Evidence of meeting #62 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 brunswick.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Laurie Hunter  Director, Economic Immigration Policy and Programs, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
Ümit Kiziltan  Director General, Research and Evaluation, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
Corinne Prince  Director General, Integration and Foreign Credentials Referral Office, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
Donald Arseneault  Minister of Post-Secondary Education Training and Labour, Government of New Brunswick
Sonny Gallant  Minister of Workforce and Advanced Learning, Government of Prince Edward Island
Charles Ayles  Assistant Deputy Minister, Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour, Population Growth Division, Government of New Brunswick
Neil Stewart  Deputy Minister, Workforce and Advanced Learning, Government of Prince Edward Island
David Cashaback  Director, Immigration Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
Michael MacDonald  Director General, Immigration Program Guidance, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
Christopher Meyers  Director General, Finance, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

5:55 p.m.

Director General, Immigration Program Guidance, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Michael MacDonald

In keeping with the spirit of my first response, Mr. Chair, any analysis that would be undertaken, and we are willing to do that—

5:55 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Sorry, I'll just get you to move to the complainant question. I don't want to talk about the spirit of the first response. We already had that for several rounds, so let's just get to how best to protect the complainants.

5:55 p.m.

Director General, Immigration Program Guidance, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Michael MacDonald

We feel that the best way to protect complainants in the current structure is through pushing out as much education and awareness as possible. In our last appearance, we talked about anti-fraud, about working with the ICCRC, about how our department undertakes level 1 investigations around complaints, and about finding unique ways of reaching applicants and clients through social media and other venues.

5:55 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Yes, education is certainly one component. When a complainant comes forward and there has been misrepresentation in their application by the representative, unbeknownst to the applicant, can there be a provision that those complainants be protected and be given the opportunity to make the corrections in their application and still have the application processed? Just a simple yes or no—is that a possibility that you could look at as an option?

5:55 p.m.

Director General, Immigration Program Guidance, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Michael MacDonald

That is a possibility.

5:55 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Great, thank you.

I'm going to move on to the next issue that has been brought to our committee's attention, and that is a graduated licensing process. That is to say that not all consultants are equal. They have to go through various training at different levels to be able to do different kinds of work. Is that an option that can be adopted—not under the current model but under any model? Can that be adopted as a practice for a graduated licensing process?

6 p.m.

Director General, Immigration Program Guidance, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Michael MacDonald

Graduated licensing could be adopted, and in fact it exists today in terms of student advisers at universities.

6 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Correct, so this is entirely feasible. Thank you.

6 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Borys Wrzesnewskyj

You have 10 seconds.

6 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

I'll turn to protection for non-profits, because there's a big issue around non-profits doing this work. Can we look at increasing the funding for non-profits to do this work, as well as ensuring they could be protected in that process? A lot of times they are not actually paid, as consultants or lawyers are. Please give a quick yes or no answer.

6 p.m.

Director General, Immigration Program Guidance, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Michael MacDonald

I think an analysis can certainly include that.

6 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Borys Wrzesnewskyj

Thank you.

Mr. Tabbara, you have seven minutes, please.

6 p.m.

Liberal

Marwan Tabbara Liberal Kitchener South—Hespeler, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I just wanted to follow up on Ms. Kwan's question. We've talked about a graduated licensing process in this committee at various times. In your response to her question, you talked about how currently university students have an advisory system. Can you elaborate on what you meant in response to her question?

6 p.m.

Director, Immigration Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

David Cashaback

In December 2014, the ICCRC adopted a bylaw that granted limited licensure to international student advisers. It was a conversation that took place within the independent body—we participated, of course—in order to find a way for these student advisers to be able to offer some degree of assistance to students, but it's not full membership in the organization.

6 p.m.

Liberal

Marwan Tabbara Liberal Kitchener South—Hespeler, ON

Was that started in 2014?

May 29th, 2017 / 6 p.m.

Director, Immigration Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

David Cashaback

It was December 2, 2014.

6 p.m.

Liberal

Marwan Tabbara Liberal Kitchener South—Hespeler, ON

Do you have any information on some of the success that came out of it or some of the responses from students?

6 p.m.

Director, Immigration Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

David Cashaback

I don't have any from the student perspective. In the spirit of the conversation we're having today, Mr. Chair, this was an example of a situation where it was not clear what kinds of services these student advisers were providing, whether they were falling within or without the legislative and regulatory framework. This was a positive step at the time to address a need. Our understanding is that it has worked acceptably for students. It gives them a service where otherwise there would be a grey zone.

6 p.m.

Liberal

Marwan Tabbara Liberal Kitchener South—Hespeler, ON

If there were a complaint, what group at the department is responsible for reviewing the ICCRC's report and for ensuring that the public is protected?

6 p.m.

Director General, Immigration Program Guidance, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Michael MacDonald

Any complaints that come in to the department go into the operations area, and we look at that actually in several parts of our department, including those in our integrity and risk area, who do what's called the level 1 investigation. They're also the group who decides if a complaint is warranted to go up to a level 2, and that's when we make a decision and pass it over to the Canada Border Services Agency.

6 p.m.

Liberal

Marwan Tabbara Liberal Kitchener South—Hespeler, ON

I'm going to move on to another question.

We have heard about “lowercase illegality”, when it comes to consultants; it is often not dealt with by the CBSA. We know that ICCRC is not legally mandated to go after non-registered consultants.

What measures do you suggest to tackle this grey area, and are you in favour of establishing a blacklist for people who have constantly been involved in fraud?

6 p.m.

Director General, Immigration Program Guidance, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Michael MacDonald

Currently, the department, IRCC, has worked with overseas missions and overseas governments, for example—we just had conversations in the Latin American region—trying to push out an understanding of any pockets of activities by ghost consultants that we or others have picked up, or that clients have informed us about, quite frankly. We found that engaging the foreign governments is actually one of the better ways to try to get them to understand and help us in addressing the ghost consultants. As you no doubt have heard, and we talked about last time, it's that extraterritorial behaviour that is the hardest thing for us to get at. It would be the hardest for any organization to get at.

The question of blacklist again goes back to our very first question, where we talked about a model and what it is you want the model to do. Is it an AMPs and ban regime; is it some type of public display of anyone who has been subject to an AMPs and ban, as we do in other programs across the government? Would that be appropriate? That would be part of an analysis of some of the better ways.

The key, as always, which your question really gets to, is how to make prospective clients and current clients aware. The best way, as we talked about, was through the social media and the public notifications, some of which we already do right now and some of which we heighten during fraud awareness week.

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

Marwan Tabbara Liberal Kitchener South—Hespeler, ON

We talked about education, but what measures would you suggest, in addition to the current ones, to educate all of the potential applicants and refugee claimants about their rights and about the regulations and requirements for consultants?

6:05 p.m.

Director General, Immigration Program Guidance, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Michael MacDonald

What additional measures could be taken? I think there's a host of additional measures. It's not one single measure that will make the best impact. It's going to be a very broad and holistic approach. That's why we keep talking about whether the anti-fraud awareness campaigns going on could be better. Yes, they can. We're trying to find ways, and we are finding ways, to make those better.

Our program changes. Every time we change a program, every time we change a kit, a guide, or a form, we have to get better at it. What we are getting better at is educating people about what that means, including the very consultants who fill out those forms. Again, improving the complaints and discipline process sends a pretty strong message. I think it does enhance public trust when swift action is taken on individuals.

We also are trying to find better ways to encourage clients. For those people who we find out have been negatively impacted—and this is in the domestic as well as the overseas context—we are trying to find better ways of reaching out to them and making sure that they know they have avenues of redress they can take and that they will not be punished, because that is a concern of a lot of the clients.

Also, it's sharing the gaps and the awareness of trends. There are certain pockets of the world where we see different behaviours with the problems of ghost consultants, and, quite frankly, even how applicants are understanding our forms, our kits, and our guides, so we try to respond to those trends.

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Borys Wrzesnewskyj

Thank you.

Ms. Rempel, you have five minutes, please.