Relaunching the Refugee Roundtable: Convening for Action

From December 2015 to early 2017, the Syrian Refugee Jobs Agenda Roundtable was convened under the leadership of Senator Ratna Omidvar, with a goal to increase Syrian refugees’ access to employment opportunities that utilize the talent and skills they bring to the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA). The Roundtable of employers, employment and immigrant serving agencies and government representatives realized numerous successes in their commitment to action-oriented initiatives; read more about them here.

The success of the Syrian Refugee Jobs Agenda Roundtable demonstrated the benefits of convening motivated community leaders to drive change and meaningful integration of new Canadians. But the work to support positive employment outcomes for all refugees new to Canada is on-going, and there was a clear need to revitalize the model with expanded scope.

On April 16, 2019, Senator Ratna Omidvar called on stakeholders to join a revitalized Refugee Jobs Agenda Roundtable. She was joined by her new Co-Chair, Darrell Pinto, VP of Research and Innovation at the Canadian Venture Capital Private Equity Association. The newly launched Roundtable was convened with objectives to:

  • Broaden the roundtable model to the national level with a focus on improving the employment outcomes of all refugees new to Canada;
  • Collaborate with employers, employment and immigrant serving agencies and government representatives to collect a body of best practices that can be shared and easily accessed across regions and business contexts, including smaller communities and smaller employers;
  • Explore the capacity for refugee entrepreneurship to grow and flourish; and
  • Guide companies that have made commitments to the Tent Partnership for Refugees and amplify their journeys and successes for others to learn from.

The newly launched roundtable will be expanded to:

  • All refugee populations in Canada
  • National scope; convened locally, with engagement across the country

Employers and business leaders

The Roundtable is seeking Canadian employers and business leaders from across sectors and industries to join the initiative with a focus on the employment outcomes of refugees. This can manifest in a number of different ways:

  • Direct employment opportunities: contract, paid internship and/or full-time position
  • Knowledge sharing: offering insights and strategies for leading impactful employment programs and/or building inclusive workplaces
  • Outreach: supporting the introduction to other like-minded employers/organizations and influencers that can help propel the mission of the Roundtable; developing sectorial networks to leverage strategies/programs created through the Roundtable
  • In-kind donations: including but not limited to, donating staff time, expertise in a specific area (design, marketing, IT, etc.), or office space
  • Financial support: provide financial support for a specific employment program, or to support the on-going operations and coordination of the Roundtable

Employment and immigrant serving agencies

The Roundtable is seeking refugee-facing agencies in Canada, including employment and settlement organizations, to provide valuable insights into the creation of employment programs and lead connections between employers and suitable refugee talent. Interested agencies should be prepared to:

  • Collaborate across different agencies to effectively support the placement of refugees into meaningful employment
  • Support the creation of employment programs for interested employers
  • Lead the connection of employers to refugee talent

Government agencies

The Roundtable is seeking government officials in related agencies and department across all levels of government – municipal, provincial and federal – to lend their expertise and insights into government programs, policies and opportunities that can be leveraged to move the Roundtable initiative forward.

Academics and accredited media

The Roundtable is seeking Canadian academics who are conducting research related to refugee settlement. Accredited media are welcomed as the roundtables will furnish ample subject matter on this topic.

Please email Hire Immigrants ( to express your interest in joining the Roundtable.

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