CIMM#34: Should government announced new immigration measures include additional resources intact?

My question really centres around this. What happens a lot is that the government takes the approach of robbing Peter to pay Paul. That is to say, they will introduce new immigration measures without actually providing additional immigration levels or resources to accommodate those new immigration measures. As a result, you have a huge backlog that would be impacted. This means that existing applications would be further delayed. The reality is that, with the privately sponsored refugee stream, there were significant delays even prior to the Afghanistan crisis.
When the government introduces new immigration measures, should they introduce them without ensuring that there are new resources and immigration level numbers to accommodate them, or should they do those special immigration measures with additional resources intact, both level numbers and staffing for processing?

Citizenship and Immigration Committee
Oct. 7th, 2022, 3 p.m.
Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC
NDP

Thank you very much, Madam Chair, and thank you to the witnesses.

My question really centres around this. What happens a lot is that the government takes the approach of robbing Peter to pay Paul. That is to say, they will introduce new immigration measures without actually providing additional immigration levels or resources to accommodate those new immigration measures. As a result, you have a huge backlog that would be impacted. This means that existing applications would be further delayed. The reality is that, with the privately sponsored refugee stream, there were significant delays even prior to the Afghanistan crisis.

My question is for Deacon Rudy. 

When the government introduces new immigration measures, should they introduce them without ensuring that there are new resources and immigration level numbers to accommodate them, or should they do those special immigration measures with additional resources intact, both level numbers and staffing for processing?



Deacon Rudy Ovcjak
Director, Office for Refugees, Archdiocese of Toronto

Certainly, in my opinion, it would be prudent.... In any of these extraordinary situations like the Afghani or the Ukrainian crisis, where a response is needed and thought important enough for Parliament to act on, additional resources ought to be provided, absolutely. 

The problem we've always had is that resources are redeployed from processing existing refugee populations to now process the applications of this newly created target. That's patently unfair to the refugee populations who have been already waiting in the queue for many years and living in very intolerable situations. 

I think the levels plan should be adjusted accordingly and resources should be deployed.


Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC
NDP

Thank you very much.

Yes, there's a way to address that, which is to do exactly as you are recommending.

Now, in terms of additional resources put in place, oftentimes the government will, with great fanfare and an announcement, say that they now have additional resources and that, going forward, immigration standards will be met and people will be processed in this period of time. Yet they do not address the fact that there are people in the backlog, thousands of people, and they're at the back of the queue because their standard has already been missed, but there's no measure to really tackle that backlog. 

What do you think the government should do to ensure that the backlog and those who have already applied are not being left further behind?




Deacon Rudy Ovcjak
Director, Office for Refugees, Archdiocese of Toronto

I think it's important to have almost a “first in, first out”, a first-come, first-served basis. We have applications that were submitted in 2017-18 and still haven't been processed, so I think first-come, first-served.... As they come in, they ought to be processed, as opposed to the current situation. Now with the Afghani crisis, they are put in the front of the queue, so everybody else is pushed back until we hit that 40,000 target, and there will be little movement in the other refugee populations. I think that's what is going to take place. 

It's early in the process right now, but our October number of arrivals has already decreased 50% from the year prior, so that's an indication that existing refugee populations already in the queue have been slowed.
Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC

Could the government not have two parallel processes to ensure that those in the backlog are being targeted as well and, given the urgency of the current situation, that they also have another stream to do it? It's not robbing Peter to pay Paul, but having two parallel processes in place to address both the backlog and new applications.



Deacon Rudy Ovcjak
Director, Office for Refugees, Archdiocese of Toronto

That's a brilliant approach, and I think it would be one that I would absolutely support. Again, that kind of goes back to the point that, if you're going to set extraordinary targets, additional resources need to be deployed and provided for that additional stream.

Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC
NDP 

Thank you very much.

I have the same question for Mr. Jade.



Dory Jade
Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants



In answer to this, we have proposed non-regulatory options, and this is why. If you look at the backlog, there are different sections. While refugees are very important, it is not the largest group. Reducing the largest group, the largest number of applications, which is temporary residents, would lead to resources being available for other streams, like permanent residency, including refugees. This is exactly what we proposed to the government and to IRCC. The fact that you reduce the backlog of temporary files will allow you more space. It's like a big machine that needs to move forward.

Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC
NDP

Because there are different streams, sometimes for the government to conflate one stream with another doesn't make sense either. Therefore, should the government not ensure that there are adequate resources, both in staffing and in immigration levels, in place for each of the different streams? Otherwise there'll always be a stream left behind—
https://openparliament.ca/committees/immigration/44-1/34/jenny-kwan-15/

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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
NDP

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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