Clause 205 is the introductory clause to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The purpose of the act being amended is “to protect public health and safety and to maintain the security of Canadian society”.
We don't have any major objection to this particular amendment, but we do have a problem with the amendments to that act and we will deal with them as we go through. I'll just say at the outset that we're concerned that the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act changes were initially designed, or at least the government's intention was announced that the purpose of this was to protect applicants for work permits in Canada from potential exploitation.
Our view is that the way to protect foreign workers from exploitation is to ensure the laws within Canada that should be protecting workers ought to be robust and enforceable. The perceived wrong was really about a political response to something that happened in Toronto back in 2006, with the potential for issuing work permits to strippers—or exotic dancers, I think is the term that's used for certain people entering into Canada for that purpose—and the potential abuse of the law. The reality, of course, was that there were apparently only four permits given in the year this was raised as a political issue. So this seems to us to be a political response.
The real objection to the changes comes in the broad nature of the instructions that are essentially non-transparent and give untrammelled discretion to the minister to issue instructions in relation to this matter with respect to work permits—not only instructions that may be given by the minister, but instructions that would not necessarily be public.
They won't be in regulations. They wouldn't be gazetted. They wouldn't be made public. And it could happen by the minister's own issuance of same. The instructions still offer the opinion of the officer as to what the minister's instructions are, as opposed to an evidence-based decision.
In our amendments we are also proposing some independent evaluation of those, as we have done in other sections of the act. I understand there may be some rulings about that, but we will be able to nevertheless demonstrate that what we seek is to improve this legislation. If it cannot be improved by adding some independent adjudication or clarity with respect to what instructions we're talking about here, we would therefore be opposed to them.
Having said that, Mr. Chair, we will support clause 205. I don't know if my colleagues want to say anything else.