Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
RSS feed based on search criteria Export search results - CSV (plain text) Export search results - XML
Add search criteria
View Peter Fragiskatos Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you very much.
I also want to ask, if I may, as a last question here, about improving telephone services. You mentioned that in your opening statement. In particular, you talked about lowering wait times. How is the CRA doing that? Can you also be specific in your answer on what the current average wait times are, as well as goals for the future to improve that average?
View Peter Fragiskatos Profile
Lib. (ON)
Do you have an average wait time, Mr. Hamilton, at the present time? Can CRA cite an average wait time for callers or not?
View David Christopherson Profile
NDP (ON)
That's good. I'll just weave in my message and keep saying how wonderful you are, because you understand how bad it is that the government's not giving the Auditor General enough money to do his job. That's why I'm so pleased to see.... No, I won't do that.
I thank you, Chair.
Secretary, what troubled me, on page 16, 1.62 stood out. “We found that the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat developed a government-wide service strategy in 2017: the Government of Canada Clients First Service Strategy.” That sounds great. “The strategy prioritized providing services online but did not include call centres or mention the government-wide modernization of call centres, despite the fact that they continue to be an important way for clients to get information.”
That number is 25%, a quarter of all Canadians use that. How on earth did you get to the point where you were planning contact for services for Canadians, and never gave a thought to the phone? Twenty-five per cent of Canadians.... Given the fact that Michael Ferguson's mantra was, again, “Do service well”, don't measure how well you move paper or a message from one desk to another. Measure the outcome for citizens and how they are, or are not, receiving the services they're entitled to.
How could something this obvious—a quarter of all Canadians—be overlooked in this grand strategy?
View David Christopherson Profile
NDP (ON)
People are paid good money to be planners. The whole idea is that they're supposed to think these things through. I understand if it was a small percentage, but a quarter of all Canadians? That's really disheartening. It's further disheartening that you don't seem to be able to acknowledge when anything is wrong. All you want to do is talk about how wonderful things are. I've told deputies before, don't come in here and be defensive. Do what the Auditor General did and approach the criticism that way. If it's wrong, say so, admit it, acknowledge you failed, and then say what you're going to do about it.
Don't spin. That's our job.
Voices: Oh, oh!
View Irene Mathyssen Profile
NDP (ON)
Thank you very much.
We talked about the fact that senior women don't have a great deal of access in terms of programming. One of the things that bothered me—I was a seniors critic and a veterans critic—was that government is using technology more and more. They're putting things online and the answer to someone who needs help is “Well, it's online”. To someone who is not literate in terms of that, that doesn't help.
We have all of these 1-800 numbers, and if you sit there for 45 minutes listening to the recording, it finally drops off and you have to start all over again. I think this lack of human contact is problematic. Is there a role for the federal government in terms of re-establishing that human face to programs, the things that people need, so that they can access them as they did in the past?
View Irene Mathyssen Profile
NDP (ON)
How widespread is that kind of approach? You talked about it in Quebec, but does anyone know if it's something that is utilized in the other provinces and territories?
View Francesco Sorbara Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Minister, we are at nearly the end of the calendar year, which for taxpayers is the end of their fiscal year. What message would you like to send the taxpayers now that they will be filing their income taxes in a few months? I think we have done a number of things to simplify the system, to make it more efficient. Filers can file online. We've obviously reduced taxes for nine million Canadians. Perhaps you can comment on the resources that we put in place to allow filers to file by telephone, in some instances, and to simplify the system for all Canadians.
View Brian Masse Profile
NDP (ON)
View Brian Masse Profile
2018-04-17 11:58
Thank you, Madam Chair. One of the things I want to address is Amazon.
With regard to postal delivery services, Canada Post has carved out a very good strategy by going to markets that might not have been affordable, such as smaller communities, but still doing so because of the principles of Canada Post and an operating philosophy for Canadians that's different from just the bottom line.
The interesting aspect you have is that Amazon is in competition for massive public subsidization, whether it be in the United States or Canada right now, and it is going to be one of your major competitors. Are there any thoughts in terms of what the business plan response is going to be from Canada Post if Amazon receives massive public subsidization?
Clearly, whether it's a facility located in Canada or the United States, there seems to be municipal, provincial or state, and maybe perhaps even, on the U.S. side, federal allocation of dollars to get their operations going for everything from road infrastructure to technology, as well as training dollars. Has there been any thought about that situation? Your competitor is going to receive quite a serious, significant contribution, most likely from the public purse.
View Paul Lefebvre Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Paul Lefebvre Profile
2017-11-30 16:06
Excellent.
I have one last question.
There is something we have heard from several witnesses over the passed two years, since I have been on this committee. That is the notion of services that are managed for and by the main parties concerned. I know you're asking the province to play a role in the management of day cares, but we wonder whether the community could also play a role. Often in small villages, these services are managed for and by the official language minority. In Ontario, for instance, there are services managed by francophones for francophones.
What role should the community play to ensure services are managed by and for the communities concerned?
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
I will start, Madam Chair, as the returning regular here.
I'm pleased to be back here today, on the traditional Algonquin territory, to present the department's supplementary estimates (B) for the 2017-18 fiscal year. As you know, this is my first appearance before your committee, as the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, so I'm also looking forward to discussing my mandate letter with all of you. I'm also very pleased to be joined by my colleague, the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Indigenous Services, whom you will be hearing from shortly.
I am joined by Hélène Laurendeau, the deputy minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs; Joe Wild, the senior assistant deputy minister for treaties and aboriginal government; and chief financial officer Paul Thoppil.
In supplementary estimates (B), we are requesting a total of $445 million.
Supplementary estimates (B) represent a net increase of $445.1 million. It comprises mainly the $200 million payment for the Crees of Eeyou Istchee settlement payment; $91.8 million for comprehensive land claims, treaty-related and self-government agreements; $52.2 million for specific claims settlements; $23.7 million for urban programming for indigenous peoples; and $21.6 million for Métis rights and Métis relationships with the federal department. This brings the total investments for the department to approximately $11.3 billion for 2017-18 to address the needs of indigenous peoples and northerners.
I would be very happy to provide a more detailed breakdown of these expenditures during the question and answers, but in my opening remarks I would like to just highlight a couple of things.
Last summer we signed the historic agreement on Cree nation governance, a true nation-to-nation effort based on partnership and respect for the traditional way of life of the Crees. This agreement is an important step forward in expanding the existing governance regime of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement. As I noted, these supplementary estimates include $200 million to make the final settlement to the Crees of Eeyou Istchee in accordance with the new relationship agreement. The payment is conditional on corresponding legislation being passed. We are currently working with the Cree nation on the draft legislation. We anticipate having legislation ready in the winter. We are requesting the money through supplementary estimates (B) so that we can move expeditiously when that legislation is passed.
I also want to thank the committee for looking at both specific and comprehensive claims policies through your ongoing study. I look forward to reviewing your recommendations, as the government is absolutely committed to significant reform in both areas. These supplementary estimates include a re-profiling of $52.2 million from 2016-17 to 2017-18 for specific claims settlements. As we have discussed at this committee before, this is part of the government's usual practice of maintaining an ongoing source of funds by rolling it over, year over year, so that the money is available as soon as a claim is resolved.
I want to make it clear that this is not a matter of lapsing money. It's a matter of prudent policy. It was always the intention of the government to maintain a claims envelope over a number of years to fund this process. Having the money earmarked for this specific purpose underscores the government's commitment to resolving these claims in a fair and respectful manner.
Our government has also heard the concerns that first nations have with the specific claims process. We share those concerns and are working in partnership to identify fair and practical measures to improve the process. We are currently engaged in ongoing discussions with first nations and first nation organizations to identify and implement measures to improve the specific claims process. A joint technical working group with the AFN has been working on specific claims process reform.
This work, and your recommendations, will inform our efforts to reform and improve how we resolve specific claims.
We are committed to increasing the number of modern treaties and new self-government agreements in a manner that reflects a recognition of rights approach for individual first nation communities. I look forward to receiving this committee's recommendations on how we can improve these processes as well. We are already engaging in discussions with indigenous groups through the recognition of indigenous rights and self-determination discussions. These are more flexible discussions about finding areas of jurisdiction that indigenous communities or groups can draw down to move them closer to self-determination.
These initiatives are at the core of my new mandate. We know that strong governance and self-determination are the greatest contributing factors to the social and economic health of a community.
That brings me to the second topic of today's meeting, which is my new mandate.
A little more than 20 years ago, RCAP recommended that Canada dramatically improve the delivery of services to indigenous people while accelerating a move to self-government and self-determination. We agree with RCAP that rights recognition must be an imperative. We know that relationships built on colonial structures have contributed to the unacceptable socio-economic gap. That is why the Prime Minister announced the dissolution of INAC and the creation of two new departments.
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs will advance reconciliation objectives and will lead on northern programming and Arctic policy. We must continue to address the day-to-day realities in indigenous communities directly, but we must also build a path to systemic change. The creation of two new departments is about dissolving a patriarchal, colonial structure that was designed to support the Indian Act.
This will allow us to focus our efforts on building strong, respectful, collaborative relationships between the crown and indigenous peoples. It's about understanding that we have to work together in a new way. We now get to rebuild two new departments in a way where form follows function.
A key part of my mandate is to lead a consultation process to determine how to achieve this goal.
In building this new system, we want to hear from indigenous people, people whose communities and nations existed in this land since time immemorial. We are listening to what indigenous groups have to say about their own vision of reconciliation.
Jane's department, which you will hear from in a moment, is focused on closing the gaps in the socio-economic outcomes, but we have to go beyond the federal government delivering services to indigenous people.
We must work to ensure that those services can be delivered and controlled by indigenous communities themselves.
We are working to achieve the goal of services being delivered and controlled by indigenous communities and indigenous-led institutions. My job is to help build indigenous governments and indigenous institutions that will deliver those programs that were once delivered by INAC.
Self-determination—the right to make choices about your community, your government, and your future—is a fundamental right. We know that if we truly want to move forward in partnership and reconciliation we need to look differently at the way we build crown-indigenous relationships. Part of my job is to make sure there is a whole-of-government approach—a sustainable approach—to these relationships to ensure all government departments are doing their part on the path to reconciliation and achieving the calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
I look forward to answering your questions.
View Jane Philpott Profile
Ind. (ON)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thanks to all of you for welcoming me here today with my honourable colleague, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs. I very much look forward to discussing the supplementary estimates (B), as well as my mandate, with the members of this committee.
I also want to acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people.
I want to thank this committee for your excellent work on a number of issues, including, of course, your important work on the study of the suicide crisis in indigenous communities. I want to thank you also for your work on the matter of third party management systems. Most recently, I know that you are doing a study on wildfires and fire safety on reserve, and I very much look forward to hearing the results of that study.
I look forward to building a positive working relationship with the committee as we work together to chart a path forward and advance reconciliation with indigenous peoples.
I'm privileged to be here today as Canada's first Minister of Indigenous Services. As Minister Bennett has already explained to you, the former Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs has been replaced by two distinct departments that are part of our transformative work in relationships with indigenous peoples.
Transforming how we structure ourselves, how we're sharing information, and how we're working with our partners and clients is helping to advance the nation-to-nation, Inuit-to-crown, and government-to-government relationships. The creation of this new Department of Indigenous Services is an important step in forging that renewed relationship with indigenous peoples that is based on the recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership. You'll have heard those words before, to the point that they may sound to you like buzzwords. Each of them carries deep meaning, and they are very intentional, such that we repeat them on a number of occasions.
I have been given a mandate to overhaul the way that programs and services for indigenous peoples are designed, developed, and delivered, and to do that in partnership with indigenous peoples.
With indigenous partners, we will ensure that our significant investments will produce real and improved results. Together we must close the unacceptable socio-economic gaps between indigenous and non-indigenous people in Canada.
Madam Chair, we made a commitment to Canadians to pursue reconciliation with a renewed sense of collaboration, so I will be engaging and working productively with indigenous leaders and communities to identify and realize the systemic reforms that we all acknowledge are long overdue.
Much more than a name change, establishing a department whose sole purpose is to improve the quality and delivery of services in partnership with indigenous peoples underscores a desire to implement transformative change.
As the Prime Minister has said, “No relationship is more important to our government and to Canada than the one with indigenous peoples.”
The entire reason for this change is to enable first nations, Inuit, and Métis people to build the capacity to make their own decisions and deliver their own programs and services to fully implement their right to self-determination. That includes everything from family services and community infrastructure to health and education programs.
Once that is achieved, it is our hope and plan that there will no longer be a need for a Department of Indigenous Services. That won't be accomplished overnight, of course. In the meantime, the department has an ongoing responsibility to ensure the high-quality programs and services that indigenous peoples need, including improved access to services for indigenous children through programs such as Jordan's principle.
I want to take a few moments to elaborate on that. As this committee knows, the principle is named after Jordan River Anderson who died at Norway House Hospital in 2005 at the age of five after a dispute between federal and provincial governments as to who was responsible to pay for his care. In 2007, some of you were in the House of Commons, and others know that the House of Commons passed a motion declaring that jurisdictional disputes should never interfere with first nations children getting care. That motion was passed in 2007, but it was not implemented. Up until 2015, there were zero cases in which children received care based on this principle. Last year, we broadened the definition of Jordan's principle. We reiterated our plan to fully implement it, and we set aside enough funds to do so.
To date, we have approved more than 24,000 cases under that principle. These are children who were previously denied care and are now receiving mental health supports, respite care, medical equipment, physiotherapy, speech therapy, and more. Jordan's principle is being implemented to ensure that no child who requires care will go without it. No one should be left behind, no matter who they are or where they live.
In that spirit, I am very pleased this morning as well to announce that, along with the parties to the cases before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, an agreement has been reached to amend two aspects of CHRT's orders. The amendments address the CHRT's May 2017 ruling that the Government of Canada was seeking to clarify in a judicial review application to the Federal Court. As a result, Canada is withdrawing the federal application.
Madam Chair, I want to be very clear that how and by whom programs and services for indigenous peoples are developed and delivered must and will change. We know we must do more and do better. There is still criticism that we are not doing enough and not doing it fast enough. Let me respond in this way. Turning around the effects of generations of historic injustice and systemic discrimination against Canada's indigenous peoples could never be done fast enough.
In my mandate letter, I was directed to “leverage the ingenuity and understanding of Indigenous Peoples as well as experts from the private sector, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments and international experts on service delivery.” Working closely with indigenous peoples and these other important partners, my departmental officials and I will promote innovative approaches to all programs and services that increase equality of opportunity for indigenous peoples.
We intend to move forward on several key fronts. I'd be happy to elaborate on any of them. Let me itemize a few. We are taking an approach to transform the way health care is delivered in first nation communities. We are working with first nations to develop and enable their own solutions to address critical issues that are directly impacting their communities. We're developing and implementing an improved response, along with our partners, to child welfare to make sure the best interests of the child always come first. This requires a holistic approach focused on prevention, family preservation, family well-being and reunification, and community wellness. We will be discussing this with our partners at an emergency meeting on indigenous child and family services in the new year.
Improving essential infrastructure for indigenous communities, including housing, is another of our priorities.
We're also supporting the implementation of a distinct indigenous framework as part of a national early learning and child care framework that takes into consideration the unique needs of first nations, Inuit, and Métis children.
We're undertaking a review of all current federal programs that support indigenous students pursuing a post-secondary education to ensure the programs meet the needs of individual students and lead to high graduation rates.
We're leveraging investments in indigenous youth and sport, and promoting culturally relevant sport to strengthen indigenous identity and cultural pride.
We are promoting economic development opportunities in indigenous communities that improve the standard of living and quality of life of local residents.
Through supplementary estimates (B) this year, we have funded the new urban programming for indigenous peoples initiative, which has been designed to assist first nations, Inuit, and Métis living in or transitioning to urban centres. I would be happy to discuss the programming in detail.
In every instance, we will adopt a rigorous results-and-delivery approach that translates into real and meaningful changes in the lives of indigenous peoples. We have an obligation to seize this opportunity for bold change.
Madam Chair, rest assured we will engage and cooperate with indigenous peoples to determine the best way forward before we take action in these priority areas.
As we implement this ambitious agenda together, I have little doubt that together we can make great progress resulting in a measurable difference in the lives of indigenous peoples. I look forward to your questions.
Thank you very much. Meegwetch. Nakurmiik.
View Jane Philpott Profile
Ind. (ON)
Thank you. It's an excellent question.
As I indicated earlier, we work very closely with Inuit leaders in our work here. In fact, the Prime Minister established something called a permanent bilateral mechanism. We signed it almost a year ago now, an agreement between the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the representative of the four Inuit land claim organizations and governments, and our government on an Inuit-crown partnership committee. That is one of the tables that really drives our work forward in terms of setting the priorities of what Inuit want us to work on most urgently.
As it relates to my department, I can give you a few examples of that. One that I'm really enjoying, because it's so important, is the work that we're doing around our commitment to eliminate tuberculosis in Inuit Nunangat. This is something that's been a very, very long time coming. We've put together a task force within that committee. I've asked them, and Natan Obed has also commissioned this task force to come up with a very detailed plan as to how we're going to eliminate tuberculosis and what it's going to take. It's going to take things like housing. We have a really interesting approach to working with Inuit on a specific housing strategy for them. There is a whole range of services within our department.
I acknowledged in the past that Inuit have not necessarily known what their role is in terms of services. We are making sure that is clarified going forward.
View Chandra Arya Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chandra Arya Profile
2017-11-30 9:28
In your response, you say that you're proud of the work that your employees carry out every day. Who are those managers who gave you the internal report stating that 90% of the callers were able to reach you? That is a totally inaccurate report. Are you still proud of those managers who are responsible for that?
View Chandra Arya Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chandra Arya Profile
2017-11-30 9:30
Were the resources a constraint for you at any time in order to improve the technology and deliver better service to taxpayers?
View David Christopherson Profile
NDP (ON)
It is inaccurate to say your error rate is 6%, and it's actually 30%. You don't think that's misleading? You don't think that's inaccurate?
View Alexander Nuttall Profile
CPC (ON)
There is only one perspective that matters here. That is the perspective of the people we're serving. Those are the people who are calling in. Those are the callers. From the callers' perspective, it's a 36% rate. From your department's perspective, it's a 90% rate. That is a huge variance. That actually is the best example of the culture issues that are so obviously existing. I don't think there's a member around this table right now who is thinking, “Yeah, we don't really have culture issues; we need a little bit more transparency and maybe we need to train some people better and get some better technology, and CRA is off to the races”.
I don't think that is a thing. That's the message I'm hearing, and I don't think that's a thing that exists around this table. I think you need to go back. I want to know who came up with the system to say that over half the callers aren't actually callers. I want to know who came out with these results, because they just don't make sense.
View Alexander Nuttall Profile
CPC (ON)
I know this wasn't necessarily the direct focus of the report, but have we seen circumstances when incorrect information was given out by the federal government and the federal government then changed the amount they're saying is owed, based on the information they gave out originally, or did we just not get there?
View Paul Lefebvre Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Paul Lefebvre Profile
2017-11-23 9:47
Merci, monsieur le président.
I'd like to continue on the concern raised by Mr. Christopherson with respect to the comments you started and finished your statement with, Mr. Ferguson. I'll cite them:
I find myself delivering this message audit after audit, and year after year because we still see that departments are focused on their own activities, and not on the citizen's perspective. The audits we have delivered this week are no exception, as you will see.
Mr. Christopherson asked you, with respect, what more we can do to try to improve or change the way the government provides the services. From what I'm seeing, most of the time our public service is focused on delivering a program on time and on budget—basically, to deliver it and get results—and the lens of the citizen is not something that is taken into account.
I'm wondering whether you think it's a good idea that we bring the Clerk of the Privy Council to this committee and have that discussion as to how we can change or add that lens, to ensure that it is provided by the Clerk of the Privy Council to all deputy ministers.
View Paul Lefebvre Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Paul Lefebvre Profile
2017-11-23 9:50
That's great, that's fine, because I'm looking at the macro level right now. We're going to have the time to deal with all of your reports one by one, and we will go through all of them. I hope we do.
That brings me to my second question.
In my observations in the past few years of being here, every time there was a transformational program or they were trying to transform something—and we saw it with Shared Services, and now we're seeing it with Phoenix, which are large projects and we all recognize that—it's as if there's an incapacity or a serious difficulty in basically getting the result that is aimed for. It's a concern that program after program and transformation after transformation, we're either off budget, or we're not on time, or we're not getting the results, or it's not at all what we thought it was because of various reasons.
What internal changes should be brought forward? If we keep doing the same thing in the next project when we're trying to transform or change something that we've done in the past, from what I'm seeing, we'll just get the same results.
How can you advise our public service and the deputy ministers? When they have a new project to transform or change something, what can be added? What has to be done?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you very much. I want to start off by thanking the Auditor General and his team for their outstanding work and this set of reports.
I want to echo the concerns that have been expressed by my colleagues around the table, particularly Mr. Christopherson. He pointed to the Auditor General's opening statement in which he expressed the overall message that audit after audit, year after year, we still see that departments are focused on their own activities, not on the citizens' perspectives.
We've talked around the table today about the concerns of citizens, the experiences of citizens, the service to citizens. I want to start off by taking a moment to first deconstruct this terminology, because I believe it's very important that we are clear on who we serve. That, to me, is Canadians, in the most general, broadest, and most inclusive sense, whether we are talking about the oral health of first nations and Inuit children, or Syrian refugees who have now been welcomed to their new home, or indigenous women offenders who are not provided with culturally appropriate programs, or women offenders in general who are subjected to correctional programs designed for men, not women. To me, we need to be clear that we are talking about all Canadians and to understand who they are and be able to provide the types of services and programming that very clearly meet the needs of all Canadians.
With that said, I want to focus on the audit with respect to the Phoenix pay system.
Exhibit 1.2 on page 7 of the Auditor General's report shows a graph of the number of public servants with outstanding pay requests in 46 departments and agencies. This graph shows very clearly that over the course of two years, under the Miramichi pay centre, there were 15,000 public servants with outstanding pay requests. That number goes up to 35,000 in January 2016, when Phoenix was first adopted, and then we see an exponential increase in the number of outstanding pay requests, going up to the latest number, in June 2017, of 150,000.
If I were to take this graph at face value, I would understand it to be what it is described as—46 departments and agencies, the public services under those departments. However, reading the report tells me something a bit different. It points out that these outstanding pay requests were not capturing the information from all 46 departments over those two years, because some of them were not on board with those systems.
I'd like to hear the Auditor General's comment on what this means. To me, at face value, it means a significant and very worrisome increase in the number of cases. However, reading the report tells me that this increase can be attributed to departments that perhaps were not on the Miramichi pay system or the Phoenix pay system at certain points in time.
I'd like to hear the Auditor General's comments.
View Alexander Nuttall Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I wanted to continue with the CRA audit. After determining a 30% inaccuracy rate in the information provided by persons working for the CRA, your report goes into the information that's provided by CRA in their auditing of their own activities, whether it's inaccuracy—their 6% rate versus your 30%—or the number of calls, because they don't include the blocked calls or calls that don't reach somebody in that process.
You recommend training. You recommend better services in tracking what's going on at the CRA. What do you recommend as a follow-up time period? To go from a 30% inaccuracy rate, what would be a good timeline for us to look at this and to ask for more information on changes that hopefully won't be needed?
View Alexander Nuttall Profile
CPC (ON)
Where is the issue? In your opinion, is this a top-down issue at this point? Is this strictly a training issue, whether it's on the quality assurance side or the people who are facing the client?
View Alexander Nuttall Profile
CPC (ON)
With all that said, if your business is taxation and somebody asks you when the interest is going to be charged on taxes owing, this is basically almost as easy a question as you can get. It amazes me that we need a screen to do that. How is it that we don't have training in place to show these people? This is basic.
If somebody called me when I was a banker and asked, “Alex, when does the interest start accruing?”, I knew the answer to that every single time—and it's different on every single deal—because I just know my business. How do our employees not know their business when it comes to everybody in the country having the same answer?
View Phil McColeman Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you, Chair.
Thank you, Mr. Walbourne, for your testimony today and for being here.
I read your latest report, and when I look at the things you're saying, it makes me wonder what you would do if you had a clean slate, if none of these barriers existed.
In other words, you're a painter and you have a blank canvas. How would you establish a system that would work for the best possible delivery of benefits for our serving members in that transition time to Veterans Affairs? What would it be? What would it look like?
View Mona Fortier Profile
Lib. (ON)
Are there any other solutions you would recommend from your experience in delivering such services in your community?
View Salma Zahid Profile
Lib. (ON)
One more recommendation is that the regulatory body should establish qualifications for registration as immigration consultants and develop a tiered system as to the category of services individual consultants are permitted to provide.
Most consultants would be able to provide basic information and perform transactional work such as completing and submitting applications while a few qualified consultants should be permitted to appear before the IRB.
What's your input on this recommendation?
View David Tilson Profile
CPC (ON)
I guess the question is what we do now. Do we get rid of them? Does the department take it over?
Maybe I'm alone, but my observation listening to the testimony is that it's not working.
In fact, maybe you could elaborate on this. What concerns does the department have with respect to the ICCRC and its tenure as a regulator over the last six years? You must have thoughts on whether it should continue, whether it can be fixed, and whether we should have something else.
View Bob Saroya Profile
CPC (ON)
If I can follow up, the public trust is the main thing. The public trust isn't there so far. I know that you are doing your level best, but it hasn't worked for the last number of years. Mr. Tilson asked if you—the government, the body—should take over, redo the whole thing, and let this ICCRC go and—
View Marwan Tabbara Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I just wanted to follow up on Ms. Kwan's question. We've talked about a graduated licensing process in this committee at various times. In your response to her question, you talked about how currently university students have an advisory system. Can you elaborate on what you meant in response to her question?
View Marwan Tabbara Profile
Lib. (ON)
Do you have any information on some of the success that came out of it or some of the responses from students?
View Jennifer O'Connell Profile
Lib. (ON)
My last question is with regard to training for front-line workers. We heard testimony yesterday that front-line workers often don't understand whether there are new proposals or new benefits or how to interpret them. The testimony yesterday was that veterans are being denied just because the front-line or the intake person doesn't want to or doesn't know how to interpret whether they are qualified or not. It requires the veterans themselves to appeal constantly, and some just give up.
What is being done with any of these changes to ensure that the front-line intake people who are working with these veterans actually know what the policies are, know who is qualified, and ensure that anybody who is entitled actually receives the benefit?
View David Christopherson Profile
NDP (ON)
I'm sorry, deputy, are you kidding me? We get better answers in the House.
Let's move on.
Let's move on to page 46, “Percentage of documents translated and revised for Parliament within the deadline.” In 2013-14, it was 96.99%. In 2014-15, it went up to 97.45%; then in 2015-16, it dipped down a bit to 96.7%. Your target again is lower than this year's actual.
View David Christopherson Profile
NDP (ON)
I'm asking why your target is below what we had last year. You keep talking about all these ambitions in here—innovation, efficiency, momentum, and there's a lot happening—yet the documents and the data tell us you're going in the opposite direction.
View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you very much for being here.
As was mentioned, we were in Washington last week, and it was expressed to us how anxious they are that we deal with this legislation. Our process is much different from the American process in terms of passing legislation, the whole committee process, and the way things work here aren't completely understood there.
I did have a question when we were talking about the cost of pre-clearance because it was mentioned to us when we were there that Pearson has already requested additional pre-clearance. Would that be on a cost-recovery basis, the new officers at Pearson, or would that be covered under the old agreement?
View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
The way they spoke it was to deal with the growth in travellers, and they wanted to expand the size of the pre-clearance they had.
View Bob Bratina Profile
Lib. (ON)
Well, thank you.
We've been talking about service delivery and the complexity of applications. How do you evaluate how well you're doing? It's probably not by what's printed in the media, because, like most of us, it's only the difficult things that show up publicly.
What about your evaluation? How well do you think you're doing?
View Tracey Ramsey Profile
NDP (ON)
View Tracey Ramsey Profile
2017-05-01 16:30
To go back to this chart, I couldn't begin to explain this as a parliamentarian, and I couldn't begin to explain this to another country. In going to other countries and asking them to explain their systems, I think we need to take a step back and fix what's right here. You said that clearly. This is too complex for families and veterans, and at some point they get that process fatigue where they say they can't do this anymore.
In particular, when we're talking about veterans of advanced age who can't access a computer, don't know how to navigate a computer, don't know how to navigate the system, they just give up, so they never receive the service.
I'll go back to something you said that's been sticking with me, and that is “a Canadian solution”. What do you think the Canadian solution is to simplifying and streamlining this so that veterans and their families can actually get the services they need here?
View Tracey Ramsey Profile
NDP (ON)
View Tracey Ramsey Profile
2017-05-01 17:10
My next question is about something that has been a hot topic in the news. It's about military sexual trauma. Has Veterans Affairs looked at how other countries have treated those with military sexual trauma, who may or may not qualify for benefits under our current rules of service delivery?
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
2017-05-01 15:57
Thank you so much, Mr. Chair.
I want to give a heartfelt thanks to all the presenters for their excellent presentations. Thanks for your extraordinary efforts in getting here today. I know there were some plane delays because of the weather.
I'm going to focus a bit on the comments by Mr. Eustaquio and the two Jasons, Mr. Ottey and Mr. McMichael, today.
I'm delighted, Mr. McMichael, that you let us know that you were in the immigration system for a while. That is very helpful.
One of the key questions I always ask myself is, “Why do people use immigration consultants?” Part of me wonders if it's just because the process is so difficult. Is it because we only offer it in English and French? I just want your thoughts on the number one or two reasons.
Mr. Eustaquio, maybe I'm going to start with you. Why do you think members of the Portuguese community use immigration consultants? I figure that if we maybe could address some of that we could eliminate some people going to immigration consultants and some of these issues.
I'll start with you, Mr. Eustaquio; and then we'll go to Mr. Ottey and Mr. McMichael.
View Chandra Arya Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chandra Arya Profile
2017-04-04 8:58
Mr. Arora mentioned the service level agreement between Stats Canada and you. What are the parameters? What is covered? Can you highlight that, please?
View Bob Saroya Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you again, Minister. Coming from the community, you and I worked with the community long before we became MPs. These are the habits we have developed over the years.
Regarding the client services, as you know, much of our money gets spent on the immigration files on a daily basis. If you talk to one client or to 50 clients, the answer is basically the same. They will probably tell you that the process is taking too long, unsatisfactory answers, dropping of phone calls, and the list goes on. What can you tell them, Minister? What have you done to improve this, and is there something coming soon?
View Ahmed Hussen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you. That's a really great question.
Client service is not just about faster processing and reducing backlogs or eliminating them. It's also about how we interact with people. It's about how the immigration system deals with the client in terms of how they feel after going through a phone call, or how they find the complexity of the forms, the website, and so on. All those things are on the table with respect to client service, so it's not just the question of processing times and backlogs.
Client service is our focus and we meet frequently about this. I get weekly updates on the progress we're making with respect to client service.
View Bob Saroya Profile
CPC (ON)
Minister, we have talked about the crooked consultants. We heard the horrible stories. I personally want you to watch one of the videos that I'm going to give you on how people get ripped off. They are talking about committing suicide and so on.
I think many of us believe that if the application were made easier to fill out, people could do it themselves. Because the application is a bit harder, they end up going to the crooked consultant and this is where they get ripped off. Is there any way we can shorten it? Can something be done?
View Ahmed Hussen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Doing something with respect to lessening the complexity and making it easier to use forms, the website, the phone, and the 1-800 number is absolutely part of our focus, making sure that, not only is it easier to use the various aspects of the immigration system, but also having the client, once they interact with the system, feel much better than they did coming in. That means putting them first, putting the client central to everything we do.
Does that mean faster processing times? Absolutely. Does that mean reducing wait times? It also includes the fact that some people don't mind waiting a little bit longer if they know what the status of their file is. Therefore, that may also include communicating more regularly with the client and letting them know the progress of their file.
View Bob Saroya Profile
CPC (ON)
From time to time—we hear this on a regular basis—people who fill out their own applications make a mistake. They're trying to save $1,000 or whatever the cost is.
We asked this question many times in the last committees. If there is a smaller issue, for example, data is filled out wrong, filled out in the wrong spot, or minor variances, why can't we call or email the client to tell them to fix it?
View Francis Drouin Profile
Lib. (ON)
Okay.
I want to get back to the line of questioning that Ms. Shanahan was following with regard to the transformation plan. You've mentioned that you've consulted with stakeholders, but I believe that your most important stakeholders are your clients, or your customers, as you call them. How much time do you spend with them trying to understand their business?
I know that one of the major complaints was about timing, about being able to deliver services at their request. How much time is SSC spending with their client organizations to ensure that they understand—I know that they still have responsibility for applications—what their needs are? How much time are you spending with them now?
View Borys Wrzesnewskyj Profile
Lib. (ON)
Committee, I understand that Mr. Arnold has a commitment that he has no option but to leave for. I will allow Mr. Arnold the opportunity to quickly say a few words, and we'll then launch right into questions.
I understand you have to leave in about seven to 10 minutes.
View Marwan Tabbara Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you all for being here. We apologize that we had to quickly run to the House for votes.
As you know, for all of us MPs, most of our work is dealing with a lot of immigration files, so we're looking at ways to improve the system. With the advanced technology available now, are there better ways to improve client services through more online services or with technology? I'd like to hear from a couple of you.
If anyone wants to speak first they can, but maybe we can go around and ask that question.
View Marwan Tabbara Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
That was one of my other questions. A lot of our time is wasted just getting status updates. Clients come in and ask where their application is, at what step, and then we have to fill out a consent form and so on and go through all the steps and then call and finally deliver that message to our constituents.
Thank you for sharing that.
Would anyone else like to share?
Go ahead, Mr. Green.
View David Tilson Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you.
Mr. Langford, thank you for the brief that has been prepared, and obviously we have a time problem here today.
I wonder if you could tell us the top priorities of the Canadian Bar Association for recommending improvements to client service delivery.
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
2017-02-01 16:55
Perhaps I could beg your patience also, just because I'm so excited that you're here, Mr. Arnold, as well as all of our guests. I just want to say a huge thanks to all of you for spending an extra hour waiting for us.
I'm going to ask a few questions, Mr. Arnold. If you don't have time to respond to them, I'd be very grateful if you just give us written responses.
One question I have is this. We have the issue of a huge backlog in a number of different categories, in terms of spousal applications, in terms of parents and grandparents, in terms of visas, in terms of different places in the world. Does a similar backlog exist for different classes of applications in Australia? I'll start with that question.
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
2017-02-01 16:56
How's that dealt with? Do you just fill the 50 you have that might have existed from years before? How is that worked through?
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
2017-02-01 16:57
Okay.
As you know, we're a multicultural nation. I believe we only offer services in English and French. Does Australia offer immigration services in any other language for anything? If so, could you explain that?
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
2017-02-01 16:58
That's helpful.
You talked quite a bit about your ImmiAccount. Could you provide a bit more detail in writing, not now, on what that is? That would be helpful. You said it was set up like a bank account.
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
2017-02-01 16:58
The thing I'd love to get a little more information about is what happens when someone is checking their ImmiAccount for the status of their application, whatever it is. What type of information would you give back? Often, what we say here is that it is just “in process”, which is a source of great frustration for us. If you could maybe provide something back to us on that, I think it would be of great interest to the committee.
That's my last question for you, as I have a couple of other questions for the rest of the panellists.
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
2017-02-01 17:00
I have a couple of questions for CBA as well as TD, if I can get to them.
Thanks very much for your prepared report.
One of the ideas from our family reunification study was to have something similar to a CRA number, system having one number for an applicant for whatever processes they go through. One of the points you make is that IRCC shares client delivery service for the temporary foreign worker program with Employment and Social Development Canada. Do you have some thoughts to share on that and whether you think that would be useful.
I'm going to ask my two or three questions and if you're able to get to the answers, that's great. If not, if you can give me a written response, that would be also very much appreciated.
The second thing I want to ask you about is the removal of red flags and the procedure for that. You were talking about ports of entry. I'm curious about that. I'm also interested in this because there are red flags on a number of the people I deal with. I've no clue. Some of them, I think, were fairly applied and some, and some not. So I wouldn't mind your talking a little about the issue and maybe making a recommendation on the process to remove that, and what you think is fair.
You also mentioned ports of entry. It is common knowledge among Canadian immigration lawyers the need to avoid certain points of entry, based on a history of lengthy delays, unwarranted scrutiny, and bad decisions. Could you highlight which ports of entry those might be? It would be helpful to us in trying to figure out how to help.
My last question for you concerns program and technical issues. You suggested that if we're evolving our client service delivery system, we might want to bring in the CBA at the design stage to test it with lawyers. In that regard, do you know what percentage of applicants to our system use immigration lawyers? This may be an unfair question. It's just a question that came up, and I'm curious to hear your response.
Then to TD, if we don't have enough time, I'd love a written response on this as well.
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
2017-02-01 17:02
The reason we've brought you here is that we're trying to use the best practices in service delivery that you would recommend. What are the one or two recommendations for our immigration system...?
View Bob Saroya Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Arnold, you talked about India, Chandigarh specifically. In my riding, that is the biggest issue for 80% of the immigrants. I have two full-time staff. They answer the confused questions. I'm not sure if it's a matter of confusion with the clients or on this side. What sort of rejection rates are there in Chandigarh? Would you know?
View Bob Saroya Profile
CPC (ON)
I thought you said your rejection was in the single digits. Is this on the North American side?
View Bob Saroya Profile
CPC (ON)
This question is for everybody. What can we do? For example, I got two emails this morning from dissatisfied customers. They are confused. What can be done to improve the system, the understanding between the applicants and headquarters?
View Bob Saroya Profile
CPC (ON)
I've noticed many times that well-educated people make mistakes on applications, simple mistakes, and cases are rejected.
Is there any suggestion from any of you for the application to be made much simpler than what we have out there?
View Salma Zahid Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Chair.
Thanks to all of you. I'm sorry for all the time confusion today.
My first question is for Mr. Arnold.
In Canada, a frustration that many of my colleagues and I share is that due to cutbacks in service levels and staff by our immigration department, members of Parliament have to do a lot of immigration work. In representing a riding with a heavy immigrant population, a lot of our resources are dedicated to checking the status of the applications. The applicants are not able to do so and don't get the response or answer they need. These inquiries constitute as much, or more than, 80% of what we do: just checking the status of the applications.
Could you discuss the role of Australian parliamentarians in your immigration system? Are they faced with the same challenges, or have you been able to overcome those?
View Salma Zahid Profile
Lib. (ON)
You indicated some of your processing times, and mentioned, for example, a three-week processing time for the TRVs. Are the processing times globally for different categories—TRVs, spousal applications, sponsorship of other dependent family members—about the same, or do certain regions have a higher processing time as compared to other regions?
View Salma Zahid Profile
Lib. (ON)
Are you aware of any particular regions in the world where the processing time is much longer compared to certain other regions? Maybe if you don't have the information, you could get us it.
View Salma Zahid Profile
Lib. (ON)
It is possible to get that information, thanks a lot.
My next question is for Mr. Langford. I certainly recognize the important role that immigration lawyers and consultants play in our immigration system, particularly when it comes to the more complex cases. I think we would agree that for routine matters and most cases, it should be easier for applicants to complete the process successfully without third-party assistance.
What specific changes in technology and process would you recommend to make it easier for clients to successfully navigate the system without the assistance of a third party?
View David Tilson Profile
CPC (ON)
Ms. Malik, one of the biggest problems for members of Parliament is the complaints that we get from constituents about service delivery, delays in processing times, and their inability to get status reports. It's an awful problem for us.
How do you deal with those things?
View David Tilson Profile
CPC (ON)
The bells aren't going. Well, that's good news.
Thank you for your comments.
You are in competition. We love competition, but one of the issues of competition is improving your digital service offerings. What do you do? I'm saying there are obviously other institutions that you're in competition with. How do you keep up?
View Marwan Tabbara Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you very much.
Thank you to both of our witnesses for being here today as we conduct our study on modernization of client services delivery.
My first question will be to both of you, but I'll start with Mr. Jade.
Do you have any suggestions for how technology can play a better role in improving the client services experience?
View Marwan Tabbara Profile
Lib. (ON)
You briefly touched on my question, Mr. Jade.
With regard to the levels of call centres you were mentioning, there are a lot of times we get a request for a status update in our offices for a certain client. It takes a lot of our time to find the specific status update, instead of cases where more information is needed and it may require more time.
What would you recommend for a simple status update? You were mentioning the levels of call centres. What would you recommend?
View Bob Saroya Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you so much, Madam Chair.
We talked about the call centres. How often do both of you see these issues? I'm talking about practical situations.
In the past summer, my office tried to call the call centre over and over. The answer had something to do with a PR renewal. They were told it was not ready yet. When I called the minister's office, the answer I got was that it was not ready yet. When I called the client to say I was sorry, but it wasn't ready yet, he said, “Oh, no, sir; I got it a couple of days ago.” How often do you see these things? This is something I dealt with, and I was embarrassed by the whole situation.
How often do you see stuff like this, and what can be done?
View Bob Saroya Profile
CPC (ON)
We're talking about improving the system. As you know, we have limited budgets, and more than 50% of our work is making the calls to the call centre and following up with constituents and the call centre. Do both of you have any suggestions on how we can improve it?
View Bob Saroya Profile
CPC (ON)
On a different topic, this is from personal experience in the last year. If people who sponsored their parents or anybody else went for professional help, my experience is that they were approved 80% to 90% instantly, and they were done. The people who filed their own applications, who didn't have the $500 or $1,000 to pay somebody—
View Ali Ehsassi Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ali Ehsassi Profile
2016-12-13 16:09
Thank you, Madam Chair. I will start off with a question for Mr. Jade.
Thank you so much for your comments. It was good to hear that your experience with the call centre has been a positive one in the last several months. Having spoken to many colleagues, I know this is one of the issues that befuddled all of us. Just out of curiosity, I will ask if you could explain to us if it was just the messaging that was different, or the tone, or were they also more helpful from a functional standpoint?
View Ali Ehsassi Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ali Ehsassi Profile
2016-12-13 16:11
Thank you.
You wrote a letter to Minister McCallum in 2016 earlier this year, and you argued that processing of parent and grandparent applications would benefit greatly if it was online as opposed to paper-based. In your estimation, how much of a difference would that make?
View Ali Ehsassi Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ali Ehsassi Profile
2016-12-13 16:13
I take it you interface with many different jurisdictions, many different provincial ministries. In your opinion, which is the most service-oriented one?
View Ali Ehsassi Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ali Ehsassi Profile
2016-12-13 16:14
Okay. Thank you for that.
Ms. Rico, thank you for your testimony today. I understand, having looked at your background, that you're a physiotherapist and that you've also worked with disadvantaged children. Given your previous work with children with Down syndrome, what suggestions would you have as a general rule to enhance accessibility, apart from the ones you've already mentioned?
View Ali Ehsassi Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ali Ehsassi Profile
2016-12-13 16:15
Thank you.
I know that the Canadian Council for Refugees does quite a bit of advocacy for LGBTQ applicants. Recently, they changed the electronic travel authorization form so that now there are three different gender options—
View Bob Saroya Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you.
To speak from personal experience again, last year I saw a number of these cases. Of the people who filled out their own forms, many found their forms rejected. The people who went to people such as you were successful.
What can be done? In some cases, I personally know that they're absolutely qualified, and they were rejected simply because of an error made because they're not professionals in filling out those forms. Are there any suggestions you can give on how we can make it easier for people to do it for themselves, especially poor people? In some cases I have to tell them to see a professional, but they don't have the five hundred bucks. Is there anything you can bring forward that can be done?
View Bob Saroya Profile
CPC (ON)
You don't know how hard it is for me to tell somebody who doesn't have the money that they have to go see somebody. I was coming from that point of view.
Personally, somebody came to see me over and over. They are absolutely qualified, but they were denied. When I made the phone call, they said, “Oh no, they have to reapply for it.”
View Bob Saroya Profile
CPC (ON)
Most of the time when they come to us, the damage is done. This is the problem.
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
2016-12-13 16:21
Thank you so much.
Ms. Rico, bienvenido. Gracias por su presentación.
Mr. Jade, thank you so much for being here.
I only have five minutes and I have a whole slew of questions, so try to respond as quickly as you can.
The first question is for you, Mr. Jade.
I'm always interested in why potential immigrants actually come to see immigration consultants. If I asked you for the top three reasons that they come to see you, it will help me understand the system as well. If you could respond as to what those top three things are, I'd be grateful.
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
2016-12-13 16:22
Okay. Thank you.
The next question is to both of you.
I'm interested in language at the call centre. When I talk about language, it's not just the different languages and the availability of people to respond, which I don't think we have. I see this with my own mother. She's been here for almost 40 years. Her English is excellent, but she won't understand what someone has said to her.
As quickly as you can, I would love to get your thoughts on your experience with the call centre and the level of how we respond to the questions and the information that we receive, because there are different levels of English.
I'll start with you, Ms. Rico.
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
2016-12-13 16:25
Do you mean how can you define the terminology better, or make it clearer or simpler?
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
2016-12-13 16:26
Thank you.
Just very quickly, is there anything that we can do up front? Before people actually come to Canada to immigrate here or to file for refugee status, what information can we give up front or make available that might make it easier on this end?
Ms. Rico, could we start with you, please?
View Salma Zahid Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Chair.
I want to thank Mr. Kurland and Mr. Nurse for appearing before the committee today.
My first question is for you, Mr. Kurland.
Welcome back to the committee. As we all know, you have been involved with our immigration department for some time. Do you have a sense of when so much of the casework burden for immigration cases that have fallen through the system began to fall on MPs' offices? Why is this the case?
Results: 1 - 100 of 600 | Page: 1 of 6

1
2
3
4
5
6
>
>|