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Do policies of the lowest common denominator bring about system-level, change?

Submitted by on July 1, 2012 – 6:54 amNo Comment | 2,551 views

In 2012, Olga Shcherbyna defended her thesis as a part of her graduate studies at the UBC’s School of Community and Regional Planning. A two-year study examined the success factors of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) which had been identified as a ‘best practice’ in multi-stakeholder collaborations by a number of national experts and international agencies, such as International Migration Organization.

From 2010-2012, over 20 in-person/by phone interviews have been conducted with TRIEC’s staff, board members, partners and funders as well as Executive Directors of other eight Immigrant Employment Councils (IEC) across Canada. A comparative analysis of activities and approaches commonly practiced by TRIEC and other IECs has identified critical pathways for multi-stakeholder collaborative groups that aim to address ‘wicked’ societal problems like poverty and immigrant integration into host societies.

Citation: Olga Shcherbyna, 2012. Thesis. Do policies of the lowest common denominator bring about system-level, change? Examining the success factors of the Toronto Regional Immigrant Employment Council. 2012


The employment outcomes of Canadian immigrants have been deteriorating over the last two decades. Given the scope of the problem, a more systemic-based problem solving approach that involves multiple stakeholders is required to address immigrant labor market misfortunes in Canada.

The Toronto Regional Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) has been recognized as a promising multi-stakeholder collaboration model in the area of immigrant economic integration. This study attempts to examine the conditions that contributed to the perceived success of TRIEC, with the goals being to discover critical success factors that made TRIEC a ‘success story’, and to identify lessons that could be learned by other Immigrant Employment Councils (IECs) in Canada.

The study finds six success factor groups that were associated with TRIEC’s accomplishments. These include TRIEC’s highly professional operational practices, its action-oriented approach, its strong leadership model (which included business, community and municipal leaders), its focus on employers, its unique contextual environment, and its professional and highly effective communication and public relations strategies. It is argued that the last factor contributed to the formation of TRIEC’s ‘successful multi- stakeholder model’ branding in Canada and overseas.

When the strategies and activities of TRIEC were compared to those of seven other IECs in Canada, it was revealed that TRIEC was the only IEC whose leaders either were or became truly vocal on the topic of immigrant integration. It was also discovered that TRIEC was the only IEC to openly and consistently share its results, activities and finances with the general public. Finally, TRIEC was the first group in Canada and only one of IECs that managed to bring three levels of government together to discuss immigration issues. Shedding light on the role of municipalities in relation to immigrant economic integration issues, this research has shown that all the Canadian municipalities of reviewed communities were recognized by IECs for their capacity to initiate and support collaborative community efforts.

The final discussion focuses on the implications of solely adopting an economic perspective in promoting the benefits of hiring immigrants to Canadian society. The study concludes that more research should be conducted to define the success of multi-stakeholder collaborations such as TRIEC, to develop appropriate frameworks to measure their effectiveness and to evaluate what degree their interventions contributed to societal change(s).

Read full thesis.

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