House of Commons Hansard #37 of the 44th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was russia.


Revocation of the Declaration of a Public Order Emergency

11:05 a.m.

Ajax Ontario


Mark Holland LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2) and subsection 61(1) of the Emergencies Act, I am tabling, in both official languages, the proclamation revoking the declaration of a public order emergency.

I ask that these documents be referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, pursuant to Standing Order 32(5).

Revocation of the Declaration of a Public Order Emergency

11:05 a.m.


The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Before proceeding, I would like to draw the House's attention to an unusual situation.

Members will note that a motion for revocation of the declaration of a public order emergency was filed with the Chair on February 21, in accordance with subsection 59(1) of the Emergencies Act. When it was filed with the Chair, the motion respected the criteria for being put on notice and was admissible. However, the declaration of a public order emergency was revoked by proclamation on February 23, 2022, between the time the motion was filed with the Chair and the time the House returned.

As we have seen in recent days, the act provides various control mechanisms allowing Parliament to confirm, revoke and continue a declaration of emergency. The primary vehicle of parliamentary control is a debate culminating in a decision taken on one of those three actions.

The motion filed with the Chair is expressly to revoke the declaration of a public order emergency, as of the date on which the motion would be adopted, even though the declaration is no longer in effect. Since there is no longer any reason for the motion, it has become null and void. The Chair thus orders that the order for consideration of the motion be discharged and that the motion be dropped from the Order Paper.

I thank members for their attention.

Revocation of the Declaration of a Public Order EmergencyPrivate Members' Business

11:05 a.m.


The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The House will soon begin Private Members' Business for the first time in this Parliament. I would therefore like to make a brief statement to remind all members about the procedures governing Private Members' Business and the responsibilities of the Chair in the management of this process.

As members know, certain constitutional and procedural realities constrain the Speaker and members insofar as legislation is concerned. One such procedural point concerns whether or not a private member’s bill requires a royal recommendation. The Speaker has underscored this issue numerous times in past Parliaments.

As noted on page 835 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition:

Under the Canadian system of government, the Crown alone initiates all public expenditure and Parliament may authorize only spending which has been recommended by the Governor General. This prerogative, referred to as the “financial initiative of the Crown”, is the basis essential to the system of responsible government and is signified by way of the “royal recommendation”.

The requirement for a royal recommendation is grounded in section 54 of the Constitution Act, 1867. Its language echoes Standing Order 79(1), which reads:

This House shall not adopt or pass any vote, resolution, address or bill for the appropriation of any part of the public revenue, or of any tax or impost, to any purpose that has not been first recommended to the House by a message from the Governor General in the session in which such vote, resolution, address or bill is proposed.

As a result, any bill proposing to spend public funds for a new and distinct purpose, or effecting an appropriation of public funds, must be accompanied by a message from the Governor General approving the expenditure. This message, known formally as the royal recommendation, can only be transmitted to the House by a minister of the Crown.

A private member's bill that requires a royal recommendation may be introduced and considered right up until third reading on the assumption that a royal recommendation will be provided by a minister. However, if none is produced by the conclusion of the third reading stage, the Speaker may not put the question for passage at third reading.

Following the establishment or the replenishment of the order of precedence, the Chair has developed a practice of reviewing items so that the House can be alerted to bills that, at first glance, appear to infringe on the financial prerogative of the Crown. The aim of this practice is to allow members the opportunity to intervene in a timely fashion to present their views about the need for those bills to be accompanied or not by a royal recommendation.

The order of precedence having been established on February 9, 2022, I wish to inform the House of two bills which preoccupy the Chair. These are: Bill C-215, an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (illness, injury or quarantine), standing in the name of the member for Lévis—Lotbinière; and Bill C-237, an act to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act and the Canada Health Act, standing in the name of the member for Bécancour—Nicolet—Saurel.

I would encourage members who would like to make arguments regarding the requirement for a royal recommendation with respect to these bills, or with regard to any other bill now on the order of precedence, to do so at an early opportunity.

I thank all the members for their attention.

Permanent Residency for Temporary Foreign WorkersPrivate Members' Business

11:10 a.m.


Randeep Sarai Liberal Surrey Centre, BC


That, in the opinion of the House, the government should develop and publicly release within 120 days following the adoption of this motion a comprehensive plan to expand pathways to permanent residency for temporary foreign workers, including international students, with significant Canadian work experience in sectors with persistent labour shortages, and such plan should incorporate the following elements:

(a) amending eligibility criteria under economic immigration programs to give more weight to significant in-Canada work experience and expand the eligible occupational categories and work experience at various skills levels;

(b) examining evidence and data gathered from recent programs such as Temporary Resident to Permanent Resident Pathway, Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP), Rural and Northern Immigration Program (RNIP), and Agri-Food Pilot, and Provincial Nominee Process (PNP);

(c) incorporating data on labour market and skills shortages to align policy on immigrant-selection with persistent labour gaps;

(d) assessing ways to increase geographic distribution of immigration and encourage immigrant retention in smaller communities, as well as increase Francophone immigration outside Quebec;

(e) identifying mechanisms for ensuring flexibility in immigration-selection tools to react quicker to changes in labour market needs and regional economic priorities; and

(f) specifically considering occupations and essential sectors that are underrepresented in current economic immigration programs, such as health services, agriculture, manufacturing, service industry, trades, and transportation.

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to speak to members today regarding my private member's motion, Motion No. 44, on expanded pathways to permanent residency for temporary foreign workers.

I have to say that it came as quite a surprise to be chosen first overall in the private members’ business lottery last fall. In fact, I was in the government lobby when the member of Parliament for Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne came in and said I was number one. Then everyone under the sun started yelling and calling my family to tell them that I won the lottery. Anyhow, my wife is still waiting for the cheque to arrive and I think she will be waiting for some time.

I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to all those individuals and organizations that reached out and shared their important ideas for possible bills and motions with me. I did not take this decision lightly, and I hope that this motion will make a meaningful impact in the lives of families and communities, not just in Surrey Centre, but across the country from coast to coast to coast.

Motion No. 44 would address ongoing challenges with our immigration system, filling critical gaps in our labour market by creating more accessible pathways to permanent residency for temporary foreign workers. Since I was elected in 2015, a constant theme in my office has been seeing employers in need of employees. Employers from a wide variety of sectors, including agriculture, transportation, manufacturing and more, are desperate for employees to fill persistent gaps in our labour market.

I wanted to do something that helps the Canadian economy and our small and medium-sized businesses fill employment gaps and live up to Canada’s reputation as a country with a nation-building immigration policy. The goal of our immigration system is to support economic growth by bringing people to Canada.

Canada’s population is aging and domestically we have a low birth rate. Some estimate that by 2030 our population growth will come exclusively from immigration. We are already seeing evidence of this with statistics from 2018 and 2019, which show that immigration was responsible for the employment growth across the country. Currently, immigration accounts for almost 100% of Canada’s labour force growth and 75% of Canada’s population growth, which is mostly in the economic category.

One thing is clear from my experience as a member of Parliament over the last six years: Canada needs workers and Canada needs immigration. By making permanent residency more accessible to more individuals who have devoted time and energy and made sacrifices for the benefit of our communities and our economy, we will help our country flourish and grow.

Our government, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship and IRCC work hard to address the challenges faced in our immigration system. With the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, those challenges were exacerbated. However, despite the difficulties we faced and continue to face in this pandemic and rapidly changing world, we have seen improvements and increases in our immigration numbers.

Last December, IRCC announced that we had surpassed our target of welcoming 401,000 immigrants or new permanent residents in 2021 as part of the 2021–23 immigration levels plan. This is the highest number of newcomers welcomed to Canada, surpassing the previous record set in 1913.

What is the temporary foreign worker program? I am sure most members in this chamber are very familiar with the temporary foreign worker program through work in their constituency offices. The temporary foreign worker program is an important and essential part of Canada’s immigration system. It allows Canadian employers to open temporary jobs to foreign workers when Canadians are unable to fill the positions.

My constituency office in Surrey Centre receives a staggering number of these files each year. My team estimates that we work on an average of 250 to 300 temporary worker files annually. Many of these requests are from local businesses and employers who are desperate to fill persistent labour shortages in our community.

Employers wishing to hire temporary foreign workers go through a rigorous process of completing a labour market impact assessment, also known as an LMIA, to find out the potential impact that temporary foreign workers would have on the Canadian labour market. The LMIA consists of assessing the regional and occupational labour market information and the employers’ efforts to recruit and advertise for the position, as well as working conditions, wages, labour shortages and the transfer of skills and knowledge to Canada.

Canada approved 550,000 temporary foreign worker applications in 2017. Despite this seemly large number of individuals coming to Canada each year as TFWs, it is not enough, and we need to do more to find employees to fill job vacancies.

According to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration’s June 2021 report, “Immigration Programs to Meet Labour Market Needs”, there are several sectors and regions in Canada experiencing labour shortages. Immigration policy, as it stands, is not meeting the needs of the labour market. Health services, agriculture, manufacturing, service industries, trades and transportation are particularly vulnerable to being under-represented in our current economic immigration programs.

The COVID-19 pandemic, especially in the beginning months, exposed the delicate nature of our temporary foreign worker programs. Thousands of TFWs stepped up to make sure our seniors received care, trucks kept moving, grocery stores were stocked and restaurants stayed open. Many faced delays renewing their permits. They were uncertain of their status and uncertain if they would remain employed. However, they remained steadfast and helped to keep our country moving and functioning.

In its report, the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration urged IRCC to make more accessible pathways to permanent residence available in order to prevent the abuse of foreign workers with the precarious status of out-of-status individuals.

Temporary foreign workers are hard-working individuals. They face the risk of exploitation and challenging work environments, and are important contributors to the communities they live in. Unfortunately, for all the risk they face, and the hard work and sacrifices they make for our community and economy, they do not receive adequate reward for their efforts, in my opinion.

Another persistent obstacle faced by temporary foreign workers and their employers includes the need to renew every two years. This means that employers and workers have to go through the process frequently. Employers must make new LMIA applications and advertise extensively. Once they receive approval, which can take months, they have to get the employees to apply for new work permits, which takes months again, adding to uncertainty and stress as many TFWs do not know if they have medical benefits or whether their children can attend school until their approvals are processed. This process is repeated several times, as those who this motion wishes to address have no pathway to permanent residency.

TFWs also face challenges to qualify for permanent residency. Despite their valuable contributions to our communities and economy, and great employment records over a number of years working in this country, obstacles like a lack of higher education and low language testing scores put TFWs at a disadvantage. This can be more frustrating for temporary foreign workers and their families as their language and skills are sufficient for the work they do, but not enough to grant them permanent residency. They may have working language skills, but not a high enough IELTS score. They may have a class one driver’s licence to drive long-haul trucking, but only a grade 12 education and therefore may not meet the requisite point score. Imagine the frustration of both the employee and employer when a person is good enough to do a job, but not good enough to become a permanent resident of this country.

Many of the industries I have mentioned today fall under NOC levels C and D. This is the national occupational classification system, which classifies jobs based on the type of job duties and the work a person does. NOC level C jobs are intermediate jobs that usually require high school and/or job-specific training, such as long-haul truck drivers or food and beverage servers. Level D consists of labour jobs that usually give on-the-job training, such as fruit pickers, cleaning staff and oil field workers.

NOC levels C and D provide some options for pathways to permanent residency. During the pandemic, our government introduced the temporary residence to permanent residence, TR to PR, pathways. These were created to help admit immigrants during the pandemic. Alternatively, NOC level C and D recipients can apply through the provincial nominee program, which allows Canadian provinces and territories to create their own immigration programs tailored to their economic and population growth strategies. There are also a variety of other regional and industry-specific programs, such as the agri-food pilot and the rural and northern immigration pilot program.

These pathways exist, but we need to do more. We need to add immigration programs that are going to meet our present and future economic needs. Thinking about the pandemic and the challenges Canada faced to get workers into the agriculture industry in the early months, we need to work towards creating a more agile immigration system that can respond quickly to changing situations.

When we look more closely at individual industries, such as the agriculture industry, for example, we can see the real strain that labour shortages are creating. This year, I saw blueberry farmers who normally hand-picked a large portion of their berries forced to machine-pick their crops as there was a huge shortage of farm workers.

Similarly, the heat wave that swooped over B.C. ripened cherries from southern B.C. to the Okanagan at exactly the same time, causing a massive labour pinch. Everyone needed workers at the exact same time. Processors had to increase their workforce due to the increased demand, however with COVID travel restrictions, it became difficult to get much-needed workers in a timely manner.

The agri-food pilot was introduced more than three years ago. To be eligible, individuals require at least 12 months of full-time, non-seasonal Canadian work experience in an eligible occupation and an English or French language proficiency of at least a CLB level 4, as well as a high school education.

The agri-food industry is more than just food production. It includes all aspects of getting food from the field to our tables, and includes delivery and sales, which are a big part of this $111 billion a year industry. This is more than 6% of Canada’s GDP. It also creates 2.3 million jobs.

Keeping all of this in mind, with my private member’s motion No. M-44, expanded pathways to permanent residency for temporary foreign workers, I am asking that should this motion be adopted, our government develop and publicly release a comprehensive plan to expand pathways to permanent residency for temporary foreign workers within 120 days. This should include international students with significant work experience in sectors with persistent labour shortages.

I ask that the eligibility criteria be amended under the economic immigration programs to give more weight to significant in-Canada work experience and expand the eligible occupational categories and work experience at various levels. I am also asking that language requirements be relaxed. These workers have been able to conduct their work in a manner satisfactory to their employers and Canadian workplace safety standards; therefore, they should be considered sufficient to be permanent residents of Canada.

This plan should also examine evidence and data gathered from recent programs such as TRPR, the Atlantic immigration program, the rural and northern immigration pilot, the agri-food pilot and the provincial nominee program. It should also incorporate this data on labour markets and skills shortages to align policy on immigrant selection with persistent labour gaps. These programs and data will provide important region- and industry-specific data to align policy with the diverse needs across our country to ensure appropriate geographic distribution of immigration and encourage immigrant retention in smaller communities. We are a country of not only geographic diversity but also linguistic diversity. This plan should also find ways to increase francophone immigration across Canada.

While we continue to upgrade our immigration system, we have a lot of work to do keep up with the demand. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed shortcomings in our ability to adapt quickly to the rapidly changing world. That is why identifying mechanisms for ensuring flexibility in our immigration selection tools to react more quickly to labour market needs and regional economic priorities is important.

Finally, I am asking for our government to consider specific occupations and essential sectors that are under-represented in the current economic immigration programs, such as health services, agriculture, manufacturing, the service industry, trades and transportation.

We know the growth and stability of our communities and economy rely on the work and dedication of immigrants coming to this country. We need to continue to create mechanisms in our systems to ensure that Canada is an attractive and accessible place for temporary foreign workers to call home.

I hope I can count on members' support for Motion No. M-44, expanded pathways to permanent residency for temporary foreign workers. I look forward to the remainder of the debate today.

Permanent Residency for Temporary Foreign WorkersPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.


Brad Vis Conservative Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for Surrey Centre for raising what I believe is a very important subject. He mentioned during his remarks about 250-300 LMIA temporary foreign worker cases. My riding is very similar to his in that respect.

One of the big concerns, when those applications come to my office, is the reality of abuse with foreign workers. Many of them have to pay their employers for applications the employers should be paying for under law. That is a real concern.

Under the motion, would it be the will of the member opposite that, moving forward, future foreign workers apply directly to the Government of Canada or through an employer?

Permanent Residency for Temporary Foreign WorkersPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.


Randeep Sarai Liberal Surrey Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, this is a very important issue. LMIA abuse has been persistent and we have all seen it, in particular in our regions. There are related mechanisms whereby employees can complain and get an open work permit if their employers are abusing them, misusing their funds or misrepresenting their salaries. They have other ways to contact CBSA, and we have made it more flexible. The agency that governs all consultants has been revamped to be a government-regulated organization and given good teeth so it can go after that. We need to give more education to a lot of these temporary foreign workers so that they know those rights and they avail themselves of those rights.

Permanent Residency for Temporary Foreign WorkersPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Mario Beaulieu Bloc La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, the media, in Quebec in particular, has reported a very high rate of rejection—up to 80%—for temporary permit applications from francophone African countries. Ostensibly, the government is concerned that these people may want to stay in Canada, so it does not want to give them temporary residency. Anglophone colleges, however, are advertising that they can facilitate access to permanent residency.

I think the Department of Immigration really needs to work hard to make sure that it stops discriminating against francophones when it grants temporary study permits.

Permanent Residency for Temporary Foreign WorkersPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Randeep Sarai Liberal Surrey Centre, BC

Absolutely, Mr. Speaker, it is very important that the system be fair, and that we have people from both official languages who are applying to come into Canada to work be able to get that temporary foreign worker permit status and get a pathway to immigration.

That is why I have added, in my motion, francophonie populations even outside of Quebec. The reason I say “outside of Quebec” is because Quebec has its will to govern and accept immigrants according to the way it wants. I would like other pockets, such as in Edmonton and on the Lower Mainland, where there are significant francophone populations, also to have the ability to have workers come from that. I hope that those high-refusal rates are turned around and changed for the better.

Permanent Residency for Temporary Foreign WorkersPrivate Members' Business

February 28th, 2022 / 11:30 a.m.


Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Surrey Centre for his motion. As he knows, part of the problem with our immigration system is that, over the years, Canada has changed the permanent immigration stream for economic workers to only high-skilled workers. The reality is that Canada needs the full range of workers. As we learned in the COVID period, many of these workers are, in fact, essential. They put food on our tables and support our community and our economy.

To that end, would the member support an amendment to his motion? I would like to propose:

That the motion be amended: (a) by adding after the words “comprehensive plan to expand” the following: “the economic immigration stream to allow workers of all skill levels to meet the full range of labour needs”; and (b) in paragraph (f), by adding the word “caregivers” after the words “health services”.

Permanent Residency for Temporary Foreign WorkersPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Randeep Sarai Liberal Surrey Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have worked with the member for Vancouver East extensively for almost four years on the citizenship and immigration committee. She has worked very hard and passionately.

I would be more than happy to accept the amendments. We need to have pathways for all temporary foreign workers to get permanent residency in Canada, including caregivers.

Permanent Residency for Temporary Foreign WorkersPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Jasraj Singh Hallan Conservative Calgary Forest Lawn, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon colleague from Surrey Centre, first and foremost for bringing forward this motion, and also to congratulate him on being number one on the list. It is a rare win, so I wish him big congratulations. Most importantly, I thank him for bringing such a thoughtful bill forward.

Even before the pandemic, essential sectors in Canada's economy faced a labour shortage crisis. The agriculture, transportation, food processing, and hospitality and tourism sectors are all still dealing with gaps in their workforces. These are vital industries for our recovery, and all of them have faced hit after hit: rising inflation, ongoing COVID restrictions and the historic Liberal-made backlog, with nearly two million people stuck and waiting to finally have their cases processed.

Looking forward, attracting new and skilled workers to come to Canada and eventually become permanent residents is key to recovery and growth for Canada. In the fall of 2020 I, along with witness Raj Sharma, an immigration lawyer, recommended at the citizenship and immigration committee that the government create a pathway for temporary residents to become permanent residents. With too many people stuck in the immigration backlog, providing this pathway would be a more efficient way of processing cases.

Temporary residents are already 50% of the way through the bureaucratic maze of Canadian immigration. This is also a very key Conservative principle, which is that since these people are already 50% processed, it would take fewer resources to make them permanent. Another reason this makes sense is that temporary residents have experienced living and working in Canada, and they are adjusting to the diverse experiences and opportunities our country offers.

I also want to note that the temporary residents here on work permits are also the ones who were transporting goods and medical supplies throughout the pandemic. They worked on farms and processing plants to help keep food on our tables. They work tough jobs and often get little thanks for what they do.

During the first wave, I remember hearing about truckers who drove across the country with almost nowhere to stop to use the bathroom, yet they kept rolling to deliver supplies, and that kept our economy running, our hospitals stocked and our plates full. The positive impact of temporary foreign workers on our economy is immense. They mostly do the jobs everyday Canadians do not want to do.

We have seen that even with high unemployment throughout the last couple of years, many sectors that rely on temporary foreign workers were left with massive labour shortages. This motion is a step in the right direction, but we need a concrete plan now. Hotels, tourism companies, restaurants and Canadian communities are already preparing for the summer. They need to know if they will have the workers they need to meet the tourism demand in Canada. This is a significant concern, not just because of the historic Liberal-made backlog at IRCC but also because of the collapse of the LMIA process for temporary foreign workers.

Employment and Social Development Canada is also failing to modernize, adapt and prepare for the future of immigration in Canada. Just like IRCC, ESDC continues to be stuck in its ways. At the immigration committee last spring, we made recommendations for those departments to reform the LMIA process. Unfortunately, so far none of those recommendations has been acted upon. We heard testimony about agriculture operations submitting LMIA applications 18 months before they needed the workers. Unfortunately, those businesses would not have the labour that they needed.

My colleagues and I have seen first-hand how the LMIA process and the IRCC backlog have affected temporary foreign workers and Canadian employers. Across Canada, TFWs, temporary foreign workers, who had applied for extensions to work permits have had their LMIAs stuck in processing. Instead of IRCC communicating with ESDC, asking if workers and employees had ongoing applications, immigration officials gave 90-day notices telling workers to leave the country.

Today, many jobs TFWs work are not seasonal. Food processing plants need workers year-round; greenhouses and livestock operations are 12-month operations; and even some hospitality jobs require workers to be here throughout the winter. In a time when we are facing a labour shortage crisis in Canada, we cannot allow ourselves to think about temporary solutions.

That is why we need a pathway, a way to end the cycle of bureaucratic mix-ups and massive backlogs. If temporary residents are given a step-by-step program, they can plan their lives accordingly, and so can businesses. Canada needs to attract labour to this country. We need the skill. We need the talent.

I quickly want to address the TR to PR pathway the government created in response to the recommendations witnesses and I made in the fall of 2020. I want to make it clear that any pathway to PR for temporary foreign workers should not follow that example. We heard from many applicants about how much of a mess the process was.

IRCC did not release the application instructions in advance when the portal opened up last spring, which left people scrambling to get their documents in order and book a language test at the last minute. Those language tests booked up extremely fast, and most English classes could not handle the load put on them. What is worse is that immigration consultants and lawyers could not submit applications on behalf of temporary residents, which meant that those workers had to take time off to fill out an application without assistance from an immigration expert and hope they got it right.

The truth is that we know that many applicants unknowingly made mistakes. For example, English-speaking people who applied to full streams automatically went into the French-speaking streams. However, instead of IRCC making that mistake known to temporary residents who applied, it denied those applications. I had business owners calling me, upset that their employees had to take time away from work only to get rejected from this pathway because of unnecessary clerical errors. I agree that it was a failure by this government.

Red tape and miscommunication seem to be a theme the Liberal immigration system has encompassed, and so is racism. The Pollara report on racism at IRCC was disturbing. Employees heard department managers calling some African countries the “dirty 30”. It made me sad to hear this, and I am embarrassed for the immigration officers who try to do a good job.

Recently, the citizenship and immigration committee undertook a study to look at the alarmingly high student visa refusal rates, particularly in Francophonie African countries. In some west African countries, the refusal rate is 90%. A lot of that has to do with discrimination and bias. The committee heard from witnesses that many international students were being turned away because of dual intent. IRCC officers were not satisfied that those students would return to their home countries in Africa. This is after the Liberals promised to bring in more international students and provide them with a pathway to permanent residency.

The Minister of Immigration needs to take this issue seriously. Francophone and African international students are studying in all parts of this country. In my home province of Alberta, we see vibrant and strong Francophonie and African communities, and they contribute to the success of our province and country.

The truth is that the dual intent issue is not just a problem for international students but also for temporary foreign workers and other temporary residents. Moreover, it is often an issue for immigrants from developing countries. How can Canada build a pathway to permanent residency if our system will turn around and discriminate and refuse the very people we are recruiting to come here?

It is no secret that I am for smart, responsible and transparent immigration, but I am also in favour of red tape reduction, being efficient and showing compassion. I support a pathway to permanent residence to temporary residents already living and working in Canada. Those people work hard, contribute to the growth and productivity of our country and strengthen our democracy. This pathway makes sense. Why would Canada attract the best and brightest, provide them with opportunities and training and knowledge, and then force them to leave?

While I will be voting for the motion before us, I want to make my concerns clear to my hon. colleague across the way and to the Minister of Immigration. We must develop a fair and compassionate pathway that addresses the labour and economic needs of every province and industry in Canada and helps to reduce the historic backlog. We need real action to end racism at IRCC, and the department needs to be open about its mistakes.

We also need to address this massive backlog, because families are being separated and kept apart from each other. There are families who cannot see their children's first steps, birthdays and other milestones. Canadian businesses are not able to fill the shortages they have for labour and, more importantly, our economy is suffering. We need to clear up this backlog, and this government needs to take that issue very seriously.

This is an opportunity for the government to fix its mistakes and help our businesses and communities grow and thrive. I hope to see a pathway that will help end the labour shortages and grow the economy from coast to coast.

Permanent Residency for Temporary Foreign WorkersPrivate Members' Business

11:40 a.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Chris d'Entremont

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Surrey—Newton.

Permanent Residency for Temporary Foreign WorkersPrivate Members' Business

11:40 a.m.


Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Surrey—Newton, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Calgary Forest Lawn.

The member talked about the backlog. However, I would remind the member that when the Conservatives were in power, it was taking—

Permanent Residency for Temporary Foreign WorkersPrivate Members' Business

11:40 a.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Chris d'Entremont

I made a mistake. There are no questions and comments on this one. We have them only on the first round. I apologize to the member for Surrey—Newton.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques has the floor.

Permanent Residency for Temporary Foreign WorkersPrivate Members' Business

11:40 a.m.


Maxime Blanchette-Joncas Bloc Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to express my solidarity with the people of Ukraine and let them know that my thoughts are with them.

[Member spoke in Ukrainian as follows:]

Slava Ukraini. Heroyam Slava.


I rise today to speak to Motion No. 44 moved by my colleague from Surrey Centre. The motion deals with permanent residency for temporary foreign workers.

My colleague's motion deserves special attention because it pertains to immigration, which is crucial for both Quebec and Canada. Every legislative decision related to immigration is likely to have profound and far-reaching consequences on our societies, both in the short and long terms.

Motion No. 44 can be divided into several sub-issues, which means it needs to be studied and considered from a number of different angles. However, given the limited time I have for my speech today, I will concentrate on two issues that the Bloc Québécois believes are essential for the motion to receive our party's support.

The first issue relates to adding an explicit guarantee to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Canada-Québec Accord relating to Immigration and Temporary Admission of Aliens. That document, which was signed in 1991, has since become the reference for how the Canadian and Quebec governments share responsibilities when it comes to immigration matters.

My Bloc Québécois colleagues and I feel it is crucial to recognize the precedence of the Canada-Quebec accord given point (a) of the motion, which states that the government's proposed plan should include “amending eligibility criteria under economic immigration programs to give more weight to significant in-Canada work experience and expand the eligible occupational categories and work experience at various skills levels”.

Amending eligibility criteria under the economic immigration category is the prerogative of Quebec. It is not up to Ottawa to tell Quebec whether such or such criterion should be given more weight, any more than it is up to Ottawa to choose which occupational categories should be given priority. Given its special knowledge of its labour market and the accord signed in that regard more than 30 years ago, it is up to Quebec to determine its own priorities.

I would also like to take this opportunity to draw the House's attention to the part of the preamble to the Canada-Quebec accord that attests to the spirit in which the accord was signed. It states, in black and white, that the accord stems from a joint wish by the Canadian and Quebec governments to “provide Québec with new means to preserve its demographic importance in Canada, and to ensure the integration of immigrants in Québec in a manner that respects the distinct identity of Québec”.

After 30 years, I find it hard to believe that Ottawa even remembers the commitment it made. Given that the current Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, who, I would remind the House, is a unilingual anglophone, released an immigration plan in February that would grant permanent status to 1.33 million new immigrants in only three years, the spirit of the 1991 accord is threatened as never before.

Such an abrupt increase in immigration levels would greatly compromise Quebec's ability to maintain its demographic weight, because it would have to accept more than double the number of permanent immigrants it currently takes in. This would accelerate the collapse of the French fact in Montreal, as there would not be enough resources available on the ground to meet the demand for French integration classes. It is a trap for French Quebec.

For these reasons, it is essential that Motion No. 44 explicitly state that it will be implemented in accordance with the rights conferred upon Quebec by the 1991 Canada-Quebec accord, so that the resulting plan will not violate the spirit of this historic agreement.

The second issue concerns point (d) of the motion, which should have read as follows: “assessing ways to increase geographic distribution of immigration and encourage immigrant retention in smaller communities, as well as increase Francophone immigration outside Quebec [and in Quebec]”.

As the member of Parliament for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, I am a strong advocate for the regions. I think it is essential to focus on attracting and, most importantly, retaining immigrants in the regions and in smaller communities.

At any given time, the Montreal metropolitan area is home to 80% to 85% of Quebec's immigrant population, even though the area has less than 50% of Quebec's total population.

This imbalance is hurting our communities, which would benefit culturally and collectively from an influx of newcomers from across the Francophonie. This imbalance is hurting our business owners, who are experiencing ever-increasing labour shortages that are undermining the regions' economic viability in the short, medium and long terms. This imbalance is hurting our world-renowned universities, which are working tirelessly to attract the brightest minds from here and around the world.

It goes without saying that I will support the member for Surrey Centre in his bid to identify and implement measures that will help the regions successfully attract immigrants. My Bloc Québécois colleagues and I will always be in favour of promoting and protecting the French fact across Canada.

That said, we believe something must be done to promote francophone immigration to Quebec. We could not quite believe that was not part of the motion moved by my colleague from Surrey Centre, especially in light of the alarming data released just a few months ago about Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada's systemic and systematic discrimination against francophone African students applying to francophone Quebec universities. I would like to share some of the statistics, which speak for themselves.

In my riding, the Université du Québec à Rimouski received over 2,000 applications in 2021. An astounding 71% of them were rejected. Across Quebec, over 80% of applications from certain francophone African countries were rejected. By comparison, rejection rates for Ontario and British Columbia were 37% and 47% respectively in 2020. It is also worth noting that the rate of rejection for applications to anglophone Quebec universities is lower than for francophone universities.

This is inexcusable. Why is the Minister of Immigration and Citizenship discriminating against francophone African students? Why did nobody in the minister's office sound the alarm at some point in the past three years?

These students had already been admitted by Quebec universities and the Quebec government, but the federal government's painful rejection pulled the rug out from under them. Given that obtaining a degree in Quebec is a fast track to permanent residency, this unfair and unjustifiable discrimination against francophone students is further exacerbating the decline of the French fact in Quebec.

I have said it before, and I will say it again. We must not underestimate the challenges facing francophone immigrants. We need to make it easier for them to come to Quebec and the rest of Canada. Ottawa's current study permit approval system is an insult to Quebeckers and all francophones, so it needs an overhaul.

In conclusion, we need to give the subject of Motion No. 44 the attention it deserves. The Bloc Québécois has concerns about how it is being implemented and whether it is consistent with the provisions of the Canada-Quebec accord relating to immigration. The Bloc also wants one of the objectives in the upcoming action plan to be supporting francophone immigration to Quebec.

Permanent Residency for Temporary Foreign WorkersPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.


Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the House today regarding Motion No. 44. From our time together at the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration during previous sessions, it is clear to me that the member for Surrey Centre is passionate about improving Canada's immigration system. This motion highlights that well. I congratulation the member on being number one.

My colleagues in the NDP and I have long viewed Canada's immigration system as an exercise in nation building. Individuals and families from all corners of the world, for generations, have come to Canada. They have contributed to our communities, our social fabric, our culture and our economy.

In the past, Canada's immigration system offered landed status on arrival for a full range of workers. Unfortunately, successive Liberal and Conservative governments have shifted our system over time to include just what IRCC deems as high-skilled workers. As a result, Canadian employers have struggled to find the full range of workers needed to meet the labour demand, and increasingly, Canada has turned to the temporary foreign worker program. On an annual basis, there are now more temporary foreign workers in the country than there are new landed immigrants.

Twenty years ago, there were 60,000 temporary work permits in Canada. Today, there are over 400,000. As we have witnessed, precarious status immigration streams lead to severe power imbalances, abuse and a fear to speak out. Whether they are the rampant exploitation of live-in caregivers and stories of threats to deport them, which forced program reforms, or the countless stories of workplace rights violations, including wage theft and illegal housing of temporary foreign workers, many of these issues stem from the precarious nature of the immigrant workers community.

The pandemic has really highlighted the fact that temporary foreign workers have been mistreated, and there are two issues I would like to talk about.

The first is that Canadians and our economy heavily rely on access to temporary foreign workers, many of whom are essential workers, even though IRCC defines these workers as low or medium skilled. They work at grocery stores, put food on our tables, care for our loved ones and so much more. Across the board, their value should be recognized with livable wages, secure employment benefits and, as COVID has demonstrated, paid sick leave. However, too often, these essential workers are paid minimum wages. They can only come to Canada as temporary foreign workers and not as immigrants.

This needs to change. That is why the NDP is putting forward an amendment to the motion to expand the economic immigration stream beyond what IRCC deems as high-skilled workers to include the full range of workers. I will be moving that motion at the end of my speech.

The second issue is the continued lack of enforcement of the rules that prevent exploitation and harm to temporary foreign workers. The recent Auditor General's report found that the government assessed almost all employers as compliant with COVID-19 regulations, even though it had “gathered little or no evidence to demonstrate this”. The continuous failure to act to enforce the basic standards, rules and principles of the program tips the scale further in favour of abuse, exploitation, exclusion, and tragically, death.

I do not say that lightly. Whether it is a failure to follow COVID guidelines leading to COVID deaths, or the unsafe work practices that result in the workplace deaths of agriculture workers, the mistreatment of these precarious migrants leads to tragedy each and every year. Many, myself included, have argued for a very long time that the temporary foreign worker program is a complete misnomer.

While it aims to be for filling in labour or skills shortages on a temporary basis, we all know that is not the case. Instead, the program is used to fill permanent jobs with temporary people. The NDP has long agreed with migrant workers organizations that, if one is good enough to work here, one is good enough to stay. That means landed status on arrival and the recognition that the term “low-skilled” does not reflect the value of the work being done. Instead, it is just a term that justifies poor working conditions and low wages.

Eliminating the precarity of status for newcomers and removing the power imbalance created by tying a migrant worker to a specific employer would have an enormous positive impact on the lives of migrant workers overnight, and in the long term, a positive impact for our economy.

As just one example, COVID-19 has exposed a shortage of frontline health care workers in this country. In my years of work advocating for better treatment, the end to forced family separation, and landed status on arrival for migrants arriving through the caregiver stream, I have heard countless stories of how many of these women are trained nurses and caregivers who could not practice because of immigration laws.

It makes no sense that they are not able to practise their profession, even if they have passed all the tests and meet all the credentials. The only thing preventing them from working in their profession is immigration rules. Credential recognition does not help them because they are tied to the job and the employer that got them here. There is no flexibility. That is wrong and should be changed.

I am also happy to see the member included international students in the motion. The best and brightest young people from around the world come to Canada to study. For some, they want to take the skills they learn here and bring them home to improve their communities, and that is incredible.

However, we also must realize that for some, coming to Canada, obtaining an education here and being immersed in our communities is done with the goal of making Canada their home. While pathways exist, for many, the difficulty of navigating the system and delays for application approvals become serious hindrances to their ability to stay here and work in their field.

For reasons that have never been explained to me, students applying through express entry score lower than they should because any work experience they gain in Canada while studying does not count. This artificially lowers their score and makes it less likely for them to be selected. That too should change.

I would also be remiss if I did not speak to the lack of options that individuals without status have to regularize and obtain valid status. People can be in this country without status for a wide range of reasons. Some are out of their control; some are instances where they believed they were following the rules but were misled and exploited; some have lost status because of delays in the system. The reasons are many. For example, I am aware of caregivers who have lost status due to delays related to COVID in application processing.

There are an estimated 500,000 people already here in Canada without status. Many of them, due to this very precarious situation, are working under the table, not having their rights respected and are being exploited. They are also, in countless cases, working in positions well below the fullest of their abilities because they cannot come forward for positions they are qualified for without status.

We need to change all of that. I will therefore move the following amendment.

I move:

That the motion be amended:

(a) by adding after the words “comprehensive plan to expand” the following: “the economic immigration stream to allow workers of all skill levels to meet the full range of labour needs”; and

(b) in paragraph (f), by adding the word “caregivers” after the words “health services”.

I thank the member for Surrey Centre for accepting these amendments. I look forward to the plan from the government when the motion passes.

Permanent Residency for Temporary Foreign WorkersPrivate Members' Business



The Deputy Speaker Conservative Chris d'Entremont

It is my duty to inform the hon. member 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 Surrey Centre if he consents to this amendment being moved.

Permanent Residency for Temporary Foreign WorkersPrivate Members' Business



Randeep Sarai Liberal Surrey Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I consent to the amendment.

Permanent Residency for Temporary Foreign WorkersPrivate Members' Business



The Deputy Speaker Conservative Chris d'Entremont

The amendment is in order.

Permanent Residency for Temporary Foreign WorkersPrivate Members' Business



Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to see my colleagues this morning, albeit virtually, and I do wish everyone safe travels as a majority of MPs return for the first sitting week of March.

Today, I will be providing remarks in support of Motion No. 44 on permanent residency for temporary foreign workers. I wish to sincerely congratulate a great colleague, but more importantly a close friend, the member of Parliament for Surrey Centre, for his tireless work in pushing forward this motion and for his advocacy in strengthening all facets of our immigration system. I have had the opportunity to work with the member on immigration, and his interventions are always timely and substantive.

Motion No. 44 develops a plan that is good for the economy and allows us to build a more inclusive and diverse country by attracting and retaining individuals from all over the world with diverse and, I would argue, in-demand skill sets and work experiences. When we speak about skill sets, as demonstrated by the pandemic and over the course of our history as a country, those so-called low-skilled jobs are, in fact, some of the most important in our labour force. Motion No. 44 would provide accessible pathways to permanent residency status to workers who have traditionally been considered as lower skilled. This is the right thing to do economically and morally.

I am the son of immigrants who came and contributed much to this country. My grandparents and their seven children left an impoverished southern Italy in the late 1950s with literally only a suitcase and limited skills, but also with a can-do work attitude, a drive to create a better future for their children and a desire to help build and contribute to this country we call home. Today, they would be viewed low-skilled newcomers, but, frankly, I completely beg to differ.

Before I provide further remarks on Motion Mo. 44, I would like to take a moment to comment on the situation in Ukraine. We are all Ukrainian at this moment in our global history. Our very fundamental belief in liberal democracy and our western values of democracy and self-determination are under attack. They are under attack by a corrupt despot, a corrupt dictator, someone who is dangerous not only to the Ukrainian people, but to his own people. He must be stopped.

Liberal democracies will win and the Ukrainian people will themselves and only themselves determine their future. It is their right of self-determination. This battle is not only about the Ukraine, but about the future of liberal democracies themselves. As stated by a TV commentator last night, “The Ukrainian people have lit a spark that is uniting the world against tyranny.”

Returning to Motion No. 44, the motion asks the House to develop and publicly release, within 120 days, a plan that ultimately helps to address the persistent labour shortages seen by employers across Canada. These labour shortages in many sectors of our economy are only anticipated to get worse as literally millions of Canadians exit the labour market for retirement and our birth rate continues to decline. Immigration is imperative not only for building a better and more inclusive country, but also for our economic well-being.

The member for Surrey Centre is correct in identifying a plan to expand pathways to permanent residency for temporary foreign workers, including international students with significant work experience in this country. This is the correct pathway to take. Immigration, for me, should be looked at as a nation-building exercise and not simply as a plug for economic growth. This motion, combined with a number of policy measures we have introduced over the last six years as a government, takes us in that direction.

We know that our government, since 2015, has significantly expanded the absolute levels of newcomers to Canada to now over 400,000 per year and increased the number of pathways, including through the Atlantic immigration pilot, the northern immigration pilot, the agri-food pilot and others. However, we must do more, and Motion No. 44 takes us in that direction.

We are allowing newcomers to come to Canada and bring their entrepreneurial spirit and diverse set of skills, which are in demand. When we look at the components of the motion, which I will spend the rest of my time talking about, I wish to focus on part (a) of the motion. It states:

(a) amending eligibility criteria under economic immigration programs to give more weight to significant in-Canada work experience and expand the eligible occupational categories and work experience at various skills levels

Frankly, I have advocated for this for many years since becoming a parliamentarian. Having Canadian work experience, to me, is the best indicator of success and the best indicator of future success. On language requirements, let us think about this. How many of our Ukrainian, Portuguese, Italian and Spanish people, and those educated in non-English, non-Commonwealth countries, would be able to come to Canada today? There would not be very many at all.

We know that under express entry, for example, the pathway for individuals who have very high levels of English and, say, a Ph.D. or commensurate academic credentials is easier. However, the fact is that many of the jobs that are unfulfilled and in demand are in skilled trades, hospitality, health care, the agricultural sector, the engineering sector and our manufacturing facilities. All of these sectors are vital to the Canadian economy and our future economic well-being.

For instance, if a temporary foreign worker comes to Canada for a two-year period under an LMIA, as we can imagine, they begin their employment, start putting down roots in their community and begin their integration period in this country. After a two-year period, in the normal course, individuals in a career path or with a NOC code, with an average English skill set, would not be able to remain in Canada because they do not have enough points, maybe because they are a little older or because they have not received higher-level education. This is wrong and it needs to change. Motion No. 44 takes us down this route, and I congratulate the member for Surrey Centre for bringing the motion forward.

For example, a concrete finisher, a carpenter or whatever skilled trades individual who comes to Canada could work here for two years but could not stay here permanently. The individual would be under an LMIA for two years but with no clear pathway to remain in this country. That is wrong. This serves as a large disincentive for someone wanting to come to Canada. Uprooting themselves and their families and then being forced to go back is not an investment I or anyone would want to take. We need to re-examine this and give more weight to those working here in Canada, contributing, paying their taxes and, frankly, being awesome citizens. These people are our friends and neighbours and they want to become part of the permanent Canadian landscape.

This pathway would also save employers literally thousands of dollars a year to renew their LMIA and save workers the same. Some applications for LMIAs cost several thousands of dollars. I am not just talking $2,000 or $3,000, but $5,000 or $6,000. This is an inefficient and bureaucratic process. We must look at ways to streamline our system, and Motion No. 44 would take a large step in that direction.

Another part of the motion that I am very supportive of is part (c):

incorporating data on labour market and skills shortages to align policy on immigrant-selection with persistent labour gaps

As I was reading through Motion No. 44 this morning and over the weekend, I noted part (c) on data. We are a government that since 2015 has been driven by data and science. We know that when we make good policy decisions that incorporate the most relevant and up-to-date data, we make the right decisions. We know that in our immigration system, we need to make sure we are identifying sectors of the economy that require labour.

I will give an example in my remaining time. I received a phone call several weeks ago from the owner of one of the largest employers in the city of Vaughan. He is in need of approximately 250 to 300 people to work at his factories. His orders from the United States are overflowing. At the same time, it is very difficult for this individual to find local labour, which is non-existent, to be honest, here in the GTA, and to bring in temporary foreign workers to work in his plant. Why? It is because they are what are called medium-skilled jobs in light manufacturing. However, they create economic success in our country to serve our export markets. My answer to this entrepreneur was that he would have to sponsor each individual through an LMIA process, a very laborious process, so we also need to look at that process.

What Motion No. 44 means is that when we look at the manufacturing sector, the agriculture sector or health services, we need the most up-to-date and relevant data so we can make the best decisions. On the language requirements, which I know the member for Surrey Centre flagged at the beginning, a building could not be put up in downtown Toronto right now if we asked that all the individuals involved had the language requirements to become Canadian citizens. I will leave that thought for all 337 of my colleagues. A building could not be built in downtown Toronto or across the GTA if we asked all the individuals working on the sites to have the English requirements to immigrate to this country today.

I again congratulate the member for Surrey Centre for a job well done.

Permanent Residency for Temporary Foreign WorkersPrivate Members' Business

12:10 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Chris d'Entremont

The time provided for the consideration of Private Members’ Business has now expired. The order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

UkrainePrivate Members' Business

12:10 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties, and if you seek it, I think you will find unanimous consent to adopt the following motion. I move:

That a take-note debate on Russia's egregious attack on Ukraine be held later today, pursuant to Standing Order 53.1, and that, notwithstanding any standing order, special order, or usual practice of the House: (a) members rising to speak during the debate may indicate to the Chair that they will be dividing their time with another member; (b) the time provided for the debate be extended beyond four hours, as needed, to include a minimum of 16 periods of 20 minutes each; and (c) no quorum calls, dilatory motions or requests for unanimous consent shall be received by the Chair.

UkrainePrivate Members' Business

12:10 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Chris d'Entremont

All those opposed to the hon. member moving the motion will please nay. It is agreed.

The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.

(Motion agreed to)

Government Business No. 9—Parliamentary Review Committee pursuant to the Emergencies ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

Ajax Ontario


Mark Holland LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons



(a) pursuant to subsection 62(1) of the Emergencies Act, a special joint committee of the Senate and the House of Commons be appointed to review the exercise of powers and the performance of duties and functions pursuant to the declaration of emergency that was in effect from Monday, February 14, 2022, to Wednesday, February 23, 2022, including the provisions as specified in subsections 62(5) and (6) of the act;

(b) the committee be composed of four members of the Senate and seven members of the House of Commons, including three members of the House of Commons from the governing party, two members of the House of Commons from the official opposition, one member from the Bloc Québécois and one member from the New Democratic Party, with three Chairs of which the two House Co-Chairs shall be from the Bloc Québécois and the New Democratic Party and the Senate Co-Chair shall be determined by the Senate;

(c) in addition to the Co-Chairs, the committee shall elect two vice-chairs from the House, of whom the first vice-chair shall be from the governing party and the second vice-chair shall be from the official opposition party;

(d) the House of Commons members be named by their respective whip by depositing with the Clerk of the House the list of their members to serve on the committee no later than the day following the adoption of this motion;

(e) the quorum of the committee be seven members whenever a vote, resolution or other decision is taken, so long as both Houses and one member of the governing party in the House, one from the opposition in the House and one member of the Senate are represented, and that the Joint Chairs be authorized to hold meetings, to receive evidence and authorize the printing thereof, whenever five members are present, so long as both Houses and one member of the governing party in the House, one member from the opposition in the House and one member of the Senate are represented;

(f) changes to the membership of the committee, on the part of the House of Commons, be effective immediately after notification by the relevant whip has been filed with the Clerk of the House;

(g) membership substitutions, on the part of the House of Commons, be permitted, if required, in the manner provided for in Standing Order 114(2) and may be filed with the clerk of the committee by email, provided that substitutes take the oath of secrecy pursuant to paragraph (h) of this order before participating in proceedings;

(h) pursuant to subsection 62(3) of the act, every member and person employed in the work of the committee, which includes personnel who, in supporting the committee's work or a committee member’s work, have access to the committee's proceedings or documents, shall take the oath of secrecy set out in the schedule of the act;

(i) every meeting of the committee held to consider an order or regulation referred to it pursuant to subsection 61(2) of the act shall be held in camera pursuant to subsection 62(4) of the act, and that the evidence and documents received by the committee related to these meetings shall not be made public;

(j) Co-Chairs shall have the ability to fully participate, including to move motions and to vote on all items before the committee, and any vote resulting in a tie vote shall mean that the item is negatived;

(k) all documents deposited pursuant to the act shall be referred to the committee, and documents referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights since February 16, 2022, in accordance with this act be instead referred to this special joint committee;

(l) until the committee ceases to exist or Thursday, June 23, 2022, whichever is earlier,

(i) where applicable, the provisions contained in paragraph (r) of the order adopted on Thursday, November 25, 2021, except for those listed in subparagraphs (r)(iii), (iv) and (vi), shall apply to the committee, and the committee shall hold meetings in person only should this be necessary to consider any matter referred to it pursuant to subsection 61(2) of the act,

(ii) members, senators, and departmental and parliamentary officials appearing as witnesses before the committee may do so in person, as may any witness appearing with respect to any matter referred to it pursuant to subsection 61(2) of the act,

(iii) when more than one motion is proposed for the election of the House vice-chairs, any motion received after the initial one shall be taken as a notice of motion and such motions shall be put to the committee seriatim until one is adopted;

(m) the committee have the power to:

(i) sit during sittings and adjournments of the House,

(ii) report from time to time, including pursuant to the provisions included in subsection 62(6) of the act, to send for persons, papers and records, and to print such papers and evidence as may be ordered by the committee,

(iii) retain the services of expert, professional, technical and clerical staff, including legal counsel,

(iv) appoint, from among its members such subcommittees as may be deemed appropriate and to delegate to such subcommittees, all or any of its powers, except the power to report to the Senate and House of Commons,

(v) authorize video and audio broadcasting of any or all of its public proceedings and that they be made available to the public via the Parliament of Canada's websites; and

That a message be sent to the Senate requesting that House to unite with this House for the above purpose and to select, if the Senate deems advisable, members to act on the proposed special joint committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is good to rise again to speak to this matter.

I will start by talking about the incredible importance of parliamentary oversight, particularly when we are using something as extraordinary as the Emergencies Act, which was written in 1988 and has never been used in this country. We have lived through a period of the utilization of this act for the first time. When we are talking about establishing a parliamentary review to take a look at how that act was used, it is important that we move quickly. I appreciate the discussions we have been having with other parties, but we are at a bit of an impasse, which leads us to where we are right now in the House.

I think it is important for the context of this motion to talk about the events that led up to the enacting of the act, the period of time that the act was in place, how its powers were used and what the act then demands after the provisions of the act are completed.

For a period of three weeks, all of us who came here to Ottawa witnessed something that was without precedent in Canadian history. The streets of Ottawa were gripped not by a protest but by an occupation that seemed to have no end. Many of us have had an opportunity to go and talk to residents who lived in the red zone or with businesses that were shut down and affected by what happened there. It was totally and utterly unacceptable.

When I came into Ottawa to be back in this place on the Sunday night at the very beginning of this protest, I had seen something on television, but I never really had any sense of the full character of what was going on until I came and saw the streets blocked and talked to folks who owned businesses. Despite having gone through incredible difficulty over 10, 20 or 30 years, they said this was the hardest thing they had ever endured. There were residents who were afraid to leave their homes. Those who did were witnessing harassment, defecation, urination and just a complete upheaval of their day-to-day normal lives.

If that was not enough, we saw homeless shelters attacked. We saw the desecration of national monuments. We saw swastikas and Confederate flags being flown. This continued ad infinitum: honking horns, disruptions of people's ability to sleep, a complete terrorizing of the local population. What then began to happen was that it spread elsewhere to blockades that blocked critical border crossings, meaning that hundreds of millions of dollars in lost trade were now affecting businesses across the country with further actions being contemplated.

There is no doubt that everyone suffered in this pandemic, some far more than others. For every human on this planet, we are forever going to be united in the collective trauma of having lived through a global pandemic. For me, I am an incredibly social person. I love to be out in the world. It is how I get my energy, being with friends and family. Like everybody else, being cut off from that was exceptionally painful. However, many of the people in the red zone in Ottawa certainly suffered a great deal more than I did over those two years: people who were frontline health care workers and people who lost loved ones. Thank God I did not. I think one of the things the folks who came in protesting forgot was that the lives they were shutting down and the people they were terrorizing had gone through something really hard too.

That takes me to one of the things that was desecrated, which was the memorial to Terry Fox. It makes me reflect upon the nature of freedom generally. Terry Fox was somebody who was diagnosed with, at that time, terminal cancer. He was going to die, and he had a choice about what he was going to do with the days left to him, what he was going to do with the freedom that he had while he still drew breath in this world. Terry Fox made the decision not to be angry, not to shake a fist, not to scream about the injustice of his condition, but to ask the question of how he could lift others from suffering, how he could use his suffering and his pain as a vehicle so that others may not suffer and so that others may not feel pain.

As he raced across the country, he captured the imagination of all of us, appealing to our greatest nature. When we suffer greatly our instinct often is to turn to anger and malice, but there is a deeper part of us that connects to something that I think is more spiritual, that calls for us instead to use our suffering as a way to stop the suffering of others.

I have to reflect that I am sure the people who came here protesting were suffering. I am sure they had gone through very hard things as many across this country have gone through many hard things, but did they think about the people who were around them, the businesses that were suffering, the people who have been toiling on the front lines of this pandemic, the people who were as desperate as they were for a return to normalcy? I do not think they did. Certainly their actions did not indicate that they did.

That is the thing that bothers me the most about, and I understand that we see this very differently, the disposition of the official opposition on this matter. Cheering on this type of behaviour, this type of lawlessness, this lack of regard for the suffering of others or lack of kinship with trying to lift others out of pain instead of demanding that their pain be heard and felt beyond all other pain regardless of how much more pain it caused, was concerning.

There have been many times when I have seen protests and have sympathized with many of the points that the protesters were making, but then I see the way the protests are being handled or conducted, or I see some of the imagery that some of the people in that crowd have. We have to make a decision not to go among, even when there is a large group of people that we support, when there is lawlessness or affiliation with causes that we disagree with. Some of those choices have been really hard for me because some of those causes that I saw I believed in and I wanted to be among those people.

However, when I saw a flag flown or an image of something that I disagreed with, I understood that my presence there would be confusing. Sometimes some of my colleagues made the other decision to go out among those people where photographs were taken and the Conservative Party pointed out, “What do you stand for? There is somebody in that crowd who stands for this, do they stand for that?” They were attacked on that basis. I had to reflect that it was a fair criticism.

We are at a tenuous time in this country. We are at a tenuous time in this world. We see the events unfolding in Ukraine and we realize that our enemy is not the people at whom I am staring across, as much as we may have vociferous debate and differences. Our enemy is those who would seek to undermine our institutions and throw out our very democracy. There is no doubt that there was sedition in the groups outside. There were those who sought to topple a democratically elected government and replace it with I do not know what.

I do know that the folks who came here and occupied the city for three weeks did not talk a lot about the fact that an election had happened just months ago, where the issues that they were demanding be taken action on had been decided in that very election with the vast majority of parties supporting the measures to fight the pandemic based on science.

I take no joy in not being able to go out to a concert. I take no joy in not being able to go to some of my favourite places with some of my favourite people. We looked at that and said that we had to do it to protect our neighbours, to protect those we loved. We had to make those sacrifices.

It is disappointing to me when I hear the member for Carleton talking about standing with what is going on outside and keeping the momentum going, the interim leader of the Conservatives saying that she does not think we should be asking them to go home, the member for Yorkton—Melville saying it is a show of patriotic passion, or the member for Lambton—Kent—Middlesex saying what she saw were patriotic, flag-waving Canadians and that it was like Canada Day times a thousand. We have a problem. We have to step back and really consider what we foment. There is in our dialogue the need to look at science and hard decisions and come together, but to support this kind of lawlessness is totally unacceptable.

The Emergencies Act had to be brought to bear to deal with this situation and create a restoration of order, and in its being brought to bear in this unprecedented situation there were three pillars. One was to restore peace and order so that people could resume their normal lives and so that their freedoms were not impugned. Second was that it be done correctly, that it be geographically targeted and that it be used with the minimum amount of invasiveness as possible to achieve its results. Third was that it be time-limited.

We are now seeing a return to normalcy. We are seeing the blockades are over. We are seeing life in Ottawa feeling normal again and people being able to work and live in their communities in a way they were accustomed to. Now that it is over, the act requires two things of us. One is that an inquiry be set up within 60 days to independently verify the use of the act and its appropriateness, and the other is that a joint committee of MPs and senators be established to independently take a look at the actions of the government in the use of this act.

There are two things, then, that would seem like important principles to me in establishing a committee of this nature. One is that given that it is, in fact, the government itself that established the act, I concur the government should not, itself, chair the committee. That is a supposition I support. Secondarily, given the actions of the official opposition and its support and cheerleading for the illegal activities that occurred outside this building and blockades across the country, it would be equally inappropriate for the official opposition to act as a chair in reviewing the matters that occurred. Instead, what I think is a fair and reasonable proposal is that the chairmanship be shared by the two other opposition parties, one that did not support the use of the act and one that did, and as this is a joint committee of both the House and the Senate, that the Senate be given the opportunity to appoint one of its members.

In this instance, the committee that we have suggested would actually dial back government representation. We have proposed three Liberal members, two Conservative MPs and one Conservative senator, so that is actually three Conservatives who would sit from their caucus. We have also proposed one member from the Bloc, one from the NDP and one from each of the recognized groups in the Senate. I will just say that the Conservative proposal to only have one senator is completely inappropriate to the other chamber.

We have to understand, in 1988 when the act was written, the intention of a joint committee of the House was that there would be appropriate representation from both Houses. In 1988 there was a Senate based on parties. The Senate has now moved to a different place, and we know as legislators that the spirit of an act is the most important thing we must focus on, so ensuring there is one representative from each is fair and balanced. The Conservative proposal to only have five members, of which two would be Conservative, one would be Bloc, one would be NDP and one would be Liberal, and for it to be chaired by a Conservative MP and co-chaired by a Conservative senator is not appropriate.

It is essential as we move forward and look at this chapter of history that parliamentary review be done and that this committee be both balanced and impartial in its deliberations. I think what we have put forward demonstrates exactly those principles, and I would say it is time we get to work on that committee.

Government Business No. 9—Parliamentary Review Committee pursuant to the Emergencies ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.


John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Mr. Speaker, one of the challenges we have been dealing with, all of us working on this committee, is the perception, real or otherwise, that the government is trying to stack the deck with this committee. The Conservatives, and I will be speaking about this momentarily, provided a reasonable proposal that would have used an already existing committee, which was purpose-built for this particular purpose. It would have provided a chair to the Conservative side on the members side but also a chair to the Senate side.

I would like the hon. government House leader to explain to the House and Canadians why that committee could not work, given the fact that it is purpose-built, yet his committee, in his view, would.