Policy Points

Policy Points is a publication peer-reviewed by IMRC Associates. New proposals are always welcome. Please email proposals to the IMRC.

Syrian Refugee Resettlement and the Role of Local Immigration Partnerships (LIPs) in Ontario, Canada

Margaret Walton-Roberts, Luisa Veronis, Sarah Wayland, Huyen Dam, and Blair Cullen, Policy Points, Issue XIII

IMRC Policy Points XIII March, 2018

During the peak of the Syrian refugee “crisis”i in 2015 and early 2016, the Canadian Federal Government responded with a push to drastically increase the number of Syrian refugees it planned to resettle. The resulting Syrian Refugee Resettlement Initiative (SRRI) put to the test Local Immigration Partnerships (LIPs), a form of place-based policy that had been in place since 2008 where communities collaborate in the support, development and execution of local immigration and refugee resettlement plans. This issue of Policy Points discusses a study of three LIPs (Hamilton, Ottawa, and Waterloo Region) and their response to the SRRI. The research provides three policy insights relevant to refugee and immigrant community resettlement. Bringing the community into the fold through multi stakeholder tables such as LIPs can coordinate local responses to the resettlement of refugees (policy insight 1). LIPs must be embedded in the local community and include leaders and personnel able to build and enhance local stakeholder networks (policy insight 2). Finally, it is key to involve LIPs in communication channels during mass resettlement events (policy insight 3). Policy action under points 2 and 3 will in turn enable LIPs to effectively support refugee resettlement at the local level. The experience of the three Ontario LIPs in this study is relevant to existing and potential new LIPs, but it also offers a unique
place-based policy approach to engaging local communities in resettlement at other locations and scales.

International Students Adaptation and Integration in the Canadian University Sector

Guanglong Pang and Margaret Walton-Roberts (2017), Policy Points, Issue XII

International students are increasingly seen as potential migrants in the Canadian context. Pathway language programs are widely recognized as an effective system to enhance international students’ linguistic skills and a means towards effective cultural adaptation before entering university degree programs. University instructors commonly agree that Asian international students experience integration challenges. Given that China continues to dominate as the leading sending country of international students to Canada, this research examined Wilfrid Laurier University’s affiliated language program, which has a large Chinese student population, in order to assess the socio-cultural adaptation process. Considering the variable educational contexts that Chinese international students engage in, research data was collected among a) current language students at Laurier English & Academic Foundation (LEAF) (a pre-degree program), b) LEAF graduates now studying in an undergraduate program at and c) Laurier undergraduate students admitted directly from Chinese high school. Using a Likert Scale survey (n=127) and semi-structured interviews (n=13), statistical and qualitative analyses were conducted. The results indicated that LEAF graduates–having the longest residency in Canada and having completed language training before university—ranked the lowest in social and linguistic skills among the three groups. Directly admitted undergraduates ranked second; current LEAF students ranked as the most satisfied with their socio-cultural skills, English language skills and education capacities in general. This seeming decline in confidence as students move through the educational process suggests that for international students, socio-cultural adaptation processes and language acquisition is non-linear. In other words, it is a bumpy process that can be variable and represented by adaptation valleys and hills. Universities and other service providers involved in international education are advised to be actively engaged in helping international students transition throughout the international student’s migration trajectory.

Scaling Canada’s Local Immigration Partnerships (LIPs) Model for Proactive Refugee Resettlement

Ahmed Mohamoud Elmi, Marina Ghosh, Sasha Oliveira and Margaret Walton-Roberts (2017), Policy Points, Issue XI

In this issue of Policy Points we provide a vision for scaling up Canada’s Local Immigration Partnership (LIP) model for refugee resettlement abroad. Global refugee resettlement is an issue that needs a coordinated and collaborative approach that includes communities as partners. Canada presents a proactive and responsive solution to this problem. First introduced in Ontario in 2008, LIPs are a community-based collaborative model for newcomer resettlement and integration that has proven successful in many local communities across Canada. Most importantly, LIPs played an important role in the resettlement of Syrian refugees in several communities across Canada in 2015-2016. The recommendation in this brief aims to offer details to scale up LIPs, a Canadian model of local community involvement in refugee resettlement for the international community.

Global Care Chains: Addressing Unpaid Reproductive Labour in the Philippines

Harrison Ellis (2016), Policy Points, Issue X

This brief examines policy options to address the gender disparities of unpaid care work created by the global care chain. Examining the Philippine context, potential responses include equalizing maternity and paternity leave, expanding state childcare services, partnering with money transfer businesses (MTBs), and promoting the recruitment men for care positions. This issue has been recognized by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Target 5.4 of the SDGs calls for the recognition of the value of “unpaid care labour and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and the promotion of responsibility within the household and the family.” Moving beyond simply recognizing the value of unpaid care labour, social policies must be developed to address the gendered division of reproductive labour in ways that informed by critical feminist literature.

Keegan Williams (2016), Policy Points, Issue IX

Ontario is unique when it comes to international migration in Canada. It is the leading province in overall flows, including individuals participating in the temporary foreign workers (TFWs) program. Employers hire TFWs on a contractual basis to work here, and from 2000 to 2012, about 800,000 came to Ontario – representing 40% of Canada’s total TFWs. Despite their growing numbers, economic importance, and the rapidly changing landscape of federal immigration policy, there is little work looking at the Temporary Foreign Worker Program or its economic impact on the province. In this research, we found that employers in specific industries, like agriculture, senior business management, and childcare, tended to hire TFWs and did so through specific parts of the Program. Our preliminary results show that the influx of TFWs was statistically associated with shorter job tenure, higher Employment Insurance receipts, and increases in wages in some jobs, but lower wages in others. These effects are particularly significant in industries with large numbers of TFWs. So while TFWs undoubtedly contribute to Ontario’s overall economic development, more research should be done to understand their specific economic effects on particular industries and demographics. This is especially important given the provincial responsibilities in labour, health and education, which federal immigration policy directly impacts.

New policies, new students, new direction? Trends in international student enrollment in Ontario’s changing policy landscape

Keegan Williams, Gabriel Williams, Amy Arbuckle, Margaret Walton-Roberts,Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 2.14.18 PM
and Jenna Hennebry (2015), Policy Points, Issue VIII

International students bring immense benefits to Ontario’s postsecondary system and labour market through the financial boon they bring to universities and colleges, their cultural diversity, the positive economic impacts they can have on Canadian society after graduation, and the skills they develop and contribute. However, many international students may find it difficult to transition to permanent residence after graduation, or find the career they seek immediately upon completion of their studies. In addition, little is known about the number of international students transitioning to the labour market, their socioeconomic outcomes, or their success in doing so. The present analysis sought to identify the number of international students who entered Ontario from 2000 to 2012, their demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, identify trends in their entry, and identify the ways they most commonly transition to the labour market. It also identified the main policies guiding international student recruitment and transition, and noted the policy changes that would have the most direct effect on international students. This brief summarizes the findings from a research project for the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario in 2013-2014.

The Need for Local Reintegration Policy/Programs in Rural Mexico PPVII

Meredith Giel (2014), Policy Points, Issue VII

Since 2007, a growing number of Mexican immigrants in the United States have been returning to Mexico. For the first time since the 1960s, net migration in Mexico is zero, implying that just as many Mexicans are returning to Mexico as are going to the United States. There are a number of factors contributing to this return migration by Mexican nationals. This current situation presents the Mexican government with new priorities and responsibilities. Upon return, many of these unskilled workers face barriers preventing proper reintegration back into Mexican society, including a lack of support networks, potential language and cultural barriers dependent on the length of time they spent in the United States, and a lack of skills needed for available employment. The Mexican government is not prepared to assist and support the number of returning migrants. This lack of reintegration support causes many returning migrants to again leave Mexico and fosters a circular form of migration


The Migrant Farmworker Health Journey: Identifying Issues and Considering Change across Borders PPVI

J. McLaughlin, J. Hennebry, D.C. Cole and G. Williams (2014), Policy Points, Issue VI.

There are currently about 300 000 temporary foreign workers employed in Canada every year, roughly 20 000 of whom work as migrant farm workers (MFWs) in the province of Ontario. MFWs travel primarily from Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean and typically work on a seasonal basis, with just over 15 000 workers annually coming to Ontario under Canada’s long-standing Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP), and many under the Stream for Lower Skilled Occupations (SLSO). All workers are eligible (with some variability) for provincial health insurance in Ontario (OHIP) and workers’ compensation (WSIB), and are covered by provincial health and safety legislation through the Ministry of Labour, and yet MFWs are not always able or willing to access these health and compensation services. Further, these services often do not extend beyond Canada’s borders. MFWs face difficulties and barriers to access at every ‘stage’ of their journey, from pre-departure to their return home, not just their stay while in Canada.


Backgrounder on Immigration Policy Changes and Entry to Practice Routes for Internationally Educated Nurses (IENs) Entering CanadaPPV

M. Walton-Roberts, K. Williams, J. Guo and J. Hennebry (2014) Policy Points, Issue V.

Every year, about 17,500 internationally-educated nurses (IENs) immigrate to Canada from countries like the Philippines, India, and China. While many IENs would like to practice in Canada, new immigration policies and professional regulations at the federal and provincial level limits their ability to do so. In response, migrants are increasingly using two-step immigration routes to enter the profession (e.g., international student -> permanent economic immigrant) or pursuing alternative careers in health (e.g., Personal Support Worker). These outcomes have significant policy implications for labour force planning in nursing, ethical recruitment for international healthcare workers, the process of migrant workforce integration, and reproduction of migration as a form of gendered development for sending states.  The purpose of this policy points is to summarize our findings from a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) knowledge synthesis report on how migrant transition programs intersect with labour force planning in the Canadian nursing sector. We consider the relevance of these issues for employers, regulators, the Canadian health system, and migrants themselves.

Backgrounder on Safety and Legal Protection of Irregular Migrants and Volunteer Workers in Mexico PPIII

Andrea Pietrzak (2012) Policy Points, Issue III.

This backgrounder summarizes the risks faced by irregular migrants and humanitarian workers in Mexico based on various reports. Utilizing the documentation provided by, Casa del Migrante, a migrant shelter in Saltillo, Mexico, this backgrounder explains the security threats to migrants, migrant shelters and shelter workers. Recommendations are proposed on pages 3 and 4, aimed at Federal, State, Municipal and International levels of government.


Key Issues & Recommendations for Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program: Reducing Vulnerabilities & Protecting Rights

J. Hennebry and J. McLaughlin (2011) Policy Points, Issue II.PPII

In this issue of Policy Points we have identified some of the most significant rights issues facing Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) in Canada based on our empirical research amassed over a decade of study. In order to address these problems, we have provided a number of recommendations for the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) with an emphasis on some of the most vulnerable workers – those in the Pilot Project for Occupations Requiring Lower Levels of Formal Training (NOC C & D Pilot), and the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP). While recognizing that there are jurisdictional differences and many other changes could be integrated at the provincial and municipal levels, the following provide the most essential federal-level recommendations.



Backgrounder on Health and Safety for Migrant Farmworkers in Canada  

J. McLaughlin and J. Hennebry (2010) Policy Points, Issue I.PPI

Annually, approximately 30,000 migrant farmworkers come to work across Canada from countries such as Mexico, Jamaica, Guatemala, the Philippines and Thailand through Canada’s Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) and the Pilot Project for Occupations Requiring Lower Levels of Formal Training (NOC C and D). Their health and safety has long been a neglected area of research, but several recent studies have now shed light on some important issues of concern. Despite these studies’ diverse contexts (Ontario and British Columbia) and methods (quantitative questionnaires and qualitative ethnography) the similar findings in each study demonstrate consistent patterns. The purpose of this backgrounder is to summarize the main findings of this recent research: (1) Hennebry, Preibisch and McLaughlin, 2010; (2) McLaughlin, 2009; and (3) Otero and Preibisch, 2009.




News: IMRC Policy Points Issue XIII Published

Read More Here: Syrian Refugee Resettlement and the Role of Local Immigration Partnerships (LIPs) in Ontario, Canada

Margaret Walton-Roberts, Luisa Veronis, Sarah Wayland, Huyen Dam, and Blair Cullen

News: MOAS Podcast: Rohingya Migrants Prepare for Extreme Weather

How do you protect over one million Rohingya refugees during the monsoon season? It’s difficult. In a few short weeks, the cyclone and monsoon seasons will hit Bangladesh bringing with them wind speeds of up to 100 kilometres and almost two metres in rainfall in some places. That’s why we’re exploring what’s going on the ground, why this year could be deadly and how the aid agencies are preparing for a multitude of emergencies. Joining us to discuss this are Pro Vice Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, Dave Petley and WASH Officer for UNHCR, Emmett Kearney.

Dave Petley @davepetley
Emmett Kearney @emmettjk

Podcast: https://audioboom.com/posts/6710517-preparing-for-extreme-weather

Emergency Cyclone and Monsoon Appeal:

Emergency Cyclone and Monsoon Appeal 2018

News: 2017 Gunn Award Winner Iain Wilson Receives Certificate

The 2017 Gunn Award prize has been awarded to Iain Wilson, an MA student in the Department of History at Queen’s University, Kingston. He has a BA from Victoria College at the University of Toronto. Iain has also won the Michael Bliss Essay Prize in Canadian Political History and the George Metcalfe Memorial Scholarship for High Standing in Canadian History. He is currently studying Canadian state policy towards Indigenous peoples in the late 19th century.

Iain’s essay is titled, “Organic Settlement in Pre-19th Century Newfoundland”. The essay explores why, despite the considerable value of Newfoundland’s fisheries (one of the most potent in the world until recently) and the strong state interest of the English Crown in maintaining this economy, European migration to Newfoundland remained relatively inconsiderable until the 19th century, why those who did settle chose to do so, and how these organic communities created the foundations for future migration influxes. Click here to read the essay.

IMRC Receives 2017 President’s Achievement Award!

News: IMRC’s Dr. Janet McLaughlin in the news!

Check out the Star’s article, a documentary, and WLU highlight of her research.

  • https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/migrants/2017/10/07/this-sexually-abused-migrant-worker-is-now-safe-but-she-knows-others-arent.html
  • http://www.contextwithlornadueck.com/2017/10/11/migrant-justice/
  • https://www.wlu.ca/academics/research/researcher-profiles/faculty-researchers/janet-mclaughlin.html

News: Article on IMRC’s Associate Director Kim Rygiel

Laurier political scientist researching what makes communities embrace or reject newcomers 

Join the IMRC Community

The International Migration Research Centre (IMRC) is a research centre serving as a focal point for debate, research, policy analysis, and proposal development related to international migration at the global, national and regional scale. The IMRC fosters research in new policy development and alternative models and practices of managing temporary, circular and permanent forms of international migration. Our research is relevant to practice and policymaking in the areas of international governance, mobilities, critical border issues, diaspora and development, labour relations, transnationalism and human security.

Our mission is to develop and sponsor research linkages and activities with scholars, and share and discuss the implications of this research with nongovernmental and governmental actors and representatives from across Canada and around the world. We are building a network of scholars, community representatives and policy-makers in order to foster relevant and innovative research and partnerships – so, affiliate with the IMRC and connect!

IMRC Organizational Structure

The research centre structure involves a Director, an Associate Director, Executive Committee and a Board of Directors drawn from our Research Associates, Research Affiliates, Community/Institutional Affiliates and Student Affiliates. Research associates/affiliates requests are to be submitted to the executive committee (via email or hard copy), and new members will be determined by a majority vote. To become an IMRC Research Associate or Affiliate, submit the application form with a recent CV demonstrating research interests in the field of international migration. Community/Institutional Affiliates are asked to contact the Director or Associate Director directly prior to submitting the form, since in some cases it will not be required. Students are asked to submit the form, and undergo an interview with the Director or Associate Director.

Research Associates are typically faculty members from Wilfrid Laurier University, University of Waterloo and/or the Balsillie Scohool of International Affairs who are interested in participating in IMRC events and research initiatives. IMRC Research Associates may: utilize the IMRC’s research space, conference/meeting area, and visiting scholar offices; participate free of charge in centre events; contribute papers to the online working paper series and other IMRC publications; administer grants or contracts through the IMRC; draw on IMRC research assistants and administrative support when available for research or events hosted by the IMRC; be eligible to apply for financial support or research assistantships when available; advertise events and circulate information through the IMRC website; be sent regular updates on centre events and research, internal and external funding opportunities, conference announcements, calls for papers, and new publication releases related to international migration; participate in yearly workshops and sessions organized by the IMRC at WLU, at National and International Metropolis Conferences, and other venues; utilize the IMRC reference library, migration research and teaching resources (e.g. the IOM/FOCAL Online Migration Mapping Project, and journal subscriptions); help initiate new proposals and research perspectives and help to develop the ongoing network collaborations between academic and community members. IMRC Associates may be considered for positions on the executive committee, or for the positions of Director and Associate Director. Research Associates must have a demonstrated research interest related to international migration.

Research Affiliates include faculty and researchers (e.g. PhD students, lecturers, independent scholars) from across Canada, as well as international scholars with an interest in international migration research. IMRC Research Affiliates will be sent regular updates on centre events and research, funding opportunities for faculty and students, conference announcements and calls for papers, and new publication releases related to international migration. Affiliates may contribute papers to the online working paper series and other IMRC publications, and may participate in centre events, workshops and conferences.

Our Partners and Networks include community members, policy makers, non-governmental and governmental representatives and other organizations who are involved in work related to immigrants or migration more broadly. These affiliated individuals and groups will be sent regular updates on centre events and research, and new publication releases related to international migration.

Student Affiliates are graduate students from any faculty, department or campus who have an interest related to international migration.  Students wishing to be affiliated with the centre are asked to submit this form to either the Director or Associate Director. Students will be able to take part in the centre’s events, utilize research resources, and apply for funding, scholarships and research assistantships.

Guidelines and Application Form

Welcome from New IMRC Directors

Dear colleagues,

Summer’s greetings from the IMRC! We hope that this finds you immersed in fruitful field research, cool summer activities, and rest.

We are writing to announce our arrival as new directors at the IMRC, to introduce you to the Centre’s new Administrative Assistant Kirsten Pries, and to thank outgoing directors Drs. Jenna Hennebry and Margaret Walton-Roberts. As founding directors, Jenna and Margaret established a thriving Centre and set a high bar for IMRC activity. We have been grateful to enjoy the Centre as an intellectual and politically-engaged home, and look forward to contributing to the life of the Centre with the same energy and spirit of inclusion and meaningful engagement established by Margaret and Jenna.

Many of you proposed stimulating ideas at the general meeting held at the Balsillie School of International Affairs last fall, and we are excited to implement and move forward with these ideas. In the months ahead, you can expect to hear from us about upcoming lectures, films, conferences, committees, and roaming coffee klatches. We will be embarking on a five-year visioning exercise for the Centre, and also have a new communications strategy in the works (thanks to Shawna Reibling and Research Services!).

We would like the opportunity to share your work with broader communities and are eager to showcase the wonderful research being carried out by affiliated students, faculty, and visiting scholars. The extent of collaboration across campuses and international boundaries is impressive. We want to see you and hear what you have been up to.

Please check out the updated website when you have a chance (imrc.ca), let us know any thoughts you have, and look for messages from us over the usual channels: the IMRC email listserve, twitter (@imrconline), and facebook (@internationalmigrationresearchcentre).

We look forward to working with you in the months and years ahead to continue to build a vibrant intellectual home for research and public engagement at the IMRC.


Alison Mountz (Director) and Kim Rygiel (Associate Director)

Migrant Mobility Initiative

Providing free bicycles to migrant farm workers in Ontariobike sign

Migrant farm workers can experience restrictive circumstances working in Ontario. Simple things like long hours and distance from important services are obstacles. Easy, safe and affordable transportation can remove some of them.

Providing bicycles to groups may help to increase their mobility, allowing individuals and groups to better access things they need.

Your donations will go directly to the purchase of bicycles that will be given, free of cost, to migrant farm workers. The more donations we receive, the more bikes we can purchase.

Donate to IMRC today!

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