Evidence of meeting #88 for Justice and Human Rights in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was trafficking.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Yvan Clermont  Director, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Statistics Canada
Natasha Kim  Director General, Immigration Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
Philippe Massé  Director General, Temporary Foreign Worker Directorate, Skills and Employment Branch, Department of Employment and Social Development
Kathy AuCoin  Chief, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Statistics Canada
Bruce Scoffield  Director General, Immigration Program Guidance Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

12:30 p.m.

Director General, Temporary Foreign Worker Directorate, Skills and Employment Branch, Department of Employment and Social Development

Philippe Massé

I would say from the ESDC's perspective, we are mandated to assess the genuineness of employers and verify their ongoing compliance. I think one thing we're assessing the feasibility of in the future is through unannounced inspections. That's something that is still in development. This would provide an opportunity to perhaps uncover some situations that we weren't aware of, but it's still within the realm of our authorities to inspect employers applying for the LMIA in terms of those not subject.

12:30 p.m.

Director General, Immigration Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Natasha Kim

In terms of those who wouldn't be in the system—who hadn't applied for a work permit or an LMIA—they wouldn't fall under the compliance regime. If they're in an underground economy of some kind, that would generally fall either to provinces and territories responsible for workplaces or potentially law enforcement responsible for illegal activity. Really the importance of the work permit and the LMIA approach is that we're able to actually track and hold employers accountable for what they've said they would do when they bring in migrant workers. If they're really outside of the system, that doesn't necessarily fall within our mandate.

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

Ron McKinnon Liberal Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Thank you.

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

You have about two to three minutes.

Mr. Boissonnault.

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

Randy Boissonnault Liberal Edmonton Centre, AB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I have a quick question for Statistics Canada: how creative can we be and how can you advise us to keep our eyes open with NGOs? We'll be meeting them across the country. We faced this in the LGBTQ2 community. We face this as it pertains to indigenous communities and as it pertains to people of colour. How can StatsCan best plug and play with existing datasets and what should we be looking at as we're crossing the country for creative pieces that can plug and play with the systems you have and that you're thinking of developing? That's the first question.

12:30 p.m.

Chief, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Statistics Canada

Kathy AuCoin

It's a great question.

Creatively, we like to exploit existing datasets that others might have, which we can link to other datasets to answer some of those research questions. Ideally, as Mr. Clermont has noted, with regard to one of the questions about court cases and police cases and how they are being dealt with in the courts, what we've done periodically through a lot of work is link our police data with our court data so we can follow those cases, those victims and accused, through the justice system. The datasets aren't created for those linkages, but we do the job manually. What we would like to do perhaps is to look at offenders and where they are in the systems. Do we see them in hospital data? Are they filing taxes? They are likely not. With regard to victims, if they are domestic, can we find out who they are through ethnicities if NGOs have large datasets? Generally speaking, my understanding is that an NGO is focusing on services to their people as opposed to data collection. That being said, within Statistics Canada we are working with directors of victim services, provincial and territorial, and we often ask about human trafficking cases. Currently, they don't collect that data, but we often ask about it. It's a balancing act.

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Randy Boissonnault Liberal Edmonton Centre, AB

Do we have a sense of the percentage of people who report to the police? This is 350 people in the latest number, but if that's one percent of people who report then we have a really big problem. If it's 80%, we still have a problem, but the quantum is a different order.

12:35 p.m.

Chief, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Statistics Canada

Kathy AuCoin

Again, a great question.

As has been alluded to across the board, victims aren't willing to report for language issues, not understanding that they are a victim, they've been manipulated. Again, is it a retrospective questionnaire that we put out to people asking if in their past they've been a victim of these types of behaviour? Even to ask the term “a victim of human trafficking”, many people wouldn't understand. Conceptually, there are many barriers.

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Randy Boissonnault Liberal Edmonton Centre, AB

There might be some onus on us to break it down and define it as opposed to putting a label on it. Did this happen to you? And then you can self-identify.

I have a quick question for IRCC. What is the threshold that somebody has to get past when they self-identify as having been a victim of one of these offences related to human trafficking so that they can get the TRP? How do you know? How do you vet? How do you decide? How do we know that we're in the high 90s in terms of being right about who we give the visas to?

12:35 p.m.

Bruce Scoffield Director General, Immigration Program Guidance Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

In terms of how we operationalize the issuance of these temporary resident permits, as you've noted, people can self-identify; they can be referred to us by NGOs; or, as is the case for many of the people who come forward, they tend to be referred to us by law enforcement.

In all of these situations, the applicant needs to show us that there are at least indications that they have come to Canada through coercion or through fraud, or that once in Canada they have experienced exploitation, coercion, fraud, forced labour, etc. This initial application is not a very onerous application. We have to have reasonable grounds to believe that there is at least an indication that they meet one of these criteria. In that situation, we will issue—it's non-discretionary—a temporary resident permit, which comes along with access to the interim federal health program and the possibility of an employment offer.

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Randy Boissonnault Liberal Edmonton Centre, AB

So that gets people out of harm's way, and then you can investigate and pursue from their working with authorities.

12:35 p.m.

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

Bruce Scoffield

That's right, and these permits are valid for 180 days.

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Randy Boissonnault Liberal Edmonton Centre, AB

Thank you.

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Thank you very much.

We'll go to short questions now from members of the committee. Can I just ask that to follow up on Mr. Boissonnault's question, Mr. Scoffield, what percentage of people have been applying for the TRP under these grounds receive the TRP?

12:35 p.m.

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

Bruce Scoffield

Generally speaking, it's a very, very high approval rate. Most years, in fact, since this program was instituted, it has been a 100% approval rate.

In 2016, the numbers were a little different. We had a number of people whose applications were withdrawn, and two were rejected for failing to meet that test, so it was a 92% approval rate.

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Who has some short questions?

Monsieur Picard.

February 27th, 2018 / 12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Michel Picard Liberal Montarville, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I have a question about the huge increase in the number of cases. We heard there are 11 times more cases.

Will we collapse under this growing number of cases? To begin, how do you determine if a case has been resolved? On that basis, do you also see that the number of cases being resolved is increasing at the same rate? We need to know if we are keeping pace or are completely overwhelmed. If we are overwhelmed, we will have to take a different approach.

12:35 p.m.

Director, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Statistics Canada

Yvan Clermont

Once again, that is an excellent question.

Although the number of cases of human trafficking is 11 times higher, the number is still not high as for other types of crimes.

As to determining whether a crime has been resolved, according to police definitions, there are two categories: either the case has resulted in charges, which is the rate of filing, or the charges have been heard in court.

The fact remains, however, that the number of cases of human trafficking is not very high compared to other offences, even though it is 11 times higher than before. It is difficult to conclude that this increase is overloading the justice system owing to police investigations, or that it is overloading the courts. We cannot say that because we do not have enough information. However...

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Michel Picard Liberal Montarville, QC

Let us stick with the administrative aspects; that is what I would like to discuss.

I am referring to evaluating the matter from a purely administrative point of view. For the purposes of my question, if the person is removed from their employer and the employer is fined, I would consider that case resolved since we have removed the person from potential human trafficking and have put them in a more positive situation.

From that point of view, do we see things the same way?

12:40 p.m.

Director, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Statistics Canada

Yvan Clermont

We cannot measure that kind of results. The only results we can measure are those related to the criminal justice system, that is, those provided by the police, the courts and correctional services. Outside that system, we cannot determine what percentage of victims of human trafficking are placed elsewhere.

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Michel Picard Liberal Montarville, QC

Has Citizenship and Immigration seen a similar increase in the number of cases?

12:40 p.m.

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

Bruce Scoffield

One of the challenges we face when people come forward asking for a temporary resident permit is that there is not a direct correlation with law enforcement cases. In fact, we see relatively few new applications each year. There were only 26 new applications in 2017.

The simple answer is no, we're not seeing any particular pattern of increase in the number of applicants seeking a temporary resident permit.

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Michel Picard Liberal Montarville, QC

Would the Canada Border Service Agency's entry/exit initiative, which we could used to better control persons entering the country, be a potential solution? In the case of temporary workers, for instance, that would be a way of keeping track of them. If the system says that those people have to leave the country by a certain date, at least we have much more specific information to help us find them.

12:40 p.m.

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

Bruce Scoffield

When entry/exit is in place, which will be in the future, in a few years, it will give us better information about who is coming into the country and who is leaving.

On what happens to those people once they're in the country, entry/exit won't give us—

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Michel Picard Liberal Montarville, QC

No, no.