House of Commons Hansard #98 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was immigration.


National Maternity Assistance Program Strategy ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-243 under private members' business.

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #135

National Maternity Assistance Program Strategy ActPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.


The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities.

(Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

The House resumed from October 20 consideration of the motion that Bill C-240, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit—first aid) be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.


The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-240 under private members' business.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #136

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.


The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, this bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Finance.

(Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

The House resumed from October 21 consideration of the motion.

Tax AvoidancePrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.


The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on Motion No. 42 under private members' business in the name of the member for Joliette.

(The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #137

Tax AvoidancePrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.


The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the motion defeated.

The House resumed from October 24 consideration of the motion.

Abandoned VesselsPrivate Members' Business

6:35 p.m.


The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on Motion No. 40, as amended, under private members' business, in the name of the hon. member for South Shore—St. Margarets.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #138

Abandoned VesselsPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.


The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the motion as amended carried.

The House resumed from October 25 consideration of the motion that Bill S-201, An Act to prohibit and prevent genetic discrimination, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Genetic Non-Discrimination ActPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.


The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred division at second reading of Bill S-201 under private members' business.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #139

Genetic Non-Discrimination ActPrivate Members' Business

6:50 p.m.


The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

(Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

Genetic Non-Discrimination ActPrivate Members' Business

6:50 p.m.


The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

It being 6:50 p.m. the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House resumed from September 23, 2016, consideration of the motion, and of the amendment.

Immigration to Atlantic CanadaPrivate Members' Business

6:55 p.m.


Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, as vice-chair of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, and as the NDP critic for citizenship, immigration, and refugees, I rise to speak in support of Motion M-39, with its proposed amendment. If the amendment and the motion pass, and I expect that they will, I look forward to studying the issue at committee.

Motion M-39 is requesting that the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration take on a broad study of immigration to Atlantic Canada that would include the following: the challenge of a regional population that is both aging and shrinking; how to increase the retention of current residents and newcomers; and how to increase immigration to the region. It would also examine the pilot initiatives of the Atlantic growth strategy.

I want to note that the scope of the motion is about more than just sending people to Atlantic Canada. Rather, it is a call for the committee to examine how to increase the economic and social well-being of Atlantic Canada. It is about building the region up so that more people not only go there but stay there and thrive. That means that the study needs to take a broad view. It requires a holistic approach and comprehensive solutions.

When I saw the motion, I thought about a story that was reported in the media this summer. It is a story about a Syrian chocolatier. In August, the media spoke to Assam Hadhad and his family. Mr. Hadhad was a successful chocolatier in Damascus, Syria, where he employed 30 people in his factory and shipped his chocolates all over the Middle East. As a result of the ongoing civil war in Syria, his factory was destroyed in a bombing. After that, he and his family fled to Lebanon and have since successfully made their way to Antigonish, Nova Scotia.

The small community of Antigonish welcomed the Hadhad family with open arms. Not only did they help the family resettle in Canada, they helped Mr. Hadhad go back to doing what he loves: making chocolate. Volunteers helped him build a tiny shed and turn it into the current one-person factory named the Peace by Chocolate company. Mr. Hadhad's chocolates are now being sold at local markets and through special orders, and he hopes to eventually be able to expand and hire staff from the community.

In a truly pay-it-forward moment, after receiving the help he and his family received, Mr. Hadhad was donating his profits to the victims of the Fort McMurray fire. This is what we call a successful resettlement story. It is inspirational, it is heartwarming, and there is no question that Mr. Hadhad is contributing to the social and economic well-being of Atlantic Canada.

From a purely immigration numbers standpoint, the most recent figures show that Atlantic Canada is not receiving an equitable share of the immense benefits immigration provides to Canada as a whole.

In 2014, only about 3% of new permanent residents resided in the Atlantic region. That is just over 8,000 people. As a share of the national population, the Atlantic region makes up over 6.5% of the Canadian population. As I touched on a moment ago, the solution is not to simply increase the number. We need a broad-based strategy not to just bring people to Atlantic Canada but to give them a reason to stay and thrive there.

As the motion sets out, Atlantic Canada is currently feeling the effects of both an aging population and a shrinking population, due mainly to youth out-migration from Atlantic Canada to other parts of the country.

On the issue of the aging population, while nationally just over 16% of Canadians were over the age of 65 in 2015, in the Atlantic region, these proportions were elevated, ranging from 18% to 19% in each Atlantic province.

In addition to this, Atlantic Canada is also struggling with youth out-migration. From 2009 to 2014, net out-migration of young Canadians aged 15-29 ranged from a low of 3,900 from Prince Edward Island to a high of nearly 10,000 from New Brunswick.

When a region is dealing with an elevated population of those entering retirement, on top of dealing with the significant out-migration of youth, who are supposed to replace them in the labour force, it puts an additional strain on the economy of the region.

To understand how to create the circumstances for newcomers to stay and thrive, it requires understanding why young Atlantic Canadians are not staying and what can be done to change that for everyone.

As my colleague, the member for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski has heard across this country on her campaign #GenYAsksY, precarious work and the high cost of education are two of the biggest issues impacting young Canadians as they attempt to build their lives. As we might expect, these issues are more acute in the Atlantic region.

One thing to note is that the region has been heavily reliant on precarious seasonal workers for a long time. In 2015, while nationally just over 13% of Canadians were employed in temporary positions, Atlantic provinces ranged from over 16.5% to nearly 23%. With such elevated numbers in temporary work, one has to examine if that is helping or hampering the social and economic well-being of Atlantic Canada in the long-term.

Regarding the elevated levels of precarious, seasonal, and temporary work in the region, the Liberal government has sent some very mixed messages. In February 2016, the government quietly exempted the region's seafood processors, allowing them to bring in unlimited temporary foreign workers for at least this year.

While I expect immigration can certainly be part of the solution in improving the economy of the region and making it sustainable, the approach of how that is done matters.

The question is, are temporary foreign workers the solution, or do we want to see permanent residents numbers go up in the region? As well, if people are good enough to work, are they not good enough to stay for the long-term? To move backwards by lifting restrictions on temporary foreign workers is not likely going to help create good, long-term jobs in the region for young people and newcomers alike.

Yesterday, at the immigration and citizenship committee, Mr. Alex LeBlanc, the executive director of the New Brunswick Multicultural Council, raised the question of family reunification. He noted that family reunification should be considered as part of the population retention strategy.

The question of the quota system on family reunification was raised. On retention of youth, worth noting is that with the significant exception of Newfoundland, Atlantic Canada is home to some of the highest tuition fees in the country, with Nova Scotia trailing only behind Ontario for its annual undergrad fees.

At committee, I intend to take a broad-based approach to this motion and at the heart of the motion, we need to examine how the government could work to improve the economic and social conditions in the Atlantic region.

In addition to increasing levels of immigration to the region and retaining youth, any successful strategy will need to examine how we can better provide opportunities for other demographics that are often systemically ignored to succeed, such as aboriginal Canadians and disabled Canadians.

The government needs to be ready to match any immigration initiative with appropriate programs, funding, and strategies to provide newcomers with real opportunities to succeed. Newcomers and young people need real access to skills training that will allow them not only to fill today's jobs but create tomorrow's opportunities.

We have much to do. This motion is welcomed. We need to examine it with a wide view, a holistic approach, so that we can address these issues, not for the short-term but for the long-term.

Immigration to Atlantic CanadaPrivate Members' Business

7 p.m.


Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to speak today to this motion that has been brought forward by my friend and colleague from Fundy Royal. This has such an enormous impact on my riding of Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, as well as neighbouring ridings in Atlantic Canada.

I want to commend the member for introducing Motion No. 39 to the House as it specifically addresses the crucial question of immigration and, more importantly, the retention of newcomers. This is something I personally feel deserves much more attention, thought, and careful study, especially if we want to better understand why newcomers choose to leave our beautiful region.

Canada is first and foremost a land of immigrants. We all, at some point in time, came from somewhere else, and we all brought with us our own cultural and linguistic baggage. As members of the many different groups and nations in our country, we then worked together to forge connections and share our knowledge and experience in the service of creating a new, vibrant, and typically Canadian identity.

Nowadays, we recognize that our Canadian identity is shaped by that diversity of peoples, cultures, and languages. We take genuine pride in affirming the Canadian mosaic. That is why I feel we have to keep moving in that direction, maintain our traditions, and work even harder to attract more immigrants.

This is why I fully support this motion. I sincerely hope that we seek to provide the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration the clear mandate to take a closer look at our immigration situation in order to help our region, and indeed Atlantic Canada as a whole, as we face some serious demographic challenges with which we are currently at risk.

I firmly believe that the information that we are able to gather through such studies and analyses of data would also serve to further the interests of many other regions throughout Canada that are currently facing very similar demographic challenges.

As we all know, Canada is facing one of the worst demographic crises of all time. Everywhere we go, we hear the same thing: Canada's population is aging at an alarming rate, to the point where we are no longer able to support our labour market needs.

Indeed, between 1956 and 2006, the median age of the Canadian population rose from 27.2 to 38.8 years, an increase of more than 10 years over a span of just 50 years. Also, by 2056, the median age is expected to reach 46.9 years, or 20 years more than it was in 1956. That is worrisome.

Obviously, the impact of this problem is easily seen in the labour shortages that we are experiencing in many sectors of the economy, but it is worth noting that this population decline is also creating serious problems from a tax perspective. Not only does our aging population mean an increase in transfer payments to the provinces for health and education, but this population decline also reduces our tax base, since fewer people are contributing and paying income and consumption taxes.

This means that we will have less resources that we can then invest in social programs and infrastructure. Canadians will be the ones who suffer as a result.

It goes without saying that back home, in Atlantic Canada, the situation is even more serious. For example, in my province, New Brunswick, the fertility rate is less than 2%. The exodus of our people keeps growing before our eyes. Thousands of New Brunswickers leave our province every year.

According to Michael Haan, Canada Research Chair in Population and Social Policy at the University of New Brunswick, in recent years Atlantic Canada has gone through one of the most significant demographic shifts of any region in Canada. Again, the facts are alarming.

That is why we must absolutely look to immigration to offset this low growth. In fact, for the past few years, migratory increase in Atlantic Canada has been the main source of demographic growth in our region, largely surpassing natural increase.

This is partly because, with the exception of a few urban areas, we live in a part of the country that is predominantly rural, so the impact of our aging population on our way of life is even greater.

In fact, in 2014, for the first time in the recorded history of our province, the number of deaths outnumbered the number of births in our province. We now have the second lowest fertility rate in Canada, a fertility rate that will only continue to drop because of our aging population.

This is simply unacceptable, because we all know that an aging, shrinking population could be absolutely devastating to an economy. The math is simple. Less people working means fewer income taxes, which results in a reduction of resources available to fund key essential public service programs and infrastructure, the development of which is also an important tool in building our economy.

Of course, it is also important to mention that back home, immigration must definitely take into account the language component, because our community has a very large francophone population. Obviously, maintaining our demographic weight in our province is important to us as francophones, otherwise the risk of our language being assimilated and of our culture and institutions being lost becomes too great.

Further analysis of the situation by the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration would allow us to identify the key factors that explain why francophone newcomers have a hard time settling in our region. This is essential information if we want to understand the situation and then develop tangible solutions for improving it.

In my opinion, it is essential that we focus our efforts on attracting francophone immigrants to our region. We must also do what it takes to help them flourish and succeed in our communities. Their contribution is very important for our region from an economic standpoint, but also from a cultural standpoint, because these people greatly enrich our heritage and push us to broaden our horizons.

The government of Canada recognizes that francophone immigration to Canada is vitally important, especially in regions where French is already the minority language.

Consequently, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has set a goal, namely to have francophones represent 4% of the total number of economic immigrants who settle outside Quebec by 2018. This was the impetus for the department to establish, for example, the mobilité francophone component of the international mobility program, whereby skilled francophone workers are exempted from a labour market impact assessment in order to facilitate their entry into Canada and their transition in our communities.

It will now be easier for skilled francophone workers to come to Canada, initially on a temporary basis, but with the possibility of working and remaining in Canada under the express entry system.

While we often hear certain misconceptions about immigration in Atlantic Canada regarding newcomers to our region, it is important to remember that immigrants are not here to take our jobs. In fact, they give much more than they take. They give by sharing their unique experiences with all of us, by filling identified skills gaps in our region, by investing their capital, and by contributing to enhancing our Canadian identity.

I strongly believe that, and on this the data are crystal clear, Atlantic Canada absolutely needs growth. The motion is an important and a necessary first step to improving and understanding the needs of immigration growth and retention in our area. By allowing the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration to study the immigration landscape in Atlantic Canada in greater depth, all ridings in our region will be in a much better position to map out our economic future by developing a progressive immigration strategy that will help address our lack of growth.

I believe that members will agree that we will succeed together, and that by working collaboratively we will build a future for our beautiful region and overcome the many challenges we have.

Immigration to Atlantic CanadaPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.


Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, I agree that we need to increase the number of francophone immigrants in our regions.

My maiden name is Godin. We trace our Acadian roots to the region. I also share the concern that the member opposite just raised. This would be an excellent component of the study, should it in fact go to committee. I will not pain members anymore with my French, which my grandfather would be deeply ashamed of, at this point in time tonight.

I respect my colleague opposite for moving the motion. I am a little curious as to what happened in the first hour of debate. I was not here, and I was not able to listen to it. I understand the parliamentary secretary moved a significant amendment to the motion, which narrows the motion quite a bit. It narrows it down to looking at the Atlantic immigration pilot initiative.

One of the attractive components of the motion, in its first form, was that it had a very broad scope. The issue of strategies for immigration to the region is very important in looking at the long-term economic success of the region. I am curious as to why the parliamentary secretary, who has a government appointment, would significantly narrow the scope to looking at an existing government initiative.

This is an important question to raise, given we had a debate on the Standing Orders where there was an exchange between that parliamentary secretary and another member of the House on the role of parliamentary secretaries in committees. I feel it is necessary to raise this issue.

The Liberal platform said, “We will also change the rules so that Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries no longer have a vote on committees.” It is interesting to talk about how that works in practical reality. What we have, with the movement of the amendment, is a parliamentary secretary essentially dictating what will happen at a committee. There is an incongruency between that and what the Liberal platform said on more freedom in committee studies.

I have looked through the debate to see if there was any sort of push-back from the member opposite. After the parliamentary secretary's speech, I understand the member opposite simply said “I do consent to this amendment” without any sort of rationale for why. Therefore, I am just curious. I am not sure why the member opposite would accept an amendment from a government member to restrict the scope of the motion to this level, especially if we are looking at new and innovative approaches to attract immigration to the region.

On committees, House of Commons Procedure and Practice says:

The idea that committees are “masters of their proceedings” or “masters of their procedures” is frequently evoked in committee debates or the House. The concept refers to the freedom committees normally have to organize their work as they see fit and the option they have of defining, on their own, certain rules of procedure that facilitate their proceedings.

I understand, of course, that the House of Commons has a role in referring items for study to committee. However, I wonder why the member opposite would take advice from a government member, when the party platform is that a parliamentary secretary would not necessarily dictate the role of committees. I also wonder why she would have allowed the parliamentary secretary to do that, which significantly narrows the scope of the motion, which, in theory, as it was originally adopted, could have put that in place. It is a little curious.

I find a second thing curious. The member opposite could really carve a niche out for herself in the area of standing up for her constituents. In speeches from across the House, we have heard that immigration is a key concern in the region. I think we all acknowledge that. I am not sure why the member, as an Atlantic Canadian member, would accept an amendment from a member from downtown Toronto, who is a parliamentary secretary.

It just seems a little weird to me. I think that the member had a fantastic motion going into the House. I think there is probably still some merit to it. It just seems odd and I felt compelled to point out to the House that a parliamentary secretary from downtown Toronto was telling a government committee what to do on a member from Atlantic Canada's motion about Atlantic Canada, when it was pretty good to begin with. I will just put that out there.

Nonetheless, we move forward.

One of the concerns I have with regard to immigration in Atlantic Canada is the government's recent decision to arbitrarily put in place additional low-skilled temporary foreign workers to companies in the area. We know that the unemployment rate in the region is very high. In certain parts of the region it is very high. In fact, certainly, that is some pain my constituents are feeling right now, as well. We have similarly high rates of unemployment in Alberta.

One of the challenges I know we faced in government was that we often had demands from certain industries in the region to have more temporary foreign workers come to fill those jobs. I will be perfectly honest. I think the temporary foreign worker program needs a serious overhaul. This is something that our government crashed into when we saw the abuses of these programs really come to light in 2014, and I am talking specifically about the low-skilled worker area.

Many of the people who come to Canada through the low-skilled worker program are, frankly, exploited. To the companies asking for them in an area of high unemployment, there are broader questions to ask, including, “Are there skills that are lacking from people in the region that we could be training them for to take these jobs?”, or a very difficult and taboo question to ask, which is, “Why do people not want to take these jobs?”

That is a question that I found myself having to answer when a lot of people in Alberta were coming to ask about low-skilled workers or additional temporary foreign workers coming into the province for these types of jobs.

I really do not feel that, as a country, we should be allowing businesses that cannot find Canadian labour to base their entire business model and profit structure on the backs of temporary foreign workers. Even when we think about the name itself, it is offensive: temporary foreign worker. It almost devalues the contribution of those people to our country. They often, I think, experience great challenges coming here.

I was really surprised that the government, as its first immigration initiative to Atlantic Canada, would increase temporary foreign workers in a region with high unemployment to an industry that I do not think has made the case that their business model is not predicated on the availability of low-skilled workers. I think that is a problem. It is not just for Atlantic Canada, but other areas of the country where that might be the case, because if we are seeing wage growth in other areas of the economy but wage stagnation in industries that severely and heavily rely on temporary foreign workers, then that is a government intervention mechanism that is not in the best interests of Canadian workers writ large, and frankly, not in the best interests of the people coming to Canada through that program as well.

Again, I just find it puzzling that a member who has shown some passion—and I respect her for bringing this forward because I think she is going to be able, should it pass, to go to committee and make some meaningful contributions—should restrict the scope of the motion with an amendment from a parliamentary secretary from downtown Toronto on an immigration motion about Atlantic Canada. She allowed it to be restricted to initiatives that are essentially already under way. It is just a little weird. I hope she will speak to this. I hope she will say why she would accept a government member's motion on committee business.

However, should this pass, I certainly hope that the government members on the committee will provide the general public with a rationale as to why they would expand the exploitative temporary foreign worker program in Atlantic Canada, rather than looking at ways to create jobs and economic growth in the long term.

Immigration to Atlantic CanadaPrivate Members' Business

7:20 p.m.


François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to talk about immigration to Canada and, more specifically, to Atlantic Canada. I am doing so because the Atlantic provinces are so beautiful. Yvon Godin has been a very important mentor to me in my political career. I speak with him often these days. He is teaching me a great deal about the official languages portfolio, since I am now the NDP critic on that file.

As members know, Yvon Godin is the former member for Acadie—Bathurst. He fought hard for the well-being of his Acadian community, the Atlantic provinces in general, and francophones in Canada. I am therefore pleased to rise in the House today to speak to Motion No. 39, which deals with immigration to Atlantic Canada. This motion was moved by my Liberal counterpart from the riding of Fundy Royal in New Brunswick. I mention where this motion came from because New Brunswick is the only officially bilingual province in Canada. That is very important and I will explain why in my speech.

I support this motion because the NDP supports all initiatives that promote the socioeconomic well-being of the Atlantic provinces, a region that, quite frankly, has been hard hit in recent years, particularly by the Harper government's bad public policies.

Motion No. 39 instructs the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration to undertake a study on immigration to Atlantic Canada. The committee must consider, among other things, the challenges associated with an aging population and shrinking population base. It must also consider possible recommendations on how to increase immigration to the region. It is also being asked to report its findings to the House within one year of the adoption of the motion.

My colleague who just spoke is a member of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, where she does excellent work. Like her, I support this recommendation. The NDP is in favour of a study on how to help the Atlantic provinces take full advantage of the benefits of immigration to Canada.

Increasing immigration to the Atlantic provinces is part of the solution, but it is not the only solution. We should take a comprehensive, holistic approach so we can address all the issues related to demographics, the economy, and social inequalities in the Atlantic provinces.

We are in favour of a study of the best ways to reduce inter-regional disparities in Canadian provinces, thereby fostering sustainable development in Canada.

Here are some figures. According to Statistics Canada, Canada's population grew by 0.9% from 2014 to 2015, although during the same period, the Atlantic provinces' population shrunk by 0.1% to 0.2%. In other words, their population is not continuing to flourish and grow. Naturally, the francophone population in Atlantic Canada is following the same pattern. We therefore need to use every available means to improve that situation.

In 2014, Canada welcomed about 260,000 new permanent residents. As for the Atlantic provinces, they welcomed only 8,000, which represents about 3% of those new permanent residents.

In 2015, the Atlantic provinces had the highest proportion of the population aged 65 and over in the country. With an aging population comes a smaller workforce, which could cause numerous challenges for the Atlantic region. That is why it is so important to have a closer look at this issue, and this study is a first step.

I mentioned my colleague Yvon Godin earlier. He worked very hard on behalf of the Canadian francophonie and the Atlantic provinces.

Yvon Godin also fought for immigration to ensure that we kept a significant threshold of francophone immigration across Canada where there are official language minority communities.

New Brunswick is an important example where the francophone population represents roughly 40% of the population, while 60% are anglophones. As I was saying, it is the only officially bilingual province and it is important to maintain this high francophone ratio. That is why immigration is essential.

To that I would like to say that currently at the Standing Committee on Official Languages, we are studying immigration in official language minority communities. However, we do not have a lot of time for our study. We are studying this and seeing how we might improve the situation. I will be pleased to share the results of our study with the members of the committee. Those results might inform their upcoming study.

We have a target for francophone immigration to official language minority communities across Canada. That target is 4.4% of francophone immigration to official language minority communities outside Quebec by 2013. We are nowhere near that, and for that reason we are conducting studies in order to improve the situation in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and the other Atlantic provinces, for example.

Some members mentioned the return of the Mobilité francophone program, which, unfortunately, was abolished by the Conservatives. I want to acknowledge this Liberal initiative. Collegiality seldom happens in the House, but it is important to recognize good work. The return of Mobilité francophone is a good example. Congratulations to the Liberals for bringing it back. The Conservatives made a mistake when they abolished it. This does not solve everything, but it is a good step forward that will improve the situation of francophone minority communities. Improvements are necessary, as I mentioned.

Furthermore, one of the annual reports of the Commissioner of Official Languages indicated that immigration needs to be understood as a tool for the growth and development of official language minority communities.

Immigration should therefore be considered a tool for growth and not a problem or something difficult. The problem that we have with francophone immigration to official language minority communities is that we often forget that francophone immigrants need to become productive members of society, that the organizations must be run by and for official language minority communities. The services must be offered by and for francophone communities, otherwise it is very difficult to build the ties needed for the community to flourish.

I do not have much time left, but I would like to mention that efforts to promote immigration are also underway in my riding, which, by the way, is not in the Atlantic region. We are welcoming many newcomers and enriching the greater Drummond area with many communities from various countries.

Recently, we welcomed a number of Syrian families. We are very proud to have participated in this effort. We are working hard to integrate them into our community, to help them find jobs, to send their children to school, and to help them to grow, so that they, in return, can help grow our community. We must not forget that immigration benefits us all. It is what helped us grow as a nation. Canada is a country of immigrants, and we need to continue to enrich our culture and our communities through immigration to the Atlantic provinces and other areas of Canada.