House of Commons Hansard #135 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was ukraine.


Foreign AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.


Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Madam Speaker, the new parliamentary secretary's response was certainly a much more on-topic and on-point response than I have heard on this subject in the past. He recognizes the fact that there is an escalation of these abuses, and we were not starting from a particularly positive point in the first place.

I would ask the parliamentary secretary if we are going to hear, going forward, a PMO that is actually willing to criticize the abuses of the Chinese justice system, because we know those exist. In the past when asked by media, the PMO has declined to make those clear comments about the problems in the Chinese justice system.

What are the implications of this crackdown on religious liberty for the government's discussion of extradition? When holding particular religious views is a crime in China, how can we possibly contemplate extradiction?

I would appreciate the member's comments on those points as well.

Foreign AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.


Matt DeCourcey Liberal Fredericton, NB

Madam Speaker, my friend across the way would know that this government has been unequivocal on its stance on respect for the rule of law and for human rights. He will know, and Canadians know, that these are an integral part of our foreign policy, because they are integral to who we are as Canadians.

As I said, we are deeply concerned about the proposed amendments to further regulate religious activities in China. Our Prime Minister, this government, all of us, have consistently called on China to protect and promote the freedom of religion or belief of all Chinese citizens.

Through these high-level exchanges and ongoing initiatives at the bilateral and multilateral level, we will continue to engage and encourage China to support inclusion and diversity, and to live up to its international human rights obligations.

Under this government, Canada is re-engaging with the world, and we will continue to champion values of inclusiveness and accountable governments, pluralism, rule of law, and human rights.

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.


Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, for many years Canadians have turned to live-in caregivers to provide care for their children and their seniors. As the accessibility of child care and home care for aging seniors has become increasingly difficult and the cost of child care is unaffordable, the demand for live-in caregiver programs has increased.

I do not think anyone questions the fact that there is a clear, long-term, demonstrated labour shortage in this area. The previous Conservative government acknowledged that the program was broken and that the live-in caregivers are in a very vulnerable position, prone to abuse and exploitation. Its supposed fixes to the problems in the program were entirely deficient and missed the central point, and that is, if individuals are good enough to work, they are good enough to stay.

Currently, live-in caregivers must work for two years in Canada before they can even apply for permanent residence. This leaves them in a vulnerable position, as individuals could be placed in a position where they are being exploited, but would not come forward out of fear that they would lose their opportunity to apply for permanent residence and ultimately gain access to Canada and become a citizen.

Not only is it a major problem, but while the Conservatives did away with the live-in component, they added other onerous barriers to the pathway for permanency for the caregivers program. For caregivers to be eligible to apply for permanent residence, they need to have Canadian post-secondary education credentials of at least one year, or an equivalent foreign credential supported by an educational credential assessment.

To top it off, even if they meet that requirement, there is now a backlog of almost 60,000 applications and increasingly longer processing times for the care workers to gain permanent residence in Canada and to be reunited with their families. In fact, the average wait times for families is four and a half years. The processing time is taking so long that for many families, their medical, criminal, and security checks have expired, and by the way, each medical costs an extra $200 for each individual. It is a huge financial burden.

Immigration lawyer Lobat Sadrehashemi highlighted the injustice caregivers face when compared to other immigration streams at the citizenship committee. She stated:

Even if you look at other programs, such as the Canadian experience class—which does require one year of work, so it's very similar—you'll see that their applications for permanent residence are processed in six months. That's the average processing time. Because they are allowed to bring their spouses on accompanied work permits, they are not separated from their families, whereas live-in caregivers are separated from their families while they are doing their work requirement, and then on top of that, their processing takes eight times longer, and during that time they are not with their families.

With such long delays in processing for some families, their children have aged out and would not be included in the application as they renew the process. As a result of this, lots of families are breaking down. Children have suffered such long separation from their mothers that they struggle to reconnect with them and, in effect, their mothers are strangers to them.

I ask government members to put this to themselves. What would they do and how would they find this acceptable if it were their own family in that situation?

For caregivers, it is a minimum of six years of separation. I hope the government will be in agreement on this point. This is frankly inhumane, and we need to fix the problem.

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipAdjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick


Serge Cormier LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Vancouver East for her question about pathways to permanent residence for caregivers. I also heard that she is doing a great job in the committee, and I look forward to working with her in my new role as parliamentary secretary.

The member was absolutely right when she said that live-in caregivers provide very valuable services to Canadians. As she knows, Canada's live-in caregiver program stopped accepting new applications in November 2014.

Because of the existing backlog, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is still processing applications from live-in caregivers who applied under the previous program and applications from people who were grandfathered. No new applications have been accepted under that program in the past two years.

When the old program closed to new applicants, two new programs were introduced: the caring for children and caring for people with high medical needs classes.

Both of these programs offered pathways to permanent residence to caregivers without the requirement that they live in the home of their employer.

On October 31, the former minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship announced that the 2017 target for admissions of live-in caregivers and their families would be between 17,000 and 20,000 permanent residents. This number includes people who are already part of the live-in caregiver program and who will submit an application for permanent residence when they have two years' experience as temporary foreign workers.

Between 2009 and 2013, admissions of live-in caregivers and members of their families on average totalled only about 11,000 a year.

While this decision by the former Conservative government contributed to the backlog, our government is continuing to work on eliminating it. I am glad to report that we are making progress on that front.

In early 2015, there was a backlog of 57,000 applicants for live-in caregivers and members of their families who were awaiting a decision on their permanent residence application. As of January 24, 2017, this number had dropped to 31,000, which represents a decrease of 46% from early 2015.

Madam Speaker, I would like to again thank the member for her question and thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak to this important subject.

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipAdjournment Proceedings

February 7th, 2017 / 6:55 p.m.


Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, the NDP believes that the immigration system is about nation building. Canada is a country that is built by the immigrant community. We are the faces of the world.

If we are to honour the caregiver workers and their contributions, we must hold true to the principle that if they are good enough to work here, they are good enough to stay.

With respect to the caregiver program, for the applicants who are on the wait list, it is a wait of six years plus for them to be reunited with their families. I am a mother of two. I cannot imagine what life is like for people to be separated from their own children simply because they are trying to make a better life for them.

The government needs to bring in a special measure, frankly, to fast-track these applications. It is not acceptable for those wait times to exist. If we value them as workers, we must do something about it.

The work that is being done on the backlog right now is still deficient. I call on the government to take action now.

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipAdjournment Proceedings

7 p.m.


Serge Cormier Liberal Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Madam Speaker, as I mentioned earlier, the previous live-in caregiver program stopped accepting new applicants in 2014 and two new classes were established: the caring for children class and the caring for people with high medical needs class. For both these classes, family caregivers are not required to live with their employer.

Again, the planned admissions range for caregivers and their families in 2017 will be 17,000 to 20,000 permanent residents, notably higher than the levels Canada admitted when the live-in caregiver program was still open to applicants.

We are making progress when it comes to clearing the backlog of applications for permanent residency filed by live-in caregivers and members of their family. We will continue to work on this.

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipAdjournment Proceedings

7 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:02 p.m.)