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Evidence of meeting #66 for Finance in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was immigration.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Patrick Grady  Economist, Global Economics Ltd., As an Individual
Richard Kurland  Policy Analyst and Attorney, As an Individual
Ian Lee  Professor, Sprott School of Business, University Carleton, As an Individual
Lorne Waldman  As an Individual
Roxanne Dubois  National Chairperson, Canadian Federation of Students
Mark Fried  Policy Coordinator, Oxfam Canada
Jim Stanford  Economist, Canadian Auto Workers Union
Diane Brisebois  President and Chief Executive Officer, Retail Council of Canada
Marjorie Griffin Cohen  Professor, Simon Fraser University, As an Individual
Laurel Rothman  National Coordinator, Campaign 2000

9:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

I call this meeting to order. This is the 66th meeting of the Standing Committee on Finance.

The orders of the day, pursuant to the order of reference of Monday, May 14, 2012, are continuing our study of Bill C-38, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012, and other measures.

Colleagues, we have with us two panels here this morning.

In the first panel, we have six presenters.

We have Mr. Patrick Grady, an economist with Global Economics; we have Mr. Richard Kurland, who is a policy analyst and attorney; we have Mr. Ian Lee, professor at the Sprott School of Business, at Carleton University; we have Mr. Lorne Waldman with us as well; representing the Canadian Federation of Students, we have Madame Roxanne Dubois, national chairperson; and from Oxfam Canada, we have Mark Fried, the policy coordinator.

Welcome to all of you. Thank you for being with us. You each have up to five minutes maximum for an opening statement.

We will start with Mr. Grady and work our way down the line.

9:30 a.m.

Patrick Grady Economist, Global Economics Ltd., As an Individual

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I'm pleased to have received your invitation to testify on the immigration measures in Bill C-38, part 4, although it's a very small part of a rather large pie.

For background, I'm an economist who has studied immigration issues. I collaborated with Professor Herbert Grubel to do a study for the Fraser Institute, which estimated that since 1987, immigration has been costing the Canadian government $16 billion to $23 billion per year.

I'm also on the advisory board of the Centre for Immigration Policy Reform. This is a new organization that was established to advocate for immigration policies that are more in Canada's economic interest. We believe it makes no sense to continue to bring in so many immigrants every year when there are so many Canadians unemployed and immigrants are performing so poorly in the labour market. Our view is that immigration should be used only to complement the existing workforce in Canada and not to provide a quick source of cheap labour for employers that discourages Canadians from entering the labour market.

We also believe we should rely on our own education and training infrastructure, which is among the best in the world, to meet our labour needs, and we believe it's capable of doing so. We also think we should only rely on temporary foreign workers in exceptional circumstances. It shouldn't have been blown up the way it has in recent years, as almost a first supply of labour for many employers.

For more than 20 years, the performance of immigrants has been deteriorating from what it was in the past. Immigrants were able to come, and after a period of adjustment they were able to gradually adapt and earn as much as other Canadians. It's been only since the Conservative government came in during 2006 that serious efforts have been made to address this problem.

You're all aware of Bill C-51, in 2008, to deal with the huge backlog that had built up following the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act back in 2001. There were three sets of ministerial instructions.

Important measures have been introduced by the government that we think are very good. There is the Canada experience class, particularly recent attempts to put more emphasis on arranged employment and job and language skills in immigrant selection. Also, there are the Bill C-31 reforms to help fight human smuggling and protect Canada's immigration system, and of course the other measures to combat fraud, including marriage and refugee fraud. It's important that people have confidence in the function of our immigration system if it's going to continue to have political support.

Turning now to the immigration policy changes in Bill C-38, part 4, in spite of the steps taken, the backlog problem has persisted. There was no real evidence that the performance of recent immigrants was improving in general, except for maybe those with arranged employment or some of the federal skilled worker groups.

The backlog has threatened to undermine the efforts made in improving immigrant selection. You have a group of people you've committed to bring in who were selected under old rules, and they're getting older every year. You have a waiting time of up to 11 years, so by the time they get here, not only are they unsuitable, but they're much older than optimum immigrants would be.

As I pointed out when I appeared before the committee on immigration and citizenship last October, the only choice the government really had to prevent a further deterioration in immigrant performance and growing claims on the fisc was to legislate away the skilled worker backlog, which is what they're doing in this bill.

The government also needs the authority to deal with the issue of refunding the application fees. The minister of CIC requires the authority to issue the ministerial instructions needed to implement his proposed new immigrant selection procedures, since the old ones weren't working.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

You have one minute left.

9:35 a.m.

Economist, Global Economics Ltd., As an Individual

Patrick Grady

Thus we support the immigration policy measures in part 4 of Bill C-38.

Having said that, I would like to go on and say that more definitely needs to be done to limit the numbers of immigrants, since the large number is what's causing the deterioration in performance. It's not only a selection problem; it's very difficult to select from such large numbers. The government still proposes to bring in 250,000 new immigrants a year and a couple of hundred thousand temporary workers, and it's actually increasing the number of parents and grandparents allowed in at a great fiscal cost.

I estimate it would cost around $6 billion per year if you took the parents and grandparents brought in since 1987. If you took in the 165,000 in the backlog and the ones expected to apply by the year 2020, that would add another $6 billion, making the annual cost about $12 billion.

It doesn't look as though much is being done to resolve that problem.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Mr. Grady, can I just ask you to briefly wrap up? We're out of time on your presentation.

9:35 a.m.

Economist, Global Economics Ltd., As an Individual

Patrick Grady

I was just going to say that the climate isn't very favourable. There is a lot of pressure for higher levels of immigration. The minister has even talked about increasing numbers to 400,000. In our view, the only way to fundamentally reform immigration is to take the steps the minister has taken, but he also has to cut back on the numbers in the levels plan.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Thank you.

We'll go to Mr. Kurland, please.

9:35 a.m.

Richard Kurland Policy Analyst and Attorney, As an Individual

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I know what five minutes means.

The first thing is, who does the business risk of applying to immigrate to Canada belong to? That's the pivotal question. The way our system works, the applicant takes the business risk of applying to come here. Our system allows for immigration law to change with retroactive effect without notice, giving an adverse consequence to an applicant. It is now part of ethical practice at Canada's immigration bar to advise applicants of the business risk of applying. That's the fundamental point.

So when rules change in the interest of Canada, as they have done here, then yes, the individual interest of certain applicants will fall to the wayside, because the interest of Canada will prevail. That's the fundamental point of the changes we're seeing here in the proposed law. Is it right? Is it fair? Others will decide, and that's why there's Parliament to make that balancing choice. Is it legal? You bet.

I would look carefully at how it could come to pass that certain applicants were not aware that they were taking the business risk of applying to come to Canada. What happened?

Shifting gears, because I have under five minutes, there should be some basic consumer protection. We can do better. We can do better by formally putting on the website of Immigration Canada a clear notice that applicants take this business risk. We can also do better by severing or having another look at taking the User Fees Act off the table. The User Fees Act is a fundamental touchstone today for monitoring government service performance and applying to the consumers of government services the right to know how long it will take to get a visa. Members of Parliament are all aware of the strains and stresses.

Those are the two areas I'll illuminate later on today.

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Thank you, Mr. Kurland.

We'll hear from Mr. Lee now, please.

9:40 a.m.

Professor Ian Lee Professor, Sprott School of Business, University Carleton, As an Individual

Thank you.

Thank you for the opportunity to appear. I want to disclose before I present that I have no consulting contracts of any kind anywhere in the world with any corporation or union or NGO or government, and 100% of my income is from Carleton University. I come before this committee prepared, if you will, to speak truth to power.

I was under the understanding...and I could be wrong, but I'm going to be speaking more about CMHC, because I was under the impression it was in other issues in the budget. I apologize if I misunderstood.

My background was as a banker for 10 years in the seventies, as a mortgage manager in the BMO building on Wellington Street, opposite the West Block, which I believe the finance committee is going to be going into soon. Now I'm a professor of business and public policy dealing with fiscal policy, economic growth, deregulation, and issues such as that.

I want to go very macro before I get into the budget. For the first time in 2,000 years, world leadership is shifting from the west to the east. From the time of ancient Greece and the Roman Empire, all the way through to the British Empire and then the American Empire, westerners or occidentals have understood that the west has ruled the world. This is no more. This is coming to an end. This is going to change everything.

That leads to the second transformation, that we in the west, as Governor Carney in his excellent speeches and others have noted, have been living beyond our means for the past 40 years in all the western countries. The bills are now coming due.

The third transformative event is the aging of the boomers, my generation, who, in my view, and that of others, caused the second problem of living beyond our means. Unfortunately, there are countries in southern Europe, and the U.S., that do not understand. They do not know that they do not know that these changes are happening and we must change our policies in every sector. Policies that in the past were used to protect and restrict, grounded in fear, must be transformed to policies that open and expand our economy to make our economy more competitive, more dynamic, and able to address these systemic changes. Budget 2012 is profoundly important for it represents the beginning, I believe, of the undoing and the redoing of many policies in sector after sector.

I want to now deal very quickly with CMHC. It was established in 1946 to help with housing for returning soldiers. Those were laudable objectives, but since then, it's like Topsy; it's just growing, growing, and growing. It's in at least five lines of business: commercial mortgage insurance for high ratio; social housing; economic and statistical analysis, where they have an army of excellent economists and statisticians who analyse market trends across Canada; the green and energy conservation initiatives; and, finally, a market maker as bundler and reseller of mortgage-backed securities.

There are problems. In my judgment, CMHC has a profound governance problem. It's the only insurance company that is not regulated in Canada, even though we believe in OSFI and regulation of financial institutions. Its third problem is that it doesn't really understand it's own business. I say that because in 2006 it attempted to introduce 40-year, zero down payment mortgages. It was only the intervention by then Governor Dodge that stopped this irresponsible decision by CMHC.

Yes, I support in the budget that CMHC must be supervised by OSFI; that is long overdue. Yes, it is a good idea to place ministers on the board. I also agree that banks should not be allowed to ensure conventional mortgages through CMHC and offload risk onto the taxpayer. But my criticism of the CMHC reforms is that they do not go far enough. The government should be the referee of the hockey game, but it should not own one of the hockey teams, for that is a conflict of interest. On a practical level, citizens are at risk for almost $600 billion, or one-third of Canadian GDP. Moreover, CMHC has a competitive advantage over private firms because 100% of its liabilities are insured by the government but only 90% of that of private mortgage insurance companies.

I have two other quick points and then I'll wrap up. On the Investment Canada reforms, if this does come up, moving it a much higher level is a very important step. I support the blue ribbon panel, and we should be implementing those reforms in the blue ribbon panel of 2008.

Thank you.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Thank you very much, Mr. Lee.

We'll hear from Mr. Waldman, please.

9:45 a.m.

Lorne Waldman As an Individual

Thank you for the opportunity to be here today. It's a privilege to appear before the committee.

Like two of the other speakers, I'm here to talk briefly about the immigration measures, but one thing I want to make clear is that I'm not here to enter into a debate about immigration policy with people like Mr. Grady. I'm here to address what I believe is a simple moral issue, and it's simply this: I think the government has a duty to keep its promises and has a duty to speak in a clear way to all the people it deals with, and to be transparent in its dealings with those it deals with. I'm sure this is a principle that people on both sides of the House would agree with. I believe it should apply to all people Canada deals with, including those who are outside of Canada.

If we talk about the backlog, these people were encouraged to apply and were told they would be processed. Many of the people have received numerous communications since that time and were continuously led to believe that they would be processed.

I understand the government's dilemma. They believe they have a better selection process. As a passing remark, I should say that I've heard that one before. In my 30 years, I think this must be about the seventh or eighth different selection process the government has invented, and it's always the best one, but eventually, a few years later, it's scrapped for something else. But that's not the issue here.

The issue here is that, in my view, the government.... This is where, with all due respect, I disagree with my dear friend Mr. Kurland, in that I believe that the government has a duty to be transparent and clear, and they failed to do so in this case. Because of that, what they're doing is wrong.

I thought the best way to illustrate this would be to tell the story of one of my clients. She sent me an e-mail and gave me permission to read it. This will take me a minute or two to read. I thought it would just illustrate this. She says as follows:

Until today, I can still remember vividly that date of November 17, 2007, even though it was almost four and a half years ago. It was on that date that our family of three—at that time, my son was still in primary school—went to the post office and sent out our application forms, together with the payment, with a great hope for the future. On the way back, we discussed excitedly the new adventure we were going to have in Canada, the new school life, the animals playing around the house, possibly the new member of the family.

I remember that she was from China. Under their one-child policy, she couldn't have a second child in China, so she was hoping to come to Canada so she could have that second child. She had other choices, but she chose Canada. She says:

On November 26, 2007, we got the acknowledgement from the visa office confirming receipt, informing us of the next step, and telling us to start our preparation for moving to Canada. So we were excited and thought that our new life was about to emerge.

We started the preparation. We got to know other applicants through the Internet, we improved our language capacity, and we invested in getting certificates that we knew would help us in our job opportunities in Canada.

Two years from that time, another milestone was reached. On December 4, 2009, we got the request letter from the visa office in Beijing asking us to submit our full package of documents. To us, this is one step closer to the dream come true. We spent enormous time and effort—

—for which they will of course not be compensated, I note.

—in preparing the needed documents. We had to schedule the exams for an English test, travel to different cities to get documents, and we had to ask relatives and friends for support in hard places to reach due to the time constraints.

That's because they're only given a short period of time to get the documents. She continues:

Different from the past two years, where we had kept the application confidential, we had to tell our supervisors and the human resources teams about the move so that they could help us to improve our work experience, and of course that impacted negatively on our career development because companies were no longer willing to invest in our future knowing that we were going to be leaving soon.

Again, we, the family of three, went to the post office and mailed off this package full of joy and full of expectation that soon we would be in Canada. At this time my son was in middle school. We waited and waited and waited, confident in our result, not only because of the waves of affirmation and correspondence we received from the visa office, but also because of the justice and fairness we valued—because that's why we chose Canada as our destination.

I have always trusted that Canada would eventually welcome us, like what the visa office shared with us. It was just a matter of time. Because of that trust, we gave up opportunities to go to other countries, and we could have applied under new streams, but we saw no reason to do so. No one suggested to us that we should. We waited our time in the queue—

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

One minute.

9:45 a.m.

As an Individual

Lorne Waldman

I'm almost done.

We waited our time in the queue for more than two years, and because of that trust our careers were affected negatively. And now, four and a half years later, we suddenly got the news on March 29 that our case would be wiped out. We were stunned on hearing that and couldn't believe it. How could a country like Canada, a country that values equity and law, take its promise so lightly?

That is from one of the people in the backlog.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Thank you, Mr. Waldman.

We'll hear from Ms. Dubois, please.

9:45 a.m.

Roxanne Dubois National Chairperson, Canadian Federation of Students

Thanks to the committee for the opportunity to make the voice of students in Canada heard here today.

The Canadian Federation of Students represents more than half a million students from colleges and universities across Canada. It is Canada's largest and oldest national students union.

The right to education at all levels is enshrined in international law and is prescribed by existing moral and social imperatives of Canadian society. Our public post-secondary education system was built with public dollars and, implicitly, must be accessible to all citizens of Canada, just like health care is. However, Canada's college and university system continues to operate without a national framework and is increasingly cost-prohibitive. The federal budget bill, despite its size and scope, fails to implement a strategy to address rising tuition fees, skyrocketing student debt, and youth unemployment. However, Bill C-38 does many other things, such as threaten our generation's prospects for job and retirement security and seek to reduce environmental regulations.

Due to its size and scope, Bill C-38 overreaches and will contribute to public cynicism. Five minutes is insufficient to review 425 pages and the nearly 70 acts being amended, repealed, or introduced. I cannot but conclude that the government's objective must be to limit the Canadian public from fully assessing the omnibus bill.

I would be doing a complete disservice to my organization's members and the Canadian public if I did not use this time to implore each of you on the government side to abandon this hypocritical tactic of forcing through legislation en masse.

To use the Prime Minister's own words during his time in opposition:

...in the interest of democracy I ask: How can members represent their constituents on these various areas when they are forced to vote in a block of such legislation

Students today are facing a very precarious labour market. With rising student debt, caused mainly by tuition fee increases, job opportunities are even scarcer because of the government's decision to eliminate Service Canada centres for youth and student positions in the public service. In addition, government investment to improve access to education has slowed significantly. At a time when over 70% of new jobs require some form of post-secondary education, the government has to substantially increase its investment in the Canada Student Grants Program to reduce student debt and help graduates in the labour market.

Making matters worse for students and youth, Bill C-38 proposes changes to Canada's old age security program, the temporary foreign worker program, and employment insurance, all at once. Raising the benefits eligibility age of OAS from 65 to 67, reducing the wages of workers, and eroding the retirement prospects of future generations is itself a solution without a problem and requires at least further study by committee.

If the government is concerned about the well-being of young people and truly wants to protect our future, then cuts to OAS should be taken off the table. Young people in Canada have all of our working years ahead of us. If anything, giving young people a chance to make a decent living requires increased access to education and training and a more robust OAS program.

The federal government's lack of vision with respect to tuition fees comes at a significant cost to our economy in the form of lost economic opportunities. For every Canadian who is denied access to post-secondary education, the costs of health care, employment insurance, social assistance and public safety all grow, and the tax base shrinks.

The OECD estimates that the economic benefit of any investment in post-secondary education comes to $1.63 for every dollar spent by government. If the government is serious and genuinely wants the economy to grow, it should give serious consideration to rejecting this bill and investing in post-secondary education.

Last, when it comes to environmental regulations, Bill C-38 erodes the government's ability to hold companies accountable for their practices. The next generation will inherit the environmental issues to come. We will be saddled with the effects of climate change, unchecked resource development, and potentially irreversible damage to Canada's wildlife. Environmental sustainability is top of mind for today's youth but appears to be a governmental afterthought. The callous disregard for the environment in Bill C-38 is completely irresponsible.

We believe in the strongest of terms that the alterations to OAS, GIS, and EI ought to be removed from Bill C-38, studied by their relevant committees, and voted on separately from the budget bill. We hold the same sentiments with respect to the Fisheries Act, the Navigable Waters Protection Act, the National Energy Board Act, the Species at Risk Act, the Parks Canada Agency Act, the Canadian Oil and Gas Operations Act, the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, the Seeds Act, the Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act, the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy Act, the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, etc.

Again, I thank you for the opportunity to make this presentation.

I look forward to your questions.

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Thank you.

We'll hear from Oxfam now, please.

9:50 a.m.

Mark Fried Policy Coordinator, Oxfam Canada

Good morning, everyone.

Thank you for the opportunity to share our thoughts on the latest federal budget. Oxfam pays close attention to the operations of government, both our own and those in the 95 countries where we work, because government policies can have a huge impact on people's efforts to work their way out of poverty.

We have been at this since 1963, and we've learned a few things along the way about effective government and citizen participation that I hope may be relevant to the bill before you.

The first lesson we draw from our experience is that governments don't function well in isolation. They do better when they consciously create mechanisms for tapping into the knowledge and wisdom of public-minded citizens. The portion of this bill being considered elsewhere would limit citizen participation in environmental assessments. The portion that's before you would close two key mechanisms for citizen input, the National Council of Welfare and the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy.

These two provide a crucial function, not just independent expert advice but a focusing of public thinking on issues of import. These are functions that cannot be replicated by privately funded bodies, be they Oxfam or the Fraser Institute. We urge you to retain these valuable advisory bodies.

Another key lesson that we have learned is that inequalities undermine healthy societies. At worst, inequalities can lead to violence and open conflict. At best, they limit economic growth and deprive individuals of the life chances they deserve.

It seems prudent to examine two elements of this budget in light of the fact that income inequality in Canada is rising fast. The changes to old age security and to employment insurance could well contribute to further widening the gap between men and women, between young and old, and between rich and poor.

A third lesson is that successful governments take the long view and take sustainability to heart. The costs of environmental degradation and climate change are borne disproportionately by people living in poverty. Canada's outsized greenhouse gas emissions, in particular, are wreaking havoc among some of the world's poorest communities.

Rather than repealing the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, this budget ought to include incentives to guide private investment away from carbon-intensive industries and toward clean energy. Instead, it leaves in place nearly $1 billion in subsidies and tax breaks for the oil and gas industries. Canada agreed in 2009 at the G-20 to phase out fossil fuel subsidies. Please consider making that pledge effective.

A final lesson is about the importance of aid. Providing development assistance to poor countries is a long-term investment in a stable and prosperous world. It is a way to rebalance, however minimally, the grotesquely skewed distribution of income in the world. But most of all, aid is a sensible and generous gesture of solidarity. It's a helping hand to those struggling because of poverty, conflict, and war.

Trying to balance our books on the backs of the world's most vulnerable people is wrong. What's more, because aid is only a tiny fraction of government expenditures, even the severe cuts in this budget will contribute little to reducing the deficit. As a friend of mine put it, it's like trying to lose weight by cutting your hair.

But for poor people, the consequences are serious. News reports state that CIDA is completely eliminating eight country programs and reducing aid to five of its 20 countries of focus. Ten of the 13 countries affected are among the poorest in the world; eight of them are in Africa.

Between now and 2015, when the world is to have achieved the millennium development goals we set in 2000, Canada will have cut $1.2 billion from our aid budget. That would have helped a lot of hungry people to feed themselves, and it would have put a lot of girls through school. We urge you to reverse the cuts to the aid budget.

Let me conclude by noting that Oxfam's website will be blacked out on Monday. We will join many other organizations to protest elements of this budget bill that limit public debate on vital issues.

Canada's charities have much to contribute. When some charities are accused by high officials, we all feel threatened, and all Canadians lose out.

Thank you again for the opportunity to speak with you. Je serais heureux de répondre à vos questions. I look forward to your questions.

9:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Thank you for your presentation.

We'll begin with Mr. Marston, for five minutes.

9:55 a.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston NDP Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Once again we're looking at a variety of issues: international aid, the environment, immigration, housing, financing, and citizen input. When you have five minutes, you ask yourself where you should start. So I'm going to stick to immigration.

Mr. Waldman, have you seen any evidence that the government really, truly understands the damage it has done to Canada's reputation by cancelling the applicant list?

9:55 a.m.

As an Individual

Lorne Waldman

No. I mean, I'm shocked; there's going to be another big demonstration in Hong Kong within the next few days.

I was a class counsel the last time they tried to eliminate the backlog, so people found my e-mail and e-mailed me. I've seen literally hundreds of e-mails from people around the world just outraged about how the government is treating them so unfairly. As I said, something has to be done about the backlog, but just completely eliminating it in such a callous fashion....

It's ironic, because we've been told for years, or the government's been telling people for years—this is respective governments, not just this one—that there's a queue, and that the way to come to Canada is to apply, go into this queue, and wait.

All these people did what the government told them to do. They applied and they waited. They were led to believe, through repeated communications, that their applications would be processed. They followed what the government said. They waited in the queue. And now, after waiting, some of them for as long as eight years, they've been told, “Sorry, this queue no longer exists. Your applications are being terminated.”

That's not just. That's not the Canadian way. This really tarnishes Canada's image.

10 a.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston NDP Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Thank you.

Mr. Kurland, the government has indicated—repeatedly, in fact—that these changes are needed to balance skilled labour with the needs of Canada in the different parts of Canada.

But it seems they've lost sight of one aspect of it—namely, that unified families are generally happier and more productive. My riding of Hamilton is the second destination for a lot of immigrants who can't afford to live in Toronto and Montreal and so on. The look of disbelief I see on some of their faces, especially the ones who come into our office—I'd like your comment on that, sir.

10 a.m.

Policy Analyst and Attorney, As an Individual

Richard Kurland

I can well understand the look of disbelief when it comes to the issue of parents and grandparents. There were about 185,000 parents and grandparents in a backlog. That backlog developed from 2003 onward. The backlog, however, has been crunched and fixed, so instead of seeing looks of bewilderment, you'll see looks of gratitude when the new parent and grandparent solutions are rolled out after the moratorium. For the first time, super visas will take away bewilderment to be replaced by joy, immediate joy, of grandparents attending birthday celebrations of their grandchildren in Canada, as visitors here.

So although the legacy of former policy hobbled the initial years of immigration production with problems, the hard part was the solution—the political courage required to do something unpopular and say no. It's short-term pain for long-term gain, and I think you'll see that tough way of doing things rolled out again and again.

10 a.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston NDP Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

I'm going to have to disagree with you. There's going to be a lot of pain, at least to the immediate families.

Ms. Dubois, there's a lot said today about youth engagement, about their not being engaged in the political process. There are other things being said about voter suppression, whether it's an actual plan or it's an accidental thing.

When you look at this bill, and clearly you've looked at it, what's your reaction to it in relationship to engaging young people?

10 a.m.

National Chairperson, Canadian Federation of Students

Roxanne Dubois

I think it's clear that having such an overarching bill is certainly a deterrent to having young people engaged in the democratic process. It's certainly a goal for us as students to participate, to be able to express our opinions, and to try to contribute to the betterment of everyone in Canada.

Certainly contributing to this kind of bill is a difficult thing to do, because it touches so many sectors. It's been a bit of a difficult process to look at all the various components of the bill and to try to engage our members on some of the issues. Some of them have direct impact on our members' lives and on how they will be able to have chances at succeeding at life. Having this all together is very difficult.