Queen's International Institute on Social Policy

Queen's International Institute on Social Policy
Queen's International Institute on Social Policy

Past Conferences

Established in 1995 QIISP has, for the past 23 years, brought together senior policy-makers and leading researchers to review relevant research finding and discuss major directions in social policy. This page contains information from the last 10 years of the conference.

2013: Skills Development and At-Rick Populations in the 21st Century

2013 Queen's International Institute on Social Policy - Skills Deveiopment and At-Rish Populations [image]


Conference Agenda [PDF 916KB]

QIISP 2013 integrates two key policy streams: education and training for the future Canadian labour market; and the needs of at-risk populations in Canadian society.

A skills agenda is crucial to our economic prospects, both as individuals and as a country. Canadian and international advisory bodies agree that Canada’s economic future depends on the development and use of a talented, educated and entrepreneurial population.  Our ability to meet the labour-market needs of the 21st century will be determined in large part by the strength and responsiveness of our education, training and immigration systems.  

The social role of a skills agenda is also critical. As the OECD has emphasized, without adequate education and skills, people languish on the margins of society. The ability of vulnerable populations (including Aboriginal communities, youth, persons with disabilities, displaced older workers, new immigrants, and others) to acquire and use relevant education and skills is central to their progress. In addition, ensuring equality of opportunity depends more than ever on equality of access to education and training for all Canadians, and the removal of barriers to their economic engagement.

QIISP 2013 seeks to develop an integrated understanding of the role of a skills agenda in achieving both our economic and social goals in the decades to come.

Queen's School of Policy Studies gratefully acknowledges the following sponsors:

Employment and Social Development Canada
Citizenship and Immigration Canada 
Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration 
Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services
Ontario Ministry of Finance
Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care
Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities
The Region of Peel
The City of Toronto 


Introduction: Andreas Schleicher [ Online Presentation ]
Session 1: Drivers of the Skills Agenda

Michael Handel [PDF 1.3 MB]
Benjamin Tal [PDF 298 KB]

Session 2: Developing Human Capital

Burt Barnow [PDF 134 KB]
Arthur Sweetman [PDF 1.3 MB]  
[  “The University Payoff” Globe and Mail, interactive feature, Oct. 5, 2012 ]

Session 3: Immigration and Skills

Audrey Singer [PDF 2.7 MB]

Session 4: Education, Training, Labour Market Entry and Youth

David Bell [PDF 1.4 MB]
Neil Sandell (Twitter: @youngnjobless) [PDF 9 MB]
[PDF 1.7 MB - Toronto Star Articles "Good Work Hunting"

Session 5: Education, Training, and Workplace Accommodation for Persons with Disabilities

Laura Owens [PDF 7.3 MB]
Cameron Crawford [PDF 8.3 MB]

Session 6: Education, Training, and Labour Market Participation and Aboriginal People

Harvey McCue [PDF 156 KB]
Jennifer Rattray [PDF 7.5 MB]

Sessions 7: The Politics of a Skills Agenda

Carol Goar
Michael Mendelson [Online Paper: "The Training Wheels Are Off - PDF]

2012: Where are We Going?

QIISP 2012 | Where are we going? The Changing Social Model in Canada | Aug 20-22, 2012

August 20-22, 2012


Conference Agenda [PDF 450KB]

The Canadian social model is changing. In recent decades, shifting economic and social pressures and changing political priorities have led to the restructuring of important social programs. What is the new trajectory in Canadian social policy? How different is the Canadian social model today from that in the past? Have we established a new balance in the roles of the market, families, the voluntary sector and governments in meeting the social needs of Canadians? How sustainable is the current model in fiscal and political terms? What are the implications for the priorities and challenges in the years to come?

QIISP 2012 examines the trajectory of change in social policy over the last 20 years. It places the Canadian trajectory in international perspective, comparing our experience with that of other OECD countries. The aim is to identify the principles underpinning the emerging social model, and the implications for the future agenda in social policy.

Queen's School of Policy Studies gratefully acknowledges the following sponsors:

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services
Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration
Ontario Ministry of Finance
Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care
Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities
Region of Peel
City of Toronto
Health Canada 


Session 1: The evolution of the canadian social model in international perspective: how do we compare?

Wen-Hao Chen [PDF 2914KB]
David Green [PDF 555KB]

Session 2: Taxation as an instrument of social policy

Stuart Adam [PDF 122KB]
Frances Woolley [PDF 183KB]

Session 3: Change in education/activation/training and the labour market

Bruno Palier [PDF 328KB]
Jane Jenson [PDF 97KB]

Session 4: Change in health care

Joe White [PDF 254KB]
Colleen Flood [PDF 1849KB]

Session 5: Change in Immigration Policy

Richard Bedford [PDF 290KB]

Session 6: Public expectations: are Canadian's attitudes evolving?

Stuart Soroka [PDF 171KB]
Chris Wiezien [PDF 259KB]

Session 7: A new politics of social policy?

Keith Banting [PDF 145KB]

2011: Social Policy in an Aging Society

QIISP 2011 | Social Policy in an Aging Society: The multiple challenges of demographic change | August 15-17, 2011

Canadian society is aging. Greater longevity, lower fertility and the movement of the baby boom generation into their retirement years is reshaping Canadian society. The proportion of Canadians aged 65 and over is expected to grow from 14 percent in 2011 to 21 percent in 2026 and 26 percent in 2051. The dependency ratio -- the number of elderly and youth for every 100 people of working age – is expected to rise from 58 today to over 80 by mid-century. Moreover, members of the generation about to retire have more demanding expectations about their golden years than earlier generations.  

This demographic transition will impact virtually every dimension of Canadian life.  Attention normally focuses on the most immediate implications, such as changes in the labour force or pressures on social programs such as pensions and health care. But the effects of population aging will ripple through society more broadly. The housing and transportation sectors and urban planning more generally will feel the impact.  In addition, we need to pay attention to who is going to care for a larger elderly population. We need to develop and support a new generation of caregivers, at all skill levels, to meet the rising demand. 

Population aging will precipitate active debates on many fronts. We will debate the appropriate roles of the family, community, private sector, the non-profit sector and the public sector in meeting the needs of elderly Canadians.  We will debate issues of financing, political sustainability and intergenerational equity. We will debate how to serve an increasingly diverse elderly population, bridging our multicultural differences and the urban/rural divide. 

QIISP 2011 will open these debates, examining the multiple challenges posed by population aging.  International specialists will focus on the experience of other countries already grappling with the effects of population aging, including Asian countries such as Japan and many European countries. Researchers will drill down into specific areas of Canadian life where the pressures will be greatest. Service providers from the private, nonprofit and public sectors will track developments and anticipate gaps that may remain.  


Queen's School of Policy Studies gratefully acknowledges the following sponsors:

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services
Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration
Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities
Ontario Ministry of Finance
Region of Peel
City of Toronto
Health Canada 


Session 1 - Population aging and social policy: an international overview

Peter Heller, Former Deputy Director of the Fiscal Affairs Department of the International Monetary Fund [Presentation - PDF 1.06MB

Susan McDaniel, Prentice Research Chair in Global Population & Economy and Director, Prentice Institute, University of Lethbridge, Canada Research Chair in Global Population and Life Course [Presentation - PDF 1.51MB

Chris Ragan, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, McGill University and David Dodge Chair in Monetary Policy, C.D. Howe Institute [Presentation - PDF 542KB]

Session 2 - Population aging, the labour market and income for the elderly

Shigesato Takahashi, Director, Department of Population Dynamics Research, Naitonal Institute of Population and Social Security Research, Tokyo [Presentation - PDF 2.88MB]

Bernard Casey, Principal Research Fellow, Institute for Employment Research, University of Warwick [Presentation - PDF 233KB]

Michael Wolfson, Canada Research Chair in Population Health Modelling/Populomics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa [Presentation - PDF 1.01MB]

Session 3 - Health Care

Larry Chambers, President and Chief Scientist; Élisabeth-Bruyère Research Institute and Vice-President, Research, Bruyère Continuing Care [Presentation - PDF 1.67MB]

Mark Stabile, Director, School of Public policy and Governance, University of Toronto [Presentation - PDF 2.1MB]

Arthur Sweetman, Ontario Research Chair in Health Human Resources, McMaster University [Presentation - PDF 317KB]

Session 4 - Social infrastructure for an aging population

Duncan MacLennan, Head of School, School of Geography and Geosciences, Centre for Housing Research, University of St. Andrews, Scotland [Presentation - PDF 462KB]

Jane Barratt, Secretary General, International Federation on Aging

Louise Plouffe, Manager, Knowledge Development, Public Health Agency of Canada [Presentation - PDF 2.2MB]

Session 5 - Aging at home or in a home?

Heinz Rothgang, Director, Centre for Social Policy Research, University of Bremen Presentation - PDF 986KB]

Peter Coyte, CHSRF/CIHR Health Services Chair, Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto [Presentation - PDF 291KB]

Session 6 - Who cares? Caregivers and population aging

Ito Peng, Associate Dean, Interdisciplinary and International Affairs, and Professor of Sociology and Public Policy, University of Toronto [Presentation - PDF 423KB]

Meredith Lilly, Post Doctoral Fellow, Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis, McMaster University [Presentation - PDF 799KB]

Anne Martin-Matthews, Scientific Director, Canadian Institute of Health Research, Institute of Aging, University of British Columbia [Presentation - PDF 2.56MB]

Session 7 - Politics of population aging

Susan Eng, Vice President of Advocacy, Canadian Association of Retired Persons

Judy Steed, Feature Writer, The Toronto Star, and former Atkinson Fellow on Aging [Presentation - PDF 3.15MB]

2010 and past

2010: Recovering Together? Fiscal Pressures, Federalism and Social Policy

August 16-18, 2010

Conference Program [PDF 1.14MB]

As the Canadian economy recovers, the context for social policy development will be powerfully shaped both by fiscal pressures and by intergovernmental relations. Fiscal pressures will grow more intense. On one side, income support programs will bear a heavy burden during a slow return to pre-recession employment levels, and long-standing pressures on health care and educational programs will continue to grow. On the other side, governments will seek to unwind the levels of spending associated with the stimulus.

Managing these fiscal pressures will strain intergovernmental relations which have always been central to social policy. Many programs are framed and financed through intergovernmental agreements, and coordination is a constant challenge where governments operate separate programs in the same sector. In recent years municipal governments have also come to play a bigger role. Multilevel governance will be central to the recovery, and debate over the issues involved will build as we approach the renewal of important federal-provincial fiscal agreements in 2014.

Canada went through a major fiscal crunch in the 1990s and intergovernmental relations were severely strained by the experience. Tensions were generated between the federal and provincial governments, and between provincial and municipal governments. We need to avoid a repeat of those experiences this time.

QIISP 2010 is designed to learn the lessons from our recent past and anticipate the challenges we will confront over the next five years. Hence our question:  How do we recover together?

2009: Social Policy and the Recession: A passive or transformative response?

August 17-19, 2009

Economic recessions generate intense tests of social programs. They highlight weaknesses in program structures that are less obvious during strong growth and employment. They force us to ask basic questions: Do we have the programs we need to respond when social needs are greatest? What stresses are being revealed by the high unemployment and economic disruption. Are we asking the right questions about the capacity of our current social programs? Are we well positioned to come out of this recession?

In the past, economic downturns have often transformed social policy debates. The depression of the 1930s reshaped attitudes to the role of social policy for a generation. While recessions since then have been less intense, they also have generated new evidence and new ideas, pinpointing reform needs, and reshaping old approaches. Will we learn from this experience? Does the experience shift the agenda, raising the priority of some issues? Will we be better prepared when the next recession comes?

QIISP 2009 focuses on the impact of the recession on our social programs. The program explores the international and domestic contours of the recession, asking how deep and long it is likely to be. The program then examines its general impact on the “welfare diamond,” examining pressures on the roles of the market, the family, governments and the voluntary sector. It also analyzes in greater depth the implications for vulnerable populations: unemployed adult workers, immigrants, youth and pensioners. The final session takes stock, asking how well we are responding, whether we are paralyzed by the intense economic pressure or whether we are adapting and improving our programs for the future.

2008: The New Poverty Agenda: Reshaping Policies in the 21st Century

August 18-20, 2008

Poverty remains a persistent challenge in Canada. The proportion of Canadians living in low income in 2004 was almost identical to the level in 1980. Yet much has changed in the last quarter century, and we face a new poverty agenda. Who is poor is changing. The incidence of low-income is shifting in response to demographic transitions, the problems facing immigrants, the difficulties confronting trade-affected industries and regions, and other social changes. How long people are poor is also coming into focus. We know far more about the duration of poverty than we did in 1980.

The new poverty agenda demands new policy responses. An effective anti-poverty strategy depends on a wide range of instruments: income transfers, tax policy, asset-building strategies, early childhood interventions, education, labour market programs, housing and social services. An effective response also requires a judicious balancing of general programs and targeted initiatives for particular vulnerable groups, such as children in care, recent immigrants, single-parent families, Aboriginal peoples, people with disabilities, and displaced workers.

QIISP 2008 tackles the new poverty agenda. It explores the patterns of poverty today, highlighting changes from the past. It assesses policy responses, concentrating in particular on the problems facing working-age individuals and families and their children. The program explores the implications of the new patterns of poverty for key social programs. It also explores the potential contribution of mobilizing networks of public, private and community groups at the local level. Finally, it turns to the politics of poverty in the 21st century, asking whether poverty can be a priority.