Queen's International Institute on Social Policy

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

2016 Queen's International Institute on Social Policy

August 22 - 24, 2016

Conference Agenda
 [PDF 1.6MB]


Canada has entered a new period of social policy interest at both the federal and provincial levels, with significant resources committed to social policy renewal. Given this new phase of policy action, it is time to stand back and reflect on the changes underway in Canadian society, the priority challenges facing us, and our capacity to develop effective policy change.

Canada, like other OECD countries, has constructed a complex social policy architecture which Tom Courchene of Queen’s University famously titled Social Canada. He argued that this network of policies and programs came to embody Canadians’ shared values related to equality of opportunity, income security and social inclusion.   

In many ways, this social policy architecture has served Canadians well. However, some Canadians have consistently fallen through the cracks, most significantly Canada’s indigenous people. And contemporary economic, labour market and social dynamics are posing new challenges. The labour market is increasingly skewed between high and low skilled jobs; income growth is stagnant for many; younger Canadians struggle to secure sustainable career and life paths; many young and old alike worry about retirement income; and new cracks have appeared in Canada’s increasingly diverse social fabric. 

QIISP will explore the forces shaping social conditions, how these have shifted, and how Canada compares to its peers. It will examine persistent and/or new social fault-lines and ask where new approaches and new thinking are needed.

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We will probe these questions in relation to three inter-related goals of Social Canada:

Equality of opportunity:  Canada has long been committed to providing a relatively level playing field for all Canadians, no matter their background, gender, race, religion, or income. QIISP will ask how we are doing in the 21st century. We will explore the life chances of Indigenous Canadians, children raised in poverty, new immigrants, and persons with disabilities. And we will ask whether our social policy architecture needs to be adapted to strengthen equality of opportunity for new generations of Canadians.  

Income Security:  A fundamental pillar of Social Canada is security of income for those who lose their jobs, are unable to work or have inadequate income to provide for themselves or their families and to retire with dignity. Over the decades, a fundamental tension in program design has been between the objective of ensuring adequate income on the one hand and the need to incent work on the other.  Increasingly, as well, there is the tension between policy responses premised upon a traditional workforce and the more diverse labour market and workforce of contemporary Canada. QIISP will ask how well our income security architecture is performing, whether it remains robust in light of current labour market and income trends and where reform might be needed.

Belonging and social inclusion:  Social Canada has also played an important role in integrating minority communities and building a sense of belonging. QIISP will ask: Are new challenges emerging at the intersection of economic inequality on one hand and cultural, racial and religious differences on the other. Is Canada immune to new social fault lines? What lessons can be learned from past experience and from challenges other countries have faced?

Having identified key challenges and policy priorities, QIISP will ask how best to effect change. Are our policy processes and instruments up to the challenge? Do we have the necessary data, insights, analytical capacity and tools to craft new approaches and deliver the best possible results?  Can our policy processes bridge federal-provincial domains, engage increasingly diverse communities, and tap citizen-led action in order to effect change?

Finally, QIISP will explore the views and expectations of the public – What are their main social concerns and what do they value most about Social Canada?  How do Canadians’ views compare to others? Do Canadians’ views differ, for example by region, age, gender or income? Finally how do citizens wish to be engaged and what is their sense of the contemporary roles and responsibilities of government, families and individuals, communities and the private sector.


Expand to view a list of the presentations from the 2016 Queen's International Institute on Social Policy

Session 1
Craig Alexander [PDF 570 KB]
Stefano Scarpetta [PDF 2 MB]

Session 2
Bhash Mazumder [PDF 430 KB]
David Green [PDF 310 KB]
Feng Hou [PDF 470 KB]

Session 3
Miles Corak [PDF 225 KB]

Session 4
Ines Michalowski [PDF 454 KB]
Michael Adams [PDF 1.1 MB]
David Newhouse [PDF 3 MB]

Banquet Keynote:  
Hugh Segal [PDF 435 KB]

Session 5
Adam Jagelewski [PDF 440 KB]
Jean-Pierre Voyer [PDF 1.4 MB]

Session 6
Martin Papillon [PDF 490 KB]
Majit Basi [PDF 1.2 MB]

Session 7
Wim Van Oorschot [PDF 1.9 MB]
Jennifer Ditchburn [PDF 2.7 MB]
Frank Graves [PDF 1.6 MB]

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

Employment and Social Development, Canada

Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, Ontario
Ministry of Community and Social Service, Ontario
Ministry of Finance, Ontario
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Ontario
Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development, Ontario

Citizenship and Immigration, Canada

City of Toronto
Region of Peel