CIMM#35: On the issue of the coming into force date for the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants act

I think at issue here is the question around the OIC coming-into-force date. If you look at the documents that were sent to committee members—and a member asked me to table these documents—you'll see these documents were sent to the clerk. I received a copy as well, separate and apart from that, so committee members, if they have not received them from the clerk already, will, I assume, at some point in time be getting these documents. 

Citizenship and Immigration Committee
October 12th, 2022 / 3:45 p.m.

Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

I think at issue here is the question around the OIC coming-into-force date. If you look at the documents that were sent to committee members—and a member asked me to table these documents—you'll see these documents were sent to the clerk. I received a copy as well, separate and apart from that, so committee members, if they have not received them from the clerk already, will, I assume, at some point in time be getting these documents. 

Upon receipt of these documents—and let me say there were a lot of documents—I began to look through the information, aside from having to read what was available in the public realm through the media. To that point, I also requested that we have this meeting, because I think it's important for us to get clarity on the issue and to try to shed some light on the situation. 

The heart of the issue is the date the OIC came into force, and the copy of the OIC that the government issued. There were supplementary documents to indicate that. The act came into force and was registered on November 20, and the OIC said that this was the date on which the act would come into force. That's very explicit in the language.

Now, I'm not a lawyer. I'm also not a cabinet minister at this level, but having been a cabinet minister at a different level, I can tell you that when OICs come about, they're very intentional. They're not just made-up words. Officials are not loosey-goosey about them. They're very intentional. This may be just a human error, and I know the officials are saying it's just a human error, but I think we need to delve into that a bit and be certain that it was in fact a human error.

The OIC explicitly says that November 20 is the day the act would be registered and would come into force, so that language to me is not confusing. That language is very clear in terms of what it is.

Why is it the case that this language differs from that in other OICs? As stated in one of the ATIP documents, one of the officials indicated that there was unusual language being used. To me, that begs the question: Why was unusual language used for this OIC? What's the rationale for that? Maybe there's a really legitimate reason for that. I just don't know at this point in time. Therefore, I would like to get clarity from the officials on why this particular OIC is different from other OICs, and would like them to explain the discrepancy between the clarity of the OIC itself and the change in date to December 9.

From that perspective, I think it is important, given the significance of the issue, to get clarity on it. It might just be an honest mistake. If it is, it's not my intention to chastise anyone. It's just so we can clear the air. The last thing I would want is for the minister or the government to be under that cloud. I don't think that's good for anyone. It's not good for democracy, so let's clear it up once and for all.

With respect to the number of meetings, do we need three meetings? Do we need one meeting? To be honest with you, I'm not sure. Maybe it's just one meeting. Maybe the light will be shone and we'll all see it very clearly, but I think we should have a meeting and at the very minimum find out what the lay of the land is. I'd like to have those questions answered, and then we can make a determination as to whether or not additional meetings are required.

This motion calls for three meetings, but we should have at least one meeting, find out what the lay of the land is and then make a determination on how best to proceed. I think as elected officials we should do our due diligence on this. I know we received a letter from the deputy telling us that this was a human error, so let's get the information to clarify that so we can be certain, as officials around this table, that we are addressing this issue.

That's what I would like to propose, Madam Chair, and I hope that answers the questions of committee members.

Finally, I want to address the questions around concurrent meetings and so on. We are doing concurrent meetings, by the way, at committee. It's a bit confusing, truth be told. We're doing a report on a different study, and we're continuing work on another study. There is, of course, the Roxham Road issue as well, which is very important and very serious. I absolutely want to get to that. At our last meeting I moved a motion, which was supported by this committee, on the Afghan file. Some people's lives hang in the balance, so that too is very important.

It is not my intention to delay anything. We have a lot of work to do and we need to get to it, but to clear the air on this, we should at least have one meeting and find some clarity on where it lies. If it's honestly a human mistake, then so be it and we can move on, but we should actually have that clarity.

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CIMM#93: Closed Work Permits and Temporary Foreign Workers and Briefing on Recent Changes to International Student Policy and Plans for Future Measures

On the question around student housing, I absolutely think that it is essential for institutions and provinces do their part and I think that the federal government should show leadership and perhaps initiate a program wherein the federal government contributes a third of the funding, institutions provide a third of the funding, and the provinces and territories provide a third of the funding towards the creation of student housing, both for international students and domestic students. That way you can have a robust plan to address the housing needs of the students.

I'm going to park that for a minute and quickly get into the students who were subject to fraud. We have a situation in which students have now been cleared and found to be genuine by the task force, but they have not gotten their passports back yet. I don't know what the holdup is, and I wonder if the minister can comment on that.

Second, there are students who are still waiting to be evaluated by the task force, and the task force work can't proceed because they might be waiting for a date for the IRB to assess the question on their permit on whether or not it was genuine or whether or not there was misrepresentation. They are consequently in a situation in which people are just chasing their tails and they can't get to the task force.

On that question, will the minister agree that instead of making people go through that process with the IRB, the task force evaluation can move forward first so that they can be found to be either a genuine student or not a genuine student?


CIMM#92: Closed Work Permits, Temporary Foreign Workers and Committee Business

I want to thank the special rapporteur for joining us today at committee. I also very much appreciate your coming to Canada and looking into this issue.

As many of the witnesses have said to us, the issue around the immigration system as it's set up, with the closed work permit approach, is that it actually sets these workers up for exploitation. From that perspective.... It's not to say, as the Conservatives would suggest, that you were alleging that all employers abuse workers. I don't believe you said that at any point in time; rather, I think the issue is about the immigration system that Canada has.

Instead of having this closed work permit situation, what would you say is the remedy to address the exploitation that many of the migrant workers you spoke with directly experienced?


Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, United Nations, As an Individual
Tomoya Obokata

My recommendation is, certainly, to modify the closed nature of the program. If the workers are able to choose their employers at their own will, that reduces the instances of abuse and exploitation.

More importantly, whether it's closed or not, employers have to comply with the relevant legal obligations. I accept that a large number of employers already do. It's those others who do not who require further attention from the provincial and federal governments to see whether they can take appropriate law enforcement actions against those who breach labour standards legislation.


Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC

With respect to exploitation, one of the issues that migrant workers are faced with is that they don't have full status here in Canada; they have only temporary status. One issue that has been identified is the closed work permit. The other issue is in terms of having rights. Being able to have their rights protected also means that they have to have status here in Canada.

How would you suggest the policy side of things should be amended to ensure that these migrant workers have their rights protected?

CIMM#91: Government's Response to the Final Report of the Special Committee on Afghanistan and Committee Business

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. I thank the committee members for supporting the last motion.

I have another motion that I'd like to move at this point. Notice has been given for it. It reads as follows:

That, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), the committee invite the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship and the Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities and relevant officials together for two hours, or invite the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship with relevant officials for two hours, and the Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities to appear separately with relevant officials for one hour to update the committee on:

(a) the work of the task force addressing the exploitation scheme targeting international students as many students are still reporting that they are in limbo and have not heard back from officials about their status;

(b) the measures taken by IRCC and institutions to help prevent and protect international students from fraud schemes;

(c) the justification to increase the financial requirements for international students by more than 100% to $20,635;

(d) the justification for putting a cap on international study permits; and

(e) the plans to address the housing crisis for international students and efforts made to collaborate with provinces, territories and post-secondary institutions.

I think the motion is self-explanatory on all elements, and I think we would benefit from having the two ministers appear before our committee. We've also deliberated this issue at length at another meeting, so in the interest of time, I won't revisit all of those points.

I hope committee members will support this motion.


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