Review of the Migration Policy Development Program

1. Introduction

1.1 Overview of MPDP

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is the lead department for the Government of Canada on immigration and migration issues. It has an ongoing responsibility to design and recommend policies and programs for the selection of immigrants and for the assessment of visitors. In support of this responsibility, CIC maintains a policy development capacity within the department. This capacity is informed by the department’s association with other countries in bilateral and multilateral discussions, by the sharing and discussion of policy research studies, and by the drafting of policy papers.

CIC supports this policy role through membership in selected organizations engaged in dialogue on the development of international migration policy and research. In 2003, CIC established the Migration Policy Development Program (MPDP) to fund participation in relevant forums at a maximum of $304,000 annually through contribution agreements. The MPDP was intended to fund membership or provide support to non-governmental and international inter-governmental organizations conducting or supporting research activities or policy development in the field of national and international migration, and refugee and humanitarian issues. The objectives of participation in these forums are:

  • To promote an increase in research activity conducted on migration issues;
  • To encourage the exchange of information among states; and
  • To contribute to the public discussion in this field.

For the five year period (2003/04 to 2007/08) under review, Contribution Agreements (CAs) were established on an annual basis with the following three organizations:

  • Inter-Governmental Consultations on Asylum, Refugee and Migration Policies (IGC) [note 1];
  • The Regional Conference on Migration (RCM); and
  • The Migration Policy Institute (MPI).

1.2 MPDP description and resources


IGC is a long standing forum that brings together 16 participating states [note 2] in an informal setting to discuss and share experiences related to admission, control and enforcement; asylum and refugees; and immigration and integration. The meeting format is primarily closed door to encourage the frank and open sharing of information amongst like-minded states.

Countries are admitted to the group by invitation. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the European Commission attend as observers. The chair of the IGC rotates annually among participating states. A Secretariat is maintained in Geneva to provide administrative and logistical support and to facilitate the sharing of information. A Troika of the current, past and future Chairs acts as an advisory group to the Secretariat. Each participating country contributes an equal amount of 120,000 Swiss Francs [note 3] per year to support the IOM) and the European Commission attend as observers. The chair of the IGC. The Secretariat receives technical assistance and support from the IOM under special administrative arrangements.

CIC is the lead department for Canada. Other primary government departments that participate in the IGC activities are the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB). The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) are occasionally involved.


RCM is a state-led forum that currently has 11 member states [note 4], 5 observer states, and 8 observer institutions. It is a regional forum on migration, focused on North and Central America and the Dominican Republic. The forum discusses issues of mutual concern related to international migration including both regular and irregular movements of people. Meeting formats include both open forums and closed door sessions. In addition to the sharing of information, RCM works to build capacity in member countries related to more effective border control and migration management.

The Presidency Pro-Tempore of the RCM rotates annually among participating states. A Technical Secretariat is maintained in San Jose, Costa Rica to provide administrative and logistics support and to support the exchange of information. A negotiated scale of payments is in place with Canada contributing 25% of the cost of the Secretariat, or approximately US $68,000 per year. The US pays 50%, Mexico 12.5%, and the remaining countries contribute US $5,000 each. The Secretariat receives technical assistance and support from the IOM under special administrative arrangements.

CIC is the lead department for Canada, and other key government departments that participate in the RCM activities are CBSA and DFAIT.


The MPI is an independent non-profit think-tank located in Washington, DC that focuses on national and international migration and refugee policies. The MPI conducts and publishes research and organizes events such as briefings, conferences and panel discussions. Some MPI researchers are internationally known and recognised as experts in the field of international migration.

MPI’s annual operating budget of approximately US $3M is funded by a number of governments [note 5], foundations, and for-profit and non-profit organisations around the world. Canada’s annual contribution for 2003/04 through 2005/06 was US $50,000 and increased to US $125,000 for the following two years, representing about 2% and 4% of the MPI operating budget respectively.


[1] The name of this forum was changed to Intergovernmental Consultations on Migration, Asylum and Refugees in December 2007.

[2] Current participants include Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and United States.

[3] At current exchange rates this is approximately CAN $111,000.

[4] Current participants include Belize, Canada, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and the United States.

[5] Other governments that provide support to MPI include: EU, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, UK and the US.

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