010, p. A3
Original title: SISO losing up to $5 million; Federal body cuts funding; 80 full-time staffers could lose jobs
A federal agency has pulled up to $5 million in funding from SISO, the largest local provider of services for immigrants and refugees, citing “concerns” about how some programs were being run.
The cuts could take away key services and leave up to 80 full-time employees out of a job.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) notified the Settlement and Integration Services Organization on Sept. 23 that it would not renew its funding for the agency’s host program, immigrant settlement and adaptation program (ISAP), youth host program and youth ISAP.
The four contribution agreements expired at the end of September, but SISO has until the end of December to make the transition before funding is cut off.
The decision was made “as a result of concerns identified through activity and financial monitoring and subsequent financial audits,” Tasneem Yahya, spokesperson for the Ontario CIC office, said in an e-mail.
The department met with SISO five times this year to discuss “issues of financial accountability and documentation, insufficient internal management controls and poor communication with the department,” but performance didn’t improve, Yahya wrote.
The chair of SISO’s board of directors, Hussein Hamdani, is calling on CIC to set out its expectations around contract renewals more clearly to agencies.
“What process did you have in place for your findings? That’s where we want an open, objective, fair investigation,” he said.
SISO is currently negotiating with CIC, Hamdani said.
“We’re disappointed, of course, at the fact the contracts were not renewed, especially (because), for some of these, we’re the only providers,” he said.
About 26,000 client families are directly affected by the cuts, Hamdani said, adding between $3 million and $5 million in federal funding could be axed, with 70 to 80 full-time positions being cut.
“(CIC’s decision) is not a quality-of-service matter whatsoever,” Hamdani said. “Our contention is, we know SISO is built on 18 years of expertise. It’s one of a few service agencies that are specialized.”
SISO is the only service provider in Hamilton that offers a host program, which matches newcomers with Canadian volunteers to help them create friendships and settle into a new country.
Local MPs Chris Charlton, David Christopherson and Wayne Marston sent a letter Wednesday to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, asking for a third-party, independent review of the affected SISO programs and CIC’s process for deciding not to renew the funding.
There has been no evidence presented or explanation to justify the cuts, Charlton said.
“Cutting the four programs without any explanation is completely unacceptable,” she said, adding she was particularly upset about the possibility of losing The Globe, SISO’s centre for immigrant and refugee youth.
Federal funding of about $8 million for SISO’s settlement workers in school, language instruction for newcomers to Canada and resettlement assistance programs will remain next year, CIC says.
Hamdani said SISO is working on alternative plans for funding sources, including “increasing” its relationship with the province through expanding the agency’s internationally trained professional bridging program.