Thank you, Mr. Chair. Ladies and gentlemen, hello.
I'll do my presentation in French, but I'll be pleased to answer your questions in English, should there be any.
In order to help you follow my comments, I've prepared a PowerPoint document for you in French and English, which has been distributed.
My name is Marc Audet. I'm the Vice-President of the Immigrant Investor Program, within the Mouvement Desjardins, Quebec's largest financial institution and the sixth largest one in Canada. I have been personally involved in business immigration for over 15 years.
Unlike my presentation in April 2010 before this same committee, when I talked to you about the importance of investor immigrants for our economy -- which is still the case -- my talk today will have more of a general perspective.
What is the backlog due to? Is it the volume of applications received annually, the ability to process them or the annual capacity to receive immigrants? All of these points have been covered by other guests appearing before this committee since the beginning of the session. The answer, however, may not have been provided. I'd like to get you to think about a new approach to the backlog issue.
I invite you to read page 3 of my document, which summarizes the permanent immigration figures for the past five years in Canada. We note that, from 2006 to 2010, Citizenship and Immigration Canada received an average of 435,000 applications from people. The number of applications processed, that is, accepted or denied, pertain to 375,000 people. Withdrawn applications concern 35,000 people. Accepted applications pertain to 260,000 people and denied applications, 115,000 people. For the purposes of our discussion today, let's keep in mind the figures from this last column and go on to the next page.
In a typical year, there are potential immigration candidates from all categories who apply to Canada. They may apply to immigrate directly or through a third party, be it family friends, or immigration consultants or lawyers. Year in year out, Canada receives 435,000 applications, in terms of people, of which 375,000 are processed, 35,000 are withdrawn and 25,000 are not processed. Of the 375,000 applications processed, 260,000 are accepted and 115,000 are denied. I draw you attention to those 115,000 people, who in my opinion form the major source of the backlog.
To my mind, the solution does not lie only in the hands of CIC. I think it is up to several people, starting with the immigrant himself. The message is that there should be more screening because at present CIC ends up with virtually everything. This would make it possible to take the "just in time" approach proposed by Mr. Kenney and apply it to both new applications and the backlog. With such an approach, CIC could even have two-pile management, that is, one pile for applicants who passed the screening and another one for the rest.
I invite you to read page 6 of my document, which provides an overview of the distribution of the volumes of persons by category of immigration. It enables us to see where we should concentrate our efforts more in processing applications, if we operate according to this screening basis.
How can we support CIC? I have identified three main elements to examine more closely. The first one is eligibility of the candidates. For example, we need to work on screening mechanisms.
The second point involves the supporting document. We need to make sure that, when an officer is analysing a application, it is complete and the quality of the content is sound.
The third point is commitment at all levels. That means requiring more commitment from the different parties, that is, the immigrant, the financial level and the level of responsibility, if third parties are involved. If we work on these three elements, in our opinion, we could ensure better screening.
I invite you to read page 8 of my document. How could this type of approach translate into figures? We would have the impact of quality control, if CIC focused its efforts in this direction. I'm at Part A.
Let's start from the status quo regarding the number of people admitted. Year after year, CIC takes 260,000 people annually. If we increased efficiency through better quality control, say, by 5 per cent, that would enable CIC to reduce the volume of applications processed to 347,000 new ones and this in turn would enable it to deal better with the backlog.
However, if CIC concentrated on its resources so as to increase its capacity for processing applications -- an average of 375,000 people a year -- and increased its efficiency by 5 per cent, the number of individuals admitted to Canada would rise from 260,000 to 280,000 a year. In my opinion, this approach is quite practicable and these objectives could be met within the very short term.
Now, is the backlog realistic? I'll tell you about my own experience with businesspeople and investors. Investor immigrants who make an application at the federal level at present form a backlog of 22,000 applications, or 77,000 people. In 2006, Immigration Canada put in place a simplified process, whereby people didn't have to submit a complete application, but just a document accompanied by a cheque. From 2005 to 2006, Citizenship and Immigration Canada received 2,000 applications from investors each year. It received 3,000 in 2007, 5,000 in 2008, 8,000 in 2009, and 11,000 in 2010. Furthermore, as Mr. Thomson mentioned earlier, during the moratorium last July, over 700 applications were received in one day, and even more than 1,000 applications. If we had a screening process, I'm very sure that we wouldn't have received 700 applications. Also, many applications are duplicated. Many immigrants make applications at various places, a bit the way we might apply to a university. They submit their application to the federal program, to a provincial program, to the program in another country, waiting until they get their first answer and then seizing the opportunity, without bothering to withdraw any applications already being processed somewhere else.