House of Commons Hansard #135 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.


Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

7:15 p.m.

Some hon. members


Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

7:15 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

In my opinion, the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, a recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, April 25, 2007, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

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

April 18th, 2007 / 7:15 p.m.


Omar Alghabra Liberal Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have repeatedly urged the Conservative government to act on addressing the foreign credentials file, an issue it promised to resolve unequivocally in its last campaign.

Sadly, the Conservatives have explicitly broken their promise and have abandoned and frustrated Canadians.

This not only disappoints new Canadians who have been caught in limbo and are having difficulty applying their training and experience, but it also concerns all Canadians who realize that our country is being short changed on so much talent and skill that is urgently needed to maintain and increase our economic and social growth, and prosperity.

It is estimated that Canada is missing out on approximately $6 billion of economic activities by underutilizing a tremendous wealth of qualification and experience.

The Conservatives will not deny that fact. They have pretended that they recognize the magnitude of this serious challenge. They pretended they had a solution. They exploited the angst and frustration of many Canadians by claiming in no uncertain terms that they will solve these needs, and then used these sentiments of frustration for their own political expediency. Now, true to their style they continue to pretend that they have acted on this issue. They are pretending that they have solved this matter.

Many Canadians are bewildered by the Conservatives' inaction and how disparate it is from their rhetoric. So far the Conservatives have had two opportunities through two different budgets to fulfill their promise to fix the foreign credentials conundrum. Unfortunately, both budgets fell massively and miserably short from addressing this issue.

The previous Liberal government had started substantial investment into resolving this matter. The Liberals worked with various stakeholder groups, including provincial governments, professional associations, post-secondary institutions and immigration settlement organizations.

All the Conservatives have done to date is significantly reduce funds allocated previously to this file, create a storefront to pass the blame on to others, and leave Canadians and immigrants who are seeking help wanting and underwhelmed with the assistance provided.

The Conservatives' approach to the immigration file and the foreign credential recognition issue reveals that at best they have no plan or vision to seriously and substantively deal with the challenges our country is facing and at worst, they do not care about voters who consider this file to be crucial for the future success of Canada.

The Conservatives must learn that good policy and sound solutions are what will eventually attract voters any day over crass, short-sighted partisan politics. Canadians want a responsible government that will act, not posture.

When will the Conservatives honour their promise of delivering relief to people who took their word in good faith and at face value?

7:20 p.m.

Souris—Moose Mountain Saskatchewan


Ed Komarnicki ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, in budget 2007, Canada's new government confirmed its commitment to facilitate the assessment and recognition of foreign credentials through the creation of the Foreign Credential Referral Office.

Unlike the previous Liberal government, Canada's new government recognizes that this is an important issue to Canadians and to immigrant families who have settled in this country. In fact, this issue has been a pressing topic for some time. The previous Liberal government had been promising to deal with it for several years. Therefore, it is amazing to hear the hon. member's remarks today.

In 2002, over five years ago, the then Liberal minister of state, Jean Augustine, said, “The recognition of foreign credentials was a government priority”. However, in five years the Liberals did not get it done and, in fact, they did nothing.

In the Speech from the Throne that same year, the Liberals promised:

The government will work with its partners to break down the barriers to the recognition of foreign credentials and will fast-track skilled workers entering Canada with jobs already waiting for them.

Again, the Liberals did not get it done. How can they be questioning the progress that is now being made when they did nothing for all those years?

Interestingly enough, the Liberals made yet another unfulfilled promise in their 2004 Speech from the Throne. I will read from this document. It says:

The Government will do its part to ensure speedier recognition of foreign credentials and prior work experience. It will also implement measures to inform prospective immigrants and encourage the acquisition of necessary credentials before they arrive in Canada.

Again, the Liberals just did not get it done.

Amazingly, the previous Liberal government even admitted its own failure on the recognition of foreign credentials in the Speech from the Throne to open the 38th Parliament when they said:

Efforts to improve the recognition of foreign credentials and prior work experience have yielded too little progress. Looking to the growing contribution that will be required from new Canadians as our population ages, this Government will redouble its efforts, in cooperation with the provinces and professional bodies, to help integrate them into the workforce.

Though the Liberal government admitted its failure and promised to redouble its efforts, it failed to get anything done. Helping immigrants use their talents, skills and foreign credentials is something the Liberal government had 13 years to do and failed to get the job done. Unlike them, we are taking action to help them.

We are in the process of establishing an office that will help qualify foreign trade professionals understand what they need and the paths they must follow to become accredited so they can practice in their chosen fields in Canada and build a better life for themselves and for their families.

All levels of government have a role to play in integrating immigrants into Canadian society and the economy. Our new government has taken real steps by engaging stakeholders as we move toward delivering on our commitment. These stakeholders have included provinces, territories, 440 separate regulatory agencies, post-secondary institutions, sector councils and employers across the country.

It is certainly stretching things for the member opposite to suggest that we are dragging our feet on this issue when his own party did nothing for 13 long years. They did little but talk about the issue, not resolve it.

I would simply say to the member opposite that we look forward to delivering on our commitment and he will witness in the near future how things can be done on behalf of credential recognition.

7:25 p.m.


Omar Alghabra Liberal Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I cannot help but be amazed by the speech that the parliamentary secretary has just given.

It took three months to get this opportunity to respond to a question that was asked on February 20. This is how urgently the Conservatives are treating this file.

The parliamentary secretary spent most of his time asking why the Liberals did not get it done. He seems to forget that he and his party are in government. He seems to forget that in the last campaign a year and a half ago, the Conservatives made an explicit promise that they would, in no uncertain terms, fix this problem.

Did members hear his speech? He said that they would do it, that they were working on it and that they were consulting. A year and a half after an explicit promise in the campaign, the Conservatives have yet to get it done.

The Liberals invested $300 million in the last budget compared to $18 million that the Conservative government has invested. I do not have any problem comparing numbers.

7:25 p.m.


Ed Komarnicki Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, the point I was making is that the member should be the least of all members trying to suggest that there is inaction in this party when there was provision for funds in both budgets and action has been taken. Progress has been made.

For 13 long years the Liberals failed to do anything. It is just a marked difference.

Canada's new government's Foreign Credential Recognition Office will complement and facilitate the use of the programs and the services currently provided by provincial governments, including CICIC, and by provincial credential assessment agencies.

Once again, while the Liberals just did not get it done, we have and will continue to take real action to help new and prospective immigrants live out the Canadian dream. We will take action where it counts and we will get things done. That member simply needs to watch and see it unfold before him as the referral office begins to work.

7:25 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

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 7:27 p.m.)