A CERIS Community Panel Discussion

Event Recap & Resources

March 14, 2019

YMCA Toronto Central

Our recent Community Panel Discussion brought together key stakeholders to discuss complex immigration and settlement related issues in Ontario.

About 60 people were in attendance, representing the Community (54%), Government (25%), and Post-secondary Education (21%) sectors.

Special thanks to our panelists (Debbie Douglas, Sunil Johal, Léonie Tchatat, and Adnan Türegün), moderator (Bill Sinclair), volunteers (Denise McLeod, John Carlaw, Aamina Masoud, Nawal Alm, and Robert Batarseh), event recap writer (Alka Kumar), and videographer (Weibin Wang). Immense thanks to everyone who attended and engaged in the rich, thought-provoking discussion that followed the speakers’ presentations. This event was generously funded by United Way Greater Toronto.

We are excited to share various resources from this event. We encourage you to circulate them within your networks and further engage with the ideas presented as we work towards more equitable and prosperous immigration and settlement policies in Ontario.


Adnan Türegün, (CERIS), Léonie Tchatat (La Passerelle-I.D.É), Sunil Johal (The Mowat Centre) and Debbie Douglas (OCASI) shared their views from research, settlement, and policy perspectives, presenting a big picture overview while highlighting specific intractable gaps and challenges.

Adnan Türegün – What Does Research Tell Us about an Inclusive Immigration Settlement Policy for Ontario? (video)

Türegün brought attention to the recent research findings, gaps, and recommendations that have emerged from CERIS’s Immigrant Women, Youth, and Seniors (IWYS) project. Commencing with the settlement sector’s service gaps, Türegün stated that stringent eligibility rules leave many key groups out of federal service provision. He argued that it is important for Ontario’s Newcomer Settlement Program to continue to fund services for newcomer populations that are not covered under the national Settlement program. Türegün additionally contended that Canadian settlement services have long “infantilised” newcomers (rather than valued their strengths), failed to recognize their diverse needs and preferences, and focused on the individual rather than the family unit, which has resulted in settlement service gaps. Finally, he shared research findings regarding these gaps (in terms of content, eligibility, and accessibility) and provided service and policy recommendations relating to women, youth, and seniors more specifically.

Léonie Tchatat – Francophone Immigrant Human Capital and the Future of Immigration in Ontario (video)

Tchatat discussed Ontario’s immigration strategy in the context of Francophone immigration and integration, sharing evidence from two primary research studies that focused on Francophone immigrant human capital in Ontario:

Departing from an asset-mapping perspective, Tchatat detailed workforce development strategies aimed at job creation and employment matching that would further enhance Francophone immigrant human capital in the province. Her discussion included information on specific sectors with high employment needs and skill gaps that bilingual immigrants could access more meaningfully using employment-enhancing strategies that would better prepare them for the job market.

Sunil Johal – Immigration and Inclusive Growth (video)

In his presentation, Johal explored the idea that Canada’s economic future hinges upon its success on getting immigration policy and settlement right. He began by discussing the idea of “inclusive economic growth” (economic prosperity that works for everyone), which has become an important topic in Canada and beyond due to the record high-levels of income inequality and the uncertainties that accompany the digital revolution. Johal then explained why we cannot assume that the past drivers of economic growth will hold over the next few decades. In light of these factors and Canada’s increasing demographic challenges, he posited that immigration is a potential stable driver of economic growth. Johal concluded by presenting compelling facts and figures to articulate the rationale for policy imperatives for making settlement and integration viable, both through pursuing and realising integration targets optimally and making smaller communities more attractive for immigrant settlement.

Debbie Douglas – Ontario’s Immigration Adventure: Purpose, Precarity, Possibilities (video)

Douglas focused on the future challenges and opportunities within Ontario’s immigration and settlement sector using the lens of storytelling – highlighting stories not only of immigrant individuals and their aspirations, successes and resilience, but also the larger narratives of colonisation, reconciliation, and Canada’s humanitarian objectives that create the backdrop of immigration conversations. Douglas pointed out that, despite the important role of immigration in fuelling the Canadian economy and Ontario being the largest player in Canada’s immigration project, there are large gaps between stakeholders’ expectations and the government’s policies regarding immigration and settlement. One example is the current absence within the provincial government of an immigration policy or position, or a dedicated Ministry of Immigration. She further presented data on income disparities among immigrant groups, and eligibility regulations that exclude certain immigrant cohorts from service provision, to alert to the dangers of perpetuating settler-colonialism through an uneven sharing of resources. She concluded by reiterating the need for multiple stakeholders to collaborate to develop equitable, timely solutions to Ontario’s immigration policy issues.

Highlights from our Question & Answer Period

-Truth & Reconciliation and our Relationship with Indigenous Peoples (video)

-Status of Francophone Immigrants in Ontario (video)

-Anti-immigrant Sentiment (video)

-Eligibility for Services (video)


Click here for the presenters’ slides and a video of this entire event.

Click here for videos of our earlier event “Settlement Services for Immigrant Women, Youth, and Seniors in Canada.


We would love to hear from you! Please email us at ceris@yorku.ca to provide your feedback.