An Act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act

Sponsor

John McCallum  Liberal

Status

Third reading (Senate), as of March 9, 2017

Subscribe to a feed of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-6.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Citizenship Act to, among other things,

(a) remove the grounds for the revocation of Canadian citizenship that relate to national security;

(b) remove the requirement that an applicant intend, if granted citizenship, to continue to reside in Canada;

(c) reduce the number of days during which a person must have been physically present in Canada before applying for citizenship and provide that, in the calculation of the length of physical presence, the number of days during which the person was physically present in Canada before becoming a permanent resident may be taken into account;

(d) limit the requirement to demonstrate knowledge of Canada and of one of its official languages to applicants between the ages of 18 and 54; and

(e) authorize the Minister to seize any document that he or she has reasonable grounds to believe was fraudulently or improperly obtained or used or could be fraudulently or improperly used.

It also makes consequential amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

  • May 17, 2016 Passed That Bill C-6, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act, {as amended}, be concurred in at report stage [with a further amendment/with further amendments] .
  • March 21, 2016 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
Adjournment Proceedings

November 30th, 2016 / 7 p.m.
See context

Parkdale—High Park
Ontario

Liberal

Arif Virani Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Vancouver East for her question.

As the member is aware, our government is already moving forward with its commitments to repeal certain provisions of Bill C-24, including provisions relating to the revocation of citizenship on national interest grounds.

That said, while we want to ensure that citizenship requirements are fair and flexible, Canadians also want to protect the program from abuse. I understand the member's comments related to both citizenship revocation and cessation provisions, and I will address both of those.

On the citizenship revocation, that is available under four grounds: misrepresentation, fraud, knowingly concealing material circumstances, or where national interest grounds are at stake. As part of Bill C-6, which has been voted on and passed third reading in this House, provisions relating to citizenship revocation under national interest grounds are being repealed, which is a step in the right direction I think we would all agree.

With respect to the other grounds related to misrepresentation, fraud, and knowingly concealing material circumstances, the most serious cases are prioritized, such as those involving serious criminality or organized fraud. There have been several large-scale fraud investigations across Canada, which have led to the increase in citizenship revocations.

Canadians are proud of their citizenship, and our government is committed to upholding the integrity of that citizenship. The ability to revoke based on fraud has been in place since the inception of the act in 1947, and will continue to do so.

This tool is very important in ensuring that the program remains effective, as the Auditor General indicated in his report.

As things stand now, the minister has the authority to revoke citizenship in basic fraud cases, such as residence fraud, identity fraud, and criminality. The Federal Court has the authority to decide on more complex cases where the misrepresentation is in relation to concealing facts relating to inadmissibility for security violations, human or international rights violations, or organized crime.

With respect to the revocation process, which has been underlined here by the member opposite, under the authority of the minister, once individuals receive a notice of intent advising them that their citizenship may be revoked, along with the evidence that the notice is based on, they are given the opportunity to provide submissions and evidence relating to the case to the decision-maker, which can be taken into consideration.

These are some of the due process components that have to be emphasized to the member opposite. While we are open to suggestions on how to improve the due process protections, certain protections exist at present. In certain circumstances, for example, an oral hearing may be held. Personal circumstances of the individual, including any hardship that may be caused, can be taken into account by a decision-maker.

With respect to the cessation provisions, I know the member opposite has spoken about this. She is an advocate for this provision. We are looking at the cessation provisions, because certain aspects of those cessation provisions, including the retroactivity component and including the ability to revoke not just the refugee status but also the permanent residency of an individual, are aspects that are concerning to this government. We will, indeed, be analyzing those very provisions that have been raised by the member opposite.

I want to underscore, once again, there are due process protections in place for revocation of citizenship, including what I have outlined, but also the fact that a judicial review can be sought with leave to the Federal Court of Canada.

The minister has said publicly many times in this House, and in the Senate where Bill C-6 is currently, that we are open to considering enhancements to the current process for revocation for citizenship fraud, and that is exactly what we will do should those suggestions be made.

October 21st, 2016 / 6:05 p.m.
See context

Liberal

The Chair Rob Oliphant

Thank you very much.

We're not really here to defend either this government, or the previous government, or criticize the previous government, or this government, we're hear to listen. I just want to clarify that Bill C-24 was passed in the last Parliament. The House of Commons has now passed a new law that would undo those parts of it called Bill C-6. I don't believe it's passed yet this week. It's in the Senate now, and this committee is looking at the whole framework to see how we can improve.

Go ahead, Ms. Damoff.

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

October 6th, 2016 / 2:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Michelle Rempel Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, in 2014, the RCMP targeted about 11,000 people suspected of fraud in obtaining Canadian citizenship by misrepresenting their residency in Canada. There are many other cases that have been flagged by immigration officers.

The minister has said he wants to amend Bill C-6 to allow those cases access to a lengthy and costly appeals process that would divert resources away from people who play by the rules.

I wonder why on earth the minister wants to do this.

October 4th, 2016 / 5:55 p.m.
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Liberal

John McCallum Markham—Thornhill, ON

Not right now there isn't, but we could look at it.

I just want to say a couple of things.

We have become a little more lenient than the previous government on Bill C-6, when we said that the language test would not apply to those 55 to 64, whereas previously it did; on the grounds that, while language is really important, older people don't always come the country with perfect English, but their children and certainly their grandchildren do have perfect English. We were a little more on the liberal side, shall we say, the small-l liberal side, on the language issue on that. Although, I have to acknowledge that there's a whole lot of evidence suggesting that skill in English or French is a critical determinant of economic success in Canada, so we haven't really changed too much of what the Conservatives did on language or what the previous Liberal governments may have done. We've changed a little bit, but we accept the premise that success and competence in language is an important criterion of success. We don't apply that to spouses, but when we're talking about economic immigrants, whom we expect to make a contribution to the economy, we have to take an account of the factors that we think will make them successful. Language is one of them. I don't really see how it's discriminatory. The same consideration applies to any group whose first language is not English.

October 4th, 2016 / 5:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Michelle Rempel Calgary Nose Hill, AB

On a question of privilege, Mr. Chair, the proceedings of an in camera meeting are deemed to be confidential and certainly the review component of Bill C-6 was conducted in camera.

The minister has just divulged the proceedings of an in camera meeting. I don't believe the minister was in attendance at that meeting, so there seems to be a breach of information and confidentiality that is now in a televised meeting. So I do raise a question of privilege and a breach of confidentiality of an in camera meeting.

October 4th, 2016 / 5:25 p.m.
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Liberal

John McCallum Markham—Thornhill, ON

Just by coincidence, I was asked exactly the same question in the Senate question period about half an hour ago, and I said we would look into it. The basic point I made was that I think citizenship should be revoked for people who misrepresent, if that's the situation, but I also think that people should have a right to a proper appeal. Right now, the system is such that there is a review or some appeal. I think it was you who put forward an amendment to Bill C-6—correct me if I'm wrong—to strengthen that appeal process, but it was declared out of scope.

Senator Omidvar is now proposing an amendment to strengthen the appeal right, and I have said that I'm open to that and I like the idea. We don't know yet whether the Senate will rule that to be in scope or out of scope. In the House they said it was out of scope, but the Senate rules are different, so I don't know.

I would certainly welcome that, if she makes that amendment, if it's in scope, and if the Senate accepts it. I said I would look at it, but I don't think we would have a moratorium. I think we have a system that could be improved—as I have just acknowledged—but it has been going for some years. I am hopeful we will have an amendment of that kind accepted in the bill.

October 4th, 2016 / 5:25 p.m.
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NDP

Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I thank the minister and his staff for coming before the committee.

First I would like to ask the minister why at this time the ministry is continuing to revoke the cases of up to some 60 individuals each month who have been found to have misrepresented their citizenship application. The minister acknowledged publicly that there isn't procedural fairness for processing these cases because they don't have that under Bill C-24 and it has not yet been fixed under Bill C-6, so an individual family could be impacted including children who may have, through no fault of their own, been caught up in the situation through the misrepresentation. Will the minister agree that a moratorium should be put in place with respect to revoking citizenship applications based on misrepresentation until such time as the process has been addressed?

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
Adjournment Proceedings

September 27th, 2016 / 6:05 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Arif Virani Parkdale—High Park, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Vancouver East for raising the point about the litigation. However, I believe she would be aware and members of the House should be informed that the litigation was actually placed on hold pending our government's commitment to reform Bill C-24 by Bill C-6, and we have done exactly that. In its most glaring constitutional violation, Bill C-24 jeopardized people's citizenship based on their places of origin in terms of the ability to revoke, based on national security grounds, the citizenship only of people who were not born here. That change has been made and the litigation has been put into abeyance.

The submissions made by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and other members who attended at committee have been heard. We have received those documents, we are reviewing them, and we look forward to enabling better and more constructive due process provisions going forward in respect of citizenship revocation when it arises in the case of misrepresentation.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
Adjournment Proceedings

September 27th, 2016 / 6 p.m.
See context

Parkdale—High Park
Ontario

Liberal

Arif Virani Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration

Madam Speaker, the question on the Order Paper of the member for Vancouver East actually dealt with a substantially different issue, so I will address both in my comments.

The question on the Order Paper related to a matter that relates to funding for language instruction classes for newcomers and settlement services. She received a response from the minister at the time, which I can reiterate and add to. The government takes very seriously the issue of the settlement of all newcomers, particularly in the case of Syrian refugees. On top of the $600 million in funding that was provided in 2016-17 to settlement agencies, an additional pocket of $37 million has been dedicated just for Syrian refugees and their resettlement. We take very seriously the issue of people not only being housed but also being linguistically trained so that they can access the workforce.

In respect of the comments of the member for Vancouver East regarding Bill C-24, I obviously have a very different description of what has transpired with respect to our tabling of legislation, Bill C-6, the significance of that tabling, what it has done, and what it will continue to do for Canadians.

The member made extensive submissions at committee with respect to one particular issue, and I will get to that issue in a moment, but by tabling Bill C-6, we have shortened the time frame for which people are eligible for citizenship. It has been reduced from four years to three years. We have rendered citizenship more accessible by restricting the citizenship testing requirements only to persons aged 18 to 55. It used to be required for anyone as young as 14 and anyone as old as 65. We have also given credit to individuals, such that time spent here prior to becoming a permanent resident can be attributed to one's citizenship eligibility on a factor of 50%, such as temporary foreign workers and international students.

Most importantly, we have also emphasized something that affects me and many members of the House, which I spoke about already in respect of Bill C-6, and that is that we have eliminated the part of the legislation brought in by the previous government which implemented a system whereby one's citizenship could be revoked based on grounds of national security, only for those people who were not born in this country. That is the point about making sure a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian. I am very proud of that legislation, and the minister and the department stand behind it.

With respect to issues about revocation of citizenship based on fraud or misrepresentation, it is an important point highlighted by the member for Vancouver East. The issue of revoking citizenship for fraud has existed since 1947, since the Citizenship Act was created. Revoking for fraud maintains an important aspect of what we must do as a government. We revoke for fraud in certain instances, for example, if somebody hides the fact that they participated as a war criminal in some foreign conflict. If that is not presented to officials and is later discovered, we will intervene and revoke that citizenship. It is something Canadians expect us to do and something that this government will continue to do.

The important point raised by the member for Vancouver East, however, is the procedural protections and due process that are or are not available in such revocation contexts. I was at those committee meetings with the member opposite and we heard the submissions. They were important submissions and those changes are not taking place in this form of the bill at this juncture because of the structural and regulatory changes that would be required in terms of the overall apparatus and machinery of government.

Does that mean that they are off the table? It certainly does not. The minister answered a question on this just today in question period in respect of the possibility of looking at such changes going forward.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
Adjournment Proceedings

September 27th, 2016 / 5:55 p.m.
See context

NDP

Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise today to further debate the issues related to our immigration policies. At different junctures, different administrations have adopted different approaches and values to Canada's immigration policies. Irrespective of the actions of different administrations, Canada is a democratic country based on some very fundamental principles. Canadians value our constitutional rights.

Under the Harper Conservatives, in June 2015, Bill C-24, Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act passed and became law. The law created two classes of citizens, those who could have their citizenship revoked and those who could not. Under Bill C-24, some Canadians are more Canadian than others, because some Canadians are afforded more rights than others simply because of where they were born.

On June 9, 2014, the Minister of Immigration while in opposition stated:

We object in principle to the arbitrary removal of citizenship from individuals for reasons that are highly questionable and to the very limited opportunity for the individual to appeal to the courts against that removal of citizenship.

When the Liberal government was elected the Prime Minister stated very clearly that there would be real change. Real change should have meant that the government kept its promise to repeal Bill C-24. That did not happen. Real change should have meant that at minimum Bill C-6, an act to amend the Citizenship Act, introduced by the minister on February 25, 2016, fixed the major problems under Bill C-24, especially the sections that violated our constitutional rights. That did not happen either.

There is a gaping hole in Bill C-6. It failed to fix the lack of procedural fairness and safeguards for individuals facing citizenship revocation due to misrepresentation or fraud, whether or not the misrepresentation was the result of an honest mistake. Even if a child's parent presented misinformation on the application for whatever reason, the child's citizenship could still be revoked and the case could not be argued based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. Simply put, they have no right to a hearing. This is because the Harper government, under Bill C-24, eliminated the right for an independent and impartial hearing. It also eliminated consideration of equitable factors, or compassionate and humanitarian factors, that could prevent a legal but unjust outcome.

At committee, I tabled substantive amendments to ensure that individuals who face citizenship revocation have the right to a fair and independent hearing and an appeal process. These had broad support, included from the Canadian Bar Association, the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, the Canadian Council for Refugees, Legal Aid Ontario, and many others. As long as the rules established under Bill C-24 remain, the Prime Minister's declaration that a Canadian is a Canadian remains elusive. The unfortunate reality is that individuals currently in the citizenship system facing revocation due to misrepresentation still lack the fundamental right to judicial process. It is not a joke that people fighting a jaywalking ticket have more rights than those at risk of losing their citizenship.

Even though the Minister of Immigration acknowledges this is wrong, the Liberal government is aggressively pursuing citizenship revocation of up to 60 Canadians each month under the unfair and unconstitutional process established by Bill C-24. This needs to change.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
Oral Questions

September 27th, 2016 / 2:55 p.m.
See context

Markham—Thornhill
Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum Minister of Immigration

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-6 adheres to our fundamental election commitment that a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian, and it revokes citizenship revocation for criminal acts applied to dual citizens alone. That was the central focus of the bill. It has now passed through the House of Commons and will be considered in the Senate.

Citizenship revocation for misrepresentation is under consideration and we are considering further lines of appeal.

Immigration to Atlantic Canada
Private Members' Business

September 23rd, 2016 / 1:30 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Alaina Lockhart Fundy Royal, NB

moved:

Motion M-39

That the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration be instructed to undertake a study on immigration to Atlantic Canada, to consider, among other things, (i) the challenges associated with an aging population and shrinking population base, (ii) possible recommendations on how to increase immigration to the region; and that the Committee report its findings to the House within one year of the adoption of this motion.

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to stand in the House of Commons today to speak to the motion requesting the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration to undertake a study to explore ways to increase immigration to Atlantic Canada.

I would also like to speak today to the importance of studying the retention of those immigrants to ensure that we are achieving the goals of strengthening Atlantic Canada's workforce communities as well as the long-term economic outlook.

At this time, I would also like to recognize my many colleagues from Atlantic Canada and across the country who see the importance of this issue and who have become joint seconders to the motion. I look forward to hearing their insight on this issue during the debate.

Although immigration is not an issue that I hear about specifically at the doors in Fundy Royal, many of the priorities and issues relating to economic growth and sustainable rural communities lead back to Atlantic Canada's aging and shrinking population. Let me give a few examples.

The Bay of Fundy is a world-renowned tourist destination and a key economic driver in my beautiful riding of Fundy Royal in New Brunswick. In fact, we are now preparing for the completion of the Fundy Trail Parkway and a significant increase in visitors to the area over the next few years. These visitors are drawn to the area to enjoy the coastline, Fundy National Park, and a host of adventures and authentic experiences offered in the communities throughout the riding. This summer, I spoke to many of the tourism operators who told me that they had a difficult time filling the job vacancies they had this year. They are having a hard time planning for future growth because of the limited workforce.

In addition to the impact on businesses, I have also seen the impact of low population growth in communities. Rural schools are struggling to remain open because of dwindling enrolment. Last year in Fundy Royal, both Norton Elementary School and the Riverside Consolidated School were being considered for closure. Both communities lobbied successfully to keep their schools open, but they realize they need sustainable plans that will rely on maintaining and increasing school enrolment.

Communities and employers across the region are feeling the impact of the current demographics. Ultimately, fewer people of working age are supporting more people who require social benefits. Not only is this bad for economic growth, it means fewer services and higher taxes for residents in a weaker fiscal environment. This correlation was articulated well last winter in a Globe and Mail article authored by former New Brunswick Premier Frank McKenna. In his article, he urged the federal government to look at ways to increase immigration to Atlantic Canada as a means to move the dial in respect to the economy.

Since that time, the shrinking population of Atlantic Canada has been identified by all Atlantic premiers as the most pressing concern for the future of the region. The aging population in Atlantic Canada means that right now our workforce is shrinking. We have more people leaving the workforce than we have entering the workforce, and this is compounded by out-migration.

From a business perspective, if people are looking to invest, to grow, and to innovate in Atlantic Canada, one of the things they need to know is that they have the people available to do the work. The other facet to an aging population is that there becomes a need for more and more caregivers. Due to the noted out-migration and new ways of life, many families are not in a position to care for their senior parents and grandparents. This reality will mean a higher demand for home care workers and front-line health care workers at the same time that the workforce is shrinking.

To paint a picture for members who may not be familiar with the realities of the situation in Atlantic Canada, I ask them to consider these facts. Statistics tell us that in New Brunswick, we now sustain more deaths than births. The Atlantic region has the second-lowest fertility rate in Canada, and the population in the Atlantic region has aged twice as fast as Alberta since 1971, meaning that the median age is now eight years older than in Alberta.

The other factor we must consider is that Atlantic Canada has not kept up with the rest of Canada when it comes to immigration. In 2006, Canada received 250,000 immigrants. Although Atlantic Canada makes up roughly 7% of the total Canadian population, less than 2% of immigrants declared Atlantic Canada as their intended destination. Of those, only 40% were expected to stay, and 90% intended to live in urban areas of the region.

We have passed the point where we can repopulate without intervention. We will not naturally become a younger society again. Our workforce will not naturally expand, and investments will not come easily to our region if we stay the course.

The reality is that although the impact of this phenomenon is seen clearly in Atlantic Canada today, the entire country has an aging population, which is only compounded by the ease of out-migration to other provinces. Atlantic Canada is the canary in the coal mine, but we have proven time and again that we are nimble and adaptable and that there is still much room for optimism.

I recognize that the natural inclination to improve the economic outlook in Atlantic Canada may be for governments to remain laser focused on job creation. It clearly is a critical component of any plan for the future. However, the Ivany report states that we cannot sustain economic growth over time unless renewed population growth provides us with more workers, more entrepreneurs, and more consumers.

Over the last several decades, Atlantic Canada has tried to renew economic growth without a focus on immigration, and the result has been a continued loss of skilled workers and educated youth to other regions, and also limited investment.

After reading countless reports and studies on the population and economic issues of Atlantic Canada, the most promising news is that increasing immigration could quite possibly turn the tide. A research paper funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, in December 2008, and written by academics from Saint Mary's University in Halifax and the University of Prince Edward Island, looked at the socio-economic profiles of immigrants in the four Atlantic provinces.

This report shows that immigration has actually already been working in our favour. The report states that immigrant inflows in Atlantic Canada have helped slow population decline. Had there been no immigration between 1996 and 2001, the region's population decline would have been 16.5% higher than the actual decline. From 2001 to 2006, this decline would have been 93.6% higher without immigration. My own research suggests that from 2006 to 2011, immigration contributed to 53% of the total population growth in Atlantic Canada.

I understand people's reservations concerning the need for more immigrants in Atlantic Canada at a time when people are leaving the region because of the lack of meaningful employment. However, studies have shown a direct correlation between economic growth and immigration. In fact, one only needs to look back over the history of Canada to realize that Canada has always experienced growth by welcoming immigrants. We have seen time and time again that those who take the initiative to move to the greatest country in the world not only settle and make their way but often invest, grow businesses, and employ people.

In Fundy Royal, we only need to look as far as the nearest farm, our successful local chain of hotels, popular eating establishments, the arts community, and industrial suppliers to see what healthy, diverse, sustainable immigration can do for the region and how many jobs can be created through increased immigration.

The Ivany commission report also states that one rarely hears serious arguments that higher rates of international immigration have been bad for Canada over the long term. Immigration and economic expansion are mutually reinforcing, and both are necessary if the future outlook is to improve.

We need to start talking about the success stories related to immigration to counter the most common fear of immigration in Atlantic Canada. The President of the Treasury Board has said that this fear is often simply the fear of the unknown.

The recent welcoming of Syrian refugees in Atlantic communities has demonstrated that Atlantic Canadians can be warm and welcoming to newcomers. In many cases, it has given them the opportunity to experience the value newcomers bring to a community.

We also must consider that in 2001, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency analyzed the regions of Atlantic Canada where immigrants settled and suggested that immigrants settle in counties with higher unemployment rates, yet they experience a lower unemployment rate relative to the total resident population. This observation points to the possibility that often immigrants are working in jobs that local residents are not willing to take or that in these particular counties, unemployment levels may be of a structural nature and that local labour pools do not possess the qualifications to fill the vacant jobs.

What we are seeing now is that while federal and provincial governments have many policies and programs in place to help workers receive training and education needed for the jobs available, the projected vacancies are far more than can be filled by Atlantic Canadians alone. Immigration can help address the skill shortages holding back economic development and improve the region's prospects.

For example, just last week I visited J.D. Irving, Limited's Maritime Innovation Limited laboratory in Sussex, New Brunswick, where I was advised that the company is looking to hire 7,278 people over the next three years for its diverse operations in Canada.

Achieving this goal for them means a focus on keeping New Brunswickers at home, as in the case of the company's recent hiring of 47 workers who worked at the closed potash mine. As well, they are looking at growing talent at home through partnerships with local universities and community colleges.

Welcoming newcomers to make Canada home is also part of their strategy. A good example is Mr. Mullai Manoharan, a scientist employed at the laboratory. Mullai came to Canada from India to study agriculture at the Truro campus at Dalhousie University. He achieved his Master of Science degree and was hired by the company to contribute to research and innovation here in New Brunswick. He is currently applying for permanent residence status in Canada.

Two of the fastest growing cities in Atlantic Canada are Halifax and Moncton, and both mayors are looking to immigration as a means of growth, because they project that job vacancies in their cities will exceed the current workforce. In the words of Mayor Mike Savage of Halifax, instead of calling people “come from aways”, we need to tell them “come from away”.

It is also important to note that building more diverse communities in Atlantic Canada will help us in repatriating friends and family who have migrated to other parts of Canada. Those people still come home every chance they get, because they do love the lifestyle of Atlantic Canada. In order to bring them home again permanently, we are going to need outside sources to match the thousands of jobs that have gone unfilled for over a year with existing businesses that have the potential to create new economic opportunities.

As a country, we have an opportunity right now to study the narrative of Atlantic Canada as we develop immigration policy applicable in the region today and other provinces in the future.

I am very pleased to inform the House that since I began work on this motion, a whole-of-government approach, the Atlantic growth strategy, was announced on July 4, 2016, as a series of evidence-based, collaborative actions to enhance Atlantic Canada's economic performance. I would like to think that my work on this motion, and the work of my team and colleagues, has contributed to the government's decision to include a three-year, employer-driven immigration pilot program to attract and retain newcomers in Atlantic Canada as part of the strategy.

Currently, the federal government and the provinces are working together to identify policies that impact immigration, such as credential recognition and legislation like Bill C-6, which would allow 50% credit for time spent in Canada for international students wishing to continue on their path to citizenship.

The Atlantic Canada immigration pilot is an opportunity to test innovative approaches that will help to enhance retention, and potentially could be replicated in other provinces and territories, depending on results. The pilot project will accept up to 2,000 more applications from immigrants, plus their family members, in 2017, with rising numbers in the following years depending on performance.

In addition to the immigration pilot program, the Atlantic growth strategy focuses on four other important areas: innovation, clean growth and climate change, trade and Investment, and infrastructure.

The initiative has been well received by the Atlantic provincial premiers, the Atlantic business community, and think tanks such as the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council. More importantly, it has sparked a conversation that has people in the streets talking about where we need to go to really change our prospects for growth.

In fact, just last week, I hosted a round table with local business, community leaders, and stakeholders, who praised the initiative. After concluding the round table, I was very encouraged by a local business that wanted to continue the dialogue about how it could start thinking outside the box in order to welcome newcomers to the workforce and include immigration as part of its recruitment strategy. The group came up with ideas, such as having clusters of newcomers working together with support from other employees and management to make sure they felt comfortable and had the opportunity to share ideas concerning safety and efficiencies.

Given the government's swift action on this file, I would be open to a friendly amendment to the motion that would focus the committee's work on the examination of retention and settlement, with a view to bringing forward recommendations on best practices. This would include examining experiences flowing from the immigration pilot.

Atlantic Canada has a long history of being resilient, a region settled by a distinct mix of British, Scottish, Gaelic, and French immigrants. The time has come for us to encourage the new visitors to stay and begin a new chapter in the history of the east coast.

(Bill C-6. On the Order: Government Orders:)

June 16, 2016—Bill C-6, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act, be read the third time and passed—Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

(Bill read the third time and passed)

Citizenship Act
Government Orders

June 16th, 2016 / 5:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Bob Saroya Markham—Unionville, ON

Madam Speaker, I am also puzzled by the same situation. I had a call two weeks back from somebody in Scarborough. The person claimed that somebody had made a minor mistake on an application for citizenship 25 years ago. That individual has kids and grandkids and has been told that he has to leave the country.

The member talked about balance. Bill C-6 has no balance. Is committing fraud worse than committing a crime against humanity or a crime against the country?

I talked to another colleague who said that nothing has changed in Bill C-6 compared to Bill C-24. Before the Conservatives took office, the citizenship application fee was $1,500. We brought that down by $500. The Liberal government has not brought anything down.

There are many other issues—

Citizenship Act
Government Orders

June 16th, 2016 / 5:25 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Shaun Chen Scarborough North, ON

Madam Speaker, there is no doubt that those who have committed treason or terrorism and are convicted of doing so face tough punishment and should be punished. There is, however, a problem under Bill C-24. That is why Bill C-6 seeks to revoke the two-tier citizenship.

Does the member opposite subscribe to equality before the law? Does he believe that in the eyes of the law each and every person should be treated the same way, should be put through due process, and should have fairness and justice under the law?