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Canadian Govt. & Politics: Immigration — Finding & Evaluating

Immigration Policy: Finding & Evaluating Substantive Information

The general sources for finding information on contemporary Canadian government and politics covered in the main portion of this guide should also be used for this topic. The following are some more specialized sources or sources from the fields of immigration, refugee, migration and multiculturalism studies which will provide additional information.

Finding Sources

Core Journals:

The following are some of the key journals which, in addition to the list in the main section of this guide, are likely to include articles on Canadian immigration policy since 1945 and related issues:

Canadian Diversity/Diversité canadienne. Montreal: Association for Canadian Studies, 2002 - . Quarterly. ISSN: 1711-1870. Available online.

Description: This bilingual journal publishes articles on immigration and multiculturalism issues in Canada and around the world.
Indexed in: CBCA Reference.

Canadian Ethnic Studies/Études ethniques au Canada. Canadian Ethnic Studies Association. Calgary: Research Centre for Canadian Ethnic Studies, U. of Calgary, 1969 - . 3/year. ISSN: 0008-3496.

Description: This is a refereed, interdisciplinary journal on the study of ethnicity, immigration, inter-group relations and the historical and cultural life of ethnic groups in Canada. Some text in French.
Includes: Research articles, book and film reviews, conference reports, critical essays, opinions and more.
Indexed in: Canadian Periodical Index, America History and Life, Historical Abstracts, CBCA Reference, PAIS International, Social Science Index, Sociological Abstracts, etc.

Canadian Issues/Thèmes canadiens. Montreal: Canadian Association for Canadian Studies, 1975 - . Quarterly. (Annual 1975-1999). ISSN: 0318-8442.

Description: This journal billed as "accessible to the greater public" frequently has articles on immigration and multiculturalism issues.
Includes: Articles, interviews and book reviews.
Indexed in: America History and Life, CBCA Reference, Historical Abstracts, Point de repère, International Political Science Abstracts, etc.
Tips: Special issues on immigration: Spring 2003, '05 and '06, on refugees: Spring 2004, on multiculturalism: Winter 2002.

International Migration. Oxford: Blackwell, for the International Organization for Migration. 1997 - . Quarterly. ISSN: 0020-7985. Online: 1468-2435.

Description: This refereed journal covers international migration issues analysed by political scientists and other social scientists from around the world. Articles address policy concerns and comparative policy from different regions of the world. The IOM is an intergovernmental organization of which Canada was a founding member.
Includes: Detailed research and policy analysis papers, short commentary, and emerging research on current events and policy debates.
Indexed in: America: History and Life, Historical Abstracts, PAIS International, Sociological Abstracts, Current Contents, CSA Worldwide Po Sci Abstracts, Arts & Humanities Citation Index, IBSS, International Poli Sci Abstracts, Refugee Survey Quarterly, Sage Race Relations Abstracts.

International Migration Review (IMR). Oxford: Blackwell, for Center for Migration Studies, 1964 - . Quarterly. ISSN: 0197-9183 (print), 1747-7379 (online).

Description: This is a peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary journal, a major international journal on the study of international migration, ethnic group relations and refugee movements. Articles cover the political, social, economic, historical and legislative aspects of international migration.
Includes: Book reviews and original research articles.
Indexed in: America History and Life, Historical Abstracts, Worldwide Poli Sci Abstracts, Social Sciences Citation Index, Social Science Index, Sociological Abstracts, Sage Race Relations Abstracts, Peace Research Abstracts, Refugee Survey Quarterly, etc.

Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies (JEMS). Routledge. (Formerly Community, New Community). 1971 - . 16 or more issues/year. ISSN: 1369-183X

Description: An international peer-reviewed journal that publishes research articles on all forms of migration and its consequences.
Includes: Original research articles.
Indexed in: IBSS, International Political Science Abstracts, Scopus, Sociological Abstracts, etc.

Refuge: Canada's Journal on Refugees. York University Centre for Refugee Studies and Queen's University, 1981 - . Semi-annual. Available online from 2000 - .

Description: This interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal by the non-profit centre has articles in English and French on refugee and forced migration issues worldwide, written by academics, policy-makers and practitioners in the field.
Includes: Articles and reports, commentaries and book reviews.
Indexed in: Canadian Legal Literature, PAIS International, Sociological Abstracts, IBSS, CBCA, etc.

Refugee Survey Quarterly. Oxford University Press. 1994 - . Quarterly. ISSN 1471-695X (print); 1020-4067 (online)

Description: A peer-reviewed journal that publishes research on forced migration from policy-oriented perspectives.
Includes: Original research articles.
Indexed in: CIAO, CSA Worldwide Political Science Abstracts, ProQuest Central, Scopus, Sociological Abstracts, etc.


Indexes & Databases:
Indexes and databases useful for finding articles on Canadian government and politics in general are listed in the main section of this guide. The following is a select list of indexes and databases that can provide additional access to journals and research papers on this topic and related issues:

Columbia International Affairs Online (CIAO). Columbia University Libraries and Columbia U. Press. Updated monthly.

Description: A full-text database of theory and research on international affairs.
Coverage: 1991 - . Selective international sources.
Includes: Journals, books, policy briefs, working papers, occasional papers, case studies, conference proceedings, etc. from universities, research institutes and NGOs.

Refugee Abstracts. Geneva, Switzerland: Oxford University Press, for United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Quarterly. 12 volumes.

Description: An interdisciplinary source for authoritative information on international refugee-related research. Each issue focuses on a specific theme.
Coverage: 1982 - 1993.
Includes: Articles, conference reports, documents, abstracts and bibliographies.

Books and other Academic Work:
To find books, theses, conference papers, and publications by research institutes, and other organizations, use library catalogues. Additional sources listed below.

Useful LC Subject Headings: (Name of province can be substituted for Canada)

Canada. Emigration and immigration — government policy
Canada. Emigration and immigration — history
Canada. Emigration and immigration — law
Emigration and immigration law — Canada
Canada — Refugees — government policy (or Refugees — government policy — Canada)
Canada — Refugees — legal status, laws, etc.
Immigrants — government policy — Canada
Women immigrants — government policy — Canada
Political refugees — Canada
Multiculturalism — Canada
Citizenship — Canada
Canada. Citizenship and Immigration (for books about the government department)
Naturalization — Canada
Canada — ethnic relations — political aspects

Note: The order of headings and sub-headings can be an issue in retrieving all books on these topics. When several headings and sub-headings apply to your research topic, the best way to retrieve the most books is to search by combining the relevant words from the headings in a keyword-in-subject search. Example: Search for immigration in the subject field and government policy in the subject field and canada in the subject field. (Check your library catalogue help screen for instructions on how to do this kind of advanced search.)

Conference Papers:
Besides the papers published from the Canadian Political Science Association conferences, universities, research institutes and others periodically organize conferences from which the presentations are published. To find these, search your library catalogue or the National Union Catalogue, Voilà using the appropriate subject heading and the sub-heading "congresses" (e.g. Canada -- emigration and immigration -- congresses).

Canadian government-sponsored conferences include annual federal-provincial-territorial conferences of Ministers responsible for immigration, from which "public documents" are sometimes made available. The related departments also sponsor conferences occasionally, as can Royal Commissions and other fact-finding task forces. An example: The Immigrant Woman in Canada: A Right to Recognition. 2 vols. Proceedings and recommendations from the National Conference on Immigrant Women. Ottawa: Min. of State, Multiculturalism, 1981.


Many excellent theses have been written in Canadian universities on the topic of immigration, refugee, and multiculturalism policy. Search the Theses Canada Portal for these. Library and Archives Canada maintains a collection of every M.A. and PhD thesis written at Canadian universities. Where a link to an online thesis is not available, and for print theses, request an inter-library loan through your library.  Most universities also maintain a collection of the electronic theses written at their institution. Some are accessible through their institutional repositories.

Research Reports:

See the "Research Organizations" tab for examples of organizations that publish research on this topic.


Current Events / News:

See the websites of the government departments and agencies involved with immigration, refugees, and multiculturalism, related advocacy groups, and research organizations, and look for "What's New", press releases, media rooms, newsletters, events calendars, and contact information. For example: 

Notices - Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.  and

Newsroom - Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.  See the "Newsroom" page for many social media options for getting news from the IRCC. You can also subscribe to their online newsletter. 

See Primary Sources -- What's Happening Now for more details and examples.

Government Information:

Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is currently the main federal government department responsible for immigration. Also involved are Canada Border Services Agency (responsible for enforcement), the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (a tribunal that resolves immigration and refugee cases), and the Immigration sections of Global Affairs' missions abroad. Responsibility for multiculturalism falls under the department of Canadian Heritage.

Since 1945, the federal department primarily responsible for immigration has changed several times:

1936-1949: Dept. of Mines and Resources
1950-1966: Min. of Citizenship and Immigration
1966-1977: Min. of Manpower and Immigration
1977-1993: Min. of Employment and Immigration
1993-1994: Secretary of State, Citizenship and Immigration
1994 - 2015: Citizenship and Immigration Canada
2015 - . Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

(For more details see Departments and Roles, 1867 to Today by the Library of Parliament.)

Although not as much involved in setting immigration policy, every province and territory in Canada also has a Minister responsible for immigration and most have a federal-provincial agreement for a Nominee Program to encourage immigration to their province. Quebec has had an immigration department since 1968. The IRCC links to the provincial programs.

Some of the large cities that have received the most immigrants in Canada: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, etc. also have programs and services for new immigrants. Most have at one time had or currently have task forces, working groups or others looking at immigration issues in their cities.

Many of these bodies publish research reports and other documents examining policy issues. Some of the most recent ones published by the currently existing governments will be available on their websites. Check your library catalogue, the National Union Catalogue Voilà, a large provincial research or legislative library, or the city's municipal library, for the documents created in earlier years. Library and Archives Canada also have collections of the records of federal departments. More details and some examples are given in the Selected Primary Sources - What was Written section.

Briefs to Committees: One of the important ways in which government agencies, advocacy and interest groups advise and lobby the federal government is to submit briefs to Senate and House of Commons committees, advising them on the impact of proposed legislation. These briefs or reports may be found as separate publications by authoring group, or as part of the "Evidence" of parliamentary committees on the Parliament of Canada website.

See Selected Primary Sources for some examples of these documents.

Political Party Information:

Besides statements made to the press, or in Parliament, or briefs submitted to committees, some political parties may, from time to time, include general statements on immigration or multiculturalism policy issues in their platform or principles documents. On the whole however, party documents specifically on immigration issues are rare and difficult to find. Researchers will have to scan any documents authored by the party or conduct in-depth research in political party archives.

See Selected Primary Sources - What was Written for some examples.

Research Organizations:
Some organizations that publish research on Canadian immigration policy:

Caledon Institute of Social Policy.
This nonprofit organization (1992-2017), funded mainly by the Maytree Foundation, published social policy analysis and research papers to inform and influence public opinion and government policy. The link above is to their immigration-related publications to 2012. Some examples:

Refugees in Limbo and Canada's International Obligations. By Guy Goodwin Gill and Judith Kumin, Sept. 2002. 22 p.
Values of the Canada-US Third Country Agreement. By Audrey Macklin, Dec. 2003. 23 p.
Shaping the Future: Canada's Rapidly Changing Immigration Policies. By Naomi Alboim and Karen Cohl.  Oct. 2012. 85 p.

Canadian Institute for Identities and Migration (CIIM).
A division of the Association for Canadian Studies, the CIIM is an independent, non-profit think tank that analyzes migration policies and trends. They publish the journals Canadian Diversity and Canadian Journal of Social Research, convene the National Metropolis Conference and its annual regional symposium, and many research reports. The Publications tab includes:
Metropolis eBook - Beyond 2020: Renewing Canada's Commitment to Immigration. Selected presentations from the 22nd Metropolis Canada Conference. (2 vols). 2020.
Welcoming Immigrants and Refugees to Canada: The Role of Municipalities. By Paul Holley and Jack Jedwab. 2019.

Centre for Refugee Studies (CRS). York University.
A research unit of York University since 1988, CRS is involved in multidisciplinary research and teaching on refugee issues, putting on conferences and seminars and publishing policy briefs, the journal Refuge, and research papers.
NOTE: The CRS library ("Resource Centre"), is open to the public and searchable online.

Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP).
Established in 1972, this national nonprofit organization's aim is to improve public policy in Canada through research. Their research program on immigration-related issues ended in 2015.  Some examples of their published research:

Beyond Harmonization: How US Immigration Rules Would Have Worked in Canada. By Allen Green, July 2004. 32 p.
Canada's Provincial Nominee Immigration Programs: Securing Greater Policy Alignment. By Leslie Seidle. Study No. 43. Dec. 2013. 28 p.
Controlling Irregular Migration in Canada: Reconciling Security Concerns with Human Rights Protection. By François Crépeau and Delphine Nakache. 2006. 42 p.
International Refugee Pressures and the Canadian Public Policy Response. By Alan Nash, 1989. 128 p.

International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Canada was one of the founding members of this intergovernmental organization in 1951. In 2016 it became a United Nations related organization with over 170 member countries. The IOM has a large publishing program which includes the journal International Migration, the biennial World Migration Report with statistics and updates on the major global issues affecting all forms of migration, the Atlas of Environmental Migration, and many research publications on immigration policy, including some specific to Canada. Examples:
Effects of Climate Change on Human Mobility in the Pacific and Possible Impact on Canada. By Sabira Coelho and Angelica Neville. 2017 44 p.
Measuring Well-Governed Migration: The 2016 Migration Governance Index. 2016. 77 p.
Migrant Smuggling to Canada: An Enquiry into Vulnerability and Irregularity Through Migrant Stories. 2018. 78 p.

Migration Policy Institute.
A non-partisan research institute based in the U.S. and Europe that seeks to improve immigration and integration policies globally through research and analysis. The site has a great deal of information, including global migration statistics, the annual: "Top 10 Migration Issues" report, fact sheets, articles, policy briefs, and reports Some examples:
The Canadian Express Entry System for Selecting Economic Immigrants: Progress and Persistent Challenges. By Daniel Hiebert 2019. 18 p.
Giving Cities and Regions a Voice in Immigration Policy: Can National Policies Meet Local Demand? By Madeleine Sumption, 2014. 20 p.

Ryerson Centre for Immigration and Settlement.
Supports research in international migration, integration, and diaspora and refugee studies. Publications include several the Working Paper Series, produced jointly with the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Migration and Integration. Some examples:
Canada's Private Sponsorship Program: Success, Shortcomings, and Policy Solutions. By Ervis Martani. Feb. 2021. 16 p.
Welcome to Canada?: A Critical Review and Assessment of Canada's Fast-Changing Immigration Policies: A Literature Review. By Lotf Ali Jan Ali. 2014. 33 p.

UNHCR Canada.
The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is the UN's Refugee agency, created in 1950. This link leads to research publications regarding its work in Canada. Some examples:
Seven Decades of Refugee Protection in Canada: 1950 - 2020. By Mina Mir, Nitasha Syed and Kalkidan Lemayehu. Dec. 2020. 28 p.
Statelessness in Canada: A Study on the Situation of Stateless Persons in Canada. By Jocelyn Kane, Sept. 2019. 42 p.



Videos and Films:

National Film Board of Canada Catalogue.
The NFB online catalogue can be searched by keyword or browsed by subject. Click on "Find a Film". Relevant "Subject Categories" include "Cultural Diversity and Multiculturalism" or "Politics and Government -- Canada", then "Citizenship" or "Government Agencies, Programs and Services". Others can be found using a more specific keyword search.

Film, Video and Audio Productions Supported by Multiculturalism Programs, 1973-1992. Ottawa: Multiculturalism and Citizenship Canada, 1992. 83 p.
A bilingual film catalogue of audiovisual materials on Canadian multiculturalism issues. It has an index of subjects, regions, ethnocultural groups, names and distributors.

Global Migration Film Festival. International Organization for Migration.
Features  documentaries and other films on migration. The films selected each year are listed since the beginning of the festival in 2017.

Evaluating Sources

Please refer to Evaluating Information in the main part of this guide.