Policy Points

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

Welcoming Diversity: The Role of Local and Civil Society Initiatives in Integrating Newcomers

Feyzi Baban, Fuat Keyman, Hande Paker, and Kim Rygiel

In a global context marked by growing international forced displacement and migration, societies are becoming
increasingly more diverse. The question of how to live together with newcomers has become a policy issue of utmost concern. While populist governments in Europe and in the US are failing to offer citizens and
newcomers alternative models for living together that encourage greater ethnic, cultural and religious plurality, in this report we highlight the contributions and lessons drawn from local and civil-society initiatives that have been successful in bringing hosts and newcomers together. We explore three such cases: Riace, a small Italian village where the leadership of a mayor and his policies allowed the presence of refugees to revitalize the community; a cultural center in Gaziantep, Turkey, where Syrian refugees are able to experience normalcy as artists, writers and community organizers; and a kitchen project in Berlin, Germany, which started in 2013 by bringing refugees and Berliners together to cook, share a meal, and to socialize. We highlight the importance of a three-pronged approached to integration that combines governmental leadership, solid integration policies, and civil-society and locally-based initiatives that allow for personal interchanges between newcomers and hosts. These interchanges contribute to changing notions of who does and does not belong and are invaluable in showing where the key to co-existence lies.

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” 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.