About Us


Project 360º is housed within the Communication Program at Touchstone Institute. As the largest assessment centre of its kind in Canada, we facilitate entry-to-practice for internationally educated health care professionals (IEHPs) through competency assessment and education to support excellence in Canada’s health professions. With expertise in competency-based programming and curriculum, our work promotes the view that language and communication skills are critical for success along the pathway of training, entry-to-practice, and workplace integration.


Touchstone Institute received financial support from the Government of Ontario to lead Project 360º in an effort to consolidate the latest concepts and practices in intercultural workplace communication as they apply to increasingly culturally and linguistically diverse workplaces.


Language and culture have an impact on communication in diverse workplace settings. Increasingly, intercultural workplace communication competencies are prerequisites for a diverse and globally oriented workforce. Miscommunication can cause disruptions in the exchange of both intention and meaning. This common tension—ever-present in the contemporary integrated workplace—is the impetus for our work.

Project 360° has developed a common language and frame of reference for understanding and applying language, communication and cultural skills in the context of the Canadian workplace. Working closely with the newcomer, employer and service provider communities, we developed a tool – The Communicative Competence at Work Framework – to support the Government of Ontario’s strategy targeting success in newcomer workplace integration.


The 360° approach is rooted in the understanding that, like communication, knowledge building is a multifaceted and co-constructed phenomenon. Lead by the Project 360° team, we engaged experts in the realm of workplace communication to create an inclusive and multi-stakeholder methodology.

Built from relevant and current theory in linguistics, intercultural communication, and language assessment, the competencies included in our framework were robustly vetted through multi-step, broad-reaching consultations to capture perspectives from language and communication professionals, competency experts, employers, employees, integration professionals, HR professionals, and trainers. This iterative and inclusive process comprises our unique 360° approach—made most unique by the contributions of our many collaborators.

Professionals involved in the development of the framework.

Different professional groups provided input into the design strategy.

Core communication competencies identified.

Together, we examined the challenges that language, culture, and communication can create for Canadian-born and new Canadians alike in the workplace. Our conclusion, and the underlying philosophy of the project, is that each of us has agency and responsibility for effective communication.


Communicative Competence at Work is a framework for intercultural communication in the workplace that describes communication skills, strategies and approaches in support of integration and harmony in a diverse workplace. Project 360° has created this tool to provide employees and organizations with a practical set of communication competencies to leverage the skill sets, expertise, and perspectives of an intercultural workforce. It also serves as a frame of reference and a common language for educators, trainers and service providers in the development of program curricula and professional development goals. We believe that by leveraging our diversity, we can advance our workplaces and create environments where everyone thrives.


The development of this framework was a collaborative effort involving input, review and oversight by a number of different organizations and individuals whom we would like to acknowledge.

We are grateful to the Government of Ontario for their confidence that this project was both important and possible. Thanks to their financial support and ongoing input throughout the project.

The work would not have been possible without the support and input from a large number of individuals and organizations. We acknowledge the input of participants in the various events, focus groups, interviews and surveys that informed the development of this framework and the input of the Ontario Bridging Coalition members, INESRA: Communication Matters, and the Nursing Health Services Research Unit (NHSRU) at McMaster University.

Touchstone Institute’s leadership and staff provided the canvas upon which we could express this vision. Their support and input into the framework design have made the work both possible and substantial. Sten Ardal, CEO, offered strategic guidance, Debra Sibbald, Sandra Monteiro and Andrea Strachan guided the theoretical underpinnings for the competency framework. Stephanie Hooker managed early consultations with stakeholders with the support of many of Touchstone staff members. Kelly Partington oversaw the implementation of the framework’s online presence, while Julie Gallo and Sara Cecchetto provided feedback and edits along the way, as well as copy editing for the final manuscript. A special thank you goes to Claudia Aldecoa for coordinating a complex, multi-phased project.

We are grateful for the support and guidance of the project Steering Committee:

  • Anna Kostecka, Senior Manager- Learning Initiatives, TRIEC
  • Katerina Belazelkoska, Program Manager- Workplace Communication in Canada Program, The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education, Ryerson University
  • Kathy Cheng, Founder/President, Selffii Intelligence Inc.
  • Paula Calderon, Director Services, Peel Region, ACCES Employment
  • Peggy Irwin, Language Curriculum Consultant & Instructional Designer
  • Sabina Michael, Programs for Internationally Educated Professionals, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

We acknowledge the technical expertise contributed by this diverse group of consultants:

  • Eva Schausberger, CamProf Inc. – Reviewer
  • Gail Stewart, Assessment Services – Competency Framework Developer
  • Karen Geraci, inQuire Consulting – Environmental Scan of Existing Resources
  • Marisa Mazzulla, inQuire Consulting – Environmental Scan of Existing Resources
  • Peggy Irwin, Curriculum Developer – Competency Framework Developer
  • Phil Schalm, Schalm Consulting – Competency Framework Developer
  • Ron Wray, DGL Consulting – Advisor, Stakeholder Engagement & Delphi Technique
  • Suzanne Ellenbogen, Public Sector Management Consultant – Project Evaluator
  • Tuula Lindholm, Learning Solutions Consultant – Literature Review (Intercultural Communication) and Competency Framework Developer
  • Zubeida Ramji, Z. Ramji Associates Inc. – Literature Review (Frameworks for Immigrant Integration)
  • Josh Layton and Ryan Felix, Loop: Design for Social Good – Website Design & User Experience