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Evidence of meeting #70 for Finance in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site.) The winning word was clauses.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Gordon Boissonneault  Senior Advisor, Economic Analysis and Forecasting Division, Demand and Labour Analysis, Economic and Fiscal Policy Branch, Department of Finance
Sue Foster  Acting Director General, Policy, Appeals and Quality, Service Canada
Margaret Strysio  Director, Strategic Planning and Reporting, Parks Canada Agency
Stephen Bolton  Director, Border Law Enforcement Strategies Division, Public Safety Canada
Michael Zigayer  Senior Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Department of Justice
Garry Jay  Chief Superintendent, Acting Director General, HR Workforce Programs and Services, Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Jeff Hutcheson  Director, HQ Programs and Financial Advisory Services, Coporate Management and Comptrollership, Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Darryl Hirsch  Senior Policy Analyst, Intelligence Policy and Coordination, Department of Public Safety
Ian Wright  Executive Advisor, Financial Markets Division, Financial Sector Policy Branch, Department of Finance
Nigel Harrison  Manager, Legislative and Parliamentary Affairs, Department of Fisheries and Oceans
David Lee  Director, Office of Legislative and Regulatory Modernization, Policy, Planning and International Affairs Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Department of Health
Anthony Giles  Director General, Strategic Policy, Analysis and Workplace Information Directorate, Department of Human Resources and Skills Development
Bruno Rodrigue  Chief, Income Security, Federal-Provincial Relations and Social Policy Branch, Department of Finance
Gerard Peets  Senior Director, Strategy and Planning Directorate, Department of Industry
Suzanne Brisebois  Director General, Policy and Operations, Parole Board of Canada, Public Safety Canada
Louise Laflamme  Chief, Marine Policy and Regulatory Affairs, Department of Transport
Judith Buchanan  Acting Senior Manager, Labour Standards Operations, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
Mark Hodgson  Senior Policy Analyst, Labour Markets, Employment and Learning, Department of Finance
Stephen Johnson  Director General, Evaluation Directorate, Strategic Policy and Research Branch, Department of Human Resources and Skills Development
James McNamee  Deputy Director, Horizontal Immigration Policy Division, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
Graham Barr  Director General, Transition Planning and Coordination, Shared Services Canada

11:10 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Thank you.

We have so little time. I'll try to make the best use of it that I can.

Currently, according to the information I have, we have approximately one million people in the skilled workers queue.

11:10 p.m.

Deputy Director, Horizontal Immigration Policy Division, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

James McNamee

That would be approximately one million overall, in all categories.

11:10 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

I'm talking about overall, one million.

11:10 p.m.

Deputy Director, Horizontal Immigration Policy Division, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

James McNamee

Not just skilled workers, but every category—

11:10 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Okay, we have about one million.

Since the Conservatives came into office in 2006 there has been an increase of about 250,000 added as part of that million. That's the number that's been added. I got these figures from the ministry, so absolutely there has been an increase in the backlog. I'm not saying that some processing hasn't been done.

The other thing is that people can.... I know I've heard this said many a time: “You know, we're going to hit the delete button in 2008, but people have options. They can reapply.”

When you reapply, will you get to be at the top of the list, or do you get to be at the bottom of the list, if you qualify?

11:10 p.m.

Deputy Director, Horizontal Immigration Policy Division, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

James McNamee

If you qualify, you go to the front, in essence, because you would be prioritized under the current set of ministerial instructions.

11:10 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

What will happen then is that there will still be people who applied in 2009, 2010, and 2011 who will be ahead of you under the new category?

11:10 p.m.

Deputy Director, Horizontal Immigration Policy Division, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

James McNamee

I could clarify that.

There are essentially only two substreams within the federal skilled worker program, those who applied before February 2008 and those who applied after. There has been a series of ministerial instructions issued, but from an operational perspective they're all treated as priority. The numbers are such that not everyone can be processed as expeditiously as we would like, but they're all prioritized, in essence.

11:10 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Thank you. You've just answered that question.

These 300,000 people who have been deleted, when they applied, their application was processed under criteria they can no longer use if they reapply, because when they reapply they will be processed using different criteria.

11:10 p.m.

Deputy Director, Horizontal Immigration Policy Division, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

James McNamee

They would have to qualify under the current prioritization under ministerial instructions, so a priority occupations list, or having arranged employment.

11:10 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Thank you.

Once again, I want to reiterate that these people applied, playing by the rules of the day, and now we're hitting the delete button and we're saying to them, “Yes, you can reapply, but by the way, the rules have changed”.

I do not think that is very fair. From that perspective, I don't think they are being treated in a very fair way. As you can see, the backlog has grown.

11:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Thank you, Ms. Sims.

As the chair, I want to address a couple of points. Some valid questions are being raised. In part, people are asking why this would be in a budget implementation act.

I would just refer members, for their own information, to the budget itself, pages 151 to 155, wherein these specific sections are dealt with. Particularly they may want to read pages 154 to 155, the “Federal Skilled Worker Fee Refund”. I'll read a little bit from there for colleagues' edification.

The Government recognized the backlog for the [federal skilled workers program] ...several years ago and has taken actions to eliminate it through our 2008 Action Plan for Faster Immigration. Before the Action Plan was introduced, the backlog had swelled to over 640,000 applicants, many of whom faced wait times of up to seven years. Through the judicious use of measures introduced by the Action Plan, the backlog has been cut to less than 300,000 applicants since 2008—a reduction of more than 50 per cent. Wait times for new applicants are now closer to 18 months on average, with some applicants waiting as little as 6 to 12 months.

I'd like to compliment our officials for their work in doing this.

11:10 p.m.

An hon. member

Hear, hear!

11:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

I've hesitated in making a lot of statements on policy, but I for one, who am a member of Parliament now in my twelfth year, have seen thousands of immigration cases, and I applaud the department and the minister for taking this action, which is needed to move towards a faster and more responsive immigration system. I just want to very quickly put my own view on the record.

11:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

11:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

I think those points were relevant, but I appreciated the debate. It was a very lively one.

Before I go to the NDP amendments, which deal with clause 707, I will deal with clauses 700 to 706.

11:10 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Can we split them?

11:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Yes, we can split them up.

(Clause 700 agreed to)

(Clause 701 agreed to on division)

(Clause 702 agreed to on division)

(Clause 703 agreed to)

(Clause 704 agreed to)

(Clause 705 agreed to on division)

(Clause 706 agreed to on division)

So we've come to clause 707.

We have four NDP amendments. They are admissible. The issue is that they seem to be similar types of amendments. I'm not sure whether the NDP wants to introduce one of these, or two of these....

I don't know whether members have them in front of them. They are amendments NDP-48, NDP-49, NDP-50, and NDP-51.

Alternatively, we could move them all.

Against the better judgment of the legislative clerk, I will allow votes on all the amendments together. I'll let it be known that he advised me on it, but I will do this just in the interest of time.

So we will ask someone to move amendments NDP-48, NDP-49, NDP-50, and NDP-51.

Ms. Sims, do you move all of them?

11:15 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Yes.

11:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Thank you.

We'll do the vote.

(Amendments negatived) [See Minutes of Proceedings]

(Clauses 707 to 710 inclusive agreed to on division)

I want to thank our officials for being here, especially so late at night. We appreciate that very much. Thank you.

We are moving to division 55, Shared Services Canada, which deals with clauses 711 and 712. Is there discussion on this?

Ms. Nash.

11:20 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

There may be some good arguments to share some services. We know there are still some questions remaining around this.

In 2011 the government created a new agency, Shared Services Canada. They're charged with cutting the IT costs for more than 100 e-mail systems and more than 300 data centres in many federal departments. Their $2-billion budget is about 40% of Ottawa's yearly $5-billion in IT spending. So I do want to raise this.

There may be some real logic to consolidating some of these IT services. However, the Privacy Commissioner has warned that the consolidation may risk personal data. In particular, the spokesperson for her office has said:

We have underlined the fact that consolidating the email functions of so many federal organizations into one service could result in greater vulnerability for personal information.

The chief statistician, Wayne Smith, has warned that moving StatsCan's IT to Shared Services Canada may jeopardize the quality and confidentiality of the information it gathers.

So we have these questions. I guess I'll just ask Mr. Barr about this.

Thank you for being here so late. We really appreciate it.

Have you heard of these concerns about privacy? How is Shared Services Canada responding to the privacy issue?

June 5th, 2012 / 11:20 p.m.

Graham Barr Director General, Transition Planning and Coordination, Shared Services Canada

Questions about privacy and cyber-security have come up. With respect to Statistics Canada, they will continue to manage their data holdings. Shared Services Canada is responsible for operating the hardware the data is stored on, but the ownership of the information resides with Statistics Canada.

The creation of Shared Services Canada does not change in any way the security and privacy policies of the Government of Canada. Any decisions that will be taken in the future with respect to the transformation of government e-mail systems will respect those policies and laws. Our new department takes very seriously the responsibility to protect privacy and security in accordance with the relevant legislation and the policies.

11:20 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Thank you for clarifying that policy.

Could I just ask one subsequent question? I'm just wondering, what's the disconnect then with the Privacy Commissioner's office? Has there been communication with the Privacy Commissioner's office? They are still expressing concern about it.

11:20 p.m.

Director General, Transition Planning and Coordination, Shared Services Canada

Graham Barr

I wouldn't say that there's a disconnect with the Privacy Commissioner's office. In fact, that office and the Privacy Commissioner was one of the first groups we reached out to and engaged with upon the creation of Shared Services Canada. I think it's within the purview and the mandate of the Privacy Commissioner to raise issues around privacy, and it's important that she do so. We take that very, very seriously.

We're working closely with the departments that own the data as well as others, including the Privacy Commissioner, to make sure we do this right, we do it well, and we respect the privacy laws and policies that are in place.

11:20 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Okay. Thank you.