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

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

You're seeing a rare moment of unanimity in this committee. I echo the sentiments most of my colleagues have made. The issues that were broadly touched upon in the testimony that we heard were significant issues within the IRCC governance and the board, issues with regulated consultants themselves, the ability to, as Mr. Tabbara was saying, go after ghost consultants, and also a lot of questions on why consultants are in high demand right now, linking back to some of the recommendations that came up with client modernization. The fact that there is a lack of transparency or perceived lack of transparency and ease in the application process basically creates an industry.

I've been giving some thought to this. We're essentially asking, how do we regulate a body like the Canadian Dental Association or another regulatory body? The reality is, this is a group of people who provide services to navigate a governmental process, so it's a little bit different from other professional services organizations. In that, where I'd like to echo some of the comments that my colleagues have made, I think we're in agreement that the current system is severely broken.

I'd like to get your feedback on this. To me there's a significant lack of direct accountability and reporting mechanisms. They're just not clear, right? As parliamentarians, it's very difficult for us to understand why and how certain review mechanisms aren't happening. I think we're kind of at the spot where we believe that the government and the department has to take a more direct role, and the ICCRC in its current format is not particularly functional and perhaps can never be particularly functional.

I think we're at the point where we completely dismantle this organization—that's our recommendation—because of the abysmal testimony that we've heard in the last several meetings, or we significant tighten and clarify legislation that provides the department with more accountability and responsibility in oversight of some of these gaps.

I guess what we're asking you is what's easier, but, more importantly, what's more effective? I was talking to some of my Liberal colleagues. I think this is the third or the fourth study that's happened on this. You have to realize that, as members of Parliament, we're the front line. Our offices are the front lines on these issues.

I don't want to be sitting here in two years looking at this again. As a department, you have your one minute now to say what is more effective, not what's easier for departmental officials, but what's better for the people who are being defrauded and affected by this. Is it having direct accountability with oversight within the department, where the department can look at things like perhaps more transparency or more mechanisms to make the application process easier, or is it a significantly tightened up regulatory framework with a heightened departmental oversight over some sort of existing model? What's more effective? You can speak to cost as well, but I think that's where this committee is at in terms of recommendations right now. It cannot continue unabated.

6:10 p.m.

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

Michael MacDonald

I think at this point in time, Chair, there is a model that exists, which is enshrined in legislation and regulation. We do feel that there is more movement and progress that can be made in the current model. That's what exists today.

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

What does that mean?

6:10 p.m.

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

Michael MacDonald

That is where we're operating. The ICCRC exists under the not-for-profits. Any changes, as Mr. Cashaback noted—

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

So what are those specific improvement points?

6:10 p.m.

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

Michael MacDonald

The specific improvements points could be, for example—and I had conversations with them on this two weeks ago—having direct accountability, addressing whether there are options for more robust accounting from the organization out to the public, out to their members. We feel that there is a lot more space for improvement in terms of their complaints and discipline process.

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

I'm not trying to be combative here, but my concern is that what we've established here, even with that, is that they're acting as a dysfunctional middleman.

If we do go down that route, is the department going to spend a lot of time and resources babysitting a dysfunctional group that's not actually going to deliver?

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Borys Wrzesnewskyj

You have ten seconds.

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Do you really think there's any way—and, if so, what is it?—that the ICCRC can be saved? I think a lot of us around this table have a feeling that the answer is no.

May 29th, 2017 / 6:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Borys Wrzesnewskyj

Could we have a brief response, please?

6:10 p.m.

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

Michael MacDonald

Mr. Chair, in the current legislative framework, we are 100% committed to making the organization the best it can be, and we'll continue to do that.

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Borys Wrzesnewskyj

Thank you.

Mr. McDonald, go ahead for five minutes, please.

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ken McDonald Liberal Avalon, NL

I defer to Ms. Dzerowicz.

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

Thank you.

I will continue on from Ms. Rempel's questioning. Should there be a recommendation from us to replace ICCRC with a government-regulated body? What would be the minimum timing needed for transition? What would be the logistical and practical considerations to consider in making the recommendation?

6:10 p.m.

Director, Immigration Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

David Cashaback

In a way, it's a bit premature for us to give the committee a sense of the timing. Going back to some of Mr. MacDonald's answers, it would depend on the scope of what it is that you and the government decide this organization would do, whether it's setting standards for entry, setting specific rules, or giving a new body specific enforcement and/or investigative powers, and what kind of machinery changes those things would require.

In any event, with changes in this area, there would very likely be legislative and regulatory changes. With regard to the time frame, it's hard to say how long those steps would take to complete.

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Cashaback, I think what we're basically saying is, if we decide that we're going to recommend that ICCRC be replaced with a government-regulated body, once we make that recommendation and start moving forward, we want to also be very thoughtful about what other recommendations we might need to make, in terms of timing, and in terms of making sure that what needs to continue to exist does, while we're actually considering what those regulations should be, and what the new framework should be, and we're trying to make sure that we put something proper in place. I think you get a very strong feeling that we don't feel that what has been proposed has worked. There have been a number of different iterations on this for a number of years.

We're trying to be as thorough as possible in our own recommendations. While we're not expecting you to say, “Here are all the regulations that need to change”, we'd love a little bit of feedback, because typically we need a one-year period to be able to come up with a new framework or some sort of transition. What we're kind of looking for at this point is, “Here are some other elements you might need to think about in your recommendations in terms of replacing what currently exists with a government-regulated body.”

If anybody can respond to that, I would be grateful.

6:15 p.m.

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

Michael MacDonald

Chair, to partly respond to that, we can look at a model that exists already in Australia. For example, I think a great starting point is to look at how it has approached it such that the body seems to have more of an ability to influence how that sector behaves and what the regulators do, for example, by a strict code of conduct. One could look a having stricter parameters about what is appropriate and what is not appropriate. Registration and education requirements would have to be a part of that as well.

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

Can I just stop you for one minute, Mr. MacDonald?

To my mind, if we went out with a recommendation that says we'd like to replace ICCRC with a government-regulated body, what we don't want to do is to cause confusion in the industry. That's what we're trying to do, to ask what else we need to do. Should we also say that what exists right now will exist for the next two years until we contemplate what might be a good body? That's kind of what I'm looking for—some elements we need to consider in making that recommendation.

6:15 p.m.

Director, Immigration Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

David Cashaback

In the model as it currently stands, there is a regulatory authority we introduced in 2011; the minister's authority to designate the institution. In any transition, were the government to change its path, at the very least there would need to be a decision to change that regulatory framework, and in that case a decision to de-designate the current regulated body. From a transitional perspective we have an instrument that would stay in effect.

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

Stay in place until we make the change. Okay. I don't have any other questions unless my colleagues do. Anybody else?

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Borys Wrzesnewskyj

I would like to thank the department's officials for coming before the committee once again.

With that we will suspend for a minute, and we'll ask the room to clear so we can go in camera.

[Proceedings continue in camera]