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Evidence of meeting #11 for Citizenship and Immigration 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

Neil Yeates  Deputy Minister, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
Claudette Deschênes  Assistant Deputy Minister, Operations, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
Daniel Paquette  Acting Assistant Deputy Minister, Chief Financial Officer, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Minister, you have frozen applications for sponsorship of parents and grandparents for the next two years. Can you give Canadians an assurance that they will be able to sponsor their parents and grandparents after the two-year freeze expires?

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Conservative Calgary Southeast, AB

Yes.

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

So you're guaranteeing that at the end of two years, I can submit my application for my grandparent to come here.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Conservative Calgary Southeast, AB

I'm guaranteeing that after two years, when we put in place the new redesigned program about two years from now, we will reopen the parents and grandparents program for new applications. But it will not be unlimited. We will not go to a situation where we're receiving 40,000 and 50,000 applications a year, because then we'll just find ourselves back in a serious backlog all over again.

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Basically, it's going to be revamped and potentially have limits on the number of applicants allowed in?

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Conservative Calgary Southeast, AB

Yes, that's the idea.

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Okay.

With respect to the super visa, obviously you must know that Canada has had a five-year multiple entry visa for decades now. Somewhat surprisingly, to me anyway, testimony last week revealed that it appears our visa posts around the world do not keep track of how many of these we actually issue.

I suspect this is maybe because they're not used frequently. People are not told that this is an option when they apply for a visa. There isn’t a check box on the visa application form indicating that this is an option for people.

In my constituency office, I hear many stories of parents who are denied temporary resident visas because they have a permanent residency application pending. The fear is that if the TRV gets approved, they won't actually go back to their country and will just stay.

My question is, will there be different criteria for the super visa than for regular TRVs and the five-year multiple entry visas so that we can ensure that they are granted to our parents and grandparents who want them?

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Conservative Calgary Southeast, AB

That's a very good question. I will say that one of the reasons we require people to demonstrate they've obtained health insurance when they come to Canada is to add greater certainty for our visa officers—that admitting people is not going to end up representing a net cost to Canadian taxpayers.

The department informs me they're confident the approval rate for these parent super visas will actually be very high, so I'll—

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

So the fact that they may have a permanent residency application pending is not going to be held against them, as it has been in the past, traditionally?

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Conservative Calgary Southeast, AB

It will not be held against them.

People may apply for the parent super visa regardless of whether they have an application in for permanent residency, and that will not be held against them.

I would invite Claudette Deschênes to supplement the answer.

November 24th, 2011 / 11:50 a.m.

Claudette Deschênes Assistant Deputy Minister, Operations, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

I would just add that we didn't say the last time we were here that we didn't have data. I said that we didn't have data by category. We have data on the number of people who get multiple visas.

Over the years, we've always had this concept of dual intent: you could immigrate, but you could also come temporarily to visit.

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

But I've had many constituents time and again get refused for their temporary resident visa. On their letter, or when we call, the reason given is, “Well, they have a permanent resident application in process and we don't think they'll actually leave.” I want to know if that practice is going to change with the multiple-entry—

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

To both of you, we can only hear one person at a time.

You're on the floor.

11:50 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Operations, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Claudette Deschênes

The issue of dual intent is that when someone comes temporarily but is also wanting to immigrate...do we think that person, if they didn't get accepted for immigration, would go back to their country? I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but that concept is there.

On the super visa, we are going to be tracking very closely, and certainly the issue of wanting to immigrate will not be a detraction for being considered for a super visa.

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Okay, thank you.

What steps are you going to take to let people know that they can apply for our super visa?

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Conservative Calgary Southeast, AB

We made a high-profile announcement, after which I did over 60 exclusive interviews in ethnocultural media. We will be posting all of the relevant information on the CIC website by December 1, when the program begins.

So I think people are highly aware of this, and I'm also sure that members of the immigration industry of consultants and lawyers will be advising their current and potential clients quite actively about this.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

Thank you.

Ms. James.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Roxanne James Conservative Scarborough Centre, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and welcome back, Minister Kenney and departmental officials.

I wanted to touch base on something Don Davies said about one of our witnesses indicating that our labour shortages will have to be dealt with 100% through immigration. I just want to touch base on that, because we've actually had numerous witnesses come in here and say that's not the case—

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

On a point of order, Mr. Chairman.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

A point of order. Stop the clock.

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

People are permitted to put questions, but if they're going to quote another committee member, it has to be accurate. I never said that any witness said that the labour shortages have to be dealt with 100% by immigration.

If my honourable friend checks the record, she'll find that was never stated.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

All right, let's try to get along.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Roxanne James Conservative Scarborough Centre, ON

My mistake. I thought—

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

No, it may or may not be your mistake. It's a debate, and we're not into debate here, so you may proceed.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Roxanne James Conservative Scarborough Centre, ON

Sorry, I thought he indicated that one particular witness had said that. My mistake if that's not the case.

I wanted to touch base on that, because numerous witnesses actually did come in and say that's not the particular case, that we in fact should look internally within Canada to the people who are already here, such as our youth, maybe the unemployed, and also within our aboriginal community. I just wanted to confirm that this is in fact what you think as well, Minister Kenney.