This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

Evidence of meeting #46 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 program.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Claudette Deschênes  Assistant Deputy Minister, Operations, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
Amipal Manchanda  Assistant Deputy Minister, Chief Financial Officer, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
Neil Yeates  Deputy Minister, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

5:10 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Neil Yeates

We are working with the Privacy Commissioner right now to make sure that the processes we use are satisfactory from a privacy perspective, so we will have all of the necessary safeguards in place in terms of the use of that information.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

You have one minute left.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Opitz Conservative Etobicoke Centre, ON

Just quickly on our collaboration between the provincial programs and industry itself, in terms of how we determine where skilled labour goes, how's that collaboration going to work?

5:10 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Neil Yeates

We do a lot of work with provinces and territories in looking at labour market information. As I mentioned earlier, a number of provinces have undertaken their own studies of what their needs are with respect to labour market demand. We compared that to the analysis we have, as I mentioned we do with HRSDC. Then we have quite an extensive discussion with provinces and territories, but also with employers and other groups. We do quite a large external consultation on levels each year. We will be launching that again this year. In the coming weeks we'll have an online document and people will be able to provide input.

Last year I think we received nearly 5,000 inputs to the online consultation; the previous year it had been 1,500. So you can see that public stakeholder interest in immigration levels has really been growing significantly over the past couple of years.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

Thank you, Mr. Opitz. That concludes the seven-minute round.

Mr. Giguère, for five minutes.

May 31st, 2012 / 5:10 p.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère NDP Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Thank you very much and congratulations on your French.

I have a brief question from Ms. Sims. She is asking that you provide the committee with information regarding what has occurred with the kabaddi players in the last two years.

5:10 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Operations, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Claudette Deschênes

As I explained, these players have been coming to Canada for a number of years now. It's fairly complex for the federations. In recent years, we worked very closely with these federations, in order to be better able to manage this movement and to make things easier for the players. Unfortunately, last year, we did not receive the cooperation we were hoping for, which would have allowed us to make the programs more flexible. So, this year, we asked them to follow the normal procedure. In the past, federations would suggest names of guests to help us better control the situation, but this arrangement did not work as well as we would have liked. Now we ask them to follow the regular procedure—in other words, individual by individual.

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère NDP Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

It has been noted that 19 immigration centres in Canada will be shut down. That is raising questions. What will happen to applicants who don't have access to a computer, who don't speak one of the two official languages or have trouble finding their way among the different levels of government? Is there not a danger that a large number of applications will not be done properly, with partially completed documentation or will require a disproportionate amount of correspondence?

5:10 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Operations, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Claudette Deschênes

I will answer that question in two parts.

First of all, we are currently introducing a process that will allow us to make better use of our resources and make decisions in order to expedite the processing of files.

We will also be working with the federal government and our other partners in cases where people are having trouble, what we call stream one. That refers to the kind of assistance someone might require if they're not familiar with computers.

Finally, some people who are not located in the area surrounding the 19 centres we want to close will not have access to that assistance either. So, we are now trying to establish a network through which to provide support to these individuals, whether they're in one of the 19 cities or in a neighbouring city. We are currently working on that. That may take a little time, but I think we will succeed.

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère NDP Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

The problem with all of this is that it may result in a glut of these kinds of applications. If no service is available, the processing will be ineffective, particularly if people don't get the proper guidance when they're filling out the forms. You can't ask an official to make a decision about a form that has been improperly completed or an application that was not done properly because the person did not understand the language.

5:15 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Operations, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Claudette Deschênes

The vast majority of people already receive the assistance they need for that sort of thing. This does not necessarily refer to the kind of help they would receive from an officer in an office.

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère NDP Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

I'm surprised to learn that for that many years, the department kept 19 offices open which, based on what you've been saying, were not serving much purpose.

5:15 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Operations, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Claudette Deschênes

That is not what I said. I said that with the Government Consolidation Management System and the other systems we now have, we are able to do the same work more efficiently and economically. We have to be mindful of taxpayers.

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère NDP Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

We'll see how that works in practice.

I have a question about the budget. Bill C-31 calls for more extensive detention services. You currently have three federal immigration detention centres and agreements with the provinces whereby people are held in provincial prisons at Immigration and Citizenship Canada's expense. Paradoxically, I see no correlation with your budget. And yet, based on what you and government members have been saying, more expensive and prudent detention measures are needed. So, how is it that you are detaining more people but have no budget for this?

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

Go ahead very briefly, Mr. Yeates. We're over.

5:15 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Neil Yeates

Very straightforwardly, Mr. Chair, those funds are provided for in the budget of the Border Services Agency, not of CIC.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

Thank you.

Mr. Leung.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Chungsen Leung Conservative Willowdale, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

In the report on plans and priorities, I believe immigration of newcomers is an important goal as the department works toward a system in which we select the right immigrants for the future of Canada. Of course these selection criteria involve language skills, age, relevant skills, education, and so on.

In the research that is available, or perhaps the research that is done by the department, what are some of the top two, three, or four factors that determine the successful immigration of newcomers? Obviously we have lots of experience after World War II, over a sixty-year period.

5:15 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Neil Yeates

Thank you.

We do carry out a program of research. Actually, we're also working with provinces on this in terms of trying to maximize the effectiveness of settlement programs. In terms of the research we've undertaken, the single most significant factor in terms of integration, both economically and socially, has been language ability. We actually spend quite a bit of money on language instruction, and we've been doing a better job about language assessment as part of immigrant selection.

The second major issue is assessment for employment and employment support. Again, we work with a whole variety of partners to help immigrants enter the labour market here in Canada.

The third issue, and related to the second one, has been the issue of credential assessments. As members of this committee know, it's been a significant barrier to immigrants for many years here in Canada. We are moving and proposing to move to a regime whereby credentials would be assessed as part of a federal skilled workers application, and that will give us a much better sense of whether those credentials are actually relevant to the Canadian labour market.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Chungsen Leung Conservative Willowdale, ON

Would it be possible for you to supply some of these reports via the clerk to the committee for our records?

5:20 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Neil Yeates

Yes, certainly.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Chungsen Leung Conservative Willowdale, ON

On the credential assessment area, many of Canada's professional bodies are very much provincial-based. My question has to do with my personal experience. Although I was educated in the United States, when I came to Canada I still needed my professional credentials assessed. Perhaps you can give us a sense of what direction we're heading in, and how it dovetails with other English-speaking countries versus the world at large.

5:20 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Neil Yeates

Thank you.

I think, as has been noted in the question, that the credential recognition process in Canada is a complicated one. There are over 400 different regulatory and licensing bodies in Canada. These are provincial bodies. So it is a complicated process that we have here in Canada.

However, we've been doing a lot of work with provinces and territories through the pan-Canadian framework for the assessment and recognition of foreign qualifications. It's a bit of a mouthful, but in fact it's a process to bring together our regulatory bodies in provinces and territories with the federal government to try to greatly speed up this process. What we've done is use a series of priority occupations. There have been two groups of those to date. These occupations and professional bodies have basically signed up to ensure that applicants who are looking for registration or licensure will get a definitive response within 12 months.

Budget 2012 committed to identifying a third set of occupations for which a similar commitment would be made. We're just in the process now of talking to provinces and territories about what would be best suited for that third set of occupations, and we'll be doing that over the next several months.

We think we've certainly made some significant progress here in Canada, but it's a tall order. A lot of coordination has to be done, but as I say, we're getting very good commitment from provinces and territories and from these regulatory bodies.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

Thank you, Mr. Leung.

Mr. Weston, you will have three minutes, and then we will vote.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

John Weston Conservative West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

All right.

If we may continue on that GCMS line of inquiry, global case management system, I wonder if you might comment on whether we're moving towards the stage where people can apply online and whether that's being done elsewhere. Then, would you draw a comparison with the U.S. or any other country in terms of how their application of GCMS has facilitated their system?