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House of Commons Hansard #89 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was refugees.

Topics

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order, order. The time has run out for this member's speech and period of questions and comments.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Oak Ridges—Markham.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Conservative Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Madam Speaker, I can assure the hon. member that this is a government that truly understands how the immigration system should work. It truly understands what Canadians look for in an immigration system.

When we took over, we saw a waiting list of one million people. If that is what the Liberals are claiming was a successful immigration system under their watch, I can certainly assure the member that people to whom I am talking in Canada's most diverse riding certainly do not agree with that assessment. What they are saying to me is that the system under the previous administration was a catastrophe and they are certainly happy that this government, this Minister of Immigration and the Prime Minister, stepped in to fix the mess that was left behind by the Liberal government after 13 years of terrible rule.

Let me say this. We do not need any lessons from the Liberal Party or any of the members opposite on how to deal fairly with refugees and with immigration matters.

However, getting back to this bill specifically, I welcome the opportunity to rise in support of Bill C-49, the preventing human smugglers from abusing Canada's immigration system act. I am sure hon. members will agree that human smuggling is among the most loathsome of criminal endeavours, and judging from the comments on news websites, the letters on the pages of newspapers, and the calls to talk radio shows, Canadians definitely feel the same way. Some have suggested that Canadians' reaction to the recent arrivals of the smuggling ships was somehow improper, ungenerous, inhuman or worse. I do not believe anything could be further from the truth.

Canada's international reputation for generosity, as a place of refuge and welcome to newcomers, is definitely a source of pride for all Canadians, but no one wants our generosity to be abused, and most certainly, Canadians do not want unscrupulous operators to line their pockets from the desperation of the downtrodden and the generosity of the Canadian immigration system. That is why Canadians are angry and that is why our government has acted.

As an editorial in the Calgary Herald put it a few days after the Sun Sea docked in Esquimalt:

[I]t's not that Canada has lost its tolerance for refugees. What we've lost is our tolerance for refugee smugglers.

The bill makes it clear that Canada and Canadians do not and will not tolerate human smuggling. In fact, this bill makes it even more clear. Canada has always been a strong and visible supporter of international efforts to fight human smuggling. Our signature on the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air demonstrates our commitment to be part of the solution. Bill C-49 reinforces that commitment. It would allow law enforcement officials additional tools to investigate and to prosecute individuals who organize, engage in and profit from human smuggling.

As hon. members are aware, existing laws are very narrow in terms of the activities that can be prosecuted in this regard. The Crown must prove that the accused knew that the people being smuggled did not have the documents needed to enter Canada. This bill would change that. The amendments our government is proposing would broaden the application of the law so that it will be easier to prosecute human smugglers.

That sends a message to would-be smugglers. Bill C-49 underscores that message with mandatory minimum penalties for anyone convicted of human smuggling. Depending on the circumstances of the offence, these mandatory sentences would range up to a minimum of 10 years for the most grievous offences, such as those involving organized crime and endangering the lives of smuggled persons.

Similarly, this bill will increase the penalties for violations of the Marine Transportation Security Act, such as refusing to comply with a ministerial directive to leave Canadian waters or providing false or misleading information to officials. Individuals, for example, would be liable to fines of as much as $200,000 on indictment, up from the current $10,000. Individuals convicted on indictment for failure to file a pre-arrival information report would be liable to a maximum penalty of one year of imprisonment or a $75,000 fine, or both.

These changes would deliver a strong, clear message. It is a message that must be delivered before the next MV Sun Sea sails for our shores, and that risk is very real.

The bill would deter human smugglers from mounting such ventures. Indeed, we must do more than simply express our distaste for human smugglers as the opposition have been wanting to do today.

There is also the simple, yet profound, matter of exercising our right as a sovereign nation to protect our borders.

Canada has the right to decide who enters this country, and there is no question that Canada is very generous in that regard. At the same time, we have an obligation and we are committed to protecting the safety and security of Canadians. We have to be certain that the individuals claiming refugee status in Canada are not war criminals or a danger to Canadians.

The existing rules allow a foreign national or permanent resident entering Canada to be detained if an immigration officer considers their detention necessary in order to carry out a proper examination, to make sure that the person is who they say they are and that there is nothing in their background that would make them inadmissible to Canada.

Detentions of this kind must be reviewed by the Immigration and Refugee Board within 48 hours, again within seven days, and if necessary, within every 30 days after that. This system works well most of the time; however, it is not designed to deal with hundreds of people arriving en masse at one location, as was the case with the Sun Sea.

Instead of concentrating on the investigations that are so vital to public safety, border officers find themselves devoting hour after precious hour to preparing for these numerous detention reviews. That is why Bill C-49 would give the Minister of Public Safety the authority to designate anyone who arrives at our border in circumstances such as the Sun Sea as an irregular arrival.

As an irregular arrival, individuals would be detained until the Immigration and Refugee Board determines that they are legitimate refugees. If they are still detained after one year, their detention would be reviewed at an IRB hearing that would decide whether detention should continue. Subsequent hearings, if necessary, would follow at six-month intervals. Where exceptional circumstances exist, the minister would have the authority to order early release.

Other changes in this bill would require designated arrivals to wait a minimum of five years before they could apply for permanent resident status in Canada or sponsor family members who come to our country. Designated arrivals would also not be able to access the supplemental benefits under the interim health plan, which provides benefits more generous than those available to Canadians. This is only fair. People who push to the front of the line should not be rewarded.

The changes that we are proposing in this bill would enhance the safety and security of Canadians and protect the integrity of our immigration system. Every successful incident of human smuggling encourages more people to try to take advantage of Canada's generosity, to cut in front of those who have followed the rules, who have filed papers, who have filed proper papers and waited patiently for the opportunity to begin a new life in Canada.

Canada needs immigrants. We cannot afford to allow criminal acts to discourage the newcomers to our country. We cannot afford to allow human smugglers and queue jumpers to undermine the public support of our immigration system. That is one of the reasons I am urging all members to support this bill.

Let me just say this. The hon. members across, the Liberal Party in particular, like to wrap themselves in the cloak of a generous party, as people who care about refugees and immigrants. We have heard constantly today, speaker after speaker and the critic talking about the Tamils. I do not have to remind the hon. member that it was a Conservative government in 1984 that began to open the door to Tamil refugees in this country.

I represent the riding of Oak Ridges—Markham, which is home to a large diaspora of Sri Lankans, both Tamil and Ceylonese people. We have been working together to try to find solutions to the problems that they have back at home. What we consistently hear from the Liberal Party are these great platitudes of what we should accomplish, but they never have solutions to the problems.

Here they have an opportunity to vote for a solution, to put an end to human smuggling in this country, and what are they doing? They are wrapping themselves up like pretzels. They are flip-flopping. What they are doing is ignoring what Canadians want.

I just hope that by the time we get this debate completed they will actually see the light, they might listen to what Canadians want, they might read the hundreds of emails and letters and listen to the phone calls, and the opposition coalition might for once listen to Canadians and vote the right way.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Conservative Burlington, ON

Madam Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's discussion. He has been here all day asking questions and talking about this very important bill.

I just want to say that my in-laws are of Italian descent and my mother-in-law came here on a boat. I can say that when that happened earlier this summer in Vancouver, the first call I got was from my in-laws asking what we were going to do about this issue, and this bill addresses that issue.

I want to thank them for that call and I want to thank my colleague for his presentation today.

I would like to know, as the hon. member talked about the Liberal side flipping and flopping, if at any time today the Liberals indicated whether they were supportive of this bill going to committee so that they can actually have a discussion.

The Liberals claim they have all these people who are opposed and know all these groups that are opposed. Well, if we went to committee with it, we would be able to study the issue and have a discussion at committee.

Can the member tell me if the Liberal Party indicated whether it would be supporting this bill or not, based on his time here this afternoon?

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Conservative Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Madam Speaker, I have been here all day, but I have been having trouble following the Liberal position on this. On this particular bill, they seem to be flip-flopping more quickly than they have on some of the other things that they have flipped and flopped over.

My parents too came from Italy, through Pier 21. They worked very hard and they built a spectacular life here in Canada. They have a son in Parliament. That is the type of Canada we built. We built the type of Canada that encourages immigration to this country and that respects those who need our help. We have always been a very generous country.

To answer the hon. member's question directly, I have no idea where the Liberals stand on this. I have no idea where they stand on anything, to be honest. I know one thing for sure. They will always stand on the opposite side of where Canadians stand, and that is a true shame. They are working with their opposition coalition here to subvert the wishes of Canadians.

What Canadians really want is an immigration system, a refugee system, that respects those who come to this country, work hard and build a better life for themselves. That is what this side wants. That is why we are building a better immigration system. That is why we reformed the immigration system. That is why the immigration backlog has been reduced. That is why we are opening up our arms to those who come to this country and who need our assistance.

I think about what happened in Haiti and the quick response this government had to the people of Haiti. The opposition is suggesting that we should forget emergencies and we should look at other instances.

I think it is about time the Liberals did what is right, paid attention to what Canadians want and voted in favour of this bill. Let us get it to committee and make it better.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

When this debate resumes, the hon. member will have two minutes of comments and questions. As it is 5:30, the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' bills as listed on today's order paper.

Alzheimer's DiseasePrivate Members' Business

October 28th, 2010 / 5:30 p.m.

Conservative

James Rajotte Conservative Edmonton—Leduc, AB

moved:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should continue to address the rising financial and human costs of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia in Canada by ensuring, now and in the future, that its programs and policy development related to this issue continue to recognize: (a) the right to dignity and compassion of patients stricken by such conditions; (b) the emotional and psychological toll on family members and friends of patients afflicted by such conditions; (c) the increasing costs imposed on public health systems by the treatment of such conditions; and (d) the role played by such civil organizations as the Alzheimer Society of Canada and Neurological Health Charities Canada in furthering our understanding of the impacts of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

Madam Speaker, it is truly an honour today to stand in the House and address the very serious topic of Alzheimer's disease and what we can do about it, not only in this Parliament but across the country.

I do want to state at the outset that I am not an expert on this issue. That is not why I am addressing this topic here today. I am addressing it because it deserves a discussion in this Parliament. It deserves a national discussion. All of those people who are suffering from this disease, and all of those people who are suffering with people with this disease, deserve to have a national discussion on this topic in this chamber.

I do want to outline a bit of the current situation in Canada. At this time, approximately 500,000 Canadians have some form of dementia. More than 60% have Alzheimer's disease, which is the most common form of dementia in Canada. It is becoming a much more noticeable issue. There is not a Canadian I have spoken to who has not had some personal contact with this disease, be it through a friend or a family member. We do therefore need to address this issue. We need to sustain our focus on it.

There has been increasing awareness in society and in the media as well. I would point to a recent Globe and Mail series, which I thought was very well done. I would certainly like to commend the newspaper for raising awareness and for generating discussion on this issue.

We need to have this discussion now to plan for the future and to develop an approach to what will be one of the biggest challenges facing us as human beings and as a country in the years ahead. This is an issue that demands attention from society in general and from parliamentarians in particular.

The reality is clear. Individuals with dementia are not the only ones affected by these conditions. Dementia places a long-term burden on those who care for them, on family, on friends, on our public health care system and on society in general, and they must all be addressed.

The Alzheimer Society estimates that the total economic burden of Alzheimer's and other dementias in Canada today is approximately $15 billion per year. The emotional and the psychological costs to patients and their families are immense but, as we all know, they are very difficult to quantify. However, all of us have spoken to people who have talked of the challenges of facing this disease.

The fact is that demographic trends will contribute to the scale of the challenges we will face in coming years. As our population ages and individuals live longer, an epidemic of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias is poised to overwhelm our health care system.

Without new policies, breakthroughs or interventions, it is projected that by 2038, more than one million Canadians will have some form of dementia, which is more than double what we have today. The annual costs will rise from $15 billion today to a staggering estimated $153 billion by 2038. Demand for long-term care will increase tenfold from today.

In light of these startling figures we need to foster a national discussion. We must work with the provinces and territories that obviously provide health care services. We must develop a very comprehensive approach to confront this issue.

What has been done thus far? Through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, our government has invested more than $176 million in research on Alzheimer's disease in recent years, spending approximately $22.7 million in 2009-10 alone.

The government is also working with Canada's major neurological charities. I would like to commend all of these charities for their work. They have committed to providing $15 million for a four-year population study of Canadians affected by neurological conditions. This study will help us better prepare to meet the needs of Canadians affected by these conditions.

In partnership with like-minded countries around the world, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research has also developed an international collaborative research strategy for Alzheimer's disease. It will help enhance relations between Canadian scientists and Alzheimer researchers around the world. I want to commend the action taken in this area.

Canadians have access to compassionate care benefits under the employment insurance system. The CPP and QPP also pay disability, survivor and children's benefits to those who qualify. The Income Tax Act also provides for a caregiver amount tax credit, a tax credit for infirm dependents and a medical expenses tax credit.

While these are all steps in the right direction, a continued focus is required to learn more about the implications of dementia for Canadian society and to develop appropriate responses.

What can be done, therefore?

First, in the area of research, to address the challenges that these conditions present, we do need some new approaches.

Alzheimer's and many other dementias are irreversible. There is no known cure at this time. However, through biomedical, clinical, quality of life, health services and knowledge translation research, we can develop new and more effective responses.

In this regard, we should continue to support the work of such excellent organizations as the Alzheimer Society of Canada and the Neurological Health Charities Canada, and I do want to commend them for their work. We should also continue to support post-secondary institutions that are partnering on research, such as the University of Toronto's Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases, McGill University's Centre for Studies in Aging and the University of Alberta's Centre for Alzheimer and Neurodegenerative Research.

The second area of what can be done is prevention. Prevention obviously is the least costly and best approach.

It is estimated that a 50% increase in level of activity by Canadians over 65 years would result in substantial reductions in the incidence of Alzheimer's and other dementias. Reducing the number of people diagnosed would ease the burden, obviously, on family members, friends, long-term care facilities, community care services and informal caregivers. The potential benefits from investing in research are, therefore, extraordinary. If we can delay the onset of Alzheimer's and related dementias by only two years, the CIHR estimates we will reduce the cumulative costs over the next 30 years by $219 billion and reduce the number of new cases in Canada by more than 400,000 people.

The third thing in terms of what we can do is, I would suggest, the most important from a human point of view. It is support for patients and their families.

With demand for long-term care projected to outpace the availability of space, more and more care will be provided informally in the home. The number of hours of home care provided by Canadians is expected to more than triple by 2038.

We need to ensure that there are programs and services in place, therefore, to support caregivers. Possibilities could include better access to information and educational resources, the creation of new financial supports for patients and caregivers, and continued support for non-profit groups that provide assistance.

Almost every member here today can point to a friend or a family member who has been directly affected by Alzheimer's and related dementias. Whether they know a patient or someone providing care for a patient, one does not have to look far to see the impacts of these conditions.

In time, the situation will only become more urgent. That is why it is vitally important that these issues be brought to the forefront today.

The Alzheimer Society released a study earlier this year, which was very aptly titled “Rising Tide”. I encourage all members to read that report. It is an excellent report. I would also encourage them to read the report entitled “A Brain Strategy for Canada”, by the Neurological Health Charities. Both of these documents are excellent foundational documents, which we can build on in this chamber.

Inaction will result in the overwhelming of our public health systems. It will only mean that families will continue to struggle to keep their heads above the rising waters, as demand for private care increases dramatically. That is why we do need to act now. That is exactly what the Alzheimer Society is asking of all of us as parliamentarians.

I therefore call upon all members of this House in all four parties to support this motion and I welcome their questions at this time.

Alzheimer's DiseasePrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Malo Bloc Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Madam Speaker, I have a question for the member from Edmonton—Leduc. In his motion, he referred to programs and policies that the federal government should implement, according to specific criteria, to combat Alzheimer's disease.

In referring to these programs and policies, is the member talking only about those that the government can implement in matters under the legislative authority of the Parliament of Canada?

Alzheimer's DiseasePrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.

Conservative

James Rajotte Conservative Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

I understand that the Bloc Québécois will be bringing forward an amendment that would ensure that the motion itself applies to the jurisdiction under the Parliament of Canada itself. I welcome that amendment. In fact, that was certainly the intent of the motion when I drafted it. So, I certainly welcome that amendment and I would certainly support it in the House.

It is obviously my intention that we work with the provinces, which have the primary responsibility in terms of delivering health care to the citizens of Canada.

Alzheimer's DiseasePrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for bringing this motion forward. He is so right when he says that Alzheimer's and early dementia is touching the lives of so many in our communities.

He made mention of the Alzheimer's Society's report, “Rising Tide”. In that report, as I recall, there is an emphasis on what non-profit groups and what caregivers can provide outside of the institutional environment. We all know that there is a point where institutional care will be a part of the total care delivery system, but there is also the incentive that can be given to caregivers and non-profit organizations.

Does his bill include the analysis out of “Rising Tide” of looking at incentives through our taxation system that would provide the family members of people with Alzheimer's to continue to give care within the family environment? Are there incentives for assistance in that?

Alzheimer's DiseasePrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.

Conservative

James Rajotte Conservative Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Madam Speaker, the motion is very broad, so it certainly includes that topic within the motion itself. I would point to the escalating costs imposed on the public health system for the treatment of such conditions and also in terns of the leading role played by civil organizations such as the Alzheimer's Society of Canada.

I would also point out that the motion is broad enough to include that. I think the member is absolutely right. More and more people with Alzheimer's, at least in the early stages, are being cared for at home. It is not only an increasing financial cost but it is also an increasing human cost on family members and on friends, which is something that we need to look at. It is something that both of the reports I mentioned from the Alzheimer's Society and from the neurological centres have looked at and are encouraging us to look at further in terms of how we address those human and financial costs incurred by family members and friends.

Alzheimer's DiseasePrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, the Alzheimer's Society suggests a number of ways to slow the number of cases of Alzheimer's and dementia, and one of them is to promote healthier lifestyles. including encouraging people over 65 to increase their physical activity levels.

I wonder if we should be looking at the English medical system to look at the way it pays doctors over there. It pays doctors based on the doctors getting patients to live better lifestyles. For example, if a doctor gets a patient to stop smoking for example, he gets paid on that basis for that outcome.

In this case, maybe we should pay doctors for getting people on healthier lifestyles and, if they get results, it should help us out.

Alzheimer's DiseasePrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.

Conservative

James Rajotte Conservative Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Madam Speaker, that was a big question. I have to say that that is within the gambit of the provincial governments. If I delved into that issue I would worry about losing the support of the Bloc. I think it is a valid public policy debate that should occur within all provinces in terms of whether they ought to do that.

I would point out that in the Alzheimer's report it does talked about intervention one, prevention by increasing physical activity. I would recommend that all members look at what is in the report “Rising Tide” because it is an excellent case study and should be encouraged for members, especially for those approaching age 65.

Alzheimer's DiseasePrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, he was 80 years old and they had been married for 60 years. He kept his promise to her. He installed a hospital bed in their living room and for seven years he was her sole caregiver, bathing her, feeding her and carrying her upstairs to the washroom.

In another family, she was just 50 years old. Initially she made 20 mistakes playing cards in an evening. Then she showed poor coordination and clumsiness making a cup of tea. The doctor put it down to stress despite the fact that her mother was diagnosed at age 50 with Alzheimer's disease. Peripheral vision problems and general confusion meant that she was no longer allowed to drive. She had overwhelming frustration and fear.

The brain is the most vital organ in the human body. It makes our heart pump and our lungs breathe. It is the physical structure that makes us human and allows us to experience art, love, poetry and science. If the brain does not work properly, every aspect of life may be compromised.

One in three, or 10 million Canadians will be affected by a neurological or psychiatric disease, disorder or injury at some point in their lives. There are no cures for ALS, MS, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's and no effective treatments that consistently slow or stop the course of these devastating neuro-degenerative diseases.

Statistics are neat, tidy and do not show the reality of those living with these diseases, people like my cousin who gradually lost the ability to walk, to work, to interact with her family and friends, people across this country who live with MS and who have the courage to battle their disease every day and to take on a new fight, the fight for the liberation treatment.

These diseases put a significant burden on Canadian families. My 70-year-old aunt is at her daughter's house at 6:30 a.m. to feed her, get her granddaughter off to school, ensure that the daily caregivers come to bathe her daughter, feed her and, at the end of a long day, put her to bed.

I came to Parliament to fight for neurological disease, to fight to end suffering through more research for treatment, more support for caregivers and more awareness. I was therefore pleased to receive all party support to form a neurological subcommittee and delighted that the leader of our party committed to a national brain strategy to help lessen the social and economic impacts on people affected by brain conditions.

Alzheimer's disease is an irreversible and progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills. Symptoms usually appear after age 60. Many scientists now believe damage to the brain may begin decades earlier. Thankfully, doctors are now able to start treatments earlier, slowing the loss of brain cells and the progression of debilitating physical and mental impairments.

Some 500,000 Canadians have Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia, 71,000 of those are under the age of 65, with women accounting for 72% of all cases. There are currently at least 2.85 million Canadians providing care for a family member with long-term health problems. According to a Health Canada study, 25% of caregivers have had their employment situation affected by their caregiving responsibilities and about 40% of them face long-term financial pressures as a result.

This is an important motion and I thank the hon. member for bringing it to the House. We need all members pushing for investments in Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, as we have an aging population, an increased risk of dementia and rising human and economic costs.

I will quote from my April 13 speech regarding Bill C-9, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget. It reads:

Where is the help now for our seniors in the budget?

Where is the investment in our aging population? We have a federal government that has hardly uttered the word “health” for the last four years. Yet, worldwide there is concern that the baby boomers are retiring and entering their high demand period for health care. In Canada there will be 7.5 million people over the age of 65 by 2025. Population aging has tremendous implications for Canada, where most elderly people would not be able to meet more than a small fraction of the cost of the health care they incur. The average hospital stay in Canada costs $7,000 and does not take into account emergency or cardiac care.

Today, someone in Canada develops dementia every five minutes. This will change to one new case every two minutes in 30 years. In 30 years the prevalence of dementia in Canada will more than double, with the costs increasing tenfold if no changes are made. This means the total cost associated with this mind-robbing disease could reach $153 billion by 2038, up from the $15 billion a year today.

The Alzheimer Society of Canada suggests four key ways to slow the growth in cases of Alzheimer's and dementia: promote healthier lifestyles including encouraging people over age 65 to increase their physical activity levels; add system navigators to guide families through the complex health care system; invest in support and education for caregivers; and combine risk reduction strategies to delay the onset of dementia by two years, particularly through the discovery of new treatments.

If we could merely slow the onset of dementia by two years for each affected Canadian, we would see a return on investment of 15,000% over a 30 year research effort. One of the biggest challenges we face, therefore, is how to best prevent and postpone disease and to maintain the health, independence and mobility of an aging population.

Every day, hundreds of thousands of Canadians experience the difficult reality of Alzheimer's disease. Those living with the disease want to be seen, want to be heard and should never have to face this disease alone. Those caring for a loved one face overwhelming emotional and physical demands and require real supports. We must see the person, not the illness. No one ever wants to be a patient, but rather a vibrant, contributing member of society.

As one woman said:

It has not ended my life. I am still a very viable human being, as are others with the same diagnosis. Certainly I grieved the onset of this disease, but after talking with the local Alzheimer Society rep, I now attend an early-stage support group and feel good about volunteering for the organization. Once again I am allowed to feel useful.

We must strive to ease the burden of every individual struggling to recall a spouse's name, every person unable to recognize a child's face and every family member or friend who brings them comfort and care. We must seek hope for all families struggling with Alzheimer's disease. We must renew our commitment to research that is improving treatments for this illness and may one day prevent it entirely. We must leave no avenue unexplored.

It is fundamentally important to make sound fiscal decisions. As President Obama said, “The answers to our problems don't lie beyond our reach”.

We absolutely have the opportunity to change the course of Alzheimer's disease now. Today we have a variety of disease-modifying treatments, but shrinking investment in Alzheimer research threatens breakthroughs. Investing in research to end Alzheimer's is one of the most sensible decisions the government can make. It not only saves lives but also saves money by reducing the burden on health care.

Finally, we must commit to a national brain strategy for Canada, working with the provinces and the territories. Our party has committed to this, with a focus on key pillars such as awareness and education, prevention, treatment and support, caregiver support, research and income security.

Alzheimer's DiseasePrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Motion No. 574, a motion respecting Alzheimer's, from the member for Edmonton—Leduc.

This debate offers us the chance to look at the specific challenges facing individuals with Alzheimer's as well as the family and friends who love and care for them. It also gives us the opportunity to open up the debate and discuss larger challenges that exist within Canada with respect to long-term community care and home care, disease prevention, healthy living, health education, and poverty, just to name a few. They are all connected.

The challenges that Alzheimer's brings to so many lives are really a microcosm of the challenges throughout our entire system, like the rising cost of medication, the need for national standards for access to care, the need for processes that allow for the sharing of best practices, and the need to help families with the emotional and financial weight of caregiving.

I have experienced this weight myself. My mother was a psychiatric nurse at a nursing home and also a single mother. I spent a good deal of my childhood in a nursing home. I have seen families deal with Alzheimer's and dementia first-hand. I have seen the different ways it affects families as well as the people with Alzheimer's and dementia. And I have seen the range of responses to what was happening to them and their loved ones.

Moreover, my grandmother had Alzheimer's. In the early stages of her disease, I was the primary caregiver living with her. It is only recently that I have come to an understanding of the stress that I was under, and that my mother and uncle were under. This stress we did not fully understand at the time.

This greater understanding that we now have of our own health very much includes brain diseases like Alzheimer's. These diseases were traditionally stigmatized and hidden from view. With this motion, we have the chance to rid ourselves of our fear of discussing aging and the way that it affects our minds and bodies. The motion also gives us the opportunity to confront the difficulties that come with caring for people who are losing control over their minds, their memories, their freedom, and their relationships.

I think this motion calls for some important things. It calls for the recognition of the patient's right to dignity, the emotional and psychological toll that Alzheimer's takes on family members, and the increasing cost pressure on the health systems providing treatment and care. It also draws attention to the roles of societal organizations that are tackling Alzheimer's head-on. Alzheimer's is a serious and devastating disease that puts an incredible strain on families, relationships, and a patient's sense of self.

The statistics are staggering and there is a gender lens we need to consider. One in six women and one in ten men who reach the age of 55 can expect to develop Alzheimer's in their lifetime. This was a staggering number for me when I read that statistic.

These numbers mean that we need swift and comprehensive action to address Alzheimer's in Canada, especially with our aging population, which some call the “grey tsunami”. We need to have a pan-Canadian framework that brings together all levels of government: federal, provincial, territorial, and first nations. Bring all levels together with a common goal of improving the responsiveness of our system with respect to diagnosis, provision of services, long-term care strategies, and the sharing of best practices.

Federal leadership is needed. The government is obligated under the Canada Health Act to ensure the universality of care, national standards, and best practices across the country for all areas of health care. We need to address not only Alzheimer's, but all the brain diseases that affect so many people in every corner of Canada.

While I support this motion's focus on Alzheimer's, we need to expand the scope to include other brain-related diseases. Alzheimer's is just one of a number of brain diseases. There are others, like ALS and Parkinson's. All of these diseases have similar effects on the lives of patients and their families: increased emotional and psychological burdens, increased financial burdens, the loss of mobility, and the loss of freedom.

Because of these similarities, I think that brain diseases can be addressed as a group, with allowances made for the differences among them. I am sure that differences exist, but we have a common goal to better the lives of Canadians.

While this is a private member's motion brought forward by the member for Edmonton—Leduc to address a problem that he recognizes in his community, that we recognize in our communities, I think that this motion showcases the Conservatives' piecemeal approach to health. We need action. We need a national strategy to deal with the issue of Alzheimer's and other brain diseases.

Alzheimer's cannot be discussed in a vacuum. Adequately addressing the inherent issues necessitates a larger discussion of our system as a tool for caring for our friends, families, and neighbours. As long as economic and social injustices are permitted to exist in Canada, the health of Canadians will continue to suffer and families will continue to tread on difficult financial and emotional ground.

Providing dignity for patients, as this motion calls for, will not happen as long as the government continues to work against true universality of care across the country. Dignity will not come if they abdicate their role under the Canada Health Act.

We will see true dignity established only when we have pan-Canadian standards for care, including long-term care, home care, community care, and palliative care. A suite a care options that individuals and families can take advantage of will recognize issues of dignity, differences in circumstance, and various familial capabilities.

By creating stability and fluidity of care and service, a comprehensive strategy would address the emotional and psychological toll that brain diseases take on family members .

A care strategy would also reduce cost pressure on the system. More long-term care beds would mean fewer people taking up acute care beds: many of them could be in long-term care at a quarter of the cost. A national strategy for addressing brain diseases would lead to cost savings and would better the lives of Canadians.

Alzheimer's affects families generally, but it is important to mention that Alzheimer's exacts a particularly large toll on women. Women are statistically more likely to develop Alzheimer's, and women are more often tasked with taking care of relatives who need living assistance because of Alzheimer's and other health conditions. If we took gender equality seriously in this House, we would already have a strong caregiving strategy and a strong Alzheimer's strategy.

This motion is well-intentioned and I support it. It is respectful of the issues facing families affected by Alzheimer's. Nevertheless, I would like to see action by the government to address the daily needs of those living with Alzheimer's and those caring for loved ones with Alzheimer's and other brain diseases.

We need to bring together the different levels of government. While I continue to hope for real government action on brain diseases, I will be happy to vote in favour of this motion on Alzheimer's, and I look forward to its being brought forward in the House for a vote.

Alzheimer's DiseasePrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Malo Bloc Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Madam Speaker, following the publication of the World Alzheimer Report by Alzheimer's Disease International on September 21, the member for Edmonton—Leduc moved the current motion. This report paints a startling picture of how much Alzheimer's disease costs health care systems.

I would first like to mention some statistics. According to this report, there are 35.6 million people in world with Alzheimer's and other dementia and 120,000 in Quebec alone. The number of people affected worldwide will balloon to 65.7 million in 2030 and 115.4 million in 2050. In terms of financial impact, the global cost of dementia will exceed 1% of the world's GDP, or $604 billion U.S., in 2010.

The motion being discussed today deals with the growing costs faced by public health systems in order to treat these issues. It is clear that the aging population and Alzheimer's have significant economic impact. But above and beyond the costs, I feel that the little known, often underestimated human and social impacts are even more important.

Isolation, exclusion and loss of independence are the factors that must guide and inspire government policies. It is also a question of the right to dignity and compassion as well as the emotional and psychological burdens that these issues cause for family and loved ones.

These people need all the compassion and support the government can give them through its policies and programs. The loss of memory and autonomy, changes in behaviour and communication methods: thousands of lives are turned upside down by Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. The difficulties associated with these kinds of illnesses are tremendous, not only for the people who have the disease, but also for their family caregivers, friends and loved ones who provide continuous care.

According to the Canadian Medical Association, 80% of all home care provided to seniors is provided by unpaid family caregivers. It has also been proven that the more incapacitated the patient is, the higher the risk of stress for the caregiver. That is why the Bloc Québécois believes that tax credits for family caregivers must be improved and the eligibility criteria must be relaxed.

Considering our aging population and the tremendous pressure this will put on families and on the health care system, we need to adequately recognize the support being provided by these brave, determined men and women who dedicate so much time and energy to caring for their loved ones who are ill.

Improving the guaranteed income supplement would be another good way to recognize that the poorest seniors stricken with this condition have a right to dignity.

The mere mention of Alzheimer's disease is frightening, and I am sure my colleagues will agree that, sooner or later, we will all have to deal with it directly or indirectly.

According to a report by a committee of experts responsible for developing Quebec's Alzheimer's plan, one in five baby boomers will develop this disease. Committee chair Dr. Howard Bergman identified seven priority actions to guide the Government of Quebec in developing its national Alzheimer's plan.

Before going into more detail, I would like to reassure my colleagues who heard me say “a national plan”. When the Bloc Québécois talks about a national plan, we are talking about the Quebec nation, which, through its National Assembly, has the power and responsibility to develop care and care delivery plans for Quebeckers.

Dr. Bergman identified seven priority actions to mobilize all Alzheimer's-related sectors. The purpose of these seven actions is to promote synergy to better meet the needs of and support loved ones, families and, of course, those with the disease. Without going into too much detail, I would like to list some of these actions.

One of the first actions is to raise awareness and mobilize. Public organizations, such as the Federation of Quebec Alzheimer Societies, often undertake this role. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all of the people, volunteers and employees alike, who work to make things easier for those with the disease and their families. These people deserve our deepest admiration.

Another action identified by Dr. Bergman is to provide access to personalized, coordinated assessment and treatment services for people with Alzheimer's and their family or informal caregivers. If the federal government wants to address the rising costs to health care systems of treating these diseases, as indicated in the motion, the best way to enable Quebec and the provinces to handle these rising costs is obviously to correct the fiscal imbalance.

That would provide Quebec and the provinces with stable funding, thereby enabling them to improve services to the public and ensure that their citizens receive adequate health care.

At this point, I would like to thank the hon. member for Edmonton—Leduc. When I asked him if he believed that this motion placed government actions within the context of the Canadian Parliament's legislative jurisdiction, he invited me to move an amendment to his motion to clarify that aspect. I thank him for that.

I therefore move:

That the motion be amended by adding after the words “the government” the following: “, with regard to matters under the Parliament of Canada's legislative jurisdiction,”.

Alzheimer's DiseasePrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

It is my duty to inform hon. members that pursuant to Standing Order 93(3) no amendment may be proposed to a private member's motion or to the motion for second reading of a private member's bill unless the sponsor of the item indicates his or her consent.

Therefore, I ask the hon. member for Edmonton—Leduc whether he consents to the amendment being moved.

Alzheimer's DiseasePrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

James Rajotte Conservative Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Madam Speaker, I absolutely agree.

Alzheimer's DiseasePrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The amendment is therefore in order.

Alzheimer's DiseasePrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the motion put forward by the member for Edmonton—Leduc. Motion No. 574 states:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should continue to address the rising financial and human costs of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia in Canada by ensuring, now and in the future, that its programs and policy development related to this issue continue to recognize: (a) the right to dignity and compassion of patients stricken by such conditions; (b) the emotional and psychological toll on family members and friends of patients afflicted by such conditions; (c) the increasing costs imposed on public health systems by the treatment of such conditions; and (d) the role played by such civil organizations as the Alzheimer Society of Canada and Neurological Health Charities Canada in furthering our understanding of the impacts of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

It is important for members of the House to debate motions such as this one given that this is an important disease and one that is increasing in severity as the population ages. Members have suggested a number of interesting solutions in terms of dealing with the rising cost of medications, help for the families of people with Alzheimer's, and the whole issue of whether tax credits could be improved.

I have constituents in my riding who have Alzheimer's disease. In one specific case the husband has the disease. The wife always tells me how important it is for Manitoba home care to provide her with service once a week. It allows her to go out to do the shopping and the other things she has to do. She is tied to her husband the rest of the week because she never knows whether he will wander away when she is not around. This situation has put her under a lot of stress.

On January 4 of this year the Alzheimer Society of Ontario produced a report, to which other members have made reference in various debates in the House. The suggestion is that the rising tide of dementia is projected to cost Canadians $872 billion over the next 30 years. Clearly this is a problem that is ballooning and is something that we have to deal with as best we can.

The report released by the Alzheimer Society to mark Alzheimer's Awareness Month revealed alarming new statistics about the projected economic and social costs of dementia in Canada. The report, “Rising Tide: The Impact of Dementia on Canadian Society” says that if nothing changes, the prevalence of dementia will more than double in 30 years with the cost increasing tenfold. It goes on to say that today in Canada every five minutes someone develops dementia. In 30 years it will be one new case every two minutes.

The principal spokesman said:

If nothing changes, this sharp increase in the number of people living with dementia will mean that by 2038, the total costs associated with dementia will reach $153 billion a year. This amounts to a massive cumulative total of $872 billion over this 30-year period.

Recognizing the urgent need to start turning the tide of dementia, the new report also outlines a series of potential interventions that could help minimize the impact of the disease. For example, one of the four proposed interventions looks at the benefits of delaying the onset of dementia in people by just two years, with a potential cost savings of $219 billion over the 30-year period.

Hope lies in making changes today that will lessen dementia's crippling effect on Canadian families, the health care system and the economy. More than ever research is a critical contributor to this change.

I want to say that the member for Etobicoke North has made several speeches on this health issue and others. Her speech is well worth reading. I heard her tonight actually quote herself which is not something we normally recommend but in her case I accept it. She made such a good speech initially that it bears repeating. Every point in it is very important to the debate that we are involved in here.

The spokesman for the Alzheimer Society also said:

With an increased investment in research, we will learn more about prevention, possibly even discover a treatment to delay the onset of the disease and reduce its impact substantially.

Other findings from “Rising Tide” include pressure on the health care system. In 2008 more than 103,700 people developed dementia and by 2038, 257,000 new cases per year are expected. That will mean extreme pressure on families. The hours of care delivered by unpaid family members are expected to more than triple, increasing from 231 million hours in 2008 to 756 million hours by 2038.

I mentioned my friend in Winnipeg. There are dozens of people in this situation who are tied to their homes and their loved ones and are unable to get away. That is why we have to look at home care programs. Manitoba has one of the first home care programs in the country and it is an excellent program. I do not know what the situation is with respect to home care across the country.

I want to mention the whole issue of changing the way doctors are compensated. In the 1970s the Manitoba health minister in the Schreyer government looked at Minneapolis, Minnesota which had a different system of paying doctors. It was known as the “capitation system”, where there were a number of doctors in a given area and all of the patients from that area had to go to those doctors. People lost their choice in doctors but certain doctors would take care of an area.

As an improvement over that, in Europe doctors are paid on a similar basis to that type of capitation system. They are paid for the outcomes. Smoking is the easiest example to understand. If the doctor is able to get a patient to quit smoking, then he or she is paid on that basis.

On this basis the doctor would look at the symptoms for Alzheimer's for example and realize that if someone is around 65 years of age and the doctor can develop an exercise program to get that person to lead a better lifestyle, then the doctor's compensation would be based on that as opposed to the system that we currently have which I think we can all agree needs some improvement. Even doctors themselves would probably agree that it is time to take a look at a better system.

The member indicates that it is a provincial matter. Not exactly. The federal government has a large role to play in the area of health care. It is incumbent upon the federal government to get the provinces together and start discussing this whole issue about how we can better change the compensation system for the doctors so that they have a system where they can anticipate what may be wrong with the patient and develop a lifestyle change.

For example, if a person has diabetes, we know that diet is a big part of the rehabilitation program, but how many doctors actually put people on a proper diet and then follow up on it? From the patients I know who have diabetes, the doctor simply prescribes a bunch of medication and lets the person continue eating cheeseburgers and hamburgers which the person should not be eating. There is not that interest nor the incentive for the doctor to take care of the entire situation.

Alzheimer's DiseasePrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Conservative Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Madam Speaker, I am grateful for the opportunity to speak today on this motion and, in particular, to talk about some of the good work being done by the government to address this health issue.

With the aging of the population, more people will develop Alzheimer's disease or related dementia. The number of Canadians afflicted is expected to rise substantially over the next 30 years, with the aging of the baby boomer population and the health needs that go along with it.

I am firmly of the view that it is through investments and research that we can unlock the potential to lessen the burden of Alzheimer's and dementia, not just on individuals and families, but also on the health system.

Let me offer one example. It has been estimated that delaying the onset of Alzheimer's and dementia by only two years would reduce its cumulative costs over the next 30 years by an estimated $219 billion. Delaying onset by two years would reduce the number of cases in Canada by 410,000.

That is the promise. However, we will see that promise realized only through research breakthroughs. That is why I am proud to say that through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the government has invested over $88 million in research into the causes, treatments and potential cures for Alzheimer's disease and related dementia since 2006, including $22.7 million in 2009 and 2010 alone.

Through these investments, Canadian researchers in this field are recognized around the world for their excellence. Federal research funding facilitates their efforts in discovering ways to prevent, diagnose and treat this devastating illness.

Our investments include CIHR's commitment of $2.5 million over five years for the Canadian Dementia Knowledge Translation Network, which will share information about dementia with a wide range of players in our health care system. What is more, CIHR is investing $30 million in the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging, investigating neuropsychological, social and economic issues of Canadians aged 45 to 85 over the next 20 years.

CIHR, like many funding organizations worldwide, has recognized there is a global imperative to act on the rising tide of Alzheimer's disease and related dementia. That is why it has recently established the international collaborative research strategy for Alzheimer's disease. The international strategy will encourage scientific collaborations between researchers in Canada and other researchers around the world.

The objective is to establish joint funding partnerships, which will address the growing national and international issue. This international strategy recognizes that presently treatment that follows a diagnosis of Alzheimer's or dementia occurs too late in the course of the underlying disease after permanent damage to brain cells has already occurred.

Therefore, the international strategy's research agenda will focus on the early events in Alzheimer's and dementia. In doing so, experts will examine research problems that are biomedical and clinical as related to health services. Social, cultural and environmental influences on population health will also be examined. The goal is to identify the disease early so that measures can be put in place to delay its onset.

CIHR is working closely with the Alzheimer's Society of Canada in putting together this international strategy. Our government has already signed several international agreements and funding initiatives with France, the U.K. and Germany, which will work with us to combat this global health problem.

Additional partnerships are being developed with China, Belgium and the U.S. All of this work and leadership on behalf of our government will be a huge asset to the provinces and territories in the delivery of their health care system.

The motion asks for the recognition of the important role played by civil society organizations, such as the Alzheimer's Society of Canada, in advancing our understanding of Alzheimer's and dementia. In addition to the partnerships mentioned above, I am pleased to note that CIHR is working closely with the Alzheimer's Society of Canada through its Institute of Aging.

A program called the cognitive impairment in aging partnership has invested $32 million to date in linking researchers and key stakeholders to advance strategic research and knowledge translation on cognitive impairment and dementia.

With investments in world-class research excellence, Canada has built a number of distinct global advantages: an excellent track record in Alzheimer's and dementia research; a reputation for high impact research; and CIHR's strong reputation for partnership and innovation in health research.

Canada is fortunate to be an ideal site for clinical trials and large population-based studies such as the Canadian longitudinal study on aging. Our expertise and resources will enable us to be poised to develop a better understanding of the risk factors around Alzheimer's and dementia, particularly regarding genetics, nutrition and lifestyle.

I expect the future will bring promising developments in early diagnosis with new findings in genomics, diagnostic biomarkers, brain imaging and psychological and cognitive testing. I am hopeful that these findings will lead to new approaches in early intervention with therapeutic clinical trials with a focus on prevention.

We will learn how the control of blood pressure and cholesterol, exercise, nutrition, mental stimulation and aspects of our social environment can impact on this disease. Our goal is to prevent and mitigate the toll of Alzheimer's and dementia on individuals and society by leveraging our track record in research and galvanizing the Canadian research community by building partnerships with users of research knowledge and mobilizing coordinated and innovative international research efforts.

I am confident that we will make substantial progress to this goal. I would like to thank the member for Edmonton—Leduc for his hard work in bringing this forward today.

Alzheimer's DiseasePrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

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

6:30 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Madam Speaker, I want to raise the question of the unfairness surrounding the whole notion of getting a visitor visa.

I know the tourism minister recently went to China to say how wonderful it was that we finally received the designation so more tourists could come from China to Toronto. That would definitely help our tourism industry. It is good for our economy and for our culture.

What we have not examined is the fact that 20% of those people who apply for visitor visas get turned down. When members of Parliament ask the visa office why they have been turned down, they are often given a standard form letter along the lines that their economic ties to the home country are not sufficient. What does that mean?

A few months ago, through Standing Order 43, I asked the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism what precise criteria was needed at each of the visa offices around the globe to qualify visitors and allow them to get tourist visa approval.

I received a very interesting response, and that was there really were no specific criteria. There are no specific guidelines as to how much money people need to be making, what kind of job they need, what kind of property they need to have in their home land, how many family members need to be there. None of that is written down. There are no set rules.

How does one define economic ties? My constituents feel this is very strange. They have told me they have friends whose parents are making x dollars and that they are making the same amount or even more. They ask me why one set of parents can come to Canada to visit but theirs cannot?

How would I ever answer that question? We do not know the criteria. We do not know what the dollar amount is that people need in their bank account or what their salary needs to be to qualify as rich enough to come to Canada as a visitor.

I created a Facebook group called “Fairness for Visitor Visa”. I captured quite a large number of stories of people who were unable to bring their relatives or friends to Canada.

Allow me to read one or two of the stories. One of them is from Havva Seydaii. She says:

“My mother-in-law was denied a visitor's visa for the second time to come attend her son's (my husband) graduation from Ryerson University even though we provided all documents to prove she would not stay permanently in Canada. We even had a letter signed by a notary public. The really strange thing is that she visited Canada before in 1999 and returned to her home country, Turkey within 2 months, clearly indicating that she has no desire to stay here. My husband and I are both Canadian citizens and could sponsor her if we wanted to but she does not want to live in Canada and just needs a visitor's visa. It is obvious that the visa approval process is flawed and unfair. It causes people—

6:30 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order, please. I regret to interrupt the hon. member, but her time is up. I would ask the hon. parliamentary secretary to respond.

6:30 p.m.

St. Catharines Ontario

Conservative

Rick Dykstra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Madam Speaker, I do appreciate and thank the hon. member for Trinity—Spadina for her question.

Admissibility decisions on applications to enter or remain in Canada can have a significant impact on the ministry's ability to ensure that immigration benefits Canada's economic, social and cultural development, while continuing to protect the health, safety and security of Canadians.

Our visa officers are our first line of defence in protecting Canada's interests, and frankly, they deserve better than the criticism that my hon. colleague has directed towards them.

My colleague has suggested that the visa officers work with “no clear criteria, guidelines or standards for entry” and that their decisions are arbitrary. This is simply not true. The grounds for inadmissibility of foreign nationals seeking to come to Canada are clearly outlined in sections 34 to 42 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which I would be happy to provide to the hon. member.

These sections outline grounds that include national security, including raising money for terrorist organizations, war crimes or organized crime. It is true that these inadmissibility provisions in the IRPA are currently being reviewed. In fact, Citizenship and Immigration Canada reviews its policies periodically in order to ensure that they provide officials with the tools necessary to maintain the integrity of Canada's immigration system.

The objectives of this admissibility review are to assess whether the provisions in IRPA continue to meet Canadian needs, identify any gaps, recommend necessary updates to policy and operational guidelines, or in fact, recommend amendments to legislation or any associated regulations that are dependent upon that legislation. An admissibility working group has been established involving CIC, Canada Border Services Agency and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, that is examining ways to streamline security screenings.

In the short term, our ministry has distributed a message to field officers that the refusal letter is reviewed by the immigration program manager for any cases being considered for a refusal under sections 34 or 35.

I would conclude by adding that Canada has the highest regard for India, and each year we welcome more than 130,000 Indians either on a temporary or on a permanent basis.