Advocating for people with precarious to no legal status in Canada: Introducing CCMS

Through the JHS 2020 National Conference Speaker Series, we were pleased to have hosted a session about our Community Case Management & Supervision (CCMS) services and the groundbreaking work taking place as a result of this initiative. 

Through the session, Teddy Chan, our Senior Manager of New Program Initiatives and Rhea Higginsons, JHS Canada’s ATD CCMS Project Coordinator share more about the CCMS program, how it came about, and how it’s changing the foundations of how non-profits work with government ministries.

We also heard from Cameron, a current CCMS program participant, about their own journey immigrating to Canada, the challenges they faced, and how CCMS has supported them in their journey.

Statistics on the CCMS program in Canada

CCMS provides supports and services to people who have been referred to us by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), that do not have legal status in Canada and are thus facing deportation.

Program participants are by and large foreign nationals with no status, which means that they have  limited to no access to social services, medical coverage, income assistance, work permits, identification, and other basic rights and needs. While there are many amazing immigration-focused service providers in the community, they are almost entirely focused around supporting people who do have or are actively awaiting status, meaning that those facing deportation fall through the cracks. We also see many refugee claimants referred to the program, particularly those facing complex challenges to accessing refugee status, such as criminal justice experience.

CCMS is bridging that gap by building rapport and providing services to ensure that various community needs are met, including mental health, addictions, housing, employment, community belonging, and other essential services.

The CCMS program is currently being delivered in 9 provinces across Canada within 14 regions (and counting!), with expansion opportunities occurring regularly. The program is delivered in partnership between JHS Canada and regional or provincial JHS affiliates.

Map of Canada

Victoria · Vancouver · Kamloops · Calgary · Edmonton · Saskatchewan · Winnipeg ·  Windsor · London · Niagara · Ottawa · Montreal · Moncton · Halifax

Since the program commenced in the fall of 2018, CCMS has had 148 people participate in the program.

Through CCMS, JHS is making a significant impact on systems that affect people with no status living in Canada.

During the presentation, Teddy explored how collaboration between JHS organizations led to national change: now, anyone enrolled in the CCMS program has an expediated process to apply for a national work permit.

“For us [in the Lower Mainland], this is something that when we first endeavored into this program, we wouldn’t have thought it was possible for a regional organization like ours to make this kind of national shift, but it’s been absolutely inspiring… [multisector collaboration and the CCMS program] ultimately impacts the people we serve in a positive way” – Teddy Chan, Senior Manager of New Program Initiatives of JHS Pacific and CCMS Program Manager

Prior to these national changes, participants of the CCMS program were required to go through a lengthy and highly complex process to acquire a work permit, which is an essential avenue through which they are able to meet their other basic needs.

For example, without a work permit, somebody without status may be unable to maintain housing (without income) or access health care. Now, through the CCMS program, they are able to more efficiently apply for a work permit without the need for lawyers or consultants which are largely out of reach for our service users due to the financial cost associated with these services.

Throughout their presentation, Teddy and Rhea spoke to other aspects of the CCMS program, including the barriers faced by program participants, the value and impact of multisector collaboration in action, new features of the CCMS program such as the first ever CCMS Housing program being launched in the Lower Mainland of BC, and the role that the JHS plays in humanizing the lives of the people we work with across Canada.

“It’s up to us to humanize the lives that we work with”

Teddy Chan