EU-Canada Workshops on social policy

Opening Up Canadian Federalism the European Way:

What We Heard at the Cross-Canada Workshops

In the spring of 2014 the University of Victoria (UVic) European Union Centre of Excellence (EUCE) and the Department of Political Science organized a series of workshops comparing Canadian and European Union (EU) approaches to social policy coordination across their different political systems. The Canada-Europe Transatlantic Dialogue (CETD), the Institute of Intergovernmental Relations (IIGR), the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC), and the European Social Observatory (OSE) were key partners in the initiative.

The workshops started in Vancouver on April 14, 2014 (employment and pensions policy) and finished in Halifax on May 16 (health care). In between they were held in Edmonton April 16 (research and postsecondary education), Montreal May 9 (civil society participation), Toronto May 12 (the market for coordination) and Ottawa May 13, 2014 (policy learning).

The workshops provided an invaluable opportunity to have a practical conversation about the challenges of managing multilevel governance in Canada today. Using the EU as a mirror, workshop participants were able to reflect on ways to improve how social policy is managed in the Canadian federation.

The different outputs from these events are now available, and can be viewed on the Canada-EU workshops website. These include:

Bart Vanhercke from the European Social Observatory (OSE) in Brussels presented at the Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa workshops on the Open Method of Coordination as ‘Laboratory Federalism’. On June 4, 2014 Dr. Verdun presented at the OSE on Towards EU Unemployment Insurance? Comparing Canadian and EU Social Policy. This demonstrates that policy learning can travel both ways across the Atlantic. The different outputs of this event (including a short video, podcast, summary and Working Paper) can be downloaded from the OSE website at

In the fall a synthesis report will be prepared, drawing out recommendations based on the research and what was heard at the Canadian workshops. In the meantime, those interested in the topic are encouraged to engage in the conversation by posting a comment on the Canada-EU workshop website