Good afternoon, Mr. Chair and committee members.
It's really an honour to share my perspectives as a researcher on the issue of temporary migrants who work in Canada, many of whom may become permanent residents.
I'm a full professor at Université Laval in Quebec City, and I'm the holder of the senior Canada research chair in global migration processes.
The issue of migrant workers with temporary resident status is a very important one to examine because it holds strong impact for immigration, the labour force and the economy. On this topic I have conducted first-hand field research with temporary workers in agriculture, the IT sector, hospitality and administration in Ontario and Quebec since 2010. This involved more than 100 interviews with workers from different source countries and very extensive time spent in the field with temporary workers. I'm interested in the impact of policy on workers and in restituting their perspectives and experiences.
Let me mention first that some of my points reiterate the recommendations already published in the report on the temporary foreign worker program of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities. This committee was chaired by Brian May in 2016.
Let me first draw your attention to the increasing proportion and number of temporary residents in Canada over the past few decades. A large proportion of these temporary residents are work permit holders. They include foreign students and asylum seekers, as well as temporary workers, of course. I mention this because most studies, as well as the work of the previous standing committee, specifically focused on those who come under the temporary foreign worker program. Rarely do we have studies considering the impact of the presence of workers with temporary status, including all entry categories.
The increase is significant both in absolute and relative terms. I'll just bring one number to you. According to the 2016 census, the population of Canada increased by 10% between 2001 and 2016, but the proportion of the temporary residents increased by 155%. That's very important. Despite short-term fluctuations in temporary foreign worker admissions, which civil servants will certainly share with you, we need to keep an eye on the overall trend and the big picture of the situation.
Why should we care about the increase in temporary residents in Canada? Why does it matter? I will stress four reasons today.
First of all, temporary residents who work have fewer social rights than permanent residents. Not all of them have access to health care services, for instance, yet they pay income taxes.
Second, temporary residents who do not have the right to work—some of them don't—are likely to engage in unreported work to support themselves.
Third, temporary residents who do not renew their visa are likely to stay in Canada and increase Canada's undocumented migrant population.
Fourth, and very important, temporary residents in the labour market may have an impact on working conditions of all workers because they are often dependent on their employers for their right to stay, their right to return to Canada, as in the case of workers in agriculture, or the ability to become permanent residents. For these reasons, they are often willing to work under different conditions, such as lower wages or longer hours. This creates inequalities among workers and tensions in the workplace, and I've seen many instances in my field work.
My slide 5 shows you how it may have an impact. It shows you the median weekly income for temporary residents in the workforce relative to permanent immigrants. What we see from these analyses—we have a full paper with extensive analyses—is that temporary workers earn less than other immigrants. We found also that temporary workers work more hours on average per week than other immigrants. All other things being equal, resident status matters for income, and temporary residents may be disadvantaged, and it may have an impact on the workplace overall.
My first point was about the increase in temporary residents in the workforce and the impact on wages. Second, I would like to bring forward and specifically talk about temporary foreign workers, not all temporary residents.
The majority of these workers hold an employer-restricted work permit, a work permit that ties them to one employer only during their employment in Canada. All research is unanimous about the very problematic effects of these work permits on workers. It creates an imbalance of power between the employer and the worker, and it puts workers at risk of abuse, particularly those holding low-skilled positions. Much research has also indicated that women may be more at risk. I have witnessed many cases in my own research.
I bring this up simply to reiterate recommendation 14 of the 2016 standing committee report. It did say that these permits should be replaced by open permits. No other legal workers in Canada are subject to such measures and foreign migrant workers should not be either.
My third point is about pathways to permanent residency. Some temporary workers have this access to permanent residency, and this is a very positive policy, of course, but there are aspects that require improvement. I will mention three difficulties that many workers encounter.
First of all, temporary workers cannot access settlement services during their period as a temporary resident. This may have long-term impacts once they become a permanent resident, for instance, language acquisition.
Second, the procedures to make the transition from temporary to permanent status require the employer's participation. This provision makes temporary workers extremely dependent on their employer, including higher-skilled workers.
Third, the procedure itself is complex and many hire private consultants to assist them. Some find themselves in the stressful [Technical difficulty—Editor]
Can you hear me, Mr. Chair?
Thanks very much for having me.
I'm going to be covering two topics today. One is parents and grandparents. The other is business immigration. I'm choosing those because they're somewhat controversial.
Many Canadians support economic immigration. They have an understanding of our obligations for humanitarian classes, but are bewildered by why so many parents and grandparents are being approved. They say things such as the last 10 years of somebody's life is where 80% of our health care costs rise, or that they're just here to collect old age security or the guaranteed income supplement.
Those of us working in immigration realize how important this category is for many families in Canada. We're aware of the cohesiveness it brings to immigrant families whose lives feel weaker and less stable without the support of their parents.
We also suspect that it leads to far better economic outcomes, due to things like reduced reliance on subsidized day care, large transfers of monies from parents to their children, more stable marriages and generally less reliance on social services—perhaps even allowing families to have more children, thereby reducing the need for more immigration to support job growth.
The world is much wealthier now, and the old Indian couple you see walking around the community may have sold their family farm and transferred half a million dollars to their Canadian children. The Chinese couple shopping with their grandchild in the supermarket looking earnestly for bargains may have sold a house in Shanghai for a million, and brought all of their money to Canada.
I travel to China a great deal. When I am there, I often go for a walk in the park in the morning. It could be any park, anywhere in China. In each and every park there are thousands of elderly Chinese who gather in the mornings. They're all doing amazing exercises and activities. They're singing, dancing, doing tai chi, weight training, and on and on. They all eat healthily and have good mobility.
When I go to a food court in any mall in Canada, I see hundreds of unhealthy Canadians drinking litres of sugar-filled soft drinks to wash down their plates of burgers and poutine. I note the absence of elderly immigrants consuming the same things. If they are at the food court, they are generally talking and socializing. If they are eating, it is with care and attention to what they consume.
Are these older people coming to Canada to take advantage of our health care system? The real truth is that our health care system is not that good, and is only ranked 30th by the World Health Organization. I know many Chinese who regularly go back to China for health care treatment. I don't know many who have immigrated to Canada for our health care system.
Many Canadians are not aware that parents who are sponsored by their children are not able to claim old age security for their first 10 years in Canada, and 20 years for the guaranteed income supplement. Of course, unless they work in Canada, they don't qualify for the Canada pension plan. That means the costs of their care must be borne by themselves and their children. By having these parents and grandparents come to Canada, they add to the lives of the whole family.
I also suspect that they have a net positive economic impact. How much, I really don't know. They bring money, buy goods and services, have overseas pensions and reduce social services costs for their children.
I would love the Canadian government to analyze the effects, costs, and economic benefits of parents and grandparents. I think that if we were to analyze it, the results would be truly astounding. Parents and grandparents have a very different demographic impact on our society. They won't be having more children and their main purpose in life is simply to support their children here in Canada.
If we don't undertake an analysis based on facts, many Canadians will continue to not appreciate this important group of immigrants. Maybe the results will be different than I expect, and maybe they are a drain on our health and social systems. I doubt it, and I suspect all of you do, as well.
Please consider undertaking an economic analysis of this group. It will help the national discussion greatly and lead to greater acceptance of grandparents and parents in Canada. Such an analysis of economic data will add to the unity of our country and allow any government to develop better immigration policies.
I've been involved in business immigration for 20 years. When I was first hired by the Manitoba government, my job was to attract overseas investment to the province. I quickly discovered that most foreign direct investment to Canada came to invest in natural resources or in large manufacturing sectors in the Golden Horseshoe. Unfortunately, Manitoba has less than the national average of natural resources and doesn't have a city of several million to attract large manufacturers.
I was also tasked with managing the business immigration program, which was effectively handing out business cards and asking immigrants to come to Manitoba. At that time, there was a federal entrepreneur program. In a good year, Manitoba might get four business immigrants. This led us to decide to try a different approach.
We launched the Manitoba provincial nominee program for business in 2000. It was the first business immigration program under the nominee program. From the moment we launched the program, there were hundreds of business immigrants wanting to move to Manitoba. It has truly transformed our province, with hundreds of new businesses being started.
A subsequent program went to Saskatchewan and did the same thing there, and they have enjoyed similar or even more success.
Under Minister Kenney, the federal government effectively stopped their business immigration programs, both the entrepreneur program and the investor stream. Minister Kenney was able to obtain tax filings for a cohort of live-in caregivers and found that they actually paid more income tax than the federal immigrant investors did. Based on this result, he correctly closed down the program.
Sadly, the Quebec immigrant investor program continues to this day, with about 1,750 families per year being approved. It has three major faults. One is that very few of the approved applicants actually establish a business in Canada or in Quebec. Two, they pay very little income tax. Three, Quebec is effectively selecting immigrants for B.C. and Ontario, which is outside of their agreement with the Government of Canada. They are allowed to select Quebec immigrants but not immigrants from out of province. Estimates are that less than 10% of Quebec investors actually settle in Quebec.
I would encourage this committee to look at the abuses of this program. It is not a program that should be supported based on any analysis.
I'm here to advocate for real business immigration programs—both entrepreneur programs and investors. Most provinces have started entrepreneur programs with varying degrees of success. The most successful ones allow business people to come to Canada under a work permit, establish a business, and then obtain immigration once the business has been operational for six months. The process is working, and I would encourage the federal government to consider launching a similar national program. If it is done well, it would create thousands of new companies and tens of thousands of new jobs.
Similarly, the Quebec investor program needs to be wound down like the federal investor program was. In their place should be a real investor program, where applicants would invest $1 million in real risk capital placed into privately run investment funds. These funds could be used to invest in the private sector, non-public companies in Canada, or in private-public partnerships, particularly those that have a social benefit.
This idea came to my attention from Olivia Chow, who is advocating for the establishment of a federal investor stream with some of the money being used for social development. This idea is worth considering. In my opinion, there is an appetite for about 3,000 of these kinds of visas per year for investors. If the required hold period was for seven years, and the risk capital per person was $1 million, it would effectively raise $21 billion in private sector investment over this time frame. That's a lot of private sector investment for Canada. All of these applicants would be screened to an even higher standard than our skilled workers.
A local politician in Manitoba recently asked me what I thought of business immigrants being “fast-tracked” into Manitoba. I laughed when he asked, as business immigrants to Manitoba or anywhere else in Canada need to provide at least five times more documents, take two to three times longer to process, and only get work permits when they've established a business. This process takes at least four years—not much of a fast track compared to the express entry, which is supposed to take about six months.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to both of the witnesses for coming here. Sorry, I'm losing my voice a little, so be patient with me.
For the first witness who spoke via teleconference, you mentioned the percentage of temporary foreign workers who come into Canada per year. We're seeing a lot of economic migrant workers across the globe. There was around 258 million in 2017. In 2000, that number was around 150 million, I believe. We're seeing a lot of individuals moving because of economic opportunities.
Perhaps you could elaborate. We've taken in roughly over 300,000 new immigrants per year, and I think it would be an easy way for us to capture a lot of these economic immigrants and ensure that they have a pathway to citizenship. They're already paying taxes within our country, and probably speak sufficient English or French. How do we ensure that we have these pathways?
Mr. Boldt, you mentioned business migrants and how to fast-track them. We did implement the global skills strategy. We can now get in economic migrants within a couple weeks, but they're generally high-skilled migrants. How can we make certain policies to harness a lot of these economic migrants who are already here, and get ones who are ready and have certain skills into Canada a lot faster?
We chatted. It happens.
That, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), the Committee conduct a study of the United Nations’ Global Compact on Migration; that this study examine the degree to which Canada was consulted; that the study also determine how the compact will affect Canada, including but not limited to potential impacts on immigration levels, resettlement cost supports, potential cost impact on social programs (such as social welfare systems, affordable housing stock, regional homeless shelters and food banks), sovereignty on decision making regarding immigration policy; that departmental officials be in attendance for at least one meeting; that this study consist of no fewer than two meetings; that the study be completed prior to Canada making a final decision to ratify the United Nations’ Global Compact on Migration; that the Committee report its findings to the House; and that pursuant to Standing Order 109, the government table a comprehensive response thereto.
We're about to enter into this agreement, and there hasn't been a lot of discussion about it within the context of Parliament yet. I've had a lot of questions about the agreement in my office, and I'm assuming that colleagues of all political stripes have as well. I think it's incumbent upon us as parliamentarians to show the public, to get a better understanding of the intent of the agreement, and then, frankly, to discuss the agreement in the context of Canada's current immigration situation.
I moved the supplementary estimates motion first because there has been a considerable amount of taxpayer dollars spent on unplanned expenditures related to the situation at Roxham Road. As a parliamentarian, I feel, and I would hope everyone here does, too, that it's incumbent upon us to understand the full impacts of this agreement and perhaps also the global compact on refugees prior to ratification so that we can evaluate this in the context of the upcoming immigration levels plan, as well as in the context of the budget.
Frankly, I am a little tired of evaluating budgetary impacts related to the immigration system at this point in time after the fact. I'm also becoming frustrated about evaluating changes to policy related to immigration levels without looking at a broader context.
I do believe that this motion is in order, given the fact that we have moved similar rules in our routine motions. It's also related to the scope of this study. I think it is incumbent upon us to get this done prior to ratification in December.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. It pays to know the rules, doesn't it?
Going back to the topic at hand, I am very interested with regard to the temporary foreign worker program, writ large. I think a lot of Canadians don't understand that the TFW program is broken down into different silos. There are high-skilled workers, low-skilled workers, and workers under the seasonal agricultural program. I find it's one of the biggest topics that I hear about in my work as a shadow minister. I find the term “temporary foreign worker” pejorative in nature. I think of the witness testimony here. In certain areas of the country, we are relying on this type of work, and I think it's incumbent upon us in this committee to understand why.
One of the potential changes that I've rolled out as an official policy from my party is that we would seek to completely revamp the program to do the following: We would make it less onerous on employers who require labour, by having better labour market data and by better tying the entry to that. To the testimony that was given here, we also recognize that in certain areas entire industries and regions are relying on this work, so rather than just looking at it year over year, if the labour market data shows this, then we should be trying to offer a path to entry over time.
One of the concerns that I hear from a lot of Canadians is about ensuring that self-sufficiency and integration are key aspects of Canadian immigration policy. I think there's a lot of perception that we are offering paths to entry for people who are relying on Canada's social programs.
Dr. Bélanger, would you be amendable to looking at a path to entry in a revamped TFW program where that is actually tied to a record of employment over a set period of time? For example, let's say you have worked for three out of four years, and you have demonstrated that you have been employed in Canada and have not been a drain on the social assistance program. That would be a path to entry.
I'd like your comment on that.
Thank you, Mr. Chair, for the opportunity to discuss Canada's temporary foreign worker programs with the committee today in relation to the committee's current study on the migration challenges and opportunities for Canada in the 21st century.
I am the director general of the Immigration Branch at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, or IRCC. I am accompanied by Helene Panagakos, the director of the immigration program guidance branch, the temporary foreign worker program and the international mobility program. I will deal with the subjects that, as I understand it, are the committee’s main areas of interest for today’s meeting.
First of all, I will provide an overview of our temporary worker programs. I will talk specifically about the responsibilities of various departments. Second, I will explain how the rights of temporary workers are protected in IRCC programs. Third, I will describe the current routes to permanent residency for temporary workers at all skill levels. My colleagues from Employment and Social Development Canada will then provide information specific to their program. After that, we will be pleased to answer your questions.
First, as members are likely aware, we'll give an overview of the temporary foreign worker programs, but there are two distinct programs under which foreign nationals can come to work in Canada.
With respect to the temporary foreign worker program, IRCC has a shared responsibility with ESDC. As my colleagues from ESDC will describe, their department issues labour market impact assessments under this program, which allow Canadian businesses to hire temporary foreign labour when there are no Canadians available. Once employers have a labour market impact assessment, they then come to IRCC to process a work permit, and then if needed, a visa in order to come to Canada as well.
IRCC also administers the international mobility program, which is distinct from the temporary foreign worker program, and this falls solely under our purview. This program, which was created in 2014, facilitates the entry of foreign workers to advance Canada's broader economic, social and cultural interests.
In some cases, these are employer-specific work permits, under which the worker can only work for the employer on the permit, and these are cases such as academic researchers, intra-company transferees, or those coming under international trade agreements. In some cases, these are open work permits, such as for post-graduate work permit holders for international grads who were studying in Canada who then get an open work permit to work for any employer in Canada for a limited amount of time. It also includes youth coming for working holiday experiences under our youth mobility exchange agreements with other countries.
Under both temporary worker programs, just over 300,000 work permits were issued in 2017, which covered a broad range of skill levels and occupations. Recognizing the important economic contributions made by migrant workers to Canada and Canadian businesses, ESDC and IRCC have been working closely over the last year to consult with key sectors and industries about the temporary foreign worker program.
In addition, in June 2017, we launched the global skills strategy, which aims to facilitate faster access to top talent so that companies can grow, create jobs and contribute to Canada's economy. As part of the global skills strategy, IRCC provides expedited work permit processing to temporary workers in high-skilled and management occupations and dedicated client support to companies making a significant investment in Canada. Since last June, we have processed more than 15,000 work permits under the global skills strategy, primarily in IT and engineering occupations.
While Canada benefits economically from temporary workers, budget 2018 recognized that Canada also has an obligation to ensure that temporary foreign workers are aware of their rights and are protected while working in Canada. ESDC will expand on the measures taken to improve communication with workers about their rights. In addition, the employer compliance regimes under both the temporary foreign worker program and the international mobility program are one of the government's main worker protection tools for migrant workers.
First, at the front end, the compliance regimes establish the program requirements to which employers must adhere. Under both programs, the employer is required to be actively engaged in the business, comply with all federal and provincial laws, provide the same wages and occupation as identified in the offer of employment, provide a workplace free of abuse, and keep documentation for six years. Then on the back end, the compliance regime inspects employers to ensure they are complying with those obligations.
The compliance regime is not designed to be punitive but rather to encourage compliance. Consequences can include warning letters, bans from the program, monetary penalties and the publication of the names of employers who do not comply with the regulations. In cases where criminal activity is suspected, the file is passed to our law enforcement partners.
Under the international mobility program, IRCC each year inspects about 25% of the employers recruiting migrant workers. Results tell us that, since the regime was put into effect in 2015, the rate of non-compliance is about 15% and that the vast majority of cases are unintended administrative errors that are corrected. As for the measures that correct them, compensation payments up to almost $100,000 have been made to workers since 2015.
I understand the committee is also interested in pathways to permanence for migrant workers. Many temporary workers are transitioning to permanent residence. In 2017, Canada admitted over 34,000 individuals as permanent residents who had previously held a work permit, or about 43% of economic principal applicants.
At the federal level, express entry manages applications for our federal high-skilled programs and offers points for key human capital characteristics that increase the likelihood of someone becoming economically established in Canada. This includes points for prior work experience in Canada, increasing the likelihood that temporary foreign workers will be invited to apply for permanent residence. Top occupations for those who have been invited to apply through express entry currently include software engineers, information systems analysts and professors.
Importantly, though, transition pathways are not only limited to workers in the high-skilled occupations, but are available across all skill levels through different permanent residence programs.
For example, the provincial nominee program recognizes that provinces and territories are well positioned to determine their specific labour market needs and enables them to nominate permanent residents across all skill levels. The PNP sees an even higher proportion of temporary workers transitioning to permanent residence, with about 64% of principal applicants from 2010 to 2015 being previous work permit holders. In fact, many jurisdictions have developed streams targeting temporary workers in specific occupations. Under the government's multi-year levels plan, no other program grows as fast or as much as the PNP.
Another permanent residence program offering pathways to permanent residence at various skill levels is the recent Atlantic immigration pilot. It was developed in concert with the Atlantic provinces and implemented in March 2017. We have worked to build strong partnerships between the business community and settlement service provider organizations in order to help fill labour gaps in the Atlantic region and, importantly, also sought to ensure better newcomer retention in these jobs and communities.
To conclude, Mr. Chair, I would note that our suite of temporary and permanent economic immigration programs is designed to contribute to Canada's economic growth and prosperity, while also balancing the interests of both workers and businesses. This includes offering access to foreign workers who can help businesses fill labour market needs in the short term, ensuring employers live up to their obligations to those workers while they are here, and offering pathways to permanence for those individuals who are likely to economically establish and succeed in the long term as new Canadians.
I hope that members of the committee have found that this information on the role that IRCC plays in temporary workers programs will be useful.
I will now yield the floor to my colleague, Philippe Massé.
Mr. Chair and members of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, thank you for giving Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) the opportunity to contribute to its study on migration challenges and opportunities for Canada in the 21st century. Joining me today is Tara Cosgrove who is the Executive Director of Integrity Services at Service Canada.
Given the emphasis of the study on how to enhance the health and safety of migrant workers while in host countries, I would like to focus my remarks on ESDC's efforts to protect these workers within the temporary foreign worker program.
I would like to begin with a broad overview of the program, then discuss some of the issues facing temporary foreign workers and finally outline some of the steps the department is taking to better protect these workers from abuse or exploitation.
My apologies in advance if I am repeating some of Ms. Kim's remarks in my comments.
The objectives of the TFW program are to enable employers to hire foreign workers when Canadians or permanent residents are not available, to ensure that Canadians and permanent residents are considered first for opportunities and to protect temporary foreign workers while they are in Canada.
The program is jointly administered by ESDC and IRCC with the support of the Canada Border Services Agency.
ESDC is responsible for processing and issuing labour market impact assessments, which I will refer to as an LMIA, at the request of employers who wish to hire temporary foreign workers. The LMIA process aims to ensure that employers do not have access to domestic labour when hiring foreign workers. As part of the process, employers agree to comply with program requirements, which include conditions aimed at protecting temporary foreign workers and the Canadian labour market. ESDC is also responsible for administering the program's employer compliance regime.
In 2017, ESDC approved approximately 35,000 employer applications, representing about 97,000 positions under the program, and 62% of those were in primary agriculture.
While in Canada, TFWs have the same rights to workplace protections under applicable federal, provincial and territorial employment standards and collective agreements as Canadians and permanent residents.
We know that temporary foreign workers coming to Canada under the primary agriculture and low-wage streams, in particular, caregivers, are the most vulnerable to mistreatment, abuse and exploitation. These groups are more vulnerable because of language barriers, isolation as they often work in remote areas, lack of awareness of their rights and protections, and limited access to support services and resources to exercise their rights. Some also fear retribution, including the threat of being returned to their home country if they speak out.
The Government of Canada takes the protection of TFWs very seriously. ESDC has a system of checks and balances in place to identify and prevent abuse and exploitation, which we are continually working to improve. ESDC has the authority to conduct administrative inspections to ensure that employers comply with program conditions. However, ESDC has no direction over criminal matters such as human trafficking, and we refer those to the appropriate authorities at CBSA and the RCMP.
In terms of ESDC processes, an employer must advertise positions to Canadians and permanent residents and must be registered on the Government of Canada's Job Bank service before they can request foreign workers.
Job Bank has developed security and validation practices to assess the genuineness of employers and employment opportunities advertised on its platform.
The LMIA process itself includes the assessment of the genuine status and past compliance of the employer. More specifically, Service Canada officers must consider four factors to confirm whether a job offer is legitimate: whether the employer is actively engaged in a business; whether the position being offered is a reasonable employment need; whether the employer can demonstrate that they are able to fulfill the conditions of the offer; and the employer's past compliance with federal, provincial and territorial laws that regulate employment and recruitment.
ESDC makes information available to TFWs about their rights through a number of channels. The government produces an online pamphlet entitled “Temporary foreign workers: Your rights are protected”, in the three most-used languages among TFWs, which contains information on their rights while in Canada.
Since March 2018, Service Canada is providing key information directly to TFWs when they apply for their social insurance number and has developed a dedicated web page on TFW rights and protections.
Furthermore, we are facilitating efforts to better inform TFWs of their rights by working more closely with migrant worker support organizations. For example, in January 2018, ESDC provided a grant to the Migrant Workers' Dignity Association that was used to develop 17 different workshops aimed at educating temporary foreign workers on topics such as their rights and responsibilities, gender violence, and access to benefits including employment insurance benefits. These workshops will be used to support information sessions for both workers and employers going forward.
Budget 2018 also announced the establishment of a pilot project for a migrant worker support network in British Columbia for temporary workers dealing with potential mistreatment or abuse. The goal of the network is to better support temporary foreign workers to understand and exercise their rights, as well as to support employers in understanding and meeting their obligations and requirements.
Network members include temporary workers, migrant worker support organizations, settlement agencies, foreign governments, Government of British Columbia officials, academics and legal professionals, unions, industry representatives, employers, and federal government representatives. Members collaborate on key issues facing temporary foreign workers and make recommendations on prior initiatives that should be considered for funding.
ESDC has a comprehensive compliance framework in place to enforce employer compliance with program conditions and requirements, which in turn helps protect TFWs.
Stemming from recommendations by both the HUMA committee and the Auditor General, we have taken a number of initiatives to improve the compliance regime. To better target our resources and efforts, we have launched a new risk-based predictive model to help identify which employers to inspect, prioritizing the highest-risk cases.
The department has significantly increased its on-site inspections, strategically focusing on employers of vulnerable temporary foreign workers. Since April 2017, the department has conducted more than 2,300 on-site inspections. For inspections completed since that time, approximately 50% of employers were found to require corrective measures to become compliant.
The department is strengthening its capacity to conduct on-site inspections. More specifically, winter 2018 saw the launch of unannounced inspections in response to recommendations from the OAG report, an additional tool in identifying and correcting non-compliant behaviour amongst employers. As of October 15, 2018, over 280 unannounced inspections have been launched.
While most employers will work with ESDC to take corrective action and become compliant, those who are found to be non-compliant face a range of consequences, including monetary penalties ranging from $500 to $100,000 per violation, and program bans of various lengths, including one, two, five and 10 years, or even permanent bans for egregious cases. Employers found non-compliant will also have their name and address published on our IRCC public list with details of the violations and consequences.
ESDC also operates an online fraud-reporting tool and a confidential tip line. These tools provide TFWs and the general public with a means to encourage disclosure of possible wrongdoing. All allegations are reviewed and appropriate action is taken. When warranted, matters are referred to the CBSA or RCMP for further investigation.
A follow-up call was made from CBC to the Pakistani High Commission and their press secretary responded by saying that the Government of Pakistan has not banned adoption at all; they do not have any restrictions, and as such, adoption is allowed.
What we know is that the ban is tied to Canada's interpretation of sharia law. The said in question period today that Canada needs to harmonize adoption laws with the country in question and the laws of Canada.
Canada does not practise sharia law. Pakistan does not follow it. In fact, international adoptions from Pakistan continue now to other countries—just as they did before 2013.
My question, then, is this: Why did the Canadian government begin using an interpretation of sharia law to block international adoptions from Muslim majority countries like Pakistan in 2013? When was the current minister made aware of this policy? Why is the current government continuing to use this policy? As a result of this, how many applications have been affected? That is to say, how many vulnerable children have been left in need? How many families have been broken up? How many families have been rejected since November 2015?
Finally, the government says that they're now reviewing this policy. What is the timeline for the review, and when will it be finished?