Policy Horizons Canada is involved in conducting foresight in a variety of different fields. In 2011, Horizons conducted a foresight study on social media, which explored how this collaborative technology is fundamentally changing how we create policy and deliver programs. Results of the study were shared at the 14th National Metropolis Conference in Toronto and Horizons facilitated a session with some participants to explore how the immigrant integration experience may change with advances in technology between now and 2025. In the following scenario, an online discussion between the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies (ACEC) and Mrs. Hakim from Kyrgyzstan, offers some insight into how that experience may change as social media becomes part of the process.
Virtual Integration 2025
ACEC: Hello Mrs. Hakim I am so glad we have an opportunity to chat today before you travel on Monday. Do you have any questions for me?
Mrs. Hakim: No, I just wanted us to go through my file to make sure we have everything.
ACEC: Sure. I'll just go over the standard checklist to make sure that we aren't missing anything.
- I see that you have updated your degree and you now have Canadian accreditation for your engineering degree. You have also received your English language certificate for having completed all six language levels.
- You will be starting your new position with us in two weeks.
- Everything is in the system for your SIN and health care cards so they should be waiting for you on Tuesday.
- Your lease agreement on the apartment has been signed and approved and your wireless services will all be installed on Wednesday, and all of the electrical and water billing information is up to date. It looks like you have everything ready.
- We have registered your children for school starting in January and until then they are enrolled in an integration program for children and youth.
- Did you have any other questions?
Mrs. Hakim: No, I think that's it. Just getting all of the last minute things ready.
ACEC: Well don't hesitate to contact me if something comes up. We'll have a car waiting for you at the airport on Tuesday.
While the above example demonstrates some of the ways technology can help advance the immigration process, will all individuals and families moving to Canada have access to the Internet or knowledge of how it works by 2025?.
Implications of technology on immigrant integration
Advances in technology bring both opportunities and challenges. Although we are uncertain how technology will impact the immigrant integration process as we move forward, there are ways we can go about exploring plausible futures, uncertainties, challenges and opportunities. This is what Policy Horizons Canada did through the development of an influence diagram at the Metropolis Conference. While the story above pulled out several themes from our influence diagram (see Annex A) additional points to consider include:
- Will actors other than the federal government (e.g., associations, businesses, provinces) play a more direct role in the immigrant integration process?
- How might face to face interactions with newly arrived immigrants evolve as more services are provided on-line?
- What potential gaps exist between pre-arrival immigrants who have access to technology and those that have limited access? And what are the implications for integration policy?
- Will increased access to diaspora and home communities via technology change the Canadian integration process?
- How will the effective use and integration of technology into the immigration process impact the ways in which countries compete for talent?
If you would like to learn more about influence diagrams and how they can help you identify policy challenges and key uncertainties in the future, please feel free to contact Policy Horizons Canada at email@example.com.