Evidence of meeting #46 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 program.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Claudette Deschênes  Assistant Deputy Minister, Operations, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
  • Amipal Manchanda  Assistant Deputy Minister, Chief Financial Officer, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
  • Neil Yeates  Deputy Minister, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

5:05 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Neil Yeates

Yes. I'll start, Chair, and then maybe turn over to Madame Deschênes.

We're starting with what will be a targeted group of visa-required countries. Key issues, of course, will be where we have security concerns. Basically, when people apply for a visa, they will be required to provide biometric information. So that information will be collected. It will be reviewed against a number of different databases and then considered as part of their visa application. Then it will also build up a database of these records for us in Canada. We're also working with our country conference partners that the minister mentioned—the U.S., the U.K., Australia, New Zealand—to develop data-sharing agreements with them that will allow us to have access to a much larger set of databases.

Do you have anything else?

5:05 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Operations, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Claudette Deschênes

The only thing I would add is that after we have all that, when someone arrives at a port of entry we'll be able to match the photograph. If we have any doubt about the identity, we'll be able to check the fingerprint to make sure the fingerprint they gave us is the same one they're giving us now. From an identity perspective, we'll be able to lock in an identity, which will mean that the concerns we might have that someone is returning under a different passport, a different name, will be addressed.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Opitz Etobicoke Centre, ON

What benefit does that now provide us, though, with our American neighbours, in terms of how this secures our common border? Can you comment on that?

5:10 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Neil Yeates

Yes. In terms of our work with the United States on “Beyond the Border”, this is a hugely important piece for giving us comparable levels of security screening to what the U.S. already has. From their perspective but ours as well, as has been noted, the intent is to move the screening out to the North American perimeter. In order to do that, we need a biometric regime in place so that we have a comparable system to that available right now in the U.S.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Opitz Etobicoke Centre, ON

What limits will there be on how we use biometric information?

5:10 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Neil Yeates

We are working with the Privacy Commissioner right now to make sure that the processes we use are satisfactory from a privacy perspective, so we will have all of the necessary safeguards in place in terms of the use of that information.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Tilson

You have one minute left.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Opitz Etobicoke Centre, ON

Just quickly on our collaboration between the provincial programs and industry itself, in terms of how we determine where skilled labour goes, how's that collaboration going to work?

5:10 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Neil Yeates

We do a lot of work with provinces and territories in looking at labour market information. As I mentioned earlier, a number of provinces have undertaken their own studies of what their needs are with respect to labour market demand. We compared that to the analysis we have, as I mentioned we do with HRSDC. Then we have quite an extensive discussion with provinces and territories, but also with employers and other groups. We do quite a large external consultation on levels each year. We will be launching that again this year. In the coming weeks we'll have an online document and people will be able to provide input.

Last year I think we received nearly 5,000 inputs to the online consultation; the previous year it had been 1,500. So you can see that public stakeholder interest in immigration levels has really been growing significantly over the past couple of years.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Tilson

Thank you, Mr. Opitz. That concludes the seven-minute round.

Mr. Giguère, for five minutes.

May 31st, 2012 / 5:10 p.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Thank you very much and congratulations on your French.

I have a brief question from Ms. Sims. She is asking that you provide the committee with information regarding what has occurred with the kabaddi players in the last two years.

5:10 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Operations, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Claudette Deschênes

As I explained, these players have been coming to Canada for a number of years now. It's fairly complex for the federations. In recent years, we worked very closely with these federations, in order to be better able to manage this movement and to make things easier for the players. Unfortunately, last year, we did not receive the cooperation we were hoping for, which would have allowed us to make the programs more flexible. So, this year, we asked them to follow the normal procedure. In the past, federations would suggest names of guests to help us better control the situation, but this arrangement did not work as well as we would have liked. Now we ask them to follow the regular procedure—in other words, individual by individual.

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

It has been noted that 19 immigration centres in Canada will be shut down. That is raising questions. What will happen to applicants who don't have access to a computer, who don't speak one of the two official languages or have trouble finding their way among the different levels of government? Is there not a danger that a large number of applications will not be done properly, with partially completed documentation or will require a disproportionate amount of correspondence?

5:10 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Operations, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Claudette Deschênes

I will answer that question in two parts.

First of all, we are currently introducing a process that will allow us to make better use of our resources and make decisions in order to expedite the processing of files.

We will also be working with the federal government and our other partners in cases where people are having trouble, what we call stream one. That refers to the kind of assistance someone might require if they're not familiar with computers.

Finally, some people who are not located in the area surrounding the 19 centres we want to close will not have access to that assistance either. So, we are now trying to establish a network through which to provide support to these individuals, whether they're in one of the 19 cities or in a neighbouring city. We are currently working on that. That may take a little time, but I think we will succeed.

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

The problem with all of this is that it may result in a glut of these kinds of applications. If no service is available, the processing will be ineffective, particularly if people don't get the proper guidance when they're filling out the forms. You can't ask an official to make a decision about a form that has been improperly completed or an application that was not done properly because the person did not understand the language.