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    Developing the Immigration Web Portal

    Addressing a community need

    Between 2001 and 2006, the Region welcomed 118,200 immigrants who came directly to Peel, an average of 23,640 per year. Recognizing the need to help families and individuals with the challenges of moving from one country to another, the Region has built an immigration web portal to help newcomers settle into their new lives more easily.

    Funding from the Government of Ontario, through the Canada Ontario Immigration Agreement, enabled the Region to undertake extensive research and consultations to ensure the information on the portal would benefit newcomers. Of particular importance to newcomers, the site has plenty of employment and labour market information to assist them with their job search even before leaving their country to come to Canada.

    Developing a team of experts

    To ensure the web portal was developed with the audience in mind, an interdisciplinary project team from the Region of Peel and the community was formed. Throughout the development process, the team consulted with community partners; and recent and well established newcomers, to seek advice in developing the content.

    This team reviewed a wide range of immigration-focused web portals; engaged in a “newcomer simulation exercise” and undertook usability reviews to determine information that was valuable and important to newcomers. Through this research, the project team identified seven key topic areas for the web portal:

    • Employment
    • Housing
    • Education
    • Healthcare
    • Transportation
    • Language
    • Family

    Engaging community expertise

    In Fall 2007, the project team entered into a community consultation process to solicit feedback from the following groups:

    • Recent newcomers
    • Employed newcomers who had lived in Peel Region from one to five years
    • Front line staff from agencies and organizations that work with new immigrants
    • Peel employers.

    One community consultation, involving more than 40 organizations, and three focus groups with each of the key audiences were held to gather data that would shape the content of the portal.

    Finding information through each focus group

    The in-depth focus groups allowed the project team to validate the importance of the seven high-level topics and also explored how to organize the content for the audience.

    The findings of this research included:

    • Suggestions for new content and prioritization of existing content
    • The benefit of including strategies and tips for the entire family from the experiences of newcomers living in Peel for five years or more
    • Ideas and suggestions from employers about their role in the web portal

    Results help build a valuable portal

    Based on the input from the consultation and focus groups, the project team came away with the following insights that guided the development of the portal:

    • Focus content on employment – it’s most newcomer’s top priority
    • Put the seven key topics on the home page
    • Include information to help prepare newcomers before they move
    • Use realistic experiences and language rather than ideal or generic
    • Where possible, include interactive elements
    • Incorporate visuals that establish the cite as Canada-focused and government-operated to give visitors confidence in the information
    • Include links to external websites
    • Include links and resources for employers

    Once armed with a well-researched and clearly defined strategy, the project team worked with a variety of external supporters, to gather and verify the portal’s content.  There are more than 150 pages on the site with an extensive array of external links that provide detailed information on services, supports, amenities and activities available in Peel.

    For detailed information on the research plan visit:
    www.peelregion.ca/social-services/web-portal-exec-sum.htm

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    Revised: Wednesday February 04 2015

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