Evidence of meeting #153 for Citizenship and Immigration in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was newcomers.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Alain Dupuis  Director General, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada
Jean Johnson  President, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada
Kristin Crane  Immigration Liaison, Huron County Immigration Partnership
Dustin Mymko  Community Development Officer/Settlement, Cartwright Killarney Boissevain Settlement Services, Roblin-Cartwright Community Development Corporation
Lily Kwok  Executive Director, Calgary Chinese Community Service Association
Nazifia Hakemy  Program Coordinator, Calgary Chinese Community Service Association
Chantal Desloges  Senior Partner, Desloges Law Group, As an Individual

4 p.m.

Immigration Liaison, Huron County Immigration Partnership

Kristin Crane

I know that our population is sparse and that our number of newcomers sometimes isn't high enough in one concentrated area to really make the justification to have the level of services we need. If we could connect people via technology, we could increase English classes, for instance, from one a week to several per week, joining students together with a teacher. In the case of a settlement worker in schools, if the settlement worker cannot come to all of the different locations just to meet with two, three, or four students in the school, then, upon initially meeting them and setting up that relationship, maybe they could just connect via technology to provide those services to the students.

Having nothing is just leaving huge gaps in our communities. However, I think technology could fill some of those gaps.

4 p.m.

Liberal

Marwan Tabbara Liberal Kitchener South—Hespeler, ON

Thank you.

Mr. Chair, I'll pass on my time to Mr. Dhaliwal.

4 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Surrey—Newton, BC

Thank you.

Mr. Johnson, my constituency of Surrey—Newton is home to the French school of Gabrielle-Roy. I have a francophone community in my riding. I have a very constant and close connection with the place and the community, but they haven't raised these issues. I can see that millions of dollars are flowing into the constituency, going to organizations like DIVERSEcity, Options Community Service Society, BIC-Canada, and S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Are there any particular programs you can suggest that either these organizations or I should take back to the francophonie community in Surrey so that we are able to plan and the community is effectively served, particularly when it comes to newcomers?

4 p.m.

President, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada

Jean Johnson

I can talk about one that will help the integration of our new immigrants.

Language training is essential for newcomers. Often, the contract is given to anglophone organizations, which fact contributes to distancing those persons from our communities.

We believe there are two advantages to choosing francophone organizations. In Alberta, for instance, Campus Saint-Jean or even the Centre collégial de l'Alberta would be ideal places for newcomers to develop language skills with respect to the language of work, which is English in that province. There are two advantages to that. On the one hand, this brings the citizens of the francophone community of Alberta closer together, permanently. On the other hand, it strengthens the capacity of organizations whose mandate is the promotion and teaching of the French language.

4 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Rob Oliphant

Thank you very much.

We go to Mr. Maguire. We'll have eight minutes on this side to make up for that.

4 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

I want to thank the witnesses for being here today and for their excellent presentations, along the lines of what we've looked at with settlement services in the meetings we've had before, but I think there's lots of new information here today.

Dustin, I will take back to my staff the compliments you've provided them, as I know you're from my constituency. Thank you very much. They do work hard at it.

I know you cover a lot more than the 1,300 persons who are in the RM of Cartwright Boissevain Killarney. You are probably covering seven or eight thousand people in that larger area and a lot of small businesses in that region. I don't know how you do it, but you carry dual hats, with the community development side of it, as well as the training required to keep them in the community. I know you've worked with a lot of small businesses there to help establish it.

I heard earlier from Kristin on how those small businesses could be involved. Could you expand a bit—Dustin first, and then Kristin—on how you think they've played a role in your training programs? Is there anything else they could do to enhance that?

4:05 p.m.

Community Development Officer/Settlement, Cartwright Killarney Boissevain Settlement Services, Roblin-Cartwright Community Development Corporation

Dustin Mymko

We've worked locally with some of the employers to identify positions of need and to try to fill them with the newcomers we have. From a community development standpoint, we've worked with the newcomers and businesses to attract more newcomers to fill those needs.

We've heard of programs run in other parts of the province where English is taught at work. As we pursue these new partnerships with the larger organizations, that's something we want to explore. There's a possible cost-sharing between the employers and government, where the newcomers are taught more workplace-specific language tailored, first and foremost, to the employer. They learn terms they need on the job, and can succeed at work before they move on to English as a whole.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Does that fit in your area, Kristin, as well?

4:05 p.m.

Immigration Liaison, Huron County Immigration Partnership

Kristin Crane

It does. One thing I did not mention is that I also work for Huron County Economic Development, so a portion of my time is spent with economic development issues.

The immigration partnership looks at everything but the attraction piece for newcomers to the region, whereas economic development—that hat—is more about attracting people to the region. We've worked with employers on all aspects of how to attract them to our community, retain and keep them, and how to get involved in that settlement area.

We've been running a very successful working group with the immigration partnership—we call it an employer round table—that brings them together to talk about HR issues. This invariably looks at how to hire a new workforce—meaning the newcomer population—and encourages them to change their policies and practices to be more inclusive of newcomers, whether it's changing their application forms or the interview process.

We're trying to fill the void of that community connections piece, creating more wraparound supports in the workplace. This includes family members in social outings and programming and being cognizant of some of those language barriers and what they can do to work around them. We do have newcomers with very low levels of English, but many employers have managed to successfully hire them in the workplace—and safely.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Great, thanks. Just because of the time, I'll go on here.

I believe both of you mentioned—or just Ms. Crane, but I'd like Dustin to elaborate on this as well—your connection to Westman Immigrant Services in Brandon. Is that about an hour and a half from Cartwright? You mentioned the travel cost and how that could be helped. Could you expand on the needs there?

4:05 p.m.

Community Development Officer/Settlement, Cartwright Killarney Boissevain Settlement Services, Roblin-Cartwright Community Development Corporation

Dustin Mymko

We're pursuing the partnership with Brandon right now. It looks very promising and is going to expand our base of service. We haven't really delved into the costs associated with bringing in those services. We're hoping to try to offset a lot of the costs with local volunteer training. For a lot of the programs they run out of Westman Immigrant Services, I know they have a large staff, but they also have a really large volunteer base. We're hoping that one thing to be gained from the partnership is learning how to attract those volunteers and how to train them up properly so they can provide the services at a lower cost. We know that the funding is always quite limited.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Is virtual teaching an option? You mentioned that as well.

April 10th, 2019 / 4:05 p.m.

Community Development Officer/Settlement, Cartwright Killarney Boissevain Settlement Services, Roblin-Cartwright Community Development Corporation

Dustin Mymko

I think it is with certain sectors of the newcomers. Language literacy is a big enough issue, and technological literacy is going to be another. With newcomers who are able to use the technology, I think it's an area that we're really going to explore to really try to add more services.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

With your whole idea of a hotline, it looks like you're working within your own internal group. How else can we expand that? I take it that you feel that the IRCC one was—I think your word was—“obsolete”, so how could that be resurrected?

4:05 p.m.

Community Development Officer/Settlement, Cartwright Killarney Boissevain Settlement Services, Roblin-Cartwright Community Development Corporation

Dustin Mymko

It was “functionally obsolete”. The IRCC hotline was a place I would turn to after I had exhausted the IRCC website and couldn't find answers to a specific question. When I do get through to somebody—which I haven't tried in some time, because it seems like a waste of time—I get somebody who's reading the website to me, which I've already read. What I would like is somebody who can interpret it for me, because the website covers generic rules that apply to all newcomers or all immigrants, but I've got a specific scenario that I want to know how I would apply those rules to it. I need to know because if we help them fill out the forms and send things in, it's going to be eight weeks before we find out if we've filled out the wrong form, and then we're back to square one and a lot of time has been wasted.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

In regard to inadequate services, I know, Mr. Johnson, it sounds like you've got needs for resources there as well. I know I'm getting short of time, so—

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Rob Oliphant

You have about a minute and a half.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Gosh, we're not that short. Thank you.

Is there anything, then, that each of you would like to put forward?

I know you mentioned, Mr. Johnson, the 1.8%. What would the normal target be that you're looking at for the French community in that area?

Then on the general use of resources, could I get a closing comment from each of you on your greatest priority.

4:10 p.m.

President, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada

Jean Johnson

The objective for 2018 had been set at 4%, but we only reached 1.8%. No real plan was put in place to attain that objective.

Our priority is to establish concrete strategies with IRCC that are designed by and for the communities, to allow them to be proactive in recruiting our future citizens.

Mr. Dupuis, did you want to add something?

4:10 p.m.

Director General, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada

Alain Dupuis

At this time, the integration journey in minority francophone environments is fragmented. A francophone immigrant who arrives in Alberta can benefit from a first orientation service in the French language. However, afterwards he may not have access to the entire continuum of French-language services, to help him look for a job, for instance, establish links with the community, or integrate his children in a school. He may not benefit from all of these services in French, either because they don't exist, or because he has not been directed to the proper places to continue his integration journey in French.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Rob Oliphant

Thank you very much, Mr. Dupuis.

I'm sorry.

It's a little bit after eight minutes.

Ms. Quach.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I'm going to share my speaking time with my colleague who has just arrived.

Thank you to the witnesses for being here.

My first questions will be for Mr. Johnson and Mr. Dupuis.

You spoke a lot about access to French-language services, especially in airports. How important is it to also have access to legal services in French? Although Quebec is a francophone province, after the arrival of 25,000 irregular migrants in 2017, there weren't enough French-language legal services and health care. There was a particular lack of francization and interpretation services. Even in Quebec we need such services.

What is the situation in your area?

4:10 p.m.

President, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada

Jean Johnson

It's an immense challenge. I will let Mr. Dupuis provide further explanations.

4:10 p.m.

Director General, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada

Alain Dupuis

The francophone lawyers' associations wish to offer more specialized services to francophone immigrants. That is a perfect example of gaps in the immigrants' integration journey. That is one of the sectors that needs to be developed.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

People often come to see me, since Roxham Road, which we often hear about, is located about one kilometre from my riding. Several communities and organizations mobilized to provide volunteer assistance to the thousands of migrants who crossed the border. As you said, Ms. Crane, these services are often offered in large centres like Montreal.

Several people from the community, among them Mr. Michel Pilon, mobilized to ask for funding. In British Columbia, there was a $3.4 million pilot project for migrant workers, but there is no equivalent in Quebec, where it would be necessary.

You spoke about migrant workers and cases of abuse. The regions lack services to help those workers find decent housing when they have work accidents. Foreign migrant workers often work in agriculture. That is the case in our province and we are working on setting up services for them.

What are your recommendations in that regard?