Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
Good morning, everyone.
Good morning, everyone.
Even though it's winter, we're very happy to be here with you.
Our intention this morning is to present an overview of the department's responsibilities as well as some information of a technical nature. I know that our minister, , will have other opportunities to present his priorities and mandate to you.
We are really pleased to be here this morning to present to you some information about the programs in the department.
I'm going to start with slide 3 to give you a bit of an introduction to the department and our responsibilities at Immigration, Citizenship and Refugees Canada.
One of the most important features of Canada's immigration system is the managed migration model. What that really means is that we have legal pathways for permanent and temporary residents, but we also have a plan, and the plan allows us to set levels and manage migration into Canada.
Every year we set a plan that's a rolling three-year model of levels of humanitarian and compassionate grounds, economic immigration and, of course, the family class. We can control the intake of some of those applications, which allows us to prepare and plan and better settle immigrants coming into the country.
We consider as future Canadian citizens all permanent residents who come to Canada and want to settle, and that pathway is really important. We will talk a little bit more about the temporary residents later in the presentation.
It is clear that immigration means more than just facilitating the movement of people. Several elements are linked to it.
First, there's economic development. Given our demographic trends, it is important to have the talent, growth and skills needed not only to fill the gaps in the labour market, but also to grow the economy.
Second, it's about nation-building. Immigration is truly a societal project to enrich the country and diversity, and also to reunite families. Last year, 85,000 people were reunited with their families.
Third, there's the global reach. Globally, the managed approach—which I mentioned earlier—has become a model.
Finally, there are the elements of national security. It's always important to balance openness with the security of the country and Canadians.
Our department is the only federal government department that issues trusted identity documents, such as the permanent resident card.
It's important to note on slide 5 the legal framework that guides the department. You've probably heard a fair amount about the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, known by its acronym, IRPA. It's a thick tome, not necessarily light reading. It's very technical, very prescriptive, but it's the framework that guides all of the department's actions in organizing immigration to Canada, refugee protection and enforcement.
This act also provides the guidance and the framework for the Immigration and Refugee Board.
We have a Citizenship Act that describes the pathways to citizenship, who can acquire citizenship, how citizenship can be revoked, the proof of citizenship and what is recognized as such.
The Canadian passport order provides direction on how passports can be issued.
The Department of Citizenship and Immigration Act is the enabling legislation for the department. Of course, there is also a huge framework of international law that guides, for example, protected persons and refugees.
All of that, taken together, is the framework that provides direction and guidance to the department.
Turning to slide 6, one of the features that the OECD has noted about Canada's immigration system is that it's nimble and adaptable and able to take into account the challenges of the changing world. One element that we like to think about is that the system works as a continuum, from the decision to migrate or Canada's decisions on selection all the way through to settlement and ultimately a pathway to citizenship.
The system is evidence-based. What we mean by that is that we collect performance data on programs and our activities. The data allows us to further undertake research and undertake evaluation. We use the information to allow the programs and the policies to continuously improve and also to adapt.
Continuous improvement is obvious, but it's important for a few reasons. One is that Canada's immigration system needs to adapt to changing migration patterns globally. We're certainly seeing more and more people on the move. Some of this movement is due to economic migration, but it is also due to the deteriorating state around the world and rogue states and people fleeing violence.
Not only do we wish or need to adapt to changing migration patterns. We're also looking at the changing economic patterns and at what skills and competencies can support Canada's economy, but also the changing expectations of citizens as technology improves and people's expectations for client service and quality change. The department is attuned to those things as well.
Next is slide 7. Here, there are really two main pathways that we think about in coming to Canada.
The first is that of the temporary residents; that is, the range of visitors. There are people who are coming as tourists or for business purposes or to visit family. The second group is international students. We're seeing the number of students increase. More and more students are wanting to come to Canadian universities and colleges to study. The category of temporary foreign workers is really a mixed range. We have those highly skilled in IT, engineers and agricultural workers. There is a real range of skills and competencies that fit the needs of the Canadian economy and labour market.
The second pathway includes the permanent residents. These are people who wish to come to Canada to settle. A large percentage of our permanent residents, about 80%, will ultimately seek citizenship. That demonstrates a real attachment to Canada.
Permanent residents come in three categories as well: the economic immigrants—people who wish to work and contribute in that way to Canada's labour market and economy—spouses and family members, people who are joining economic immigrants or permanent residents or Canadian citizens who are already here; and of course refugees and protected persons who are needing protection and a safe harbour in Canada to start a new life.
For a little bit more information, we'll dive a little deeper into who the temporary residents are. Regarding visitors, the majority—these are business travellers or tourists—are allowed to stay for six months. Unless otherwise specified, temporary visitors require a visa or an electronic travel authorization to come to the country.
Students hold study permits. If you're coming from abroad, you require a study permit, which is normally aligned with the designated learning institution in Canada. It's the provinces that designate their learning institution. The student can amend the permit if they decide their program of study isn't for them and they decide to change schools.
If you are a student with a study permit, you are able to work part time in Canada, and there are different hours, whether you're working on campus or off campus.
Work permits for temporary foreign workers and others are tied normally to a particular employer, but we also have open permits that allow holders of such permits permission to work in Canada and the flexibility often to work in the same sector but perhaps through a different employer.
Even though temporary residents are temporary in nature, they have rights in Canada. They are protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and they have access to some government benefits and programs.
On slide 9, we dive a little deeper into the subject of permanent residents. As you can see from the pie chart, more than half of the permanent residents—shown by the blue, yellow and green pieces of the pie—are economic immigrants. However, not all of these people are economic immigrants per se, because the economic immigrant would be the principal applicant and they are able to bring their immediate family with them. That accounts for those three slices of the pie.
The next largest piece of the pie is the family reunification, in purple, representing 27%. In 2019, there were over 91,000 admissions in the family class. This is a combination of spouses and children, but also parents and grandparents. Canada is one of the few countries that has a parent and grandparent reunification class.
The last two slices are in grey and in black, representing the refugees and the protected persons, as well as the humanitarian and compassionate class. The humanitarian and compassionate class is a very narrow slice that's used in very unique situations, normally when someone is otherwise inadmissible, but for humanitarian and compassionate grounds, that is waived.
The proportions of the pie have held largely consistent over the years, and this is fairly typical, except I would note between 2015 and 2017, when, due to Operation Syria, the refugee category expanded when Canada resettled over 26,000 Syrian refugees.
I mentioned already the immigration levels plan, which we describe in slide 10. The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act requires that the minister table an annual report in Parliament, part of which is the immigration levels plan. In 2017, the minister began a three-year rolling plan, which we have found to be a more effective way to prepare the country for our managed migration and to plan and organize our settlement services and our own operations. Everybody is transparent and everybody in the country knows what the plan is going forward.
The annual plan is normally tabled in the fall, by November. However, with the election this past year and the new Parliament, the plan will be tabled by mid-March, so you can expect that soon.
In the immigration levels plan, the government sets targets for economic immigration, for family reunification and for resettled refugees and protected persons. That helps us plan and prepare, as noted, for settlement in our operations.
On slide 11, there's a bit more about some of the programs that support those categories of permanent residents. In the economic category, there are a number of programs that target specific needs, such as the federal skilled workers program and the federal business immigration programs.
There are also a number of pilots that the government has launched: a target geographic or sectoral immigration pilot to spread the benefits of immigration beyond, for example, Canada's largest cities, or pilots to address particular needs and sectors—for example, the agricultural pilot.
As for the family category, I've already noted the two pathways there: the spouses and partners and children, and then the parents and grandparents.
As to the protected persons and refugees, we have a few classes of refugees. There are the government-assisted refugees, who are selected, normally from overseas camps, by the UNHCR and come to Canada as permanent residents.
The second class is something that I think Canada is quite proud of internationally. It's the class of privately sponsored refugees, whereby groups of Canadians sponsor refugees to come to Canada. This was really a sign of Canadians wanting to help. This program has been in place for over 40 years.
The blended visa office-referred refugees, which is a very unintuitive name, come under a blended program, which is a combination of government sponsorship and private sponsorship. These refugees are normally complex cases referred by the UNHCR.
I spoke earlier about the humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
I'll now turn to my colleague, Fraser Valentine, who will provide a little bit more information on settlement.
Good morning, everybody.
One thing that sets Canada's immigration program apart from many other programs in the world is, as Marian highlighted, the front end. We spend a lot of time thinking about selection: who, how many and why we invite them to the country.
The other unique feature is the settlement program at the back end of the program. I thought I would highlight four things that set our settlement program apart. It is recognized internationally and was recently recognized by the OECD.
The first is the structure of the program. We have those two pillars. What's unique is that we calibrate the settlement program and the funding available to that program against the levels plan. If levels go up, then the size of the envelope available for settlement services across the country goes up as well.
With respect to funding, you'll see on slide 12 that in 2019-20, $779 million was available to distribute across the country. That funding does not flow to provinces; it is allocated to each provincial jurisdiction based on actual landings from the three previous years. The funding, however, flows to community-based organizations.
That's the other unique feature about the program, the delivery. It really is a partnership that exists between the Government of Canada, our provincial and territorial colleagues and civil society and community-based organizations. We fund approximately 500 organizations across the country, and they deliver the suite of services shown on the right-hand side of that slide, which I'd really break down into three areas.
The first is what I think of as enabling services, such as information, referral and orientation programs and getting people to the services they need so that they can be successful in their communities and the labour market.
The second grouping is direct services, such as language training and employment supports. That's the biggest part of the program.
The last is indirect or capacity-building supports. We fund a range of settlement organizations and umbrella organizations so that they can come together and represent the sector but also have conversations with government.
I should just note as well that with respect to Quebec there is a separate allocation, which is provided to Quebec under the Canada-Québec Accord. In 2019-20, $529 million was transferred. Quebec is solely responsible for both selection and settlement; the Government of Canada does not play in that space.
Finally, with respect to clients, all permanent residents and protected persons can access all settlement services for as long as they have that status as a protected person or a permanent resident. Once you become a citizen, you can no longer access settlement services.
In 2018-19, 520,000 unique clients accessed services. Many clients will access a number of different services; the term “unique client” counts the actual absolute number. This represented about a 14% increase from the previous year, which isn't a surprise, because we're bringing more people into the country.
I'll end just by giving you a sense of the breakdown of folks who are accessing those services.
Of those 520,000, 43% came through our economic programming. The majority of them are spouses and dependents, not the principal applicant—which makes sense, given our selection approach; some 29% are refugees, and they tend to be the longest users of settlement services; finally, 23% are sponsored family members.
I'll stop there. Of course, I am happy to answer questions.
I'll pick up where Fraser left off.
Once again, we are here with you to give you an overview of the programs, but also of service delivery.
My job as an ADM of operations is to oversee many operational components, so I'll go a little bit deep into the operational realities of the department.
I'll start with the fact that as immigration happens, we want to protect and safeguard the health, safety and security of Canadians; that is of utmost importance to us. Immigration screening is thus a critical tool used to manage the entry to Canada.
Screening happens to ensure that the travellers are genuine, to protect the health, safety and security of Canadians as the immigrants enter, as well as to maintain public confidence among Canadians in immigration. That's of prime importance for both temporary and permanent residents.
They undergo a different kind of screening when they come to Canada. It depends upon the level of screening required or the level of risk posed by a visitor, which is currently also determined by their nationality. Also, screening for security, criminality and crimes against humanity is performed, in partnership with Canada Border Services Agency. We'll talk about that a little later.
On this slide we describe some very important things. For example, we describe who we're talking about and what we're talking about, which is temporary residents, the temporary resident visa and the electronic travel authorization. Then we describe the places we're talking about: overseas, at the border, and in Canada.
Most of what is happening is aimed at providing or getting from the clients information that is important for us to screen; for example, biographic information—fingerprints, facial recognition and that kind of stuff, information that is held by trusted partners such as the RCMP, M5 partners and so on. There is also information already existing in our system—for example, if somebody has applied earlier. There are also certain additional screening aspects that are needed.
Next is an important piece, in that very few are aware that we are in the business of screening and monitoring the health of immigrants in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada.
The immigration medical exam applies to all foreign nationals who plan to be in Canada for more than six months. If you're coming here for more than six months, the immigration medical exam will be done, or if you're coming here permanently, an immigration medical exam will be needed from you. This exam screens for any danger to public health, such as active tuberculosis and other diseases, and danger to public safety; for example, severe mental health issues and excessive demand....
This health screening helps us to protect Canada against the arrival of infectious diseases. Also, the department itself is very much involved in another program that is an off-shoot of the migration health program, which is the interim federal health program. The interim federal health program provides temporary funding or health care coverage to those in need—refugees, asylum seekers and other vulnerable populations—until they become further eligible for provincial or territorial health coverage. That is an important part in which the department plays a big role.
In terms of Canadians, what my colleague Marian referred to is that when we bring in permanent residents, the ultimate impact is that they are going to become citizens at one point and then holders of a Canadian passport.
Citizenship is an important aspect. IRCC is not simply about bringing people from abroad; it is also to help them attain Canadian citizenship as well as Canadian values. Citizenship is granted to those who are born in Canada, those whose parents were born here, or those naturalized, which is the group I described. There is a process in which we go through different stages: residency requirements, a language test, another test of citizenship values, and that's when we get to the citizenship point.
We're proud that Canada is a country in which, according to the 2016 Census 86% of eligible adult permanent residents have transferred their status to citizenship. This is among the highest naturalization rates of all countries.
Canadian citizenship means a lot to new Canadians. If you have ever been to a citizenship ceremony, you will have seen a range of emotions when new immigrants become Canadians.
There is also another aspect where eligibility is concerned that the IRCC is responsible for. Canadian citizens in some circumstances may lose or renounce their citizenship. That part is also something that rests with the IRCC. Citizenship may be revoked from naturalized Canadians if obtained as a result of fraud or misrepresentation and in some other circumstances. That's a part that also rests with the IRCC.
Our next slide is on passports. The next natural step from citizenship is getting a passport. A passport, actually, is a foundational identity document. This document is required for Canadians to travel internationally. Again we are proud that 66% of Canadians at this time hold a valid passport. This means almost 24 million passports in circulation.
The IRCC is responsible for granting different types of passports or travel documents to Canadians. One thing that is very much in our purview is that passport service delivery is done in collaboration with two other partners. One is ESDC or Service Canada, which does the domestic delivery. Global Affairs does it in terms of our services abroad through the consular services.
The IRCC itself also handles special passports—for example, diplomatic passports, travel documents for non-Canadians, and so on. That itself is very much a security matter that maintains Canadian passport security and integrity. The value of the Canadian passport is that it allows unrestricted entry to the more than 120 countries who respect it.
Among our key partners I mentioned a few earlier—the RCMP, GAC, and ESDC. We do a lot of our work in partnership. We're dependent on our partners. That is our biggest friend and biggest value, too.
The Canada Border Services Agency is the main co-delivery partner for IRPA, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which manages the flow of travel of Canadians at the port of entry. We are not at the port of entry; the CBSA is. They provide intelligence on security matters and also manage irregular migration at borders.
Similarly, as I mentioned, ESDC, which provides services through Service Canada for passports, is also responsible for the labour market impact assessment, which is necessary for temporary foreign workers.
As for Global Affairs, as I mentioned earlier we have our missions abroad, from which we operate as well as deliver passports.
I also mentioned the Public Health Agency of Canada, which is responsible for giving us direction for medical screening.
I would be remiss if I did not mention, on slide 18, the key partners, which are the provinces and territories, who play a very important part. The FPT landscape in immigration has been very solid. Every year there is a set-up for the way we can have a shared federal, provincial and territorial playing field in immigration.
Provinces and territories leverage immigration to meet their economic needs and provide social services to newcomers in their jurisdictions. The only exception, which we mention on the slide, is Quebec. Quebec and Canada have a distinct relationship: they have the Canada–Quebec Accord, which allows Quebec to publish its own immigration level annually and decide how the selection of immigrants will happen.
I will move on to slide 19 on international relationships. Again, our international relationships are very important to our success. The U.S., Mexico and M5 are the partners with whom we've worked very closely.
The two partners that we have listed here under “international organizations”—the IOM, the International Organization for Migration, and UNHCR—operate in the field of refugee claims determination. Without their collaboration, we would be unable to provide the services we do in partnership with them. It's a very valued partnership between us and UNHCR and IOM.
The next area is the delivery of our services. One thing I want to put some focus on is that the department, as structurally described here, also has the portfolio organization of the Immigration and Refugee Board. That is, as you know, an independent administrative tribunal that is accountable to Parliament and reports to the IRCC minister as a separate entity. I also want to draw your attention to the college of immigration and citizenship consultants, created just to provide oversight. The college doesn't actually exist, per se, but implementation is anticipated later on in this year. This is just to make sure you see the whole landscape under the IRCC minister.
I might be a little repetitive on the delivery of our services, but I want to give you an idea of the reach of IRCC. Our domestic and settlement offices handle complex decision-making as well as routine citizenship, humanitarian and compassionate cases. There are around 23 client-facing offices across all provinces. There are case processing centres in Sydney, Ottawa, Mississauga and Edmonton for specifically centralized intakes of applications and processing. For example, in Mississauga it's for parents and grandparents, spouses and partners. Similarly, the central intake office in Sydney is for federal skilled workers.
We do have a call centre—as we call it, our “client support centre”—in Montreal. It provides client-centric services. Our operations support centre is another place where we provide a 24-7 service on biometrics and resettlement operations that help us with assessing the resettlement situations. On passports, again, I won't put more emphasis than I already have. Passports are delivered through our partner Service Canada, and that's all over Canada.
On page 22 you will see a pictorial diagram. The black circles represent where IRCC domestic and settlement offices are. The green circles show the number of passport service locations. They show you how wide the network is. In terms of the delivery of our services through the operational network abroad, an important part of our intake abroad is done through the 161 visa application centres, commonly referred to as “VACs”, in 108 countries. They are our way to intake all the applications. These visa application centres are where temporary resident applications and student and work permits are received. We process them, whether they are done in Canada or abroad. We have a footprint, although in fewer places—60 places—but almost 212 missions abroad provide services in terms of passports.
The last slide gives you an idea of our international footprint. There is a lot of work done, and our reach is beyond Canada. We cover almost all the area globally.
Thank you, Madam Chair, for your time.
Thank you very much, Madam Chair, and thank you to the officials.
I would like to follow up on that. In fact, I have two constituency cases right now where people sent in their applications for their work permits to be renewed two months well in advance of the expiry of their work permits. Then they even followed up with IRCC to make sure the latter received these and that everything was in order. They got the following response:
...all the required documents and information have been received by the responsible office for the moment. Rest assured that you will be informed as soon as a decision is reached or if additional information is needed.
The next thing they knew, their applications were sent back to them. One was told their application was missing a signature. Another was told that a wrong certificate had been sent in. By the time they received their application back, their work permit had expired and, therefore, they don't have implied status anymore.
This is an issue that was raised at this committee. We studied it in the last Parliament. Part of the request asked if IRCC could just phone people and tell them they're missing a signature on this form or they're missing or have the wrong form or certificate. That didn't happen.
In this instance, first, it needs to be rectified. Second, I have written to IRCC asking them to reconsider their processing with implied status because otherwise these people will lose their work, right? I don't think this is how we want to proceed.
I want to table this for the officials to look into this situation. I know you can't talk about specific cases, but I will follow up with you separately with the various consents required in the specific cases. I do want to flag for you that what you say is working is actually not working.
On a second question, I have a series of questions, if I may.
On the interim pathway for caregivers program, which started in October 2019, and two new pilots for caregivers, could you advise how many applications you have received under those three different streams, how many have been accepted, how many have been rejected, and for what reason? If you don't have those figures with you, I understand. They are detailed questions. If you can give those figures to the committee, that would be great.
Can I get a yes, you could give the information to the committee?