Evidence of meeting #6 for Citizenship and Immigration in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was applications.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Hughes St-Pierre  Assistant Deputy Minister, Chief Financial Officer and Comptroller, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
Catrina Tapley  Deputy Minister, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
Daniel Mills  Assistant Deputy Minister, Operations, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
Marian Campbell Jarvis  Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

1:30 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Catrina Tapley

Oh. Thank you for that. Sorry.

We have implemented a number of measures for overseas visa processing. I'll speak first about seasonal agricultural workers and a number of the things we've done to ensure their safe passage to Canada.

The first area is biometrics. For many people who are coming, we have their biometrics on file, so that's not an issue. For those for whom biometrics is an issue, we work with our colleagues at the Canada Border Services Agency to make sure that those biometrics can be collected at the port of entry.

There have been a couple of other instances in which we have been unable to attach a visa to their passport. As many members know, we physically attach a foil. We have found a good accommodation in some cases by being able to do that electronically, which I think is good news. It speaks to a direction we might like to go in the future. Those have been really important advancements for us.

A lot of the accommodations have been around extending work permits and implied status. It's been really important for people who are here to make sure they're able to continue to work and to find other opportunities when they've been unemployed, and to do that as quickly as possible. The largest of those accommodations has been for those with closed work permits. Enabling them to move to other occupations, and to do that with implied status in between, has been a really good advancement.

Finally, with regard to students, students are normally allowed to work 20 hours a week while they're in class. On summer break periods or other break periods, they're allowed to work as much as they like. The 20-hour-a-week rule was particularly difficult for those in essential services, so we've relaxed that rule during this period.

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Salma Zahid

Thank you. The time is up.

We will move to Mr. Hallan. Mr. Hallan, you have five minutes.

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Jasraj Singh Hallan Conservative Calgary Forest Lawn, AB

I'll be splitting my time with Mr. Kent.

How has COVID-19 impacted the processing times for the partner and child sponsorship program, the parents and grandparents sponsorship program, and permanent residency applications?

1:35 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Catrina Tapley

COVID-19 has impacted our processing times quite differently, depending on the lines of business.

For many in the temporary foreign worker lines of business, our processing times have actually improved during this period. For other parts of our application process, particularly those that are digital, we've seen improvements. However, for those that are paper-based, such as parents and grandparents and spousal applications, that is not the case. For those we've seen some further delays.

We are looking at the means by which we can address this. Part of it will involve physically moving our people back into the work site. We have started to do that in some of our case processing centres, where people can have access to those paper files, so that we can deal with some of the issues around wait times.

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Jasraj Singh Hallan Conservative Calgary Forest Lawn, AB

What are some of the anticipated processing times once the border restrictions ease?

1:35 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Catrina Tapley

Once the border restrictions ease, we'll go back to our normal processing times, we hope, or back to our service standards, and make sure that processing happens within service standards.

Again, it will be different depending on the type of application. For students, when we've gone to student direct application, such as in India or China, we hope to have those applications back down to two weeks and three weeks. Those are all electronic applications, and ditto on some of the temporary resident visas, when we do those.

In other areas we'll be putting on a much bigger push to get those down within the service standards, which differ by immigration category.

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Jasraj Singh Hallan Conservative Calgary Forest Lawn, AB

We know there are fewer permanent residents this year coming in, but overall, how is the department preparing for the potential influx of migration when the border restrictions ease?

1:35 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Catrina Tapley

I think there are really two or three parts to this question.

The first is preparing ourselves for additional applications that will come in. Mr. Kent had part of that question in his question. We're looking at our IT systems and being able to accommodate additional applications that might come in.

The second part is what we do as a welcoming society. We're making sure that we're working closely with settlement agencies and that such agencies have resources and are well equipped to begin to welcome people. We're making sure that we work with them on what may be a tighter labour market when people come in. We've worked hard to make sure that settlement agencies have good PPE and that there are good accommodations and good workforce practices around the distancing that will have to happen. Those are important elements of our program.

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Thank you, Deputy. I have a brief question here.

Last year Canada assigned members of the standing rapid deployment group to our mission in Hong Kong to assist the mission and Canadian citizens there in the territory. Can you tell us if that team is in place in Hong Kong today?

1:40 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Catrina Tapley

From an immigration side, I would have to get back to you on that question. Sorry.

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Okay. It would be good if you could assist us.

Chair, how much time is do we have?

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Salma Zahid

You have 40 seconds.

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

I have another fairly brief question, Deputy.

I understand the express entry system has remained operational, although the candidate ranking score requirements have been dropped significantly.

I'd like to ask if you are still trying to achieve 2020 intake targets. Are we lowering standards, given that for the provincial nominee program, the minimum CRS—the candidate ranking score—is almost twice as high?

1:40 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Catrina Tapley

Thanks for that question on express entry. It is great news that we have been able to continue the draws. This system is digitally based, electronics-based, and has continued to work really well throughout this process.

The honourable member is right to point out that we have had a slight drop in the score on invitations to apply. I have to point out that these scores represent really high human capital. The shift we've seen from what's been in the 470s down to 452—sorry to be too technical—I think is really good news for a lot of the applicants who are in the pool, including students.

Just to be clear, people coming through with slightly lower scores—

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Salma Zahid

We have to end here.

1:40 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Salma Zahid

Sorry for that. Maybe someone else can raise that in their question. Sorry, Mr. Kent.

Now we will move on to Mrs. Shanahan for five minutes.

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Brenda Shanahan Liberal Châteauguay—Lacolle, QC

Thank you, Chair.

Perhaps I can give a moment to the deputy to continue her answer.

I will be sharing my time with Mr. Serré.

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Salma Zahid

Okay.

June 17th, 2020 / 1:40 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Catrina Tapley

I'll be very brief.

A score of 452 still represents exceptionally high language capability, really high education, likely a master's degree or a professional degree, and really good links to Canada, so it still represents exceptionally high human capital.

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Brenda Shanahan Liberal Châteauguay—Lacolle, QC

Thank you for that answer.

Chair, I'd like to switch gears a bit and ask about something that came out of the budget implementation act of 2019, which is legislation around the establishment of a new college of immigration and citizenship consultants.

I think all of us around the table have had experiences in this area. I've heard stories about immigration consultants who can run the gamut from very reputable to not so much. I'd like the deputy to give us an update on the status of the college of immigration and citizenship consultants.

1:40 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Catrina Tapley

I think Ms. Campbell Jarvis might actually be in the better place to answer that, or I'll take it.

Marian, could you comment?

1:40 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Marian Campbell Jarvis

As the minister noted in his remarks earlier this morning, the next steps are [Technical difficulty—Editor] and how the college proceeds with its bylaws. That would be [Technical difficulty—Editor]

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Salma Zahid

I'm sorry. I have to stop the clock here. The interpreters cannot hear the voice clearly.

1:40 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Catrina Tapley

I'll take it, Madam Chair.