House of Commons Hansard #113 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was trade.

Topics

Citizenship and Immigration
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Citizenship and Immigration
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Citizenship and Immigration
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #131

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare the motion lost.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Maurizio Bevilacqua Vaughan, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed unfortunate that we suspended debate on this very important issue, an issue that speaks to the difference in values and beliefs of members of the Liberal Party and the present sitting Conservative government.

I found also interesting that we suspended and had this vote under the guise that somehow we were holding back the government from doing its job, and that we really did not care what was going on in the Canadian economy. As a person who was around back in 1993 and had to clean up the deficit mess, high taxation, skyrocketing unemployment and skyrocketing debt and deficit, we do care very much about the Canadian economy, an economy that unfortunately is facing some tough times. In this economy we are faced again with ballooning debt and high deficits that speak to, in part, the global reality. However, the present government needs to take some responsibility for what is going on.

What is going on is actually quite troubling to many people, including the residents of the city of Vaughan, whom I have represented in this House for a number of years, and as well as the member of Parliament for Brossard—La Prairie, with whom I will be sharing my time in this debate.

We have the economy, the debt, the deficit and delays in infrastructure. We have problems related to a lapse in funding at a time when the economy needs job creation. It is ironic that we also have a lapse in funding in the immigration department for immigrant aid settlement as well as language training. There is a series of problems that I will not get into and also challenges that my constituents continue to talk about, which is H1N1 and child care, and the list is a lengthy one.

I want to get on the record that the comments made by the government whip were inappropriate. The opposition actually cares about these issues very much.

It also raises an interesting point that he would move this motion because we are talking about immigration. That says a lot about the present government, that perhaps immigration is not as important an issue as it is to the opposition, and why? Because there is a lot of confusion and chaos in this area, an area to which, unfortunately, cabinet has not given the right priority and attention.

That is the reason why we see no long-term plan on this issue. We see problems with processing times. We see challenges with temporary workers. We see challenges that speak to a country that has seen a reduction in permanent residency. I really find puzzling that for a government that says it cares about the global economy, it is failing to understand the importance that immigration plays in building the type of economy and type of society that we want to build, and what is that?

We want to build a society where there exists social cohesion. We want to build a society where we have the type of skilled labour and productivity gains that can allow us to have the type of growth, so that we have a country that can be generous in its social programs, can be modern in its outlook on the global economy, and that can compete. This requires people.

The Conservative government feels that somehow it can do all this without giving immigration a very important role. What is the problem? Why is this thinking flawed? I will tell the House why this thinking is flawed.

In just a couple of years 100% of Canada's net labour growth will come from immigration. The government needs to be mindful of this statistic unless it has a different plan, a plan that speaks to a different reality. Perhaps the Conservatives want to attach themselves to a ballooning temporary worker program. While that would be a great stopgap measure, it certainly would not develop the type of flexible domestic labour market that is required for the economy to work well.

That is a major problem. That is a point that the government fails to understand in its outlook. It is a problem that clearly indicates that this particular Conservative government has failed to see the medium and short-term view of what it takes to build sustainable economies.

My time unfortunately is running out. I have a lot to say about the challenges that the government faces on this file, including the Auditor General's report that was hard hitting. It was a wake-up call on issues related to refugees and temporary workers. The government's own departmental planning report states the same thing. The department has many challenges. It is unfortunate that the minister is not getting the support that he deserves in funding from cabinet.

The whip's comments indicate to me the type of priority that the Conservatives give to immigration. They can speak eloquently to all the various groups about all sorts of things, but the bottom line is that we lack resources, immigration is not a priority for the government, and it lacks the vision on this particular subject-matter to build the type of Canada that Canadians expect.

We were the party that, in fact, called for this study. We obviously were concerned about the treatment of caregivers. We wanted to give them the rights they deserve. We also wanted to clearly define the roles and responsibility related to the employer and the employee.

We on this side of the House pushed for this study because we recognized the fundamental role that caregivers play in our society. On behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada, I want to express to them in a very personal way the great contribution they have made, and continue to make, to the social, cultural and economic fibre of our country.

I want to also bring to the attention of those viewing this debate today a minority report that basically wants the government to act on these recommendations. I can list some of the recommendations:

Recommendation 1: The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada grant live-in caregivers permanent resident status on certain conditions.

Recommendation 2: The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada extend coverage under the Interim Federal Health Program--

Recommendation 3: The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada waive the requirement to obtain a study permit for live-in caregivers.

This report is full of excellent suggestions by opposition members on the committee to move on issues that are relevant to this issue. I can tell the House with 100% certainty that a Liberal government would give much more weight to the issue of immigration with a forward-looking, progressive program that would embrace the reality and the spirit of immigration, which should be fair, accountable and should expand opportunities for individuals coming to Canada.

I want to end on this final note. The issue of immigration is not just for immigrants. It is in the national interest to get it right.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

11:35 a.m.

St. Catharines
Ontario

Conservative

Rick Dykstra Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I listened with a great deal of interest to the Liberal critic's response to the motion.

The member for Vaughan certainly started to list a number of recommendations that are in the report. I find it interesting that he repeated on several occasions during his speech that he in fact moved this report, that he in fact called for this report, that his party in fact demanded this report. If that is true, there is a question that I need to have answered.

Recommendation No. 7, which he did not get to, which I will read now and may read in my remarks again, states:

The Committee recommends that the authorized bodies in the provincial and federal governments investigate the allegations of the former live-in caregivers in the Dhalla residence and take measures as appropriate. Further, the Committee requests that these government bodies, upon completion of their investigations, send the result to the Committee.

If the member states, as he did on at least four occasions, that the Liberals called for this report, why did they then in fact vote against the report? Why did they unanimously, as a party, vote against that report?

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Maurizio Bevilacqua Vaughan, ON

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the question by the parliamentary secretary.

For the record, yes, we did in fact ask for this study to take place. That is reality.

Recommendation No. 7 is part of the report. We will see if the government wants to respond to all of our recommendations.

Since I am on my feet, I want to address some of the recommendations that in fact--

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Abbotsford, BC

Answer the question.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Why did you vote against it?

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Maurizio Bevilacqua Vaughan, ON

Mr. Speaker, I hear some echoes. Perhaps people on the other side are not feeling comfortable with the truth, but the reality is well recorded in the records of this House and committee. This is reality.

I know those members are feeling uncomfortable. I know that the immigration file is not working out as well as it could or should. The hon. members hear, as I do, across the country that there are many problems with this issue. The Auditor General has stated that there are serious issues related to the immigration file that need to be addressed.

To give one small example on the issue of refugee reform, we have been waiting for months and months, and unfortunately, the minister lacks the financial support in his cabinet to move on this.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, one of the issues addressed in this report is that of unscrupulous consultants.

The Liberals had a chance in 2002. At that time the committee said during the debate on the same topic of unscrupulous consultants that the problem must be fixed. Unfortunately, the former minister of immigration did not get the job done in a way that would establish a non-share capital corporation, so that practising as an immigration consultant without being registered or licensed by a body would be a criminal offence. That did not happen.

What does the member think of the recommendation in front of us which recommends starting--

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Vaughan. There are about 40 seconds left.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

November 19th, 2009 / 11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Maurizio Bevilacqua Vaughan, ON

Mr. Speaker, my recollection is that the years when we had a Liberal government, in relation to immigration were very good years. Many progressive measures were introduced back then which spoke to the issue of immigration in an enlightened way.

We always viewed immigrants and the immigration system as being a vital pillar of Canada's economic wealth and of creating a more tolerant and culturally advanced society, which is something that unfortunately the present government does not share.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Vaughan for his initial comments.

For the record, I would like to point out that we voted in favour of the report and are preparing a minority report. We supported and continue to support a number of the recommendations in this report, as my colleague already mentioned.

The parliamentary secretary is eager to hear us talk about recommendation 7. We have a very simple question for the government on this recommendation: what business is it of the committee to concern itself with the caregivers of a specific family? It is up to the police to deal with this, not the committee.

We sincerely believe that this was brought before the committee for purely partisan reasons. It is up to the provincial and federal authorities to address these types of issues. That is what we expect of them.

For a long time, our party has been well aware that people hired through this program face some serious challenges when it comes to their fundamental rights. That is one of the reasons why we support the resolution to grant them permanent residency on certain conditions upon their arrival in Canada, so that they can benefit from the protection afforded to all other immigrants.

As my colleague from Vaughan pointed out, the Liberal Party sees immigration and citizenship as part of nation building. We sincerely believe that immigration is the future of Canada. It is how we began, and it will be our future. We believe we must always improve the system. It has never been perfect and never will be, and there will always be room for improvement. That is what we recommend in our minority report.

We support almost all of the recommendations in the report, but the department might need stronger support from cabinet to meet and fulfill its obligations.

We also agree with the recommendations concerning an employer's obligation to respect a set of standards that will protect the rights of caregivers. That is one of the reasons why we supported these recommendations that set out the reasons for which employers will be punished: if they confiscate the passport of individuals who come to work for them, and if they fail to comply with Canada Revenue Agency rules by not making required deductions from an employee's income. We expect people who employ resident caregivers to respect all of these basic rules, as is required for any other employer in Canada.

The Liberal Party believes it is clear that the report, as well as our minority report, must be supported. We would like to point out that recommendation No. 7 does not fall within the committee's mandate at all. That is another reason why we issued a minority report.

I think I have covered the position of the Liberal Party.