House of Commons Hansard #99 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was transport.


ImmigrationPrivate Members' Business

5:25 p.m.


Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON


That, in the opinion of this House, the government should ascertain whether current levels of immigration are sustainable in periods of high unemployment and slow economic growth or recession, and if it finds these levels to be unsustainable under such circumstances the government should develop a means of expeditiously adjusting immigration levels in response to economic conditions.

Mr. Speaker, since you have just read the motion I will not read it again. I happen to care very much about the precise wording of the motion. It was worded as carefully as one could in an attempt to hit the target. I would like to explain to the House where the genesis of this motion came from.

Once every four or five years members of this House go back to the people to seek re-election and others to seek election. During that process we have a very healthy experience of meeting the electors and hearing their concerns, not just by telephone or letters but right at their front doors. That is where they tell those seeking re-election and those seeking to be elected for the first time exactly what the score is from the perspective of the voter.

During the 1993 election I was dutifully electioneering in my riding with several other candidates from other parties. At that time we believed we were in the tail end of the recession. Statistically it is fair to say that we were and at least in my riding of Scarborough-Rouge River we were waiting for the economy to spin up again.

Many of my constituents asked me about the levels of immigration. They said if the unemployment rate is 11 per cent now it surprises them that we are taking in more immigrants this year than we did the year before and that the immigration levels are increasing.

My riding is 55 per cent immigrants. It is actually an immigrant receiving community and we are very proud of that. It is a very healthy, vibrant community and that augments our lives there considerably. There was a high level of intake of new Canadians.

A constituent said to me that she sponsored her sister as an immigrant last year. She was accepted recently and she is going to come but this is a terrible time for her to come because she is not going to find a job.

The economy is in such miserable shape around here. The metropolitan Toronto area was hit very hard by the recession and I do not think we have recovered the jobs that we lost four years ago. We are down considerably by 100,000 or 200,000 jobs.

She was expressing concern about the ability of her sister to find a job when she arrived in Scarborough and was suggesting to me, even though she and her sisters were current clients of the immigrant process, that maybe we did not have the timing quite right.

That combined with many other questions put to me at the door caused me to undertake to my constituents that I would raise in the House the question of immigration levels when the economy is not growing, when we have a weak economy. That is why the issue is here. Although the economy has improved somewhat since last year the issue is still a legitimate one.

A year later some events have overtaken the currency of that issue. It is worth pointing out that the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has undertaken a very comprehensive and broad ranging consultation process with a view to establishing a long run, a 10-year plus immigration plan for Canada that will take us into the next millennium. That process has begun and it is continuing. It is comprehensive. Canadians will play a definite part in that and I am looking forward to that process continuing.

There are a number of questions raised in the consultation but I want to note two because they bear relevance to the subject of debate at the moment. Page 10 of the first consultation document it states while there may be increasing concerns about the

number of immigrants coming to Canada there is evidence to suggest that these concerns are linked as much to issues of unemployment and the economy as they are to issues of diversity. That is in the government's own discussion paper.

Another question asked on page 13 is a question not unrelated to the one we are debating here today: should immigration be managed in response to the business cycle or only on the basis of long term social goals?

Right there the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and those who work with him have asked the types of questions that are related to the motion we discuss here today.

Keep in mind that the motion addresses immigration levels in a weak economy; high unemployment and all of the other manifestations of a weak economy. It is clear that the issue has been addressed. At least if it has been addressed, it may not have been answered, but an answer is being sought from Canadians.

Let us use this debate to focus on that particular issue, the issue of immigrations levels in a weak economy, and hopefully make a contribution to the broader consultation now under way.

What are the issues related to this? In a weak economy some Canadians ask, at least the ones I spoke to at the doors did, if we are able to receive as many immigrants in a weak economy as we are in a strong economy. Looking back over the last few years: immigration levels in 1991, 206,000; 1992, 220,000; 1993, 245,000; and the plan for 1994 would have us receive 250,000. There has been an increase and that increase took place at about the same time as the recession sucked the growth out of our economy.

If one was unemployed in Toronto or Scarborough in 1993 during the election campaign and simply took note of an increase of 30,000 or 40,000 people in metropolitan Toronto as immigrants, one might legitimately ask whether their arrival will decrease one's ability to find a job. It is a legitimate question and it is one that I do not think the government has definitively answered. It is a question we ask here today.

There is something else going on here while the question is being asked and if we had 30,000 or 40,000 new Canadians in metro Toronto and they all started looking for jobs I think the unemployment rate would shoot through the roof, but it did not through that period. It went up in the recession but it never did shoot through the roof.

It is clear that the arrival of new Canadians does not per se on a person per person basis directly cause unemployment. Nevertheless, the question I have already acknowledged is a legitimate one.

We can look for the answer perhaps in some economic studies that have been done. There are some related economic studies which show that immigrants can create just about as many jobs as they would take as workers. The suggestion in some of these economic studies is that there is a balance.

When immigration increases, when the people come here to Canada to start new lives, they immediately increase the demand for goods and services. They in effect become a part of the marketplace that generates jobs. I suppose that particular piece of economic news is a good one.

There was a 1991 study by the Economic Council of Canada called Economic and Social Impacts of Immigration which states at page 62 that immigration may influence the incomes and job opportunities of existing residents. It also says the impact of immigration on unemployment is almost certainly negligible, at least over the long term. Even temporary effects seem quite unlikely unless immigration increases very rapidly.

Immigration appeared to be increasing relatively rapidly between 1991, 1992, 1993, but in any event it has at least addressed the issue.

There is another statement in that same study by the Economic Council of Canada which gives its recommendations as an economic advisory body. It recommends that the level of immigration be gradually increased above the average levels of the last 25 years to reach 1 per cent of the population, that is a 1 per cent increase on a gross basis by the year 2015. These levels would be reviewed every five years to verify that the integration of immigrants is being successfully managed.

While Canadians gain economically in terms of per capita income from more immigration, the gain is so small that it did not weigh heavily in our recommendation. Nevertheless, nearly every immigrant more than pays for himself or herself in scale economies and in lighter future tax burdens. These are positive things for our economy.

We note that there is hardly ever an effect on unemployment rates. Nevertheless, at the doors in my constituency the fear was there. It may not be a justifiable fear but Canadians are telling me they are worried about it.

I want to assume that in the discussion here the motion I have placed here is dealing with a period of high unemployment, weak or no economic growth, and a level of high immigration receipt. If you are from a community in Canada that did not have a lot of immigrants coming to it you would not care too much about the motion. You would not care too much about the issue perhaps. However, this is the way my constituents have put this to me.

Research on this subject also shows two earlier studies, 1977, 1982, which tended to suggest that there were materially recognizable costs with immigration.

However, those studies second guessed the methodology and the computer models which were then called TRACE, CANDIDE and RDX2. These are 20-year old economic models which I understand are not used any more. Therefore the results of those studies are certainly in question.

We leave the ascertaining of the economic impacts to the economists. I have referred the House to Economic Council of Canada study in 1991. There was another study done one or two years ago by the Mackenzie Institute. I take note of it because that particular body contributes quite a bit to public policy development in the country. Its conclusions are not always the conclusions that I would come to but they are a contributor.

On page 124 of the Mackenzie Institute study is a quote I want to mention because it was written by a current member of the House, the hon. member for Capilano-Howe Sound. The assessment in that document was that the economic effects of immigration on the welfare of resident Canadians tend to be positive. I wanted to note as clearly as I could that overall the immigration impacts are very positive for Canadians.

I would like to get back to what I think the focus of the House disposition should be. I and my constituents would like the government to ascertain whether high levels of immigration, when the economy is weak, impact negatively on Canadians especially in high immigrant receiving communities. I realize that an answer might not be forthcoming quickly and definitively but that is the issue we seek to have resolved.

If the government finds that it does have a negative impact then it should take steps to alter the immigration levels in a way that would nullify those impacts.

Last, I again want to recognize that the question will be addressed in the current consultation process. I hope that it will be done by the government, by officials in employment and immigration and with the assistance and in consultation with Canadians in a way which will recognize the concern that has been expressed by my constituents and in a way which will permit our immigration act and policies to serve Canadians in the best possible way for the decades to come.

ImmigrationPrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.


Osvaldo Nunez Bloc Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak against motion M-157 tabled by the hon. member for Scarborough-Rouge River.

When I read the motion for the first time I thought it came from a Reform Party MP. However, I was wrong. It comes from a Liberal MP and I am very surprised.

The hon. member wants to know whether current levels of immigration are sustainable in difficult economic times. This motion rests on the premise that immigration interferes with economic prosperity or undermines efforts toward economic recovery.

It seems to me that what the hon. member from the Liberal Party is suggesting is right along the lines of the longstanding Reform Party immigration policy to drastically reduce the number of immigrants admitted to Canada. The unemployment rate is not tied to the number of immigrants Canada welcomes. The economic crisis and resulting unemployment have much deeper causes. Let me quote figures for a few years. In 1991, while the unemployment rate in Canada was 10.3 per cent, having soared a full two points in one year, immigration levels were decreased by 7,813. On the other hand, from 1992 to 1993, while the average rate of unemployment remained more or less the same and extremely high in Canada, immigration levels were increased by 25,023.

As the hon. member indicated, the unemployment rate is dropping slightly these days. There certainly does not seems to have been any correlation between the levels of unemployment and immigration for a very long time. As a matter of fact, it should be pointed out that British Columbia is currently the province with the highest growth rate in Canada. British Columbia welcomes the highest number of immigrants to Canada in proportion to its population.

Mr. Speaker, in Vancouver last July, I saw the vitality and dynamism injected by ethnic communities and new arrivals in that province's economy. I noted in particular the dynamism and contribution of the Asian community. I want to pay tribute to this very dynamic and lively community that has settled in Canada, particularly in Vancouver and British Columbia.

The hon. member quotes figures from studies by the Economic Council of Canada which, in fact, contradict what he is trying to prove today in this House. Many Canadians fear that too many refugees and immigrants are dependent on social assistance. But, according to the statistics, the truth is that immigrants, including refugees, rely less on social assistance and unemployment insurance than native-born Canadians.

So far, immigrants have brought more to Canada than they received by creating jobs, increasing the demand for consumer goods and housing and paying taxes.drastically

These facts have been confirmed in a recent study by Dr. Morton Beiser, a professor at the University of Toronto. He showed that only 8 per cent of the 1,300 refugees from Southeast Asia who were interviewed did not work in 1991, when Canada's unemployment rate rose to 10.3 per cent. One out of five had set up their own business. The study also found that 4.5 per cent of refugees collected welfare benefits compared with 7 per cent of all Canadians. My colleagues from the Reform Party should keep this in mind.

In any case, the member for Scarborough-Rouge River should not be too concerned, because Canada will not take in the 250,000 immigrants planned for 1994. Indeed, in the first half of this year, far fewer immigrants have come to this country than in the same period in 1993. Probably the total figure will not exceed 200,000 for 1994. The Liberal Party's program would increase immigration by 1 per cent a year, but the 250,000 immigrants that Canada should receive in 1994 are only 0.86 per cent of Canada's population.

We look forward to the document on immigration levels for the coming years which the minister is to table before November 1. At that time, the minister should provide us with all the studies and results of the consultations carried on in recent months.

I think that the Standing Committee on Immigration and Citizenship could then conduct a thorough study of this issue.

Any immigration policy must in the first place consider demographic factors. Currently most considerations are based on economics. One of the factors that has this last year justified higher immigration levels is the increasing preoccupation of many Canadians regarding the demographic decline in Canada for the coming years.

The projections indicate that if immigration numbers and birth rates do not increase then Canadians will be faced with a reduction in their numbers. Studies show that post-industrial nations will have a birth rate between 1.4 and 1.7 per cent. However, a rate of 2.1 per cent is necessary only to maintain the current population numbers. This difference must consequently be adjusted by the immigration policy.

In addition we must take into consideration the ages of the Canadian population. Young immigrants are needed to work and finance our social security system.

Finally, there is an increasing number of countries that find themselves in conflict situations. There are more than 100 million refugees in the world. Canada has a moral duty to do its share in solving this problem by welcoming refugees into our country.

The motion tabled by the hon. member for Scarborough-Rouge River is totally opposed to his own party's policies, the Liberal Party of Canada, as they are worded in that red book which the Prime Minister and the members opposite often quote as though it was the Bible. As I said, increasing immigration levels so as to reach one per cent of the Canadian population is a promise made in that red book.

The hon. member's motion is a barely veiled and disguised criticism of his party's policy. He told us that immigrants account for 55 per cent of the population in his riding of Scarborough-Rouge River. I think those people will not be very proud of their member of Parliament today, since he is squarely in favour of lowering immigration levels. In any case, let me tell you that, as a member of Parliament who came here as an immigrant, I am not proud of the member's motion. For all these reasons, the Bloc Quebecois opposes the motion.

ImmigrationPrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.


Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to address this reasonable motion. It is only a shame that this motion did not originate with the government. It seems that the government has a great deal to learn, at least as far as immigration policy is concerned, from its own backbenchers and especially from my hon. colleague, the author of this motion.

The fact that a motion like this even requires debate and is not already government policy is a reflection of the power that special interests have exercised and continue to exercise on government policy.

We currently have an immigration policy as outlined in the Liberal red book that is literally based on nothing. This government is allowing nearly 1 per cent of the population to come into the country this year as immigrants; 250,000 immigrants. At the same time Canada is experiencing a level of unemployment that is denying jobs to 1.5 million people.

The government can offer no rationale for this level of immigration. It is not derived from economic research, since the experts are agreed that immigration does not add to the wealth of Canada. Over the long term economic forecasts suggest that our current levels will actually lower the average income of all Canadians. There is no evidence that immigrants create more jobs than they take. At best the job and wealth creating effects of immigration are neutral.

There are data to back up arguments for restricting immigration during times of recession. There are data that clearly suggest that immigration should be tied to the economy. Moreover, it is only common sense that immigration should serve one primary role, to supplement our labour force to strengthen the economy and contribute to Canada's economic growth. That is not the agenda of this government at present and that is not the agenda of the immigration industry.

There is no question that immigration could be made to work in the interests of the economy and the interests of Canadians. There is a simple recipe for success. That recipe is to cut the numbers of immigrants, especially during hard times such as the one that we are currently facing and ensure that immigrants who come into Canada are chosen for their ability to quickly and successfully integrate into the economy and to make an immediate contribution.

The way that we can do that is to ensure that the bulk of immigrants come in under the point system. Currently however only 15 per cent of immigrants come in this way. The rest are family class and refugees.

Over the summer a poll was conducted by the immigration association. One of the questions that was put to over 1,000 people across the country is the following: "Would you approve or disapprove of a proposal to place restrictions on the entry of immigrants who may compete with unemployed Canadians during times of high unemployment in the country?" The answer to that question was an overwhelming yes. Canadians would approve of restricting immigration levels if it was determined that the job market could not accommodate newcomers. Sixty-seven per cent of Canadians approved. In political terms that is an overwhelming majority.

That is not the only poll around. Earlier in the year the department of immigration commissioned the EKOS polling firm to survey Canadians on their feelings toward immigration policy. In this poll a majority of Canadians surveyed said that there were too many immigrants coming into Canada, period. That is very revealing.

Canadians have always been among the most accepting people on earth. We have welcomed newcomers and believed that there was a place in Canada for them where they could contribute, where they could stake out a place and become productive members of society.

Now the majority are saying: "Let's tighten up. Let's shut the doors", and many of them are immigrants themselves. Frankly there is little wonder that this sort of reaction is occurring. Officials from EKOS have told me that there is a direct correlation between the state of the economy and the desire of Canadians to limit immigration.

They also inform me that this level of discontent with immigration levels was unprecedented. Some spin doctors call the results of the EKOS poll intolerance. It is nothing of the sort. It is a logical reaction to a strain on Canada's economy and that strain while apparently unnoticed by officials in the department of immigration and by the minister himself is being felt by Canadians who are on the streets competing for jobs.

Canadians it seems have again demonstrated that they know more about the consequences of policy than do the policymakers. What Canadians want is an immigration policy that works for them. Canadians are not intolerant.

This government and those in the immigration industry should bear in mind that when they call those who are opposed to current levels of immigration intolerant that they are indicating a sizeable majority of the population. Are we to believe that the majority of Canadians are intolerant? Absolutely not. They simply want change. They simply want an immigration policy that makes sense. They want an immigration policy that first and foremost ties immigration levels to the state of the economy in a real way, in a substantial way. Immigration can work in the interest of the economy.

Tying immigration to the state of the economy would be so simple and the benefits would be immediate and would be profound.

This minister and this government refuse to consider it. This minister and this government are at the beck and call of a small group of immigration lawyers, immigration and refugee advocates and government funded ethnic leaders who have a monetary stake in ensuring that immigration levels are maintained at the current level or even raised. If anyone doubts that the immigration industry has the ear of the current minister, they need only look at this minister's appointment to the Immigration and Refugee Board. That will give a clear picture of who is calling the shots.

It is time to take immigration back from special interests. It is time to put the direction of immigration policy into the hands of Canadians. They should be consulted. It is time to do precisely what this motion demands. It is unfortunate that it is not a votable motion. It only makes sense. I surely hope that this minister listens to what the Reform Party along with the majority of Canadians have been calling for for some time.

I hope the minister will look at the intent of the motion and recognize that it reflects Reform Party policy and the will of the majority of Canadians. I hope this minister does what is right and reduces immigration levels until Canada pulls itself out of this recession. I hope this minister does what is good for Canada. I am afraid he has not done this so far.

I applaud my hon. colleague for his common sense and for the courage to table a motion that flies in the face of policies that his own party has generated up until now.

ImmigrationPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.


Eleni Bakopanos Liberal Saint-Denis, QC

Mr. Speaker, the motion before us today gives me an opportunity to outline for the hon. member some of the many initiatives this government is involved in to help newcomers to Canada settle in this country and quickly become effective, contributing Canadians and not a drain on our economy.

I wish to emphasize the importance of our settlement programs within this equation which assist immigrants integrating into Canadian society quickly.

People who come to this country are not set adrift once they arrive. They do not have to fend for themselves in a strange country. Immigrants long ago had few resources available to them but today we realize that providing initial assistance can quickly translate into independence for the newcomer to this country.

The Department of Citizenship and Immigration is involved in a series of joint projects with non-governmental organizations, centres for social services and other levels of government. For instance, we are involved in co-operative enterprises through our Immigrant Settlement and Adaptation Program and our Settlement Language Training Program.

In 1992, for instance, the federal government provided a total of $277,000 in funding for projects to promote immigrant settlement, and we know that is money well spent.

The reception services point the newcomers to other settlement and integration programs we have in place and by promoting the many settlement services offered by governments and community organizations we acquaint newcomers with the programs they can tap into as they integrate into Canada.

According to our reports this has eased the anxieties of many newcomers about the problems of successfully settling here.

These programs are not frills but an investment that is vital to the well-being of new immigrants. We see them as more than just projects. These programs are a way to work together with people who are deeply committed to the integration of immigrants in our society.

I repeat, these projects are an investment that is vital to the well-being of new immigrants in this country. By working with community organizations across the country, we manage to involve all immigrants in every aspect of Canadian life.

This kind of work is essential to help people who are often very vulnerable. It is money well spent, because this is a hands-on way to give people support and help them become independent. We have been very successful with these programs in Quebec, where I know the situation very well, and across Canada. Most refugees who participated in our settlement programs have managed to integrate remarkably well into their new communities in Quebec and across Canada.

It is the programs that help us build a multicultural society.

The motion before us implies that immigrants have a difficult time adapting to Canada and hence they are a drag on our society. I would suggest otherwise. I would suggest that our settlement programs are doing their job. They are helping new people adapt and integrate into a complex and dynamic country. In so doing they are helping to build and maintain a vibrant society that the United Nations told us not once but twice was the envy of the world.

Throughout our history immigration and nation building have gone hand in hand. Immigration has helped us to define a vision of a tolerant, caring and generous society. Today our immigration policy reflects these very ideals. To adopt the motion before us would diminish our success in immigration and refugee matters.

Canada is also a respected world leader because we offer new life for refugees. In fact international agencies rank Canada's refugee program among the most generous in the world. Our per capita acceptance of refugees places us at the top of the list.

My riding of Saint-Denis is made up of refugees and immigrants. Most are hard working and most contribute socially, economically and culturally to my riding and to the country. We have talked a lot about studies in the Chamber. A study was done by the Council for Cultural Communities and Immigration of Quebec, of which I had the honour to be vice-president. It was proven that in a very short period, in fact 20 weeks, most refugees or immigrants had found one job and sometimes had found two. They are working and contributing economically to the betterment of our society, to the betterment of our economy.

They do not, as some say, steal our jobs. They create jobs. They employ people. The hon. member for Scarborough-Rouge River cited certain studies that said immigration impacts were very positive.

We have examples in the Chamber. We have examples of Canadians or children of immigrants who have contributed economically, socially, culturally and even politically to Canada. I would like the hon. member and the Chamber to take those facts into consideration.

ImmigrationPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.


Lee Morrison Reform Swift Current—Maple Creek—Assiniboia, SK

Mr. Speaker, I was struck by the initial part of the intervention of the hon. member for Saint-Denis.

ImmigrationPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Order. Through this period of business there are no questions or comments. Unless I am mistaken, I would like to remind members they must be in their seats to be recognized by the Chair.

There being no further members rising for debate and the motion not being designated as a votable item, the time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired and the order is dropped from the Order Paper pursuant to Standing Order 96(1).

ImmigrationPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Shall I suspend the sitting of the House to either 6.30 or until the members who are to take part in the adjournment debate are present?

ImmigrationPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

Some hon. members


(The sitting of the House was suspended at 6.13 p.m.)

The House resumed at 6.27 p.m.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

ImmigrationAdjournment Proceedings

6:05 p.m.


Osvaldo Nunez Bloc Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, on June 16, I asked the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration a question regarding the fact that immigration officers were requiring from refugees whose status has been recognized by the Immigration and Refugee Board a passport from their country of origin. If these refugees could not produce a passport, they were asked to contact their embassy or consulate to apply for one in order for the authorities to review their application for permanent resident status. This practice varies depending on the immigration office and the rules are applied in a totally arbitrary fashion.

This requirement can jeopardize the safety of those people and that of their families in their country of origin. It is sometimes very difficult if not impossible for a refugee to obtain such documents. I hope to get a complete and adequate answer regarding that issue today.

I also take this opportunity to denounce the setting up of the claims processing centre in Vegreville, Alberta, which is a total flop. The decision made by the Conservatives and confirmed by the Liberals to centralize the processing of claims far from the users and the immigrants was irrational. Things started off on the wrong foot and the centre was immediately overwhelmed by the massive number of claims to process. Delays are very long. People cannot get information on their files when they phone the information centres set up for that purpose. Since May, the Vegreville centre has literally never had control of the situation. Files keep accumulating and the delays due to the insufficient number of employees processing those claims is unjustified.

I learned that thousands of files which cannot be processed in Vegreville will be returned to local centres. These files are returned precisely in those centres where staff cutbacks were made, since it was believed that it would be more efficient to centralize the whole process in Vegreville. Now it is the local centres which will not be able to keep up with the demand. I denounce the unjustified staff reductions at the Department of Citizenship and Immigration.

In this regard, I must mention the intolerable situation of thousands of people in the Montreal area who try to contact their immigration department by dialing 496-1010. This number is the only one for answering all immigration questions, and it is always busy. In July alone, there were 126,000 calls to 496-1010. There were exactly six officials there to answer the phone. Officially, there should be 15, but in fact, there are never more than nine employees. Service to the public is woefully inadequate.

I also want to denounce another situation which clearly shows that the minister has lost control of the immigration centres. During the first week in September, Montreal had a list with the names of over 2,000 people who were waiting to receive kits by mail.

I hope that the minister will take concrete action soon to improve this terrible situation.

ImmigrationAdjournment Proceedings

6:05 p.m.

York North Ontario


Maurizio Bevilacqua LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, in order to become a permanent resident of Canada, refugees must be able to prove their identity. This is necessary to protect Canada from persons who may have committed criminal acts or human rights violations in their own country and who should not be given permanent residence and eventually Canadian citizenship.

It is also necessary to establish a refugee's identity in order to clarify a refugee's relationship with family members. In order to prove their identity, refugees are asked to present a passport, even an expired one, a valid travel document or a satisfactory identity document.

Refugees who are unwilling or unable to apply for a passport from their country may therefore obtain permanent residence by presenting a travel document other than a passport or an identity document.

In some cases where none of these documents are available permanent residency may be granted on humanitarian grounds if it is unlikely that the person presents a criminal or security concern.

In all cases, however, every effort is made with the individual concerned, through community and support groups, to help them produce acceptable evidence of identity for the purpose of applying for permanent residence.

ImmigrationAdjournment Proceedings

6:05 p.m.


Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, in a question I asked in this House on May 25, I mentioned a warning given to the minister in a communications strategy paper whose contents were leaked-there have been other leaks since. This paper referred to "UI cuts seen by the population as evidence that the government wants to fight the deficit on the backs of the poor".

My question was this: "Under the circumstances, will the minister tell us if the delay in tabling his action plan is the result of a split among cabinet ministers regarding what is at stake?" That was on May 25. This question is still relevant today because, since May 25, we have learned that the minister's action plan, following which a bill will be drafted and action will be taken, has been postponed until the spring and perhaps until the fall. It will be a discussion paper on which Canadians and Quebecers will be consulted.

The question I asked pointed out that the delay in tabling the action plan was no doubt the result of a split among cabinet ministers. This question is still relevant and I would say that it is even more relevant today. We must keep in mind that the only thing the government has done since the election to help the needy is to cut access and UI benefits except for a small number of cases which, as the minister reminded us today, had positive results.

But for one thousand or so recipients to get enhanced protection at 60 per cent, all other claimants will see their UI benefit rate reduced to 55 per cent. More importantly, there is all those who will no longer qualify for UI, those who will be entitled to fewer weeks of benefits, which means more families and single parents ending up on welfare and increased poverty for children.

We could read in the papers this morning that in Canada, one child out of five is poor and their numbers have increased dramatically since 1989.

I repeat forcefully and will continue to repeat it as long as it takes: apart from talking -it bursts with generous, compassionate words- all the government actually did was to make matters worse on the whole for families and individuals in need.

ImmigrationAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

York North Ontario


Maurizio Bevilacqua LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I have paid attention to the hon. member's comments and I can assure her that the expenditures that will take place to engage Canadians in consultations will be expenditures that are necessary to engage them in what we as a government feel is an important dialogue.

There is great support throughout the land for the social security review. People understand that the present programs, although they have served us well in the past and have given us the security we need, are no longer valid for the contemporary reality.

We are going to use this review to engage Canadians. It is not just here in Parliament but it will be in town hall meetings throughout the country. It will be with the parliamentary standing committee. It will be the type of consultation that this country really has not seen to date.

The review is necessary. Canadians need change. We need to give our young people the tools required to compete in a very globally competitive society. We need to adjust our programs to take into consideration the changing configurations of the Canadian economy, the change in our families, the change in our incomes. All the changes that have occurred need to be addressed in a very serious manner.

It is for this reason that the government had the courage to engage in a dialogue with Canadians. We are sure that Canadians, like the hon. member, will be a very effective partner in bringing about positive change to the lives of Canadians.

ImmigrationAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.


Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, following the release of the report of the Department of Defence Advisory Council on Women in the Canadian Armed Forces, the media reported that the department had taken specific measures to combat sexual harassment. On May 30, I rose in the House to ask the minister what these measures were and whether there had been an evaluation of the new complaint process.

I have yet to receive a clear and substantial reply from the minister, who had promised something to that effect. Harassment is a problem that affects women throughout the workplace, especially in cases where women constitute a very small minority. I think everyone will agree that the Department of National Defence still fits that category.

All studies have shown that the effects of sexual harassment are many and varied. They may lead to physical discomfort (headaches, fatigue), personal and family problems or problems directly related to the job (unfair evaluation, poor references and, in extreme cases, resignation or release from employment). Linda Geller-Schwarz, who compiled information on sexual harassment in the workplace for the Women's Bureau, Human Resources Development Canada, wrote:

Harassment is no joke. It upsets the life of the victim, threatens her livelihood, is detrimental to the career of the harasser and poisons the atmosphere at work.

In other words, in the workplace, the emotional and financial cost is often huge for all concerned.

I realize the Minister of National Defence intends to take action, and I commend him for it. However, I would appreciate it if he would tell the House how he intends to rid his organization of the social poison of sexual harassment in the workplace. I would also ask the minister whether the main victims of harassment, his female employees, have been or will be asked to participate in the evaluation of measures taken to deal with a problem that concerns them directly.

ImmigrationAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception Newfoundland & Labrador


Fred Mifflin LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank the hon. member for giving me the opportunity to address this important issue and to respond to her question once again.

On June 20, I tabled in this House on behalf of the Minister of National Defence a series of documents describing the measures taken by the Department of National Defence to address the issue of harassment in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Changes have been made to ensure that DND's commitment to eliminating harassment is reflected in our programs and policy. Minor changes to the Canadian forces administrative orders that include the concept of zero tolerance are embedded in this policy.

The goal of the policy is simply the elimination and prevention of harassment. Every member has the right to work in an environment that is harassment free and to have any complaint of harassment dealt with in an expeditious, impartial and sensitive manner without fear of retaliation, and that is very important to add.

Our goal is to prevent and eliminate harassment in the workplace and this will be achieved by this policy and by educating and training members on harassment issues, policies and procedures.

Specifically, the new policies include revised complaint reporting procedures, the designation of harassment advisers, a DND harassment co-ordination office, a monitoring system to track the incidence of harassment and a comprehensive education and training program.

Harassment education and training for all members at the unit and base level is mandatory. The new policy is in the process of being printed and will be published in the upcoming months.

Once again I thank the member for allowing me the opportunity to stress the fact that the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces remain committed to the implementation of a zero tolerance policy on harassment.

ImmigrationAdjournment Proceedings

September 28th, 1994 / 6:40 p.m.


Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am here today simply because so many Canadians are asking the same question and are demanding an answer, not an answer that we can come up with in the months to come, but an answer that we need right now because the decisions are being made right now.

For Canada to think that we have the resources or the ability to be the 911 emergency for the world, we are far beyond that.

The minister would agree that there are many hot spots in this world, that there are many that can explode tonight, tomorrow, next week, next month, and we have to establish some criteria that we are going to follow when we make foreign affairs decisions, particularly in the area of peacekeeping.

We need to look at things like the economic implications, the humanitarian reasons. They are good reasons but then every single place would have these same reasons. We have to come up with a set of fixed criteria. We have to look at the geographical relationship. The people who are closest should be the ones who can help the best.

We have the OAS which should definitely have been more involved in the Haiti situation. The African states should have been more involved in Rwanda. We have to look at the effect on international stability. We have to look at the media relationships-should we always be driven by CNN and Newsworld? We have to ask those questions.

Canadian people want to know what it is going to cost. How much is this going to cost? How much money are we going to budget to handle all of these emergencies? Again, that all comes into criteria.

We have to look at the resources that we have and of course we have to ask ourselves what our commitments are. We look at the whole military situation and see an awful lot of generals but we are certainly running out of front line troops. We are expecting our men and women in the forces to do so many things and they are not able to be stretched any further.

We hear talk about the equipment not being adequate. We get letters from parents who have lost a loved one because they felt our ability to deliver was inadequate.

We have to ask, what are these resources? How far will they go? We have to have a plan. We cannot just trust politicians that say: "We will send them and we will let you know what we hope to accomplish after". We must know, we must ask questions. If my son or daughter was going I would want to know why they were going, what they are going to accomplish and how it is going to help Canada. For how long are they going?

The closest thing I have seen on how long we are going to be Haiti was when RCMP Chief Superintendent Pouliot said yesterday on "Canada AM" that we are going to be there for seven to ten years to train the police forces.

We need to know the criteria, the costs, the resources that will be expended and of course the plan and how long we are going to be there.

ImmigrationAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

Parkdale—High Park Ontario


Jesse Flis LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, in reply to the hon. member's question and intervention, I have taken the liberty to note the first interview given by Chief Superintendent Neil Pouliot in his capacity as commissioner of the United Nations civilian police contingency in Haiti.

Commissioner Pouliot has clearly indicated that Canada's commitment in Haiti has been set for approximately 18 months, that is until the inauguration of Haiti's next president which is slated for February 1986.

He has also said, and this became the basis for the member's question in the House today and his intervention now, is that he thought Haiti might need eight to ten years before its police force reforms were fully implemented. This comment made in his capacity as UN commissioner referred to the need for a complete change of attitudes and the time needed for all ranks of the future 5,000 strong force to assimilate the concepts of a modern police force.

He certainly did not imply that Canada has committed itself for that length of time. That is certainly not our intention. Canada has pledged to assist Haiti in the area of police reform through our participation in the United Nations Mission in Haiti. For this purpose we have sought 100 volunteers who will be deployed in the weeks or months ahead once the Security Council has authorized the United Nations Mission in Haiti.

The cost of this participation has been estimated at $12.8 million for the 18-month period I have just mentioned. This is what the member was asking. CIDA will cover those costs.

The task of the RCMP officers will be to monitor the behaviour of the new Haitian police, accompany them on their daily rounds and give them on-the-street training. The RCMP will not take official duty. They are there to train, not to do the policing themselves.

We do not know yet how long such monitoring will be required and if, after a certain lapse of time, all of the 100 Mounties will be needed. Once a formal training program has begun it is quite possible that smaller numbers will be required.

I thank the hon. member for raising this. He has made excellent interventions in the standing committee on foreign affairs and in the joint committee reviewing foreign policy. I know he views this issue with great interest and importance.

ImmigrationAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Pursuant to Standing Order 38(5), the motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6.48 p.m.)