Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you, colleagues.
I'm glad to be here today to discuss my department's 2017-18 supplementary estimates (B). Joining me here today are some of my officials from IRCC, including deputy minister Marta Morgan, as well as the department's assistant deputy ministers.
I will make some brief introductory remarks in order to describe the highlights of the 2017-2018 supplementary estimates (B).
After this brief statement, my colleagues and I will be happy to answer your questions.
Mr. Chair, the 2017-18 supplementary estimates (B) include a net increase of $83.9 million in resources for a number of different items.
Last year our government was proud to restore interim federal health program coverage for all beneficiaries, ensuring that all refugees and refugee claimants can access services based on their health needs. The interim federal health program provides limited temporary coverage of health care benefits to resettled refugees, asylum seekers, and certain other groups, including victims of human trafficking and individuals who have been detained under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
The interim federal health program is also important for humanitarian reasons, because it provides access to basic health care for extremely vulnerable individuals. It's important for practical reasons. We know that if individuals' health concerns aren't addressed early on, they end up costing society a lot more to treat down the road. This program is vital for newcomers themselves, as well as for protecting the public health of our communities.
The supplementary estimates include $53 million in funding for this program, reflecting resources required for eligible recipients, including asylum seekers.
Mr. Chair, in June 2014, changes to the temporary foreign worker program were announced that limited access to the program, tightened the labour market impact assessment regime, and introduced enforcement with penalties for employers who don't comply.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is responsible for the international mobility program. This program was created for those foreign workers who aren't subject to a labour market impact assessment as part of international agreements or special arrangements. The 2017-18 supplementary estimates (B) include $34.2 million in funding to continue to implement these reforms to the temporary foreign worker program and the international mobility program. This includes $28.7 million in operating expenses and an additional $4.6 million in capital expenditures for internal system enhancements to support compliance investigations. These funds will allow us to strengthen investigative and enforcement actions against employers, which will help us to better protect temporary workers while ensuring that the program meets its objectives.
Mr. Chair, Canadians are proud of our country's long-standing humanitarian traditions, which include offering protection to people around the world facing persecution. Our asylum system is a great example of that tradition, and we must always ensure that it is operating in an effective and efficient manner and that it is protected from abuse. With that in mind, the 2017-18 supplementary estimates (B) also include $4.4 million in funding to strengthen the process for claiming asylum in Canada in order to deter potential abuse by claimants and to safeguard the integrity of Canada's refugee protection system.
Another important activity of my department is ensuring the integration of newcomers to Canada. We believe that ensuring that newcomers can succeed in Canada is critical to our own country's future. That is why we invest significant resources in services to help settle and integrate newcomers and work towards enabling them to become active members of our communities and contributors to Canada's society and economy.
The 2017-18 supplementary estimates (B) include $1 million in funding for an advertising program aimed at increasing awareness of the programs and services that the government offers to help newcomers integrate and succeed in Canada. The advertised programs and services include those for language skills training, labour market access, and welcoming communities, among others.
Mr. Chair, the 2017-18 supplementary estimates (B) also include $2.7 million in statutory adjustments for employee benefit plans related to the salary component of funding to the temporary foreign worker program and the international mobility program, and for strengthening the process for claiming asylum in Canada. As well, the estimates include a $9.5-million decrease related to the transfer of operating budget to Global Affairs Canada in order to support departmental staff in missions abroad. They also include a number of internal transfers totalling $5.1 million to support capital investments. These internal transfers have a net effect of zero dollars in terms of new resources.
Mr. Chair, our government is committed to an immigration system that supports Canada's diversity and helps grow our economy as well as strengthen our society. We're also committed to ensuring that the immigration system is balanced among compassion, efficiency, and economic opportunity for all, while protecting the health, safety, and security of all Canadians.
These commitments are reflected in everything that we do, including the activities that I have discussed with you today in reference to our 2017-18 supplementary estimates (B).
Thank you very much.
I will be happy to answer any questions committee members may have.