I will do it in French, please.
My name is Selin Deravedisyan-Adam. I am here today as a full member of the CSIC, and I am also the president of the Canadian Migration Institute for Quebec. I am here to make a few points that I think are essential.
While you all know that the CSIC is a young organization, you need to be aware that the organization has nonetheless come a long way in less than six years. That process has resulted in the creation of an enormous machine and a solid structure and framework. If we compare the organization to a person, I might say it is at the developmental stage of adolescence. The CSIC is also not an entirely perfect organization. We are also here today to talk about that. If I can stay with the adolescence metaphor, we are going through the pimply teenager years.
Everyone criticizes. But we have to stay objective in our criticism, and most importantly be realistic. Even I have criticisms, as a member of the CSIC. For example, client services for members are virtually non-existent. When we ask for some simple administrative information, it is very hard to get a result. Do you think this is a valid reason, for example, to bad-mouth the CSIC? No, frankly, no. Nor is it a reason to dismantle an organization the size of the CSIC.
Why consider deregulating the profession? Why let other bodies seize the opportunity and wipe our profession off the map, if we may refer to a map? Why, with this bill, invite other organizations to apply? What purpose is there in this? Now that the CSIC has achieved a majority of its objectives, what we have to do is support it. Now is when we have to give it all the support it needs and stand behind it so it can move forward. We are not a long way off from maturity; the fruit is emerging. I concede that the fruit is sometimes unsightly, but we will get there. We are reaching maturity.
The CSIC and we, its members, since I am also a member, have taken on a Herculean job. Let's not forget that the government handed the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants a minefield, and I would even say a sandpit, full of quicksand. But the CSIC has found its way, in spite of all the pitfalls. It has tried to sweep clean, to ward off the weeds, the infamous consultants you are judging today. Why should we throw the baby out with the bathwater? Why are we doing nothing to clean up the water, at least, and try to keep the lovely baby, that's healthy now and is going to continue to be?
The evidence of this is that today we have a board of directors that has diversified as a result of the various positions of the members who sit on it. So everyone is represented on that board.
Another point about the board of directors, it is also increasingly transparent. Why? Because there is a growing body of management policies, by adopting and applying strict rules, whether for discipline or for ethics. Certainly someone who does not want to comply with the rules and abide by the code of ethics and professional ethics has no business either in the CSIC or in any organization. They should absolutely not be working in immigration. This is a profession that calls for integrity, and I am hear today to attest to that.
Training is also a crucial point. In Quebec alone, for nearly a year, we have been taking training courses, one after another, day and evening workshops, all of it, to acquire skills, tried and tested professionalism on the part of everyone who calls themselves a certified member of the CSIC.
In the last year I have also observed that at the meetings and various events organized—not by me personally—there are more and more positive comments, rather than negative comments, being voiced. This is quite simply because there has been a real collective realization brought about by the new generation of consultants who are in practice and are members in good standing. In fact, there is a real sense of solidarity.
These people are fully aware of the directives and requirements of the CSIC.
I can tell you that the new generation does not feel not remotely concerned with the old disputes and tales, and the differences of opinion there may have been.
What gives me confidence is that in spite of the many criticisms voiced by some members about membership fees, for example, the CSIC also offers us a sound, working budget. On that point, I have never really heard any criticisms saying that we don't manage our affairs properly. We often hear that we charge high membership fees, but you can't have your cake and eat it. If we want to have an organization that will stay the course, that has a certain level of prestige and, most importantly, provides the public with a service, it has to have the resources to do that. So that is a sacrifice we have to make, as members, by paying the necessary membership fees, but we get what we are after.
In closing, I have two or three comments about the bill. Why did the government allow a transition period of several years when the CSIC was created?
The only result was confusion and animosity among the members and other recalcitrants who took advantage of the situation. In any event, those people were never members of the CSIC, and it is often the dissenting voices that are heard.
As well, did the CBSA not also have to play a more active role in “hunting down” crooked consultants?
And last, why use the term "consultant"? When I hear "crooked consultant" or something else, I almost feel insulted. I certainly do not see that situation as referring to me, but in terms of the bill, that label really has to be changed. They should be called either uncertified or illegal immigration representatives, call it what you want, or certified immigration “conseillers”. This word “consultant” should be banned. It's bad publicity, it puts out a bad image.
I can tell you that the people who get caught or fooled by these infamous crooked consultants, also call themselves or consultants or something else.
So I am proud to be a member of the CSIC, today, and I hope to give you as much information as I can provide.