Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
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View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
There was $42.8 million announced in the budget for service delivery. There are a couple of things. First, we know there are 29,000 vets—according to a report in November that came through the media—waiting for disability claims to be processed. That was an increase of 50% over eight months prior.
Can you identify where that $42.8 million is going? Will it be going to some of this outreach, and also to the backlog? Is that the right amount to get that backlog from 29,000 to zero, because I think we all agree that it needs to be at zero?
View Cathy McLeod Profile
CPC (BC)
I'm sorry, but I think what I'm really focusing on is your recommendations to the province, because I know there were circumstances in which perhaps three families would live in one household, and they would be eligible for one reimbursement, because it was per household.
That's something I just put on the table. I think the Red Cross does fantastic work, but I would say that the ability of emergency support services in the community to be flexible and culturally sensitive.... I looked at the evacuation centres in British Columbia versus those in Manitoba. I know you spoke about being able to respond to the different cultural needs, but I saw a tremendous difference between those two places in terms of the actual ability to introduce ceremony, to have traditional foods, and to be welcoming.
I would like you to comment on that particular component. As I say, I have nothing but respect for the work that you do, but I think the ability to be flexible and respond to first nations communities was somewhat limited.
View Alice Wong Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you very much.
First of all, I'd like to acknowledge a number of people who are here. The first is Mr. Soulière, for serving as the president of the national seniors council.
For your information, the seniors.ca map, which shows all the different provinces and their different benefits, is gone. They took it down in August.
The national seniors council has done a lot of studies, and those studies contain very valuable data on the healthy act of aging, seniors in social isolation, aging at home, and extending the work of seniors in the workforce. All of these are wonderful studies, and the data is still there. Hopefully it has not been taken away.
I thank Ms. Mackenzie for your work as an advocate in my province of British Columbia. I was there when you did the presentation for home care. Thank you very much for all the good work.
I thank the folks from academia as well, because the synergy is right there. It's in exactly the kind of panel we have here, with academics and government. We have at least two levels of government here.
I'll go back to the questions. The first is about caregiving. It may be related to Mr. Sangha's question about looking after seniors at home. I know that Australia supports family caregivers. I was also in London, England, with the minister and spoke with the carers' association. They have the term “carers”, which is informal. When we talk about caregiving, we have to distinguish between the unpaid, informal family caregivers and the paid, formal caregiver. I think I'm talking more about the informal caregiver .
Within our strategy we really need to look after those people as well, because they're there and their jobs are in jeopardy if their employers do not even recognize that their employees have those questions. I started the employers' panel and then, again because of the change of government, it's gone.
My question is this. Do you see the need for all three levels of government to be working together, and also for bringing back the federal-provincial-territorial forum, where two levels of government look at all the services so that there's no duplication, and then at the areas of need that both levels of government can identify? You need a leader in those areas.
This is open to all of you.
View Rachel Blaney Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you.
I just want to say, Lola-Dawn, that my past was spent working in a non-profit organization, and I definitely know what it feels like to wonder every year whether you're still going to be able to provide those essential services.
I have definitely heard from my constituents that Service Canada is pointing them at a computer. In our riding, and I don't know whether it's the same in yours, they're actually not willing to print out the forms needed by the seniors. Our office is now printing out the forms and going out to service organizations across the community, because seniors simply cannot access those services.
Is that the same in your region?
View Terry Beech Profile
Lib. (BC)
Good morning, everyone. Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure to be here.
I'd like to start by thanking everyone on this committee for their hard work and for the relationship that we've been able to develop over the last number of months. Everybody on all sides has been very good about making sure that not only your riding issues are brought to the floor but also that we can work together on issues that affect the whole country. It has been a very positive relationship and I've enjoyed it greatly, so thank you.
Since the chair already introduced the staff, I'm going to move past that, but just know that there is a small army here as well, so if you have any specific details that you'd like to get into, we're well suited to get into the fine details.
I am here today to discuss the supplementary estimates (A). Specifically Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard are seeking Parliament's approval on $359.4 million for the following items: $166.7 million to maintain mission-critical services to Canadians, $145.5 million for the oceans protection plan, $32.2 million for the renewal of the Atlantic and Pacific commercial fisheries initiative, and $15 million to support negotiations on fisheries and marine matters.
Today, on behalf of the minister—and Minister LeBlanc sends his regrets for not being here today—I am pleased to share that our government has invested approximately $3 billion into the core operations for Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard through budget 2016, budget 2017, the oceans protection plan, and following a comprehensive program review. With these investments, Canadians will soon see a noticeable difference in the services they receive from Fisheries and Oceans and the Coast Guard. These important investments will improve the scientific evidence that decisions are based on, modernize aging infrastructure and IT capacity, renew efforts to restore habitat and rebuild depleting fish stocks, expand marine conservation and protection measures, create safer waterways for marine navigation, speed up response time for search and rescue missions, and strengthen our environmental response capacity.
These new resources will do more than just replace programs that have been lost in years past, as our oceans today face new threats with climate change, including flooding, droughts, and severe weather storms on every coast.
Our economy depends on safe navigation through waterways and ports that are busier than ever before. Our government has new priorities pertaining to reconciliation with Canada's indigenous people, working with municipal and provincial partners, and becoming global leaders in sustainable development.
The new investments will help DFO and the Coast Guard build the programs and services that Canadians need into the future. We know how much Canadians value DFO and Coast Guard programs. We understand how important these services are to Canadians. On the minister's behalf, I want to assure you that we are committed to maintaining those services related to Coast Guard's presence in inland waterways, that the Coast Guard dive team will remain at the Sea Island base, and that all elements of the salmon enhancement program will continue.
With significant, new investments in DFO and the Coast Guard, we will, in fact, be enhancing search and rescue services on all coasts and working with community partners on a number of ecosystem restoration projects. As you know, there are more demands on Canada's oceans and coastal areas than ever before. It is therefore vital that Canada have a plan in place that protects our oceans in a modern and advanced way and that ensures environmental sustainability, safe and responsible commercial use, and collaboration with coastal indigenous communities.
In order to meet these objectives, Prime Minister Trudeau announced a $1.5-billion national oceans protection plan last fall. I'm pleased to report that DFO, the Coast Guard, and other federal partners are making steady progress on key elements of this plan. For example, from a Coast Guard perspective, we are increasing search and rescue capabilities by investing in seven new lifeboat stations, four in British Columbia and three in Newfoundland and Labrador. A 24-hours a day, seven days a week emergency coordination capacity has been created within existing regional operation centres in Victoria, Montreal, and St. John's, complementing the new 24-7 emergency coordination capacity with the national command centre in Ottawa.
We are purchasing and installing emergency tow kits on 25 of the CCG's large vessels and leasing two new vessels on the west coast with the ability to tow large commercial ships and tankers.
We are creating four primary environmental response teams, which will strengthen the Coast Guard's on-scene capacity during marine pollution incidents. We are partnering with the Coast Guard Auxiliary to expand its network of over 400 search and rescue volunteers who engage in environmental response. We are also partnering with indigenous groups, coastal communities, and the private sector to ensure a faster and more efficient response to marine pollution incidents.
We are strengthening the Coast Guard's marine communications and traffic services centres to ensure uninterrupted communications with mariners.
The Canadian Coast Guard's efforts to deal with abandoned, derelict, and wrecked vessels, such as the ongoing operations related to the Kathryn Spirit and the upcoming work to be done to the Farley Mowat, speak to the organization's commitment, and that of its partners, to ensuring that such vessels of concern don't pose immediate risks to public safety or the marine environment.
This level of commitment will be enhanced by the oceans protection plan. Our government will continue to work in collaboration with provincial, territorial, municipal, and indigenous organizations to support the cleanup of smaller vessels that could potentially pose risks to Canadian coastal communities, while implementing a robust polluter-pay approach for future vessel cleanups.
In addition to this work, we have created a national, $75-million coastal restoration fund, which will be used for the preservation, protection, and restoration of marine environments and coastal habitat over the next five years. DFO scientists are undertaking a science-based review of three endangered whale species in Canada: the North Atlantic right whale, the St. Lawrence estuary beluga, and the southern resident killer whale. Online public engagement will be available soon. Harbour authorities, along with other eligible recipients, will have access to $1.3 million under DFO's small craft harbours program for the removal and disposal of abandoned and wrecked vessels from federally owned commercial fishing harbours.
Our government is committed to the long-term health of our oceans. In order to deliver on the minister's key priorities and commitments, a historic $1.4 billion is being invested in DFO and the Coast Guard over the next five years. Just to be clear, that is on top of the oceans protection plan. This will help shore up a number of key program areas, including an aging Coast Guard fleet; a wide range of communication towers, buoys, and maritime radars; search and rescue training; sustainable fisheries; conservation and protection activities; and the physical infrastructure and information technology the department needs to carry out its mandate.
The latest investment in DFO and the Coast Guard will also provide the resources required to support sustainable fisheries management, which includes the development and update of integrated fisheries management plans, or IFMPs. This will help address some of the concerns that were expressed by members of this committee and by the Auditor General. It will enhance DFO's capacity for conservation and protection, while investments in infrastructure and information technology will give employees the facilities and tools they need to do their jobs.
Before closing, I want to mention that the historic investments being made across DFO and the Coast Guard will result in the hiring of approximately 900 new staff, who will help deliver our ambitious mandate. DFO is working hard to accommodate this growing workforce.
Mr. Chair, this year Canada is celebrating its 150th birthday, but this is also a milestone year for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, whose heritage dates back to Confederation. While steeped in history, DFO is at the forefront of shaping Canada's domestic and global responses to very modem challenges. The historic investments I spoke about today will help ensure that Canada remains a world leader in all matters related to our oceans.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2017-05-29 17:59
Great, thank you.
I'm going to move on to the next issue that has been brought to our committee's attention, and that is a graduated licensing process. That is to say that not all consultants are equal. They have to go through various training at different levels to be able to do different kinds of work. Is that an option that can be adopted—not under the current model but under any model? Can that be adopted as a practice for a graduated licensing process?
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Chair, I have a point of order.
I have about five questions to ask Mr. Arnold, so I'm wondering if it's possible to take time—
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
Since we have the opportunity to learn more about your system, I think it's a very valuable time for us.
Mr. Arnold, what is the approval rate and the average length of time to process, say, visitor visas?
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you.
One of the frustrations that constituents in my riding of Vancouver Kingsway have experienced when they've sponsored relatives to come over here to visit for a wedding or whatever, is that when they're rejected, there is no internal appeal process. The only option is either to apply again, brand new, or to ask for judicial review, which as a practical matter is simply just not done. The amount of time and money that it would take is simply not worth it in 99% of the cases.
I'm wondering if Australia has any kind of internal review process for an applicant who has been turned down for a visa?
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you. We've already heard a reference to the reasons. I've seen many of the forms that a person will receive if they're turned down for a visitor visa in Canada, and it's just a series of statements with some boxes checked off. There's immense frustration among people because the form essentially tells them nothing. That person then comes to our office. We then have to contact the member of Parliament line and can often get someone on the line to read us the reasons in the file, and we transmit those reasons to the applicant.
I'm just wondering, how does it work in Australia? Were someone to be rejected, are they told the reasons and, if so, in what kind of detail?
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
Thanks.
I joke with people that I don't have a constituency office, but an immigration law practice in Vancouver.
Another source of frustration for my constituents is that there's never anybody whom the applicant or the sponsor can talk to. It's very anonymous. You just get a case number. If someone has a pending application in Australia, is there anybody whom an applicant or a sponsor can actually talk to within your immigration structure to find out about the status of the case, or to discuss where it's at?
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
Excellent.
Does Australia do interviews for “permanent resident” applications to Australia—I don't know if you use that terminology—and if so, what percentage of the applicants would have to go through an interview?
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
One of the most troubling areas that we deal with in my Vancouver office is Chandigarh, India. Our experience is that there's over 50% refusal rate for people applying for visitor visas, and it's a source of incredible frustration to the community of Vancouver.
Is there a place like that for Australia, a place that you focus on particularly? Is there a country or a place with a particularly high rejection rate? I'm always told by the government that Chandigarh is difficult because there's a fear of a high rate of forgery or fraud. I don't know if that's true or not, but that's what we're told. Does Australia have a similar experience with a particular place?
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
Finally, if there is a single innovation that Australia has brought in to make its immigration system more user-friendly or efficient, what would it be? What advice would you give us?
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2016-12-13 15:31
Committee members, I call the meeting to order, please.
As you know, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), today we're studying the motion adopted by the committee on October 4 to resume the study of the modernization of client service delivery.
We have for the first hour, 3:30 to 4:30, two witnesses. The first one, from the Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants, is Dory Jade, the chief executive officer. We also have a presenter from the Canadian Council for Refugees, Loly Rico, president. She comes to us by video conference, and she is in Toronto today.
Welcome to our witnesses. We'll begin with Mr. Jade.
You have seven minutes to make a presentation, and then we'll move to Ms. Rico for seven minutes.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2016-12-13 16:01
Moving to the next round, which is mine, I'm just going to stay in the chair to ask my seven minutes of questions, if committee members are fine with that.
First off, thank you to both of the witnesses for being here today.
Processing is one of the biggest issues that I think MP offices face and, of course, it's the same in your line of work. The big question is, how do we improve the system?
There is this automated system that's being worked on at the moment. My first question is to Ms. Rico. Those changes do not apply at the moment to refugee applications. Would you recommend that the government undertake those kinds of changes and apply them to other categories as well?
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2016-12-13 16:02
I'm asking whether or not the changes that have been undertaken for the economic class ought to be applied also to the refugee class and other categories in the immigration stream.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2016-12-13 16:03
Okay.
In terms of access to information, oftentimes people would phone into the call centre and they would get very generalized information. The automated information is often frustrating for individuals, and often they're actually put on long wait times to talk to a live agent. I've done it myself, and it's an exercise in frustration.
It was interesting, Mr. Jade, that you suggested an approach whereby people can access the information, and you suggested that consultants could access further detailed information or even get into the notes in getting that information. I'm wondering, both of you, whether or not it would be advisable to go to a system almost like the bank or like your income taxes. You file your income tax. In order for you to sign on to get your information, you actually have to have a pass code, and it's only for you, obviously, for security purposes. Would that make sense? Then people could actually get the detailed information, and maybe they'd stop phoning people.
I just want to get your opinion about that. I'll start with Mr. Jade, and I'll come back to you, Ms. Rico.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2016-12-13 16:08
Thank you very much.
That's helpful. I would anticipate, though, with the question around potential security issues, that surely there's a way to figure that out. If they can do it with the income tax, I'm sure they can apply the same level of security to this kind of modernization with respect to access to information.
Mr. Jade, would you like to comment?
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2016-12-13 17:02
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you also to our witnesses.
This follows in that vein, because I was asking the previous panel that question in terms of access with a security code or a password of some type for people to get the updated information. I gather from both of you that this would be a very useful tool. I certainly think it would be.
One of the witnesses prior to this raised the point about non-Canadians accessing this information. I am not a tech expert and I'm not sure whether this is a real issue because, obviously, there are people who are permanent residents who are not Canadian who would need to access this information. If we're going to go down this road, this would be refugee claimants who are neither permanent residents nor Canadians accessing this information.
Can you briefly comment on this for me?
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2016-12-13 17:03
Okay. That's one key recommendation that would come forward. I think I interpret that correctly in terms of moving forward to advance this issue.
On the more complex issue of language—and I don't mean language by way of plain language, but language by way of language itself—there are folks who, in English or French, may not be as conversant, because it's not their first language and because we're dealing with immigration, so there are lots of different languages.
Mr. Kurland, what suggestions do you have for the government to solve this puzzle in terms of access to information?
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2016-12-13 17:05
Is there anything else to add?
No? Thank you.
I want to go back to touch on processing fees just for a minute, and I have another question to go back to about immigration centres being closed.
Mr. Kurland, did I interpret you correctly as suggesting that fees should be increased?
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2016-12-13 17:05
Thank you very much for that clarification. I was quite worried when I wasn't quite sure what you were saying. It's good to know that you're not advocating for an increased fee but for a reduced fee because of the efficiencies.
On immigration centres, you're absolutely right about the implications: after they closed, both individuals making applications and MPs' offices were severely impacted. On that note, would you suggest that the government entertain re-opening these centres?
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2016-12-13 17:08
With all those efficiency savings, given that you're a no-taxes kind of guy, maybe they could be applied to immigration centres reopening, to some degree. I raise this issue because there are lots of times when people would not be able to access the information. They don't know how to navigate the system, and without a real face—somebody who can assist them—they are at a loss. That's a real issue.
View Randeep Sarai Profile
Lib. (BC)
Good afternoon, Mr. Orr. I thank you and the rest of your team for joining us today and for your presentation before the committee.
One of the surprises that I and many of my colleagues around this table shared when we were elected as members of Parliament is that we also had to become experts in immigration, and our offices became the front line. Can you share with us what initiatives, if any, you have initiated over the past 10 years to help remedy some of the customer service issues that we hear about on an almost daily basis?
View Randeep Sarai Profile
Lib. (BC)
I want to also explore the idea of service standards. I know that governments, federal and a number of provincial ones, have this in place when providing services to Canadians. What sort of service standards does IRCC currently have in place, and can you inform me and my colleagues on what happens when service standards are not met?
View Randeep Sarai Profile
Lib. (BC)
Can you inform this committee on what kind of feedback the department receives from new Canadians, immigrants and refugees, about their programs and the accessibility for folks who are trying to find out information about their applications?
View Randeep Sarai Profile
Lib. (BC)
That's a lot of what we get as well, case status updates.
I'd like to talk about the IRCC website. The website is accessible in that its help is available in many different languages. There's also a lot of information available to prospective Canadians who want to make Canada their home. That said, I want to explore another side of accessibility, and that's navigating the website, ensuring that the information people are looking for is clear. I'm wondering if this is something you're looking into exploring and implementing, and also, if there's a complaint that you've heard in the past about the website, if there's a way to make it more user-friendly.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2016-12-08 15:53
Thank you to all the officials.
To follow up with you, Ms. Lattimore, I think you mentioned that last year you received 5,000 complaints. I wonder if you can advise us of what your top three complaints are in those 5,000 complaints.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2016-12-08 15:54
Does it elaborate? When you say “call centre services”, what is the issue with that complaint?
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2016-12-08 15:54
Mr. Chair, I think it would be very useful and helpful for the information they have with respect to complaints to be passed on to the committee. Then we can actually go through the details of it, as opposed to going through it bit by bit at committee within my seven minutes. It would be helpful if we could get a confirmation that we could receive that information.
With respect to complaints, I have one issue that my office often gets. People phone the call centre and cannot get informative information. It's an ongoing cycle of not getting information, and the level of frustration is beyond measure. I've tried it myself. You phone the hotline, and the information you get is so generalized that it is hopeless and, frankly, useless.
I then phone the minister's office. I've experienced this myself. I get the information from the minister's office and it's contradictory to what the government had announced within the time frame that the application would be processed, for example. I'm sort of left standing there and thinking, who do I believe? I don't know what is the real information anymore, and I hardly know what to tell my constituents. No wonder they're so frustrated.
How can we improve on this? How is it that people phone the hotline and get such general information that it's basically rendered useless?
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2016-12-08 15:58
I think that's good, but I can tell you about my direct experience of phoning the call centre from my office and not being able to get information. We sort of get the runaround of: “We'll get back to you in a couple of weeks”. They tell us to do different things. Some cases are quite urgent, so we phone the ministerial line to get that information. As I said, the information that's received from the minister's office contradicts what the government has announced, which is concerning to me. I just want to flag that as something for you to look into. I hope that can be rectified.
I also want to ask this question. Oftentimes people get rejections, for example, for their travel visa, and they get these boxes ticked off. The information is so generalized that it leaves the person who's made the application wondering how they can perhaps improve the application next time. Financial security is one piece that's often the box ticked off. There's no indication, though, as to what parameters within financial security they need to be in, in order to get the approval, or what goal they could work toward, for example. In other situations, it seems there is little consideration with regard to people's travel history. Some people may not have a lot of resources, so they don't have a whole lot of travel history. It's not within their norm. Yet that's an automatic box. If you haven't actually travelled, then automatically you are out of luck.
Again, this is a very important thing for a lot of people. How can we improve on this?
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2016-12-08 16:26
Thank you very much.
Now with the rotation it comes to the NDP, which is me, for three minutes.
The department used to have an office that constituents or people could visit to get assistance on how to fill out forms, how to deal with their applications, and so on and so forth. That's now been done away with, and I think as a result of that, a lot of the work has been shifted to MPs. I think it's fair to say that across the board for MPs from all the different parties, the volume of casework has increased exponentially because of that.
I'm wondering whether or not there's been any consideration to reinstating a service provision in different parts of the regions where people can actually get that kind of support for their applications from the departmental officials.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2016-12-08 16:28
Thank you for that. I would urge the department to consider actually making available a person who could help people navigate through the application process, in a non-partisan way for all the people who have these challenges. Otherwise, at the end of the day, they do actually fall into our office and then we have to provide that assistance. I'll leave that for now.
The last time the officials were here, I raised the question of the EE, express entry, profile with respect to the glitch that happened with the website on which people update their information. It's just been hanging, and it has not updated. I wonder if you could quickly give me an update on what's happening with respect to that challenge.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2016-12-08 16:44
Thank you for that.
I am the next questioner, and there are seven minutes for me.
I want to follow up on the question around scope. I think, Mr. Orr, you mentioned the scope of the information that can be provided to the individual who phones in. Could you run through for us if there are limitations on what kind of information, the scope of information, that can be given to any one person who phones in? If there is a limitation on scope, why is there a limitation?
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2016-12-08 16:46
If training is the issue, then I would get on to that forthwith, because we do often get information and complaints back at our office about people not being able to get information. There have been times in our own office when we have phoned in and have experienced delays as well, or they haven't provided us the information and we have had to phone back and they've said that they'll get back to us, and on and on it has gone.
Imagine what that would be like if someone phoned in and the information was right there and because of your digital system you could actually tell them that they were not required to contact us again to provide that information, to add that extra step. Often when they provide us the information, there's something else missing and then we have to phone back to get the information, and on and on the cycle goes. If they could get that information forthwith right on the first call, it would make life so much easier for everybody. If training is the issue, I would really urge you to make that your first priority, to get everybody up to speed to make sure they provide that information accordingly.
I also want to ask about quality control. Every phone call is recorded, so how do you do the quality control? How often do you do it, so that you can sort of figure out where the situation is going awry?
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2016-12-08 16:48
If you're doing the quality control checks twice a year, I wonder whether that's really sufficient. If you want to improve quality, you want to make sure that work is undertaken.
The other issue about service, and I raised it in my last meeting with officials as well, is with the inconsistent information that shows up on the website.
I thank you, Mr. Orr, and your department, for fixing my constituent's case. I really appreciate the prompt response to that. I would imagine, however, that would not have been the only time someone might have experienced something like that.
What kind of work is being undertaken by the department to make sure that accurate and not conflicting information is showing up on the government's official websites?
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2016-12-08 16:50
Is it the case that every time there is a change, someone looks at every website and makes the changes accordingly? Even for the cross links, sometimes one link is related to another link and you have to catch all the links to correct the information. Are you telling me that this work is being undertaken every time there is a change in information?
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2016-12-08 16:50
Is this standardized then? Do you have a standardized list of links to all of the information, and then it is a matter of the person who's making the changes to just go through each one accordingly? Do you have that list in order to make sure you don't miss any?
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2016-12-08 16:51
Okay. Perhaps we can get that information back from the officials, then. I'm interested in that. If there's not a system in place to deal with that, then that's where you actually run into problems and where things get dropped. In the case of my constituent, it wasn't just because there was a change in a policy. It was something that had existed for some time and continued to be a problem.
Someone needs to make sure there's accurate information. That, I think, will help solve a lot of problems for a lot of people, on the side both of MPs and officials.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2016-11-15 8:36
Just to build on that answer, when you say that your staff has grown from seven to 17 people, when did that take place? When did the 17 staff come on stream?
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2016-11-15 8:37
Okay.
I think I heard from the other officers, as well, in terms of the resource increase. Could I get the numbers in terms of the resource increase and when that took place?
I'll go to Mr. Giralt, please.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2016-11-15 8:37
I'm interested in how many staff you have at the moment to process applications for both streams, for spousal and for parents and grandparents.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2016-11-15 8:40
Sure, I would appreciate it if I could get a breakdown then from each of the offices. How many applications do you have that are in process, and what year did they come in? I'm asking for all the ones that have not been approved so far that are still outstanding.
Then, of those categories, I'd like to get a breakdown as well of how many of them you would consider to be easy-to-process applications or something that is not particularly unusual or has issues.
Then there are the ones that you have issues with. I understand the issue about confidentiality, so we don't want to breach that, but rather have them in categories. Let's say 10% and 60 of them—or whatever the number might be—are issues related to criminality, another 35 are to do with issues of potential marriage fraud, and others have custody issues or whatever the case may be. If I could get that breakdown, that would be very useful and helpful.
I would also like the breakdown of the staffing resources and how that has evolved. Ms. Chomyn, you mentioned that in 2014 your staff went up to 17. I'm not sure if all of those are permanent or if those are temporary officers, as the other offices have been, and what have they been doing? Are they for temporary visa applications, parents, grandparents, or whatever?
I would like to get that breakdown just so that we get a fuller sense of how the operation is resourced to do its work because I think delays have to do with resources, and if you had more resources, you'd be able to process these applications more rapidly.
In terms of understanding your operation as well, I'll ask about interviews. How often are interviews arranged? Is it 10% of the cases or maybe 20% of the cases that are an issue? Are all of those 20% then interviewed, and how many officers do you have doing interviews? How often do they take place in terms of the interviews as well? That would be useful and helpful for us to have later if you're not able to provide that information to us at this moment.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2016-11-15 9:47
We focused a lot on spousal sponsorship. I'm interested in getting some information about parents and grandparents. In those instances, there is no question about marriage fraud, yet the wait times for parents and grandparents is exceedingly long as well. For folks in China, for example, I've had constituents come in and they've been waiting close to 10 years, which is unbelievable in terms of a long wait time.
Again to get a better understanding of what you're faced with in your offices, how many applications have come in that are in process, and dating back to wherever outstanding applications have come in for parents and grandparents under different regions?
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2016-11-15 9:48
Can you give us the levels that you've been prescribed each year? That is to say, for each of the offices in each of the regions, what is the levels number that you've been given, and then to process that? Then coming out of that, how many are still outstanding?
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2016-11-15 9:51
In terms of the delays with respect to interviews, you mentioned earlier that sometimes delays are as a result of language barriers and you have to have the interviews at a location, and you have to have a critical mass in order to maximize efficiency to get the interviews completed.
How much of the delay is attributed to the requirement for interviews and the waiting for that critical mass to come together? Do you have a sense of what that looks like in terms of the delays for all the different regions?
View Randeep Sarai Profile
Lib. (BC)
My last question in this regard is actually on queues. You said not to take more in, and I found that for live-in caregivers that's a big problem. We process 18,000 to 20,000 a year, but we were taking probably 25,000 or 30,000, resulting in the situation we heard about just before you came in where somebody was told that it would be 24 months before her mother would become a permanent resident and then it took more than 48 months. I have about 15 in my constituency who are past even 60 months.
Are you saying that we should stop the queue at the outset, so that you say we are going to take only 20,000 this year, so after 20,000 applications we won't take any more until the next fiscal year, or are you saying that we will open it up as normal when the backlog is taken back?
View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you very much for your testimony here today.
I'm a substitute member of this committee. I'm used to dealing with fisheries issues. I have to tell you that it's a little less intense over there.
I appreciate what you said. I come from Chilliwack, B.C., home of the former CFB Chilliwack, so there are a number of veterans who have come back after their service to settle in my community. I've seen a lot of difficult files.
I will just recount the story of one veteran who has a physical injury. He can't walk without a cane. He's about my age. It was a service injury, a training accident, and he too experienced that delay-and-deny culture. How much worse it must be for the unseen occupational stress injury. If they're not going to acknowledge an ankle that won't work anymore, how are they going to acknowledge mental illness? I think there really is a cultural problem there.
You both mentioned independently access to medical marijuana. I wanted to get some answers from you. The Auditor General just touched on that as well.
Jenny, you mentioned that it was working for your ex-husband, but it was seen as a bit of the dark side that he was self-medicating at the time. When you're in the JPSU you're still a serving member of the Canadian Forces, and that would preclude you, I would assume, from using marijuana of any kind. Am I correct in that?
View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
So while you're in the JPSU, your 15-year-old is.... Do you have to get it yourself, or are you paying for it out of pocket?
View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
Okay. I've heard this as well from veterans who have come into my office, that it is the thing that's working for them.
How is it working for the veteran currently? Is Veterans Affairs starting to change their attitude on it? Obviously, there have been a number of cases. If the Auditor General has flagged it as something that's escalating, what advice do you have for Veterans Affairs, in terms of service delivery—which is what this study is here—in dealing with medical marijuana as it relates to injured veterans?
View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
I just have one moment left here, and I did want to ask about the supposed support systems like the Legion that aren't working. Are there any that are? You mentioned peer support that you had tried to set up. Are there groups or organizations that you as spouses have found that have helped in terms of service delivery?
View Cathy McLeod Profile
CPC (BC)
We know that the current government has appropriately committed significant dollars that are going to go into education. I guess there are a number of different ways to approach that.
Obviously, we approached it in trying to have, in partnership, a legislative framework, and that faltered—there's no question that it faltered. It was done in partnership, but it did not get to fruition. In terms of that overcoming of the structure, again, is the gold standard legislation with appropriate regulations? Would that be how you would like to see this move forward in terms of how the additional support for education gets structured?
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