Immigrant Settlement Work in Canada: Limits and Possibilities for Professionalization


  • This research has been funded in part by a Strategic Research Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. I would also like to thank Colleen Lundy, as well as the editor and three anonymous reviewers of this journal, for their helpful comments and suggestions.


Cet article dépeint l’émergence du travail d’établissement auprès des immigrants au Canada et explore les perspectives d'avenir de celui-ci en tant que profession. À l'heure actuelle, le travail d'établissement comprend trois formes de pratique : (1) un travail aux contours flous; (2) une spécialité du travail social; et (3) une profession en émergence. Cet article soutient que le travail d'établissement aura probablement un avenir professionnel. Cependant, la question de savoir s'il devient une profession indépendante dépend en grande partie du régime de financement du secteur des services d'établissement. Si le régime de financement fédéral et à court terme continue d'exister, le travail d'établissement cherchera encore sa définition au sein du domaine général du travail de service social. S'il émerge un régime de financement provincial et à long terme, les perspectives d'un travail d'établissement professionnel et indépendant s'amélioreront.

This paper portrays the emergence of Canadian settlement work with immigrants and explores its prospects as an occupation. Currently, settlement work includes three forms of practice: (1) a loose occupation; (2) a specialty of social work; and (3) an emerging profession. The paper argues that settlement work is likely to have a professional future. However, whether or not it will become an independent profession depends largely on the funding regime of the settlement service sector. If the existing federal and short-term funding regime continues, settlement work will still be trying to define itself in the broader field of social service work. If a provincial and long-term funding regime emerges, prospects for an independent professional settlement work will improve.