Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Good afternoon, everybody. It's a pleasure to be back.
I will have a few remarks, but I want at the beginning to thank all of you for your work on Bill C-6. I understand that you did all the clause-by-clause consideration in one meeting, so congratulations to everybody on that. I understand that we had two amendments accepted. That's good.
Also, I made a commitment some time ago that we would move forward in the fall on a proper appeal right on the issue of citizenship revocation. I know you heard from various witnesses.
I have said from the beginning that we would do it, but we also don't want to delay this bill unduly. To do it will require certain legislative changes and possibly even machinery-of-government changes, which don't happen overnight. We therefore couldn't include it in this bill, but we are clearly committed to move forward on it in the fall, working with you, who have been listening to witnesses on the subject and I'm sure have some ideas on the best method of going forward on that issue.
I turn now to the estimates.
I'm very pleased to be here today to present Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada's main estimates for fiscal year 2016-17.
I think you've met my officials before, but I should say who they are. We have the deputy minister, Anita Biguzs, and David Manicom, Robert Orr, Dawn Edlund, and Tony Matson, who are all here to possibly answer some questions or give me advice. We're all pleased to be here.
I will focus on some of the most significant allocations we're requesting to help our department meet our goals. As I said in a previous appearance before this committee, these goals are in service of our government's commitment to strengthen our generous and welcoming country through the immigration system and to open Canada's doors to those who want to contribute to our prosperity and to the success of our country.
I can report that our department's main estimates have an overall net increase of $186.2 million from the previous year. Most of that increase—the great majority of it, $179.3 million—is for funding to implement our response to the Syrian refugee crisis.
As you know, we achieved our goal of resettling 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of February, and we will continue to welcome refugees from Syria throughout this year, as our efforts focus more and more on settlement and integration.
On that issue of integration, I can report that the latest numbers state that 97% of the refugees are now in permanent housing. I think that's good news. We still have 3% to go, but we're almost there.
That doesn't mean everything is solved. There is still the question of jobs, and there is still language, but housing is a big part of the trip.
The majority of the funds we are requesting in these main estimates for Syrian refugee resettlement will be in the form of grants and contributions. This grants and contribution funding will be used for resettlement assistance through income support for newcomers to cover items such as food, clothing, and shelter, or to fund NGOs for the many critical services they provide during the resettlement process.
Grants and contributions funding will be used, for example, to support third parties who provide settlement assistance, such as language training, orientation to life in Canada, and counselling.
Another notable increase in these main estimates is $29.3 million requested to continue to implement and administer reforms to the temporary foreign worker program and the international mobility program. Most of that comes in the form of operating expenditures in order to implement the changes that were introduced in June 2014. These expenditures are related to initiatives and activities that will help to balance our interest in attracting international talent with existing labour market needs.
Mr. Chair, my department's main estimates for 2016-17 also include an increase of $17.9 million in funding for the passport program, and an increase of $14.9 million in funding related to the expansion of biometric screening in Canada's immigration system.
There are a number of other items I could mention but I think I'll come to a close to leave more time for questions.
I would conclude by saying that welcoming newcomers and helping them to settle and integrate well into Canadian society is critical to our country's future and has always been an important part of our history.
The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring the success of the immigration system, and the main estimates that we are discussing today reflect that commitment.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. I'm happy to answer any questions committee members may have.