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

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Salma Zahid

Ms. Kwan, you can start again.

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Thank you, Madam Chair. I hope I get extra time for this.

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Salma Zahid

Yes, we will provide that to you.

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Thank you.

My question was about the one-year window of opportunity for refugee claimants. They submitted their application and it has been in process for more than a year now. With the December deadline coming up, they're very worried that the application will be rejected because it has not yet been processed. I just want assurance that their application would not be rejected because of the deadline.

1:15 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Operations, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Daniel Mills

Madam Chair, at this time, no applications will be rejected as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We're currently looking at various options to ensure that the applications continue to be processed without delay and without affecting the applicant.

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Maybe I'll follow up with the officials on this case and with the minister's office. This family actually submitted the application back in March of 2019, and it's still in process. This year's December deadline is coming up, so it's very worrying for them. I'm not sure if the delay has to do with COVID or something else. The application was submitted last year.

1:15 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Catrina Tapley

We would be happy to look into that.

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Thank you very much.

Madam Chair, I'll go on to another issue. This is an ongoing question I've been asking about exempting emergency benefits for people with immigration processes in place so that they would not be penalized for financial inadmissibility because of the support they're getting through the emergency benefits, aside from CERB.

The minister indicated that people would not be penalized for receiving CERB. I have not been able to get a response from the government or the minister to ensure that if individuals receive other emergency benefits, they would also be exempt from penalty as a result of COVID-19. Can I get confirmation from the deputy minister now, please?

1:15 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Catrina Tapley

Madam Chair, for the purpose of family sponsorship, the Canada emergency response benefit—

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Sorry, I'm just going to interrupt for one second. It's not just for family sponsorship but for all individuals who have an immigration process in place.

1:15 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Catrina Tapley

We do not consider the Canada emergency response benefit social assistance for any of our programs. For some programs, sponsors have to meet a minimum income threshold, and that's still expected of them, but no, we do not consider these benefits to be social assistance.

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Sorry, it's not just for CERB but for all government emergency benefits.

1:20 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Catrina Tapley

We're happy to get back again on this, but that is how we treat government response benefits.

Marian Campbell Jarvis, did you want to add anything to that?

June 17th, 2020 / 1:20 p.m.

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

Yes. I think it would be helpful to know if there were particular benefits that Ms. Kwan was concerned about. The CERB has obviously been the focal point, and a few other benefits that Minister Qualtrough has—

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Madam Chair, on a point of order, I can't really make out the answer. I'm sorry.

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Salma Zahid

I will stop the clock.

Can you please repeat that? There is some disturbance coming through.

1:20 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Catrina Tapley

Perhaps I can.

If there are particular benefits that the honourable member is worried about, we're happy to track down those particular benefits. However, the benefits that we have looked at that are being provided under the current situation by the government would not affect our immigration programs.

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Okay. Then it would not be impacted by any government emergency support, whether provincial or federal.

1:20 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Catrina Tapley

I think we would have to get back to you on provincial benefits. It would depend on the nature of some of the provincial benefits, but for federal benefits, no, they do not have an effect. We do not treat them as social assistance.

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Okay.

Could I get confirmation on the provincial benefits? For example, in British Columbia, some people get a hydro benefit and some people get a rent supplement because of COVID. Those supports are all individualized from province to province. I just want to make sure that people will not be penalized for that.

I will go on to the question about urgent processing.

The government indicates on the website that it will be proceeding with urgent processing of five business days. However, I've had cases brought to my attention in which people have gone far beyond the five business days. This is deeply concerning for individuals who are stuck in a situation, faced with an abusive employer, yet their application for urgent processing is not being processed within five days.

Could I get a comment on that? How can we ensure that those individuals are protected?

1:20 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Catrina Tapley

The honourable member is right to raise this point. We are looking hard at those provisions for vulnerable workers and trying to make sure that those time frames are brought down.

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Concerning biometrics, on the government's website, it indicates that there is a provision whereby an automatic extension of 90 days can be granted to submit biometrics, instead of the 30 days, but this is discretionary.

Is there a reason that this measure is not applied unilaterally so that people can, in fact, have their automatic extension for 90 days?

1:20 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Catrina Tapley

I believe that an extension is automatic for the 90 days.

Dan, do you want to comment on that?

1:20 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Operations, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Daniel Mills

Yes, thank you. The 90-day extension—

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Salma Zahid

Sorry, I have to stop you here. The interpreter is having a problem hearing, so we'll just have to hold on.