Mr. Speaker, I am happy to have the opportunity to address Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which allows immigration officers to refuse to authorize foreign nationals to work in Canada.
I have to say at the outset that I believe this is an unusual proposal from the government. It is a strange piece of legislation. As proposed, the bill gives the minister discretionary authority to issue instructions allowing immigration officers to refuse foreign nationals work visas if they are seen to be at risk of being subjected to humiliating or degrading treatment, including sexual exploitation.
That is the basic premise of the legislation. It is discretionary to give the minister the opportunity to issue instructions, which would then be taken into consideration by a visa officer overseas when issuing a work visa.
The stated purpose of the act is as follows:
The instructions shall prescribe public policy considerations that aim to protect foreign nationals who are at risk of being subjected to humiliating or degrading treatment, including sexual exploitation.
The bill does not provide instructions directly. It merely makes it possible for the minister to issue such instructions.
My question is about how this protects women in particular, women who might be subject to trafficking, since that was one of the stated goals of the legislation when it was presented by the government.
I would contend that we should never get to the point of having someone apply for a work visa if there is any evidence whatsoever that the workplace that wants to hire them is connected to trafficking, if the employer has any connection to trafficking, or if the work being done is degrading or humiliating. There is absolutely no reason to issue a work visa to someone if any of those conditions exist, yet the legislation does not address any of those conditions directly.
It seems to me that the appropriate place to stop this concern is at the point of the labour market opinion prepared by the Department of Human Resources and Social Development. A labour market opinion is required every time a foreign worker is sought to work here in Canada as a temporary foreign worker. How does a job vacancy that the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration might find exploitative, degrading or humiliating get approved in that process? Surely the process of doing a survey of the workplace and the specific job is the appropriate place to make that determination.
Mr. Speaker, I will resume after question period.