From government to governance: the City of Toronto’s role in immigrant settlement service coordination since the Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement

Author/s: Shaughnessy Sturdy

Creation date: 2014

Contact info:

Senior supervisor:  Patrick Smith

Keywords: immigrant settlement, collaborative governance, multilevel governance; Toronto

Geographic focus: Toronto, Ontario; Ontario; Canada

Research question/s: Why have municipal governments signaled a desire for a role in the immigrant settlement process? Why has Ontario witnessed a shift towards multilevel oversight of settlement since the Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement (COIA)? How has the inclusion of municipalities in COIA led to collaboration between the City and key stakeholders?


Immigration is playing an increasingly important role in the future of Canadian cities. As a result, Canadian urban planners are encountering new challenges and possibilities as they witness increasingly diverse urban populations. Services for newcomers and immigrants have historically been under the purview of the federal and provincial governments, yet many Canadian cities and municipalities have begun taking on a larger role in the coordination of these services. This research examines work underway within the Social Planning division in the city of Toronto and asks what has prompted the greater involvement of cities in the business of coordinating immigrant settlement services. It also examines the new collaborative governance styles that are emerging from increased cooperation between municipal government and non-governmental stakeholders involved in the field of newcomer settlement.


The City of Toronto has become significantly more involved in the settlement of newcomers and immigrants since the Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement of 2005. This research indicates a deeper collaboration between municipal, provincial and federal government, as well as key stakeholder organizations working within the field of immigrant settlement. This has resulted in a more coordinated local approach to the provision of settlement services, which in turn benefits newcomer groups. The author found that avenues such as the Local Immigration Partnerships and Newcomer Leadership Table ensure that the needs of all newcomer groups are being met, while eliminating any duplication or overlap of services. The author recommends using Toronto’s coordinated approached to settlement planning as a model as other Canadian planners begin to take on additional responsibilities in newcomer settlement.