More Than a Place of Refuge: Meaningful engagement of Government-assisted refugees in the future of work. An Action Canada Task Force report

From the recent Action Canada report, on ways to improve participation in the workplace for Government Assisted Refugees. Most of these are reasonable but I would question the need for a national anti-racism strategy specific to former refugees as hard to see that anti-Muslim or anti-Black racism is specific to refugees and former refugees:

Recommendation 1: The Government of Canada should support the development of collaborative options in which GARs can access programs to simultaneously improve their language skills while acquiring Canadian work experience and earning wages.

Recommendation 2: The Government of Canada should support the prioritization of creating enhanced social capital for GARs through an emphasis on social bridging/integration.

Recommendation 3: The Government of Canada should reduce the amount of the claw-back on income above 50 percent of the Resettlement Assistance Program amount from 100 percent to 50 percent to encourage former refugees to find full-time employment.

Recommendation 4: The Government of Canada should extend Resettlement Assistance Program eligibility to 24 months.

Recommendation 5: The Government of Canada should direct Statistics Canada to work with federal ministries, provincial governments and settlement agencies to collect and publicly distribute relevant, updated and on-time data regarding newcomer refugees, and especially relating to uptake of different social programs and employment.

Recommendation 6: The Government of Canada should establish a national strategy to combat discrimination against former refugees, with an emphasis on Islamophobia and anti-black racism.


Action Canada: Barriers to Belonging Report and Municipal Voting

Attended the presentation of the Action Canada report 5 Feb (I had been one of the people consulted in its preparation)Citizenship and Selection).

Well attended, including the Parliamentary Secretary for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Arif Virani, who signalled the change and tone of the new government.

The one part of the report that I have a friendly disagreement with is the push for municipal voting.

The main arguments used – Permanent Residents use municipal services, pay taxes, live in the communities – apply also to provincial services (e.g., healthcare and education) and federal services (e.g., Service Canada and related employment programs). Comparisons with Europe are largely irrelevant given the barriers to or length to obtain citizenship in most European countries.

And I have never seen – readers to correct me – any convincing data or evidence on whether extending municipal voting to non-citizens will make a marked difference in voting participation or overall integration.

Recommendations as follows:

  1. Recognize and facilitate permanent immigration and citizenship acquisition as critical to nation building in selection, citizenship, settlement and integration policies. Avoid policies that risk leading to long-term residence without permanent status or citizenship.
  2. Factor the settlement and integration needs of immigrants into selection policy, alongside the long-term social and economic needs of the country.

Designing smarter services:

  1. Engage stakeholders to identify information gaps, design usable data formats, and create platforms for consolidating evidence on what works. Include, at a minimum, settlement service providers, and provincial and municipal governments.
  2. Create a $10M pay-for-success fund – about 1% of the total settlement and integration budget – focused on immigrant inclusion outcomes. This could be modeled on the UK DWP Innovation Fund.
  3. Expand eligibility criteria for settlement services.

Building Bridges to Employment

  1. Engage employers to develop demand-driven employment solutions.
  2. Work with small and medium-sized enterprise business support programs, accelerators, incubators and innovation hubs to create entrepreneurship training, mentorship, loan and venture capital programs targeted to recent immigrants.

Strengthening Political Engagement


  1. Amend provincial and territorial legislation to remove barriers to non-citizens voting in municipal elections, including school board elections.


  1. Remove barriers to non-citizens becoming members of municipal governance bodies.
  2. Publish an annual report card on the extent to which municipal governance bodies reflect the diversity of the communities they serve. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities should spearhead this initiative, alongside leading municipalities.

View Report


Action Canada Report: Barriers to Belonging – Paving a Smoother Path to Immigrant Inclusion

For those interested in Ottawa, presentation of a report February 5 by a group of young Canadian leaders on immigrant integration (Barriers to Belonging session – disclosure I was one of the people interviewed for the report):

Fellows Presentation Invite EN (Feb '16)There are currently 1.6 million permanent residents in Canada. These newcomers are central to the economic, social and political fabric of the country. Yet these recent immigrants continue to face considerable challenges to participating in the full spectrum of Canadian life.

Join us for the release of our report: Barriers to Belonging – Paving a Smoother Path to Immigrant Inclusion, and participate in a public dialogue around recommendations concerning the design of smarter services, building bridges to employment and strengthening the political engagement of recent immigrants.

What:              Action Canada Presentation of Final Report

When:             Friday February 5, 2016

Time:              8:45am – 9:45am (light refreshments and welcome beginning at 8:00am)

Where:           Sheraton Ottawa Hotel, Rideau Room, 150 Albert Street