The clerk is getting the letter. While he's doing that...and I have it somewhere in this pile of paper.
We'll get it off the system there, if we could, David.
While we're waiting for that letter to come, is there any other discussion?
I'll read the letter now that it has arrived.
The letter is from the member for Vancouver East, which is stated there. It reads as follows:
Finance Committee Chair Easter,
I write to you today as the NDP Critic for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, in response to your invitation for the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration (CIMM) to study Part 4 Division 15 of Bill C-97, An Act to Implement Certain Provisions of the Budget, and to provide recommendations through you the Finance Committee to consider during its clause-by-clause consideration of the Bill.
Please accept this as the NDP submission to your request.
As I'm sure you're aware, Bill C-97 is a 392 page omnibus budget Bill. Contained in that Bill is Part 4 Division 15, which sets out the creation of a new professional college to govern the conduct of registered professional immigration consultants.
Given the nature of immigration consultancy, that is, that they are often working with vulnerable populations, in some cases with limited official languages skills, and often of limited financial means, we as elected officials have a duty to ensure that these professional is held to the highest standards of professional conduct.
During the spring sitting session of 2017, CIMM conducted an in-depth study on immigration consultants in Canada. While the study had originally set out to focus on unregistered consultants, often referred to as 'ghost consultants', it became immediately clear that registered consultants and their regulatory body needed to examined as well.
This would result in CIMM's only unanimously supported report of this Parliament. The title alone makes it very clear: “Starting Again: Improving Government Oversight of Immigration Consultants”.
I believe recommendation 1 is quite clear:
“That the Government of Canada create, by statue, an independent public-interest body empowered to regulate and govern the profession of immigration consultants; and that the mandate of the new regulatory body include: protection of the public by maintaining high ethical standards, so as to preserve the integrity of the system; and, protection of applicants from exploitation by maintaining high standards of competence and encouraging reasonable fees for services rendered. To avoid actual or apparent conflicts of interest, this new body should be accountable to a Minister other than the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. This would be a government regulated body.”
When Minister Hussen responded to this report on 16 October 2017, he stated:
“That Government expects to be able to provide more information on the way forward next year.”
It appears that when the Minister failed to meet his own, self-imposed deadline, and the government is now jamming it into a 392 page omnibus budget bill.
While CIMM examined the provisions, it can hardly be considered a study. We had merely 2 meetings to hear from witnesses. The proposed legislation leaves huge blanks for how the College will be run, leaving the door open for the current regulatory body, the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) to merely transition into a new role. This is woefully inadequate. There are simply too many unanswered questions that remain with this legislation.
It needed to be tabled as a standalone piece of legislation so that it would be subject to proper democratic debate and thoughtful study. This has not happen within the time constraints and limited scrutiny available for provisions within this omnibus budget bill.
Therefore the New Democratic Party's recommendation to the Finance Committee is to have Part 4, Division 14 withdrawn from Bill C-97 and tabled as a standalone bill.
The New Democrats believe that we need a new oversight body for immigration consultants in Canada. However, given the important nature of this work, and the vulnerable population served, we need to make sure we get it right.
Jenny Kwan, MP for Vancouver East
Go ahead, Ms. Kwan.