ALLIES imagined a better society for new immigrants to Canada, one in which it would be easier for them to share their talent and creativity, and more widely recognized for their professional experience. Attaining this vision would contribute both to immigrants’ wellbeing and, ultimately, a more prosperous and resilient Canada.
About the program
Launched in 2007, ALLIES supported local efforts across Canada to promote skilled immigrant employment. Engaging with government, private, and community sector partners, the program acted as a network. ALLIES spread best immigrant employment practices from one city to another. It also worked closely with local employers and leaders. They were encouraged to promote the appropriate hiring of immigrants in their communities.
Funded by Maytree and the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, ALLIES was guided by the successes of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC).
Through grants, advice and coaching, ALLIES helped to create a Canada-wide movement. It was based on successful local community initiatives and national partnerships. Shifts in hiring resulted from these programs. Leading employers were positioned as agents of change and champions for skilled immigrants. These advances contributed to the resilience, prosperity and vitality of Canadian communities.
Granting total $3 million (with additional support from the Maytree Foundation, and private sector and government partners)
Key Lessons from ALLIES
- Shared Challenges: Previous immigrant employment projects often started from the premise that immigrants lacked the resources to succeed. It was assumed that these “deficits” (including language, credentials, and knowledge of workplace culture), needed to be addressed through programs and training. This approach had limited success. Both immigrants and employers have challenges. Employers can be uncomfortable with difference and wary of unfamiliar credentials, which is why they sometimes see hiring immigrants as risky. As such, the job of remedying deficits is one best shared between immigrants and employers.
- Singular Focus: Early in the project, there was mission creep. We were trying to address too many immigration issues and injustices. To successfully engage with employers, we decided to focus on just one issue: getting immigrants into the labour market.
- Real Employers: Having actual employers involved (vs chambers of commerce or boards of trade) was essential. Large employers, including the government, were necessary participants.
- Leaders: Community leaders, rather than organizations with similar mandates, were more effective collaborators.
- Concrete Projects: Initiatives progressed much faster and effectively when concrete, actionable projects were introduced and implemented early on.
Recent Grants & Investments
DiverseCity onBoard (The Maytree Foundation)Building on DiverseCity onBoard program's success in Toronto, and demand from around the world, a grant from the Foundation will enable the dissemination, seeding, and mentoring to partners in other cities in Canada.
ALLIES (Assisting Local Leaders with Immigrant Employment Strategies)ALLIES (Assisting Local Leaders with Immigrant Employment Strategies) creates more inclusive communities by helping skilled immigrants find jobs matching their skills.
Impact & Lessons Learned
ALLIES: A Network of Support, A Movement for Change
Mid-way into its initial mandate, the ALLIES network hired the Caledon Institute of Social Policy to conduct a review of its accomplishments and challenges. Network conveners, Steering Committee members and employer representatives were invited to talk about where they see ALLIES today and where they hope it will go. This report provides a snapshot of their efforts and reflections, gathered in the spring of 2011.Learn More