A Study of the Need for Language Interpretation and Translation Services (LITS) in the Delivery of Immigrant Settlement Programs

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Link: http://atwork.settlement.org/downloads/atwork/Language_Interpretation_and_Translation_study.pdf
By: PSTG Consulting
Org: Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration (MCI)
Date: 2010

This study looks at language interpretation and translation services (LITS) delivered in the settlement sector in Ontario. It used literature review, key informant interviews, a survey, focus groups and interviews with stakeholders within and outside of the settlement sector.


The objective of this study is to review interpretation and translation services related to immigrant settlement services in Ontario, and specifically to:

  • Identify the current needs for these services across the sector and province;
  • Study the current delivery of interpretation services at "ISAP" agencies;
  • Review practices for the delivery of interpretation and translation services in the health, justice and social service sectors, as well as across jurisdictions;
  • Review and list external sources of interpretation services that may be accessed by service providing organizations;
  • Identify gaps in the current system; and
  • Recommend improvements and/or new service delivery models for interpretation and translation services.


Overall, the study found interpretation to be an emerging service delivery field, with little documented in the way of practice or research. The sector/jurisdiction review indicated that most jurisdictions (e.g., Australia) that are considered to have a progressive and effective approach to LITS have in place:

  • Legislation/policy to guide service delivery;
  • Coordinated/centralized service delivery/administration/funding, and
  • Standards and guidelines for the training, testing and on-going performance management of interpreters.

In comparison, LITS in Ontario can be described as lacking in all these areas:

  • Neither legislation nor policy have been developed to guide LITS;
  • The service delivery system is fragmented, with decisions and delivery systems differing at the organization, regional and provincial levels;
  • There lacks a consistent approach to the training and testing of interpreters across the settlement sector due to the lack of a standard province-wide approach to training, testing and using volunteer, staff and paid interpreters.

These gaps result in other system wide deficiencies including:

  • Access to LITS in rural and urban areas being limited;
  • Service providers" and user"s understanding of the role of interpretation in service delivery being limited, and
  • Insufficient information and communication technology to support the effective delivery of LITS.


The study makes these recommendations:

  1. Establish an Interpretation and Translation Unit (ITU), in order to provide focus, direction and targeted resources to:
    • Establish a Provincial Policy Framework;
    • Establish Provincial Standards;
    • Implement a standard or common training and testing program;
    • Implement a centralized training and testing service delivery model (Ontario Interpreter Training and Testing Services (OITTS));
    • Implement a coordinated interpreter service delivery mechanism (Ontario Interpretation Services (OIS)); and
      • Develop operational guidelines for the delivery of interpretation for the settlement sector.
  1. Enhance the technology supports available at the local level.
  2. Develop a translation clearinghouse to routinely identify, translate and make widely accessible key documents required by newcomers.
  3. Develop service level agreements with providers from other sectors requiring interpreter services.
  4. Develop and implement a performance management system, including development of a common reporting system for collecting and reporting basic data.
  5. Pilot a "system navigator" role to address the interpretation needs of new and emerging high risk refugee communities.
  6. Develop and implement an interpretation awareness raising and education initiative.

Read the full report, A Study of the Need for Language Interpretation and Translation Services (LITS) in the Delivery of Immigrant Settlement Programs (PDF).