School of Policy Studies

School of Policy Studies
School of Policy Studies


August 19 - 21, 2019

Kingston, ON


For decades, the trend line of economic progress, as measured by aggregate indicators such as GDP growth, has been positive across OECD countries. Most economies have recovered from the global financial crisis of 2008. When you look beyond the aggregates, however, a different picture emerges; the benefits of economic prosperity have not been equally distributed:  income levels and growth have become increasingly unequal; some sectors, occupations and regions have thrived while others have not; labour’s share of income has declined; and wealth has become highly concentrated at the top of the distribution.

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If anything, these trends will be amplified in the years ahead as technological change risks further polarizing labour markets, more low and middle income families struggle to make ends meet, and work becomes increasingly precarious for many. In sum, economic growth has become decoupled from broad-based societal benefits. Some people are being left behind. Others feel they can’t get ahead. Many feel the ‘system’ is not fair.  

Social integration is also at risk.  Economic pressures threaten to deepen fissures in the fabric of Canadian life, dividing the highly skilled and the less skilled, the young and the elderly, the native born and newcomers, people in different regions, rural and urban communities. If trust in each other and in governments is weakened, if levels of conflict grow, our ability to handle the technological and demographic challenges before us will be compromised.

For the first time in decades, many are turning their attention to finding pathways for more inclusive growth. Economic dogma and fixed pro-market prescriptions are being assailed from the ‘right’ and the ‘left” and by professional economists. But if traditional liberal economic policy frameworks have failed, what policy approaches will be more effective at advancing economic inclusion, opportunity and prosperity?

The 2019 Queen’s International Institute on Social Policy (QIISP) will explore this policy frontier. For decades, policymakers, whether focused on trade or infrastructure or innovation or housing or social programs, have used standard policy frameworks premised on trade-offs between efficiency and equity. The rationale for public policy has typically been predicated on narrow view of market failures, surgical interventions and after-the-fact consideration of distributional and adjustment issues. Now is the time to turn conventional thinking on its head – to look at how the rules of the market and the design of public policies can work better for everyone.


About the Queen's International Institute on Social Policy (QIISP)

The annual Queen’s International Institute on Social policy (QIISP), which was established in 1995, brings together senior policy-makers and leading researchers to review recent research findings and to discuss major directions in social policy. It is organized by the School of Policy Studies of Queen’s University with support from the Governments of Canada, Ontario, the Region of Peel and the City of Toronto.

Features of QIISP that make distinctive contributions to the social policy community include:

  • A focus on research, knowledge transfer and informed debate.
  • Participation of senior policy-makers from all levels of government in Canada, as well as from the voluntary sector.
  • An international perspective, with speakers coming from international organizations, universities and research organizations from around the world.
  • Contributions from leading Canadian researchers from universities, think tanks and government agencies.



2018: The Future of Work: What do we do?

2018 Queen's International Institute on Social Policy: The Future of Work:What do we do? [image]

August 15 - 17, 2018

Ban Righ Hall, Queen's University
10 Bader Lane, Kingston, ON


Are Canadians ready for the work of the future? Is Canadian social policy? New technologies such as artificial intelligence, advanced robotics and nanotechnology are rapidly altering the skills composition of jobs, prospects for different occupations and the very nature of work itself.  The contours of the future of work are beginning to emerge.  The federal government’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth estimates that by 2030 technological change will displace nearly a quarter of the tasks currently performed by Canadian workers, and that over 10% of workers will lose their jobs (Learning Nation, December 2017).  

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Knowledge workers and professionals will not be immune from the transformative impact of these technologies.  But the occupations most at risk are likely those involving routine activities — jobs usually held by relatively low-skilled and low-paid workers. For many, the place and nature of work will also likely change, with the prospect of less job security, lower wages, and less predictable work. On the other hand, some occupations and industries are likely to grow – especially those that engage higher-order cognitive skills, interpersonal skills and comfort with technology. Across the board, one thing is certain -- change will be ubiquitous, putting a premium on all individuals’ adaptability, resilience and ability to reskill across the life course. 

QIISP 2018 does not attempt to predict the precise future of the labour market; the direction of change is clear. Rather QIISP asks whether our social policies are nimble enough for an uncertain future, whether incremental change will suffice or whether radical rethinking is in order. QIISP will ask what Canadians need to do to get ready for the future of work.

In recent decades, social policy thinking has placed a lot of faith in learning systems – from early childhood development through postsecondary education and adult retraining. How do we prepare young people for a new world of work? How can we facilitate learning, reskilling and adaptability for working adults?  Do our current approaches need to be rethought?  The Advisory Council doubles down on this strategy, calling for a major investment in adult skills development.

How do we help those at risk of being left behind? The data on efforts to retrain older workers displaced in recent decades are not reassuring. We face the prospect that there will be casualties who cannot be easily retrained for the work of the future. Rapid technological change may also increase the ranks of precarious workers, raising questions about policies relating to the regulation of employment standards and business practices, minimum wages and benefits, and income support.

Finally, will the impact of technological change on jobs, wages, and the workplace deepen social faultlines? Which groups are likely to be most at risk and which ones more likely to thrive?  What are the implications for women and men, racialized and immigrant Canadians, people with disabilities, and different age groups?  Will new business practices and employment patterns – for example the ‘gig economy’ - reduce everyday social interaction and weaken the ties that bind us together? Will Canadian’s sense of social cohesion be challenged?

QIISP 2018 tackles these questions. The conference opens with the broad context, setting the Canadian pattern in an international context and examining what other countries are doing.  The next three sessions examine the key policy tools: a) education; b) the postsecondary sector and worker reskilling; and c) mechanisms for social protection including employment policies and income support. The fifth session examines the implications for different social groups -- men and women, immigrants and racialized minorities, people with disabilities, and older workers. The sixth session features a roundtable with leaders from business, labour, education, and the community sectors addressing the question: who needs to do what?  And the final sessions asks how politics will shape our collective response to these challenges?

Presentations, Videos and Articles

Use this link to view PDFs of this year's conference presentations:

Videos of the presentations are available on our YouTube channel

A series of articles based on this conference has been launched by PolicyOptions in a special feature called "Preparing citizens for the future of work".  (November 2018)


2018 QIISP Sponsors

Composite of 2018 QIISP Sponsor logos: Government of Canada; Government of Ontario; Region of Peel; City of Toronto


2017: Inclusive Economy, Inclusive Society:

2017 QIISP "Inclusive Economy, Inclusive Society: Canadian Social Policy in an age of Disruption" [image]

August 16 - 18, 2017

View the agenda from the 2016 Queen's International Institute on Social Policy here.   


In recent years, Canada and other OECD countries have experienced multiple disruptions - shifting patterns of global commerce, demographic change, the digital revolution and new security risks.   Many Western countries have also experienced rising income inequality and social polarization, as economic growth has increasingly become decoupled from social outcomes. The consequences are being felt across many OECD countries – social fracturing, political upheaval and a crisis of policy and institutional legitimacy.

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Yet more disruption is on the horizon. Canada and other OECD countries are in the early stages of a new technological revolution driven by the application of artificial intelligence, advanced robotics, nanotechnology and other innovations. This next technological revolution, like its predecessors, has the potential to increase prosperity and quality of life. On the other hand, it could compound the numbers of people feeling economically excluded and trapped in precarious employment. Economic polarization can also trigger cultural polarization, driving deeper wedges between majorities and minorities. Recent political events in other countries suggest this can be an explosive combination. 

So far, Canada has avoided the powerful backlash reshaping politics and policy in many of its peer countries. But the factors that have contributed to upheaval elsewhere exist in Canada as well. It would be dangerous to reassure ourselves that Canada is somehow an exceptional place.

Looking ahead, preserving a confident, inclusive and prosperous Canada will require rethinking twentieth century policy orthodoxy that divorced growth from inclusion and took social cohesion and openness for granted. Inclusive growth is the new imperative, and to achieve inclusive growth, social and economic policies can no longer be conceived and developed in isolation.

QIISP 2017 will drill down into current discontents and future policy responses. It will explore the role of public policy in strengthening an open and inclusive economy and society. It will ask what role economic and social policy can play in advancing shared prosperity and ensuring the benefits of economic growth are widely shared. It will question whether current public policy constructs are adequate in the face of increasing inequality and escalating technological change.  And it will probe the nexus between economic insecurity and cultural backlash. 

The Queen’s Summer Institute will begin by exploring the contemporary socio-economic landscape in Canada and other OECD countries  - the disruptors and the divides that are reshaping the policy and political context. The conference will pay special attention to the impact of the next wave of technological change – on jobs, skills and the nature of work itself.

The main focus of the 2017 Institute will be on the policy implications of these economic and social changes. QIISP will look first at the skills and competences that Canadians will need for the work and workplaces of the future and how these skills will be acquired and refreshed over peoples’ lives. 

Second, the Institute will look at the differential impacts of these changes on different occupations, educational levels, and regions. It will probe how to bridge income gaps, support employment transitions and allow social benefits to be portable and equitable in this new world of work. 

Third, QIISP will look at the impacts of these disruptive changes for different groups of Canadians: for different generations, for men and women, and for people of different ethnic backgrounds.  For example, we know the changing world of work will require multiple transitions, ongoing learning and a new blending of work and living well into typical retirement years. Younger Canadians will be challenged to invest in their skills, secure income and juggle the demands of non-standard work with the demands of raising a family. Older Canadians are most at risk of losing their ‘standard’ jobs and experiencing a permanent decline in income.  The Queen’s Institute will also explore distinctive implications for women and for ethnic minorities.  

QIISP will also probe the cultural divides that have been exposed in many Western societies, and the intersection between economic insecurity and cultural insecurity. It will examine the role of social policies and programs in sustaining, or undermining, public support for immigration, diversity and inclusion. For example, is immigration policy being designed and managed in ways that reassure the public that the process is under control and being conducted in fair and effective ways? Is immigrant integration working and are newcomers able to contribute, and be seen to contribute, to the country economically and socially?   

The final session at QIISP 2017 will draw the threads together and reflect on the attitudes, values and political forces that will shape the future of Canadian public policy responses.  QIISP will look at what Canadians themselves think about the dramatic disruptions that are underway across the economy and society. Do they feel ready or apprehensive? Where do they look for solutions - government, the private sector, their communities, themselves?  What is the link between economic insecurities and cultural insecurities in shaping popular responses to change? How do Canadian attitudes compare to those in other OECD countries? Is Canada in danger of the backlash politics we see elsewhere? 



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

Keynote Address

  • Pippa Norris, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University - "The Enemy Within" [PDF 894 KB]

Session 1

Session 2

Session 3

Session 4

Session 5

Session 6

Session 7


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

Employment and Social Development Canada
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

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

City of Toronto
Region of Peel


2016: Social Canada Revisited

2016 Queen's International Institute on Social Policy

August 22 - 24, 2016

Holiday Inn, Kingston Waterfront Hotel
2 Princess Street, Kingston, ON

View the agenda from the 2016 Queen's International Institute on Social Policy here.   


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




2015: The Millennials' Challenge

QIISP 2015 | The Millennials' Challenge: Young Adults and Intergenerational Fairness | Aug 24-26, 2015

August 24-26, 2015


Conference Agenda [PDF 1.47MB]

In contemporary Canada, young adults feel the full weight of economic and social change. While older Canadians are often protected in many ways, the younger generation has to adjust to the economic restructuring and the new social risks that have emerged in recent decades. QIISP 2015 focuses on the experiences, prospects and expectations of Canadians in the 18 to 35 age range.

The knowledge-based economy places greater pressure on young people to stay in education longer. Many young adults face hurdles entering the labour market, often cycling through a series of internships and short contracts. Moreover, entry-level earnings have been falling for over two decades, and this generation starts at a lower level than their parents did. They are also less likely to have the employment security and occupational benefits that their parents enjoyed.

Economic pressures have social consequences. We live in the era of postponed adulthood. Over 40% of people in their 20s live with their parents, double the rate in the 1970s. Young adults are delaying family formation, and child-rearing starts later than in previous generations. Moreover, young families, once formed, face a double squeeze: they face a cost squeeze, especially in the housing market, and a time squeeze in finding a work-family balance. 

Postponed adulthood has wider social consequences. Lower fertility rates accentuate population aging; and the declining earnings of young adults are a major reason we have made so little progress in reducing child poverty. The combination of postponed adulthood and declining entry-level wages also contribute to the problem of inadequate retirement savings among some groups of Canadians.

In the longer term, well-educated young people may benefit from labour shortages as the baby boom retires; and delayed retirement may give them more time to build their savings. But the future for important groups of young adults is less promising. Aboriginal young adults and marginalized young adults face bleaker prospects.

More generally, many young adults feel they are the victims of growing intergenerational unfairness. In comparison with previous generations, they are expected to carry an especially heavy demographic burden. They fear their problems are being ignored as governments tend to the needs of the more numerous baby-boomers, and that they will have to be much more self-reliant throughout their lives.

Canada needs this generation of young adults to be successful. Our economic and social future rests on a smaller number of shoulders than in the past.  But many of them question whether they are part of a larger social contact that includes them.

QIISP 2015 examines the pressures on young adults today, both in Canada and in international context. It asks whether our current social programs meet the needs of this generation, and whether there are socially innovative ways of responding better. It examines whether we are developing a serious problem of intergenerational unfairness. Finally and importantly, it explores the attitudes and expectations of this generation, tracing the implications for the evolution of the Canadian social contract.

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

Employment and Social Development, Canada
Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade, 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, Ontario



(Please note that not all presentations will be made available)

Session 1:  Overview: young adults in an international perspective

Claire Keane [PDF 2.7 MB
John Myles [PDF 1.4 MB]

Session 2:  Economic prospects: education, employment, incomes

Harry Holzer [PDF 100 KB]
Sevaun Palvetzian [PDF 2.1 MB

Session 3:  Social transitions and family policy

Dan Woodman [PDF 2 MB]
Pierre Fortin [PDF 300 KB]
 * Pierre Fortin (written presentation) [PDF 350 KB]

Session 4:  Aboriginal young adults

Andrew Sharpe [PDF 400 KB]
Jason Ryle [PDF 7 MB]
 * imagineNATIVE YouTube video 

Jessica Bolduc [PDF 5 MB

Session 5:   Marginalized young adults  

Mark Courtney [PDF 5 MB
Monica Boyd  [PDF 363 KB]  
Loralee Gillis  [PDF 2 MB

Session 6:   Intergenerational equity: the contours of the social contract 

Paul Kershaw  [PDF 6.5 MB]
*  Measuring the Age Gap in Social Spending [PDF 600 KB]
*  Population Aging Generational Equity and the Middle Class [PDF 1 MB]

Marco Albertini [PDF 740 KB]

Session 7:   The attitudes and expectations of young adults, and the politics of policy responses 

Paul Taylor [PDF 3.6 MB]
David Coletto [PDF 1.5 MB]

2014: The Middle Class

QIISP 2014 | The Middle Class: Pressure Points and Public Policies | August 18-20, 2014


Conference Agenda [PDF 189KB]

Middle-income Canadians are facing social and economic stresses at various stages of the life cycle. Many youth are struggling to find a solid footing in the new labour market. Young adults are delaying forming families. Displaced long-term older workers are suffering significant and persistent income losses. And many middle-income Canadians are facing problems building adequate retirement incomes.

These stresses are not unique to Canada. Across the OECD, powerful forces are at work. Technological change is altering the labour market, hollowing out the middle; wage and salary growth for low and middle-income earners is tepid; and inequality is on the rise. While the effects of these trends have been sharper in other countries like the United States, Canada is not immune.

The Queen's 2014 International Social Policy Institute seeks to examine the economic and social trends affecting the middle class in Canada and other Western economies; assess the impacts on income, opportunity and resilience; and explore the robustness of current public polices in the areas of income, labour market, learning and social policy. As is the tradition of the Queen's Social Policy Institute, the perspectives of both Canadian and international experts will be brought to bear on these critical issues.

The Institute will seek to answer the following questions: What are the critical stresses facing middle income Canadians? Can we ensure equal life chances in the 21st century?  What are the sources of resilience for individuals and families?  Do we have a public policy tool kit that is fit for contemporary purposes?

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

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 Training, Colleges and University, Ontario

Region of Peel
City of Toronto



Session 1: The Big Picture: Inequality and the Middle Class

Michael Forster [PDF 1.1 MB]
Miles Corak [PDF 1.5 MB]
Frank Graves [PDF 500 KB

Session 2: Education and Skills

Richard Reeves [PDF 750 KB]
Craig Alexander [PDF 800 KB

Session 3: Redistribution: Taxes, Transfers and Wage Policies 

Charles Beach [PDF 2.5 MB]
Andrew Heisz [PDF 550 KB]

Session 4: Young Families

Spencer Thompson [PDF 900 KB]
Paul Kershaw [PDF 1.5 MB

What is Generation Squeeze [ VIDEO] 

Session 5: Retirement Income

Herve Boulhol [PDF 675 KB]
Hugh Mackenzie [PDF 1.3 MB]
Tammy Schirle [PDF 1.0 MB]

Session 6: Displaced Long-term Workers 

Randall Eberts [PDF 600 KB]
Craig Riddell [PDF 220 KB]

Session 7: What does the middle-class want? 

David Herle [PDF 850 KB]
Kathleen Monk [PDF 2.5 MB]
Tasha Kheiriddin [PDF 2.5 MB

National Post: "Tasha Kheiriddin: For Canadian politicians, middle-class Canada is the holy grail" - August 21, 2014

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

Indigenous Issues in Post Secondary Education Banner


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 KB]

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

QQISP 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.  


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.