|| That the 15th report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, presented to the House on Wednesday, December 13, 2017, be concurred in.
She said: Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to stand in the House today to once again raise the issue around paragraph 38(1)(c) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, better known as medical inadmissibility due to excessive demand.
As many in this place are now aware, this division of IRPA is a cost-only analysis that estimates the potential costs in the use of social and health services that a person applying for permanent residence in Canada could incur.
Currently, under subsection 38(2) of IRPA, convention refugees, protected persons, spouses, and dependants as part of a family sponsorship application are exempt from this restriction. This means that only those who are economic applicants and their families, caregivers, provincial nominees, parents and grandparents, students, foreign workers, and temporary residents would be subject to paragraph 38(1)(c). The provision works in such a way that should one member of a family be found at risk of placing an excessive demand on health or social services, the entire family's application would be rejected.
As I said, this is a cost-only analysis. Not only does it ignore the benefits that an individual brings to Canada, but it also ignores and invalidates the sum of benefits the whole family brings to Canada.
This issue made national headlines in 2016 regarding the case of Professor Felipe Montoya. Professor Montoya came to Canada with his wife, daughter, and son in 2012. He and his wife worked, paid their taxes, and contributed to their community. Their daughter and son attended school in Canada. However, when the Montoya family decided that they wanted to stay here, make Canada their permanent home, and apply for permanent residence, they were rejected. Why? Their son Nico has Down's syndrome.
Following this, last summer, Global News Investigative Journalism brought even more attention to this little-known provision, raising serious questions about how the policy was implemented. There were questions over the so-called basket of services that counted in the calculation and those that did not, why it was that the threshold was set the way it was whether or not the policy was discriminatory, and the impact it was having on families.
In October 2017, the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration undertook a study on this provision. We heard from 25 witnesses and received 23 briefs. Committee members heard loud and clear that this provision was legislated discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Of the witnesses that offered their opinion on what should be done with this policy, it was nearly unanimous that the only option was to repeal paragraph 38(1)(c) of IRPA. Anything less would simply continue the discrimination.
In fact, not only were the witnesses who appeared at committee convinced this policy was discriminatory, so too were Liberal MPs. The member for stated to the during the minister's appearance, “I must say that at this point in time I do not see how raising the threshold and excluding fewer people changes the fact that excluding anyone is prima facie discriminatory and violates Canadian values.”
The member for changed the opinion he had about the policy during the course of this study and evoked a strong and harsh image where he compared the idea of this policy to the mindset of slave trade. He said, “I would say that initially I thought it was a good policy, because that would perhaps be a big burden on Canadians, but then I looked back—and I don’t want to equate it to this—and it’s no different from the slave trade, in which only those selected as the strongest and the most able-bodied were brought from Africa. It’s not that the whole policy is good at all, but I’m saying it is akin to discriminating when we’re picking only people who are healthy, fully functioning, with no intellectual disabilities and no physical disabilities.”
The member also summed up the general view of committee members when he said, “As you can tell, almost all of us have an inclination that this policy is discriminatory. We already can see that even within immigration there's a two-tiered policy.”
The minister stated on numerous occasions that the policy is “out of step with Canadian values on accommodating people with disabilities.” The minister promised changes. Given the near unanimous opinion of witnesses, the strong views of Liberal members on the committee, and the minister's understanding that this policy was wrong, I was hopeful the committee would be able to table a unanimously supported report that called on the government to do one thing and one thing alone, which is to repeal paragraph 38(1)(c) of IRPA.
Unfortunately, I was to be disappointed. Instead of issuing that report, the committee tabled a report which, while it included repeal as a recommendation, provided the government with a host of interim measures it could take instead. It was as though committee members were no longer worried that this policy was prima facie discriminatory, as the member for described it.
As the NDP representative at the committee, I attached a dissenting opinion to the report. I will never forget the story of Mercedes Benitez, a caregiver, who, after nearly a decade of working in Canada waiting to be reunited with her family, was informed her application would be rejected because her son has an intellectual disability. Thankfully, after intense advocacy, support from the public, and media reports, like the Montoya family, she was able to receive an intervention on the file from the minister, which ultimately was approved.
Mercedes Benitez told committee members:
|| Even though my case is already resolved, I think the excessive demands should be repealed. I still feel the pain when they say I'm good [enough] to work, but not good enough to stay because of my son.
In this spirit, the NDP moved two recommendations in our dissenting report: one, to repeal paragraph 38(1)(c) of IRPA; and two, for the government to work with the provincial and territorial governments to determine any increased costs to health and social services as a result of this repeal, and to increase CST and CHT funding accordingly.
The minister stated that the government would be announcing its policy change on April 12, 2018. This is because that was the deadline for the government to respond to the committee's report. While the minister did not feel the urgency to act, like many of the families impacted, I was very eager to learn what the minister would do to address this discriminatory policy.
The minister missed his self-imposed deadline, and when he finally got around to announcing the new policy, I truly was disappointed with the announcement. The policy announcement was not to repeal paragraph 38(1)(c). Despite warnings from the member for , the government announced it would instead be increasing the threshold from $6,555 per year to $20,000, and amended the definition of “social services” by removing references to special education, social and vocational rehabilitation services, and personal support services.
The government expects this will reduce discrimination by 75%. That is not 100%, which is to say that 25% discrimination is okay. While the government states that it agrees with the recommendation to eliminate the policy, it provides no timeline for when that 25% would no longer be discriminated against. At the press conference, the minister stated that this new policy would be forward-going only. This is devastating news for families whose applications were just rejected recently.
The suggestion that they can then apply for permanent residency under humanitarian and compassionate grounds can add up to another three years to the long separation families have already endured. If the H and C application is accepted, only then can they submit a sponsorship application for the family to be reunited. For some families, this additional process may well mean that their children would not qualify to be part of the application as they would have aged out.
In addition, the minister also failed to state whether the new policy would apply to individuals and families with current applications in the system. As a result, many of the individuals impacted by this policy expressed hope, but still worry about the pathway forward. Such is the situation with Monica Mateo Ilarde.
Monica also arrived in Canada as a live-in caregiver in 2008. She has worked hard every day for 10 years taking care of the children of a Canadian family. She has spent most of her 13-year marriage separated from her husband, Richard, and their nine-year-old daughter, Brianna. On most nights, Monica cries herself to sleep from the pain of the separation.
In 2012, she applied for permanent resident status. Monica's permanent resident application was flagged for excessive demand, because her daughter, Brianna, who was cared for by Richard in the Philippines, was born with a visual impairment, a condition that was arbitrarily determined to require “excessive demand” on the Canadian health care system. Brianna would benefit from speech therapy, and could possibly require surgery, but is otherwise a healthy and happy child.
In December 2017, Monica was expecting her second child. Every effort was made so that Monica could be reunited with her family in Canada so she would not be alone when she gave birth to her second baby. The call for her file to be expedited failed, and she was advised by IRCC that her only option would be to apply for an urgent temporary visitors visa for her husband and daughter if she did not want to be alone during childbirth. After discussing this with her family, it was decided that the cost of applying for these additional visas and the travel expenses was just too much for the family. This is because over the course of the last six years, since first applying for permanent resident status, Monica and her family have had to redo medical exams four times, in addition to security screenings and continued renewals of work permits for Monica.
On January 1, 2018, Monica gave birth to her baby boy, alone, in Canada. Unwaveringly optimistic and driven to reunite with her family in Canada, Monica believes that she was blessed to have her son and sees him as a reward for her isolation. She continues to dream of being permanently reunited with her daughter, Brianna, and her husband, Richard.
According to information provided to Monica, it appears that as long as she is processed under the new rules, her application will finally be completed and successful. That means that her daughter would get to meet her little brother for the first time, and her husband would get to meet his son for the first time.
Her case is one example of why I was so anxious to learn whether the new rules would apply to pending cases. After multiple inquiries, I was finally given assurances from the minister's office, last Sunday night, that applications currently in the system would be assessed under the new rules. For that, I thank the government, and I thank the minister. Monica is hopeful that her case will be processed before this winter so that her family can be reunited here in Canada for Christmas.
Aside from the cases currently being processed in the system, I want to draw members' attention to caregivers who have been providing valuable support and services to families in Canada for years, have been subjected to unjustly long processing delays on their permanent resident applications, and after waiting 10 years, in some cases, to bring their families here, have recently been rejected because of this discriminatory policy. In fact, on Monday, May 7, I held a press conference in Toronto to shine a light on this heartbreaking story.
Shirley Benigno is a single mother of three. Her son, John Nicko, has Down syndrome. Shirley has worked hard her entire life to provide for her family. She first moved to Hong Kong, where she tolerated abuse and harassment in her work environment so that she could send money back home.
She had hoped her transition to Canada would mean a new beginning for her family. Upon arrival in Canada in 2009 as part of the live-in caregiver program, Shirley started working two jobs and saving all the money she could for her children's move to Canada. She applied for permanent resident status in Canada, and to be reunited with her family, in 2011.
Outside of work, she prepared food for various events, supplied homemade goods for two convenience stores, and took the national food safety training program, with the expectation and hope of one day going back to school and eventually opening her own family restaurant. All this came to an abrupt end, after waiting seven years, when her application for permanent residence was denied in 2017 because of her son's disability. This is despite her son's medical assessment stating that John Nicko is capable of taking care of himself and is even able to work in an unskilled or semi-skilled position.
As result, Shirley's work permit was revoked, depriving her of all income. She could no longer provide for herself, let alone for her family. This meant that she was unable to send money back home to her family, and her children had to leave school, because they could not afford tuition. This is absolutely devastating to Shirley and her family. Shirley stated, in disbelief, “I always thought Canada did not discriminate against people because they are different. I thought Canada had protections for people who are different.”
Since the rejection of her application, Shirley has finally been able to obtain legal counsel, who is trying to help her with a request to reconsider her denial. If this is not granted, she will be forced to apply for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, a purely discretionary stream of immigration that could take up to three years to process. Aside from this additional delay, if Shirley had to make a new application, it would mean that one of her children would age out and would not be able to be reunited with Shirley, shattering her dream of having her family here in Canada.
If Shirley's application were processed under the new rules, John Nicko would not be deemed an excessive demand. My office was advised that the estimated cost John Nicko would place on social services would be $120,000 over five years, which is $24,000 per year. We were provided with a breakdown of the costs per year: vocational skills training, $5,000; employment programs, $7,000; and day programs, $12,000. Increasing the threshold and exempting the cost of vocational skills training would mean that John Nicko would now be under the threshold and would be eligible for permanent residence in Canada. I brought this case to the attention of the minister, and it is my most sincere hope that he will use his authority to intervene and do what is right.
Shirley and others like her have shown for a decade that she is good enough to be here. She has earned her place in Canada and deserves to be reunited with her family. It would be a great injustice if we allowed individuals like Shirley to be forced to leave after all this time, after all this waiting, because of a discriminatory policy that has now been changed. The minister has the opportunity to prevent such a gross injustice and to do the right thing and allow this family to stay. If the government took that action and applied the new policy to Shirley and her family, they would be able to stay.
It would be reasonable for cases that have recently been rejected, such as in the last 12 months, for example, to be assessed under this new policy. This would not produce excessive demand on our system. During the committee's study, we heard that under the old rules, after appeals and mitigation times, fewer than 400 of the 1,000 cases per year flagged under paragraph 38(1)(c) were ultimately rejected.
We have the opportunity to do what is right and to undo the hardships our system has caused for families through a policy we all know was out of step with our values.
I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to remind the members of this House that in February, I tabled Bill , which would repeal paragraph 38(1)(c). I would like to once again inform the government that I would be happy to work with the government to make this bill the government's own bill. Until that happens, until that discriminatory policy is repealed, the government can do something for the families that have been waiting for years and years, especially those families that have just recently been rejected. The government can apply the new rules to them and reopen their cases so that they have the opportunity to reunite with their families here. It is the right thing to do. I hope that I can hear a positive response from the government side with respect to this request.
Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to participate in this debate. On behalf of the government, I would like to begin by thanking my Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration colleagues for their work and diligence in producing this report. I would also thank the many witnesses who appeared before the committee for the time and effort they put into sharing their viewpoints, analyses, and recommendations.
Our government reviewed the key aspects of medical admissibility and excessive demand to ensure that our policies are in line with our country's modern values. The report includes a number of important recommendations that helped inform the conclusions of the review. Our government's objective is to strike a balance between protecting state-funded health and social services and promoting the humanitarian goals of Canada's immigration system.
Under the excessive demand policy, applicants who are likely to create a greater burden on our health or social services than the average Canadian are deemed inadmissible to Canada. However, the policy was no longer consistent with modern values on accessibility and inclusion for persons with disabilities. Under the policy, immigration officers review applications on a case-by-case basis in order to determine the potential impact on health or social services by assessing the services required by the applicant, the cost of those services, and the impact on the waiting lists. Recently, some determinations made under the current 40-year-old policy raised a lot of concerns. For example, there were a certain number of eligible applicants who were initially deemed inadmissible to Canada because their children, for instance, had Down's syndrome or autism, or were developmentally delayed.
In 2018, Canadians can see that such decisions are inconsistent with society's view on inclusion and diversity, as well as on the contributions made by people with disabilities and their families. Canadians see these services as investments that allow for the participation and inclusion of people with disabilities, which contributes to making our society more diverse and even stronger.
We also recognize that, when qualified applicants are found inadmissible because a member of their family has a disability, we are missing out on skills that could benefit our country and its economy. That is why we must now make our policies more equitable and foster the inclusion of people with disabilities while continuing to protect government-funded health and social services.
As I said, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada reviewed the provision that was raised by the committee and my colleagues. As part of that process, our government sought the opinions of stakeholders, including advocates for people with disabilities, and our provincial and territorial counterparts. The committee's recommendations made a significant contribution to this review and helped our government to come up with a new approach and implement a policy that will stand the test of time.
As per the committee's recommendations, our government is making significant changes to the existing policy. These include removing special education services, social and vocational rehabilitation services, and personal support services from the factors taken into consideration in the current policy. This will help strike a better balance between the fair treatment of people with disabilities and the protection of government-funded health and social services, which will be good for applicants who have children with disabilities and others who need those services.
Our government has also tripled the cost threshold for excessive demand. This measure will remedy the fact that the current policy sometimes prevented the arrival of newcomers with relatively low costs who would otherwise contribute to Canada. This measure will enhance fairness by facilitating immigration for applicants with health problems that usually require a limited range of health and social services that are relatively inexpensive.
Based on our government's assessment, which was shared with our provincial and territorial counterparts, this will have a minimal impact on health care systems. These cases represent less than 0.1% of all Canadian health expenditures. At the same time, it will permit the entry of several hundred applicants who, under the current policy, would be refused entry to Canada.
The excessive demand provision does not apply to some categories of applicants, such as refugees and certain members of the family class. The provision mainly affects applicants in the economic class, or those people we invite to Canada because the economy needs their skills.
Our government recognizes that people with very high medical expenses that exceed the threshold I mentioned could have a disproportionate effect on provincial and territorial health care systems.
This is why, before taking any measures other than the ones I described, our government will consult the provinces and territories about the impact of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration's recommendation to repeal the excessive demand provision.
Our government will start a rigorous data-collection and data-analysis process, share the results with our provincial and territorial partners, and continue to engage our partners to guarantee an effective implementation of the policy changes that I described. We will also monitor the impact of these changes.
This process will also give our government additional information so that we can draw conclusions on the impact of fully eliminating the excessive demand provision. We will develop a policy based on this evidence.
We are also monitoring the ongoing effects of the excessive demand provision and the policy on its work, its clients, and on the provinces and territories. The committee recommended that a full parliamentary review be conducted every three years once these changes are implemented, and representatives would be pleased to accommodate the committee if it wants to conduct such a review.
In my remaining time, I would like to address some of the committee's recommendations regarding the administration of the policy. Once again, the government welcomes the committee's advice on ways to improve administrative measures, for example, and the customer experience, and will implement some of those measures to reach these objectives very quickly.
We are currently centralizing all applications that fall under this policy within a single office in Canada for more efficient processing. This measure will ensure more consistent and effective decision-making, since one team will be dedicated to decision-making with respect to excessive demand.
Our government also agrees with the committee's recommendations regarding proper training for immigration officers and the doctors responsible for decision-making. Our government will review the options for supplementing or adapting the existing training, to ensure that it is more in sync with the changes made to the policy.
Our government will also conduct an expert analysis of the methodology used to set the excessive demand threshold and will present the formula to applicants and the Canadian public in the interest of transparency. Because of the change resulting in certain services no longer being included under the revised policy, the IRCC will revise the cost threshold.
In summary, our government is committed to making sure that the policy on accessibility and immigration applicants continues to recognize the need to protect health, education, and social services, while treating all applicants equally. The changes our government is making to the excessive demand provision will strike the appropriate balance and be reflective of the modern values of an inclusive country for persons with disabilities.
I want to reiterate that the committee's report makes a very valuable contribution to our government's efforts to carry out a fundamental review of the excessive demand policy, and we agree with its intentions. The recommendations it sets out are constructive, well-informed, and extremely useful. Again, I wish to thank the committee members for their work.
Our government appreciates their ongoing efforts in this area and their interest in ensuring that our immigration system continues to adapt and evolve to keep pace with the modern values of Canadian society.
I am pleased to have had the opportunity to talk about this important issue. Again, we want to take our time in order to take a balanced approach. We want to consult the provinces and territories and the various stakeholders to ensure that we may one day be able to eliminate the 40-year-old excessive burden policy.
Mr. Speaker, like the parliamentary secretary, I would like to thank the witnesses who appeared before the committee to provide testimony for the context of this report. I also would like to thank all of my colleagues on the committee, who undertook a very rigorous study of this issue.
The Conservative Party of Canada did append a dissenting report to this report on behalf of the official opposition. Today I will highlight some of the differences of opinion that our party had and some of the similarities that we had with the main recommendations that were put forward. I believe the New Democratic Party also put forward a dissenting opinion, although I could be wrong on that. Perhaps my colleague will correct me or remind me.
For anyone who is watching, and for the purpose of the debate, the content of the study was on the medical inadmissibility and excessive demand regulations for potential newcomers. In particular, the committee reviewed paragraph 38(1)(c) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which states that a foreign national is inadmissible on health grounds if his or her health condition “might reasonably be expected to cause excessive demand on health or social services.”
After careful examination of the limited evidence made available to us at the committee, committee members in my party were left with many unanswered questions and felt that data was lacking. Nonetheless, we wanted to state that there are ways the current regulations could be better applied and that Canada's immigration system must strike the right balance between protecting the health and social services that Canadians rely on and ensuring that the excessive demand clause is not hindering our ability to attract and retain immigrants. We felt that the main body of committee's report, as adopted, was lacking in this regard. It is in that context that we submitted the dissenting report.
Canada is a generous and welcoming country. Since Confederation, millions have immigrated to Canada to start a new life, get a job, open a business, raise a family, or escape persecution. Our country has been enriched by the multicultural nature of our communities and has warmly embraced the diversity of our citizens.
In order to continue to welcome immigrants to Canada, the general public must support the overall objectives of our immigration system. Everyday Canadians need to trust that the system is efficient and of benefit to the country. Throughout the study, the committee discovered many flaws and irregularities in the application of existing medical inadmissibility regulations. The committee heard suggestions on how to improve the service delivery and how the department, IRCC, can update unnecessary and confusing bureaucratic language during the application process.
Throughout our meetings, questions were frequently based on the question of fairness in the context of competing interests: If demand for specialized services was increased due to a total removal of the excessive demand provision, would that be fair to Canadians who have already waited months on a wait-list? Would it be fair to provinces and territories that are already having cash issues in terms of their budget? Is it fair if someone who wants to immigrate to Canada is rejected because it was determined that this person or someone in their family would cause excessive demand on our health or social services?
In terms of the excessive demand clause, one of the things I had some questions about was the difficulty of finding any sort of modelling or quantitative data on the projected increase in demand if paragraph 38(1)(c) were repealed and if we could look back at even the data that were available for past years. I remember the chair had to ask a lot of questions of officials on how the numbers were calculated, because it is a confusing formula. One of the things we asked over and over again was whether, if this paragraph were to be repealed, there would there be an increase in demand that was not forecast by a previous year's number, since people were self-deselecting from the application process because they knew they would not be eligible under the current paragraph 38(1)(c). Without that data, it would be difficult for provinces to forecast what the future demand on provincial health care systems would be, so we noted that in our dissenting report.
We also noted the fact that at that time consultation was still ongoing with the provincial governments, which the minister had not made available to the committee. There were only a few committees that actually put forward their recommendations. There were several provinces that were very hesitant and critical about the flat out repeal of 381(c), as is recommended in the report, due to questions around the potential cost and whether Ottawa would foot the bill, as it were.
Again, I want to that ensure the system is fair and that we do not lose people due to this provision. On the other hand, without the data to understand what the potential demand could be or how we would pay for that demand, that lack of data was not congruent with some of the recommendations in the report. We tried to outline that logic very soundly in the dissenting report.
The other component was sort of an amazing business case. If we had just repealed this section, then we would remove all of the bureaucratic costs associated with processing these applications. However, again, we did not have the data with respect to the anticipated demand on the health care system. In fact, even with the government's current changes, I am not sure we have the data on what the demand on the health care system would be. I think provincial governments are still asking those questions. It is very difficult to make that argument, because we cannot look at one basket of costs to the other without that modelling being done.
On determining excessive demand costs, I want to read through some of our thoughts on that. We state:
|| An individualized medical assessment must be undertaken to determine excessive demand. This is to ensure that every individual's current and future health and social service needs are taken into consideration.
|| The Canadian Bar Association (CBA) provided the committee with two briefs and appeared in person to provide recommendations. In the evidence submitted to the committee, they outlined the challenges associated with how IRCC calculates the costs to determine if someone is projected to cause an excessive demand on health and social services.
|| The difficulties in estimating the costs for special education needs were brought to the committee's attention. As education is a provincial jurisdiction, no two provinces that are identical in how they determine funding levels to assist students with special education needs. For example, Ontario's Inclusive Education Model funding is different than how Manitoba supports special education needs as every school division is unique in how support is provided for students with special needs.
|| There is also a discrepancy between provinces with financial support for prescription drugs. In some provinces medically required services are covered in full while outpatient drug costs are not automatically covered. There are also disparities in the amount of what each province reimburses residents for various prescription drugs.
|| The CBA noted that the IRCC's Central Medical Accessibility Unit, which was recently introduced, might alleviate some of the challenges in determining the true costs in determining if one will cause an excessive demand. However, they are urging IRCC to improve its Medical Officer's Handbook and to work with provincial and territorial governments to get the most up-to-date and accurate costing information available for the intended place of residence of the applicant. Denying applicants based on irrelevant information is not acceptable and all steps must be taken to ensure the accuracy of cost estimates.
|| Furthermore, there were circumstances where IRCC took so long to review a medical assessment that it was deemed out of date. Due to IRCC's wait times for processing excessive demand applications, 886 applicants needed a new independent medical assessment. In our opinion this is unacceptable and IRCC needs to improve its service delivery if medical assessments are not being reviewed in a timely manner.
I do not think that was actually addressed in the government's response. Certainly that was something we wanted to see.
With respect to the procedural fairness letters, there were several comments made by witnesses who were confused by them. They “often do not provide enough information for the applicant in a meaningful way. In many circumstances the language used in the letters is overly bureaucratic and is difficult to decipher.” We go on to say, “Further, because IRCC mails Procedural Fairness Letters, the time it takes for the physical letter to arrive cuts into the already short 60 days that applicants are given to provide an answer. We were informed due to the time delays with mailing a letter to various parts of the globe...it is difficult for an applicant to respond...” .
We heard a lot of testimony around sort of the nebulousness of the mitigation plan. We did not actually look at a template mitigation plan, even though it was discussed in broad strokes of what one might include. We thought it would be helpful to review how IRCC communicated what was expected in an applicant's mitigation plan. Our aim would be for IRCC to provide as much guidance as possible for applicants to improve the level of information received and to decrease the amount of appeal.
Our conclusion in the dissenting report was “It is evident that numerous provinces have hesitations on completely eliminating the excessive demand clause”, which was one of the key recommendations of the report. “Yet, numerous concerns were raised with the implementation of the current policy. Our job as policymakers is to strike the right balance of protecting our health and social services while also meeting Canada's immigration needs. We want our immigration policies to be fair and compassionate. We also firmly believe that Canadians must trust and support the overall immigration system.”
However, this is where, again, there was a lack of data. When we are talking about potentially adding cost to Canada's health care system, and we are in a significant deficit situation, as are many provincial governments, it is worthwhile for us to look at that modelling, especially when there were very anecdotal stories.
I want to be perfectly clear. There were some very heartbreaking stories brought forward in committee, but as policy-makers, we also have to ask what the overall likely demand would be created by the repeal of section 38(1)(c). There were some anecdotal stories about the fact that, if this was repealed, we would have more economic immigrants who would be highly successful, but there really was not any data brought forward to back up that claim.
Overall, we felt there was a lack of data to really analyze the cost of repealing section 38(1)(c). Then subsequent to that, it was difficult to question the government on how it would plan to finance that particular change. Certainly, as a Conservative, I have great hesitancy with putting forward major changes that might affect provincial spending without that piece of information.
The recommendations that we put forward in our dissenting report were:
|| 1. That any change to 38(1) (c) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act must be done in full consultation with provinces and territories.
|| 2. That provinces and territories be given a formal procedure to waive the excessive demand clause for an applicant they deem is essential for their province and where they fully accept the costs associated with the applicant.
|| 3. That IRCC create a process where provinces and territories on a yearly basis provide the most up-to-date costing information for health and social services to improve the accuracy when determining excessive demand cases. Furthermore, we recommend this costing information be made public and accessible.
|| 4. That IRCC take all necessary steps to eliminate delays that result in an applicant needing a new independent medical assessment for no fault of their own; for example by digitizing the process.
|| 5. That IRCC immediately work to simplify Procedural Fairness Letters to ensure they are easy to understand and expected outcomes are clear to the applicant.
|| 6. That IRCC involve provinces and territories to review the efficacy of mitigation plan, including an exploration of the enforcement of mitigation plans and to measure their success in cost avoidance.
|| 7. That IRCC review its training process to ensure that officers are aware of their obligation to provide a detailed breakdown of expected costs to health and social services.
We did provide a fairly robust and balanced dissenting report. I would hope that as we go forward, as the parliamentary secretary has said, the government is committed to reviewing its plan in the future. I would like to see some formal modelling of any sort of increased demand be included in that review to understand how much of an extra burden this would place on provincial health care systems, in combination with that data around economic migration. Also, much of the report did not talk about some of those administrative changes that could be made to streamline the system for applicants as well.
That was the opinion of the Conservative Party of Canada. With respect to this concurrence debate, that opinion would stand.