Evidence of meeting #27 for Citizenship and Immigration in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was immigration.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Claudette Deschênes  Assistant Deputy Minister, Operations, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Chungsen Leung Willowdale, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Welcome to the hearing, Minister and staff.

My question relates to the discussion around the super visa. It has been three months since it was implemented in December. So December, January, February...it's now three months. Perhaps you can give us a sense of how it is working with respect to the issues that we're trying to address.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Well, we actually issued a report on this on March 5, and we announced the super visa as a key part of our action plan for faster family reunification last year. We started issuing the super visas, I believe, in December. We issued an initial report last week indicating that 77% of the applications have been approved and that almost 99% of super visa applicants who meet the requirements, such as the income requirement, were approved.

The main reason why people are not being accepted is because they don't have the minimum necessary family income, which is the same level required for them to successfully sponsor their parents or grandparents for permanent residency. That's the same benchmark, and, frankly, it's a sensible one. It basically says that we don't want families to overburden themselves with the costs of bringing in parents or grandparents. So at 77%, I think it's very effective.

Mr. Lamoureux said something about $4,000 in insurance. The reason I said that I reject the premise of the question is because I know there are much less expensive insurance packages available for individuals. There is a dynamic marketplace now offering health insurance packages, and I anticipate that over time prices will come down because of that new market and that new competition, which.... And by the way, if people don't want to apply for the super visa, they are still welcome to have their parents come on the regular visitor visa, for which there is no health care requirement or minimum income requirement.

The super visa is there for particular purposes. It's for people who want their parents or grandparents to come on extended stays or to obtain a 10-year multiple entry visa that permits stays of up to two years at a time.

Now, there are a lot of people who don't necessarily want permanent residency for their parents. The parents want to maintain a home back in their home country, but the parents do want to come around family moments like childbirth. This is an ideal tool for those longer stays. If they want to come for a brief visit, we advise them to apply for a regular visitor visa, which will allow them to come in for six months. That does not require health insurance.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Chungsen Leung Willowdale, ON

Is there a limit to how many times they can apply for the super visa?

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Well, there's no limit to how many times they can apply, but as I say, the super visa is issued for a 10-year multiple-entry period. Presumably, elderly people aren't going to be using that multiple times, but maybe a couple of times.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Chungsen Leung Willowdale, ON

A quick question I have is with regard to biometrics and their effective use. In our immigration system and our visa system, there are a lot of timelines that we must address: for example, three years and five years of residency in Canada, or a 30-day visa, or if you come in without a visa, you need 60 days. Does this mean that we need to have some sort of entry-exit control in order to control this?

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Yes.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Chungsen Leung Willowdale, ON

Perhaps you can elaborate on this.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Tilson

You have less than a minute, Mr. Leung.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

It's fair to say that virtually anyone who has looked at the integrity of our immigration system has identified the absence of exit information as perhaps the single biggest gap we have, as the Auditor General has noted in previous reports. I think she estimated a few years ago that there were in the range of 40,000 foreign nationals on removal orders whose whereabouts are unknown to the Government of Canada.

Some of them may have gone back to their countries. Some of them, frankly, may have crossed the land border illicitly. Many of them are likely living underground without status in Canada. If we were to adopt some kind of exit information system so that we would know when people have left the country, then we would know who is in the country, making it much easier for us to identify and remove foreign nationals who are inadmissible or who are here illegally.

This is also a central commitment to the Beyond the Border continental security action plan.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Tilson

Thank you.

Mr. Gill.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Parm Gill Brampton—Springdale, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I want to thank the minister and the officials for being here with us today. This is not my regular committee. I'm filling in for my colleague, Roxanne James, today.

I'm happy to see you here today, Minister—

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

But you're not completely unfamiliar with immigration matters—

March 13th, 2012 / 5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Parm Gill Brampton—Springdale, ON

No, absolutely not. As you know, in my riding of Brampton—Springdale, immigration is a huge issue. Demand is very high.

I do want to take this opportunity, Minister, to thank you and congratulate you for some of the decisions you've made since becoming Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

We all agree, I think, that the immigration system overall was broken. There was a huge backlog, which the Conservative government inherited from the Liberals. Some of those changes may not necessarily be popular politically, but you've made the decision, which is the right decision, and I'm getting a lot of feedback, not just from my riding of Brampton—Springdale, but from other parts of the country as well, on things such as the super visa.

On the super visa, I know there was a release issued or a statement made about a week or so ago on the 77% approval rate, which is huge. I know that my colleague opposite mentioned the $4,000 figure for the insurance that individuals have to purchase, possibly, if they want to bring their parents or grandparents over on this super visa, which is not true: the premiums are far less. That was the myth that was initially there when this program was launched, but I'm now finding out—

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Chairperson—

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Tilson

We have a point of order.