Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you for the work you do. Obviously a lot of resources are given to your department and, like all of us, when you give someone resources, you expect people to use them wisely.
I would like to make a quick statement, especially for new members of Parliament, on embassies and consulates.
When members of Parliament could no longer contact the embassies and consulates directly on behalf of their constituents for routine matters—this occurred right after the Liberals took office in 2015—I have to say, from my own experience as a constituency worker, that it complicated things. It also insulates those consulates from the general public, as does, I believe, the Privacy Act. I believe it gives too much insulation for the government.
I would like to see a little more transparency from your department when it comes to these things, because ultimately all our salaries are paid for by the public, and it shouldn't take a crisis for people to start getting basic information specifically.
I'm going to be focusing largely on those matters today, Mr. Chair.
There are no publicly available statistics on the number of Canadians in China and the number of consular cases, so could you start by saying how many Canadians are currently in mainland China and in Hong Kong? Also, how do those figures compare to previous years?