Welcome to the FOCAL archive

The Canadian Foundation for the Americas (FOCAL) is no longer in operation. This website documents FOCAL's activities and accomplishments throughout its existence. Thank you for your interest in the work of FOCAL.

Policy Papers & Briefs
Policy Paper: Gaining Perspective on Low-Skill Temporary Labour Migration in Canada

Jenna Hennebry
August 2011

A migrant worker picks swiss chard in a field in Canada.In Canada, growing numbers of temporary migrant workers are entering lower-skilled occupations across a variety of sectors beyond agriculture. As the traditional influx of workers from Mexico and the Caribbean expands to include new countries of origin such as Guatemala, El Salvador, Thailand and the Philippines, it is vital that researchers and policy-makers deepen their understanding of the role of labour migration in the Canadian economy over the long term as well as its consequences for human rights and social cohesion. This paper draws on over a decade of research on temporary labour migration in Canada involving qualitative interviews with migrant workers, non-governmental and governmental representatives, representatives from international organizations and sending countries, as well as the use of a new and unique web-based research tool developed by FOCAL’s Mapping Migration from the Americas project that enables transnational and comparative analyses of labour migration flows in Canada.


Policy Brief: Food Price Crisis 2007-2008: Lessons for the Commonwealth Caribbean and Haiti

Jean-Charles Le Vallée
August 2011

Haitian farmers prepare the land for planting.In June 2008, global food prices reached their highest levels in 30 years, sparking a global crisis and threatening the livelihoods of many in the Commonwealth Caribbean and Haiti. This intense crisis prompted various policy responses by governments and international agencies in the region to ensure short-term food security and availability of food supplies at more affordable domestic prices. Since then, however, co-ordinated regional efforts have focused on longer-term strategies resulting in a Regional Food and Nutrition Security Policy. This policy brief reviews policy responses to the 2007-2008 food price crisis in Commonwealth Caribbean countries and Haiti, as these countries are highly vulnerable to such crises in light of their extreme dependence on food imports coupled with high poverty rates. It assesses the impact of the crisis, the region’s responses and provides lessons for looming food price shocks to come.


Policy Brief: Economic Growth and Inequality

Guillermo Perry and Roberto Steiner
July 2011

An indigenous woman sits against a wall on a street in Urubamba, Peru.

High levels of inequality and significant social mobility problems still exist in Latin America, despite recent improvements in the distribution of income. Beyond ethical implications, inequality has repercussions on macroeconomic, institutional and social variables. This policy brief analyzes some of the channels through which inequality affects these variables and offers public policy options that could foster improvements in the distribution of income and opportunities. These policy options could be discussed during the next Summit of the Americas as a topic for regional agreement, with the objective of uniting political and economic forces to reduce the high levels of inequality facing the region.

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Explore the link between governance and development.