House of Commons Hansard #136 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was information.

Topics

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to underscore again that the right of landing fee was introduced by the previous Liberal government in 1995. We did meet a platform commitment to cut it in half in 2006 immediately upon taking office.

We, as a government, would like to reduce all sorts of taxes as the fiscal situation permits. I register his point. As the member knows, we all need to exercise fiscal discipline. I would hope that in due course a future government can look at future reductions in that area. However, we need to manage all of these things in a way that is affordable in terms of the federal fiscal framework.

I would also point out that the funds we collected in the past from that fee were just spent on general revenues. Now we are investing $600 million in services to newcomers, far more than is collected in the fee. Finally, newcomers are getting something back for the fee that they are paying, which was not the case under the previous government.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question to the minister. He has given the appearance that the various provincial-federal contracts that are multi-year in nature, in fact have been evidence-based, and those changes have been negotiated through those agreements, and the impact is the cuts that have been effected on, for example, Ontario and the greater Toronto area. It gives the appearance that it is, in fact, an empirical process that is based on the evidence he has suggested.

If that is the case, how come the province of Ontario, within the transfer agreement that has existed for the past five years and is in the process of renegotiation, has had a truncation of that process with a cut of over $200 million that has impacted further on the transfer arrangement that was negotiated as part of that five-year agreement?

If the minister is accurate in the manner in which he has characterized this negotiation, then why is the province of Ontario saying that there has been a breach of that contract and it is very difficult to get on with a new negotiation, when it was entered into in bad faith in the first place? That is the question we would like to have answered.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, that is a fair question from a very thoughtful and respected colleague. I would point out that in 2005, when the funding levels were established in the Canada-Ontario immigration accord, the number was picked arbitrarily. It was not based on any kind of evidence-based assessment of what the actual needs for settlement services were in Ontario. Rather, it was based simply on the peg mark of what Quebec received, itself based on a mathematical formula established in 1991. It was really an arbitrary figure.

Having said that, we respected the levels that were foreseen in the COIA accord in 2005 and increased the settlement funding in Ontario from $111.5 million to roughly $365 million. However, we found that there was not an adequate number of services to fund. We did these requests for proposals from the non-governmental organizations that provide the services and we simply did not get enough eligible proposals.

Unlike, perhaps, other governments, we were not going to just blow the money. We were not going to write cheques to organizations ineligible to receive them. Since then, in 2007, in consultation with Ontario and the other provinces, we did come up with a new settlement funding allocation formula based on the number of immigrants, the number of refugees--

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order, I will have to stop the minister as his time has expired.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Papineau.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Justin Trudeau Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to be in the House today to discuss immigration. This is a very important issue for Canada and for Parliament, but also for the future of the families and people who have come to Canada to build their lives and to contribute to this country.

Our country was built on immigration. People came from all over the world to build lives for themselves and to create a rich country, not just from an economic standpoint, but also in terms of social justice and freedom. What we are seeing today is that the immigration sector is facing new challenges, and the fact is that adjustments must be made.

The reality is, the waves of immigration that we have gone through in past decades allowed people to come over with modest levels of language and marketable job skills, and build their success. They were able to do this whether it be in the post-war years, when the construction industry in my riding of Papineau was booming, or in earlier waves of migration when the Prairies were settled. Families came and built their lives, and were able to succeed economically without a tremendous level of integration support.

The reality is, now things have changed. Those migrating to Canada cannot simply arrive and hope to find a good-paying job, enough to care for their children, pay the rent, and build a future for their family unless they also develop skills. We are living in a service and knowledge economy where language skills, job skills, and social skills are essential to succeed when 20 to 50 years ago they were not.

It is not so much to encourage people to come to Canada, which is extremely important, as we see from the aging population and low birth rates. We need to draw the best and the brightest from around the world to continue to create a prosperous country and economy. Just as important as it is to welcome people, it is how we welcome them and the tools we give them to succeed.

Last year 281,000 people were welcomed into this country; a record high. It seems illogical and unconscionable that at a time when we are allowing more people in than we have in decades, we are also cutting integration services.

The minister makes a good point in that there is a reallocation because people are arriving and settling in different places. However, the fact is that there is a $53 million cut for settlement services for new arrivals.

It is easy to say we are cutting their budgets.

However, simply cutting integration services is not in the interests of Canada or of newcomers. We are asking a great deal of our social security system and our economic system, which support these people when they are unemployed. In fact, providing social assistance ends up costing much more than providing education, support and training for these people so they can contribute to society.

It does not make sense. Unfortunately, we see this lack of logic fairly regularly in this government's decisions. It prefers to make cuts here and there and leave us more impoverished in the long term. It is evident in their crime agenda: the government wants to build prisons that will not make us safer. It is evident in this matter: it is making cuts that will hurt the most vulnerable.

People arriving in this country only want to contribute, to feel relevant, to build their lives and care for their families, and to help shape this great country. The fact that at a time when more are arriving than ever before and we are cutting settlement services is a mistake.

The minister enjoys talking about the fact that we are funding more now than we were in 2005. The agreements signed in November 2005 were five-year agreements that led to these increases in funding. It was a Liberal government that looked at the amount we were spending on settlement services and said that we really needed to invest more in language services, integration and job training, and signed five-year agreements that would double and triple the funding for settlement agencies.

Five years forward from 2005, those agreements are starting to run out. Here is the first opportunity for this Conservative government to start cutting in those programs. It is the first chance it has had after funding was increased over the years with the understanding of how important it was. The first chance the Conservatives get to cut those Liberal increases in funding, they do it on the backs of vulnerable people who want nothing more than to contribute to our society.

Here we have the paradox of the government. On the one hand it is welcoming people and on the other hand it is not allowing them opportunities to contribute and learn.

We also see that when we want people to succeed and draw in the best possible quality of immigrants, we need to encourage them to be successful. We need to train them and offer language training, but as an incentive to come over, we need to offer them family reunification, understanding that bringing over parents and grandparents is not just a social issue but an economic issue as well for their capacity to contribute in child care. The government has left child care woefully underfunded with fewer spaces.

We need to offer family reunification as a motivation to draw in the best and the brightest from around the world who wish to come build their families in Canada because they know they are going to be able to bring over their own parents and grandparents, their support system.

The undercutting of our immigration system, the undercutting of our capacity to bring over the best and the brightest from around the world and have them build this nation, is what is truly at stake right now.

The minister is very good at pointing out that we funded less in 2005 during the last Liberal government, but we set in motion the funding increases that the government has benefited from. If we want to go back to the past, previous Liberal governments funded immigration to greater levels than previous Conservative governments, and before that the Conservative government funded immigration to greater levels than the Liberal government before it.

We have been increasing our funding throughout time. It is time that the government stopped defining itself by what it is, in its words, doing differently or better than previous governments and started looking at genuine need. The government needs to understand that people are in need of aid and support, not to receive charity but to contribute economically to this country.

Our small country will not be successful in the global economy unless we give everyone the opportunity to develop their full potential. The fact that engineers are driving taxis and that people with a PhD cannot find a job because they do not receive enough encouragement and assistance to take the necessary training means that we are not building the country that we need.

Basically, the minister and the government are saying that this is a reallocation. Naturally, funds are being reallocated. I am very pleased that British Columbia, Newfoundland and all the other provinces will have more funding, but making a $53 million cut is not investing in the this country's prosperity, which we need.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

1 p.m.

Calgary Southeast
Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney Minister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his comments. I would first like to make a minor correction.

The member said that the previous Liberal government had signed agreements that led to these increases in funding that we have seen in the past five years. It is true that the previous government in 2005 signed the Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement, which foresaw a certain increase in funding for settlement services in Ontario.

I want to point out that there was no similar agreement with the western or Atlantic provinces and this was one of the problems we had when we came to office in 2006. We saw the quite generous funding levels implied by the Canada-Quebec Immigration Agreement, this year one-quarter of a billion dollars, and the unfulfilled commitment at that point under the Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement. Had we implemented that without increases in funding for the four Atlantic and four western provinces, we would have had a massive lack of equity across the country.

That is why we decided of our discretion without separate agreements to massively increase the funding levels for British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and P.E.I. It is in that same spirit that this year we are increasing the funding to seven of the provinces and the three territories. I wanted to correct that point.

I agree with the member's general point that we need to invest in the success of newcomers. In particular, and quite commendably, he raised the importance of foreign credential recognition for foreign-trained professionals.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

1 p.m.

Liberal

Justin Trudeau Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, when the agreements were signed in the fall of 2005 with Ontario, they were based on a range of studies and analyses looking into where the needs were. In 2005, the immigration focus was much more on Ontario than it is right now. It is wonderful to see that immigration is now increasing across the country, but if it is increasing in Alberta and the west, where it often does as newcomers arrive and move out west, all too often it is because, and rightly so, there are jobs and economic opportunities out west that do not necessarily exist in Ontario at the same time.

When we look at numbers of migration, there is a legitimate allocation of funding but when we look at needs, in many cases people who have newly arrived and are moving out west for jobs do not have the same level of need as the ones who remain in Ontario and having difficulty finding jobs. I am wary about simply applying a numbers game when we are talking about human beings' lives and needs.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

It is my duty to interrupt the proceedings at this time and put forthwith the question on the motion now before the House.

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

All those opposed will please say nay.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

And the bells having rung:

Accordingly, the vote stands deferred until tomorrow at the end of the time provided for government orders.

Afghanistan
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

March 1st, 2011 / 1:05 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by dozens of Canadians calling for an end to Canada's military involvement in Afghanistan.

In May 2008, Parliament passed a resolution to withdraw Canadian Forces by July 2011. The Prime Minister, with agreement from the Liberal Party, broke his oft-repeated promise to honour the parliamentary motion and furthermore, refuses to put it to a parliamentary vote in the House.

Committing 1,000 soldiers to a training mission still presents a danger to our troops and an unnecessary expense when our country is faced with a $56 billion deficit. The military mission has cost Canadians more than $18 billion, money that could have been used to improve health care and seniors' pensions here in Canada.

Polls show that a clear majority of Canadians do not want Canada's military presence to continue after the scheduled removal date of July 2011. Therefore, the petitioners call upon the Prime Minister to honour the will of Parliament and bring the troops home now.