Hansard
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Add search criteria
Results: 1 - 15 of 39
View Kevin Sorenson Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, these will be the last reports I ever table in Parliament, so I want to thank the public accounts committee for its good work in this Parliament. As well, I would like to thank our clerk, Angela, and our analysts, Dillan and Sara, for the work they have done.
I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the following two reports of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts: the 69th report, entitled “Processing of Asylum Claims, Report 2 of the 2019 Spring Reports of the Auditor General of Canada; and the 70th report, entitled “Call Centres, Report 1 of the 2019 Spring Reports of the Auditor General of Canada”.
Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to these two reports.
View Matt Jeneroux Profile
CPC (AB)
View Matt Jeneroux Profile
2019-05-16 17:57 [p.27979]
Mr. Speaker, I am thankful to be able to stand and speak on behalf the hon. member for Calgary Rocky Ridge. He is a dear friend, and I believe that this is a very important piece of legislation that he is bringing forward here in the House. It is an honour to speak on it.
I would also like to thank Senator Percy Downe for introducing this bill in the Senate. It is a shame that the government plans to oppose it, but I hope government members will listen to all of the reasons that this bill makes sense for the government and for Canadians.
It is timely to be speaking about Bill S-243 now, as the majority of Canadians just finished filing their taxes with the Canada Revenue Agency. We also just found out that the Canada Revenue Agency wrote off $133 million owed by a single taxpayer.
CRA employees discussed the large writeoff in an internal memo in September of 2018, and the media reported on this memo in April. However, we do not know who the taxpayer is or whether it is a person or a corporation. We also do not know whether this writeoff is related to government subsidies, which is something Canadians should know.
The aim of this bill is to keep the CRA accountable for tax collection efforts. It would also require the CRA to report on the tax gap, which is the difference between taxes owing and taxes actually collected. The bill would also require the CRA to publish information on convictions for domestic and offshore tax evasion. Data shows that the offshore tax gap for the 2014 tax year was between $0.8 billion and $3 billion.
The CRA has published information about the tax gap related to the goods and services tax. In 2014, here the offshore tax gap was estimated to be about $4.9 billion. The CRA has also shared the domestic personal income tax gap for that same year, 2014, at $8.7 billion. In that one year, the money owed for the tax gap, which could have been as high as $16 billion, could have funded many programs or eased the tax burden for many Canadians.
Conservatives believe in making life more affordable for Canadians and in keeping taxes as low as possible to stimulate the economy. When the government loses a significant amount of money because of a tax gap, it means that taxes could be raised for the rest of us. This penalizes law-abiding Canadians.
I support Senator Downe's bill, which is sponsored by the member for Calgary Rocky Ridge here in the House, because it makes sense and makes the CRA and those Canadians not living up to their responsibility to pay taxes more accountable.
Some Canadians are concerned that reporting on the tax gap could threaten their privacy, but this bill balances the privacy of individuals with transparency and accountability for the CRA. The information would be reported to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, so its intent is not to name and shame average Canadians.
The United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Australia all report on their tax gaps. These governments all indicate that they report this information because it helps their revenue departments understand how and why non-compliance occurs. This information is helpful to policy-makers, who can then make better-informed decisions about tax policy and also help the government better manage its resource allocation.
Canada should have this system. Mandating measurement of the tax gap ensures that future governments and parliaments have all of the information necessary to take action on the tax gap.
Many of us are aware that offshore tax evasion is a problem in Canada. Almost 1,000 Canadian taxpayers, including individuals, corporations and trusts, were named in the Panama papers three years ago.
The CRA told media last month that it had identified 894 taxpayers and had finished reviewing 525 of these cases, resulting in $14.9 million in federal taxes and penalties. This number will rise as audits continue.
Although the CRA told the media the amount of taxes assessed, it did not say how much of that money has actually been collected. Senator Downe's bill, if passed, would require the CRA to report that type of information to Canadians. As I mentioned before, this type of information would be incredibly helpful to our policy-makers. Many other countries use this information, and Canadians would be better served if our policy-makers also had this kind of information.
Most Canadians work hard all year and diligently file their taxes. These are honest people who would never attempt to cheat the government. However, we see wealthy Canadian individuals and corporations attempt to cheat the tax system all the time.
Tax money is used to fund services we enjoy, such as health care, transit and roads. The CRA should be able to say how much money it has collected as a result of the Panama papers. This is in the Canadian public interest.
Similarly, it should be allowed and able to tell us why $133 million was written off for a single taxpayer. That money could provide significant funding for public services, and Canadians deserve to know why this taxpayer or corporation received special treatment while the rest of us diligently work to pay our fair share.
I have had many constituents complain about dealings with the CRA, including poor levels of service or the agency repeatedly requesting documentation that has already been provided to a different branch. The Office of the Taxpayers' Ombudsman, which operates at arm's length from the CRA, has experienced an increase in complaints over the last few years. In 2017, the taxpayers' ombudsman said the biggest complaints were: first, the struggle to even get through to the CRA call centre, which can be a huge headache, especially around tax time. Other complaints included receiving inconsistent and incorrect information from the call centre agent and the lack of information sharing between different branches of the CRA. Many Canadians have been asked to produce the same information or documents more than once, because the person's file was not properly shared between departments.
The taxpayers' ombudsman called these problems “systemic” and said there are other deeply rooted problems. The CRA acknowledges that it needs to do more to better serve Canadians, and representatives from the agency will be travelling across Canada over the next month to conduct in-person consultations on how the CRA can improve its services. I have no doubt they will receive plenty of feedback. I am hopeful that the CRA will take this feedback and then implement it to create a better-run system, which Canadians deserve.
I know it is not just the CRA that has these problems. A recent Auditor General report found that other government departments, including immigration, employment insurance and the Canada pension plan, did not answer their phones for the millions of Canadians who called them in 2017 and 2018. It is obvious the government needs to make huge improvements to give Canadians the accessible service they require and deserve.
I hope these consultations by the CRA are fruitful and we will see a service improvement in the near future. I know how seriously Canadians take the CRA, except for wealthy Canadians who keep their money in offshore accounts without thinking of the consequences. For many Canadians, getting a letter from the CRA is anxiety-inducing, and dealing with audits and investigations can cause high levels of stress.
When Canadians owe the CRA money, most work to pay that money back, whether it is through installments or a lump sum payment. Most people would not dream of running out on the bill, so to speak, so they should not be unfairly penalized when corporations and wealthy Canadians run out on their tax obligations.
If this bill passes, it means increased accountability for the CRA, which is in the best interests of taxpayers. The changes proposed in this bill require the CRA to report on all convictions for tax evasion in addition to reporting the tax gap, as I mentioned earlier. This data would be reported to the Minister of National Revenue in the CRA's annual report, which is tabled in Parliament. The Minister of National Revenue is also required to provide the Parliamentary Budget Officer with data to calculate the tax gap.
These amendments, which would be inexpensive to implement, would increase transparency, which the government allegedly values. Publicly available reports on the gap between income taxes owed and taxes collected will provide a metric for judging the efficacy of measures to combat income tax evasion. This is important information for Canadians to have access to. Many other western nations publicly post this information. Canada is already behind standard practice in this regard. Conservatives support any measures to enhance the effectiveness and accountability of the public service.
Bill S-243 is a common-sense amendment to the Canada Revenue Agency Act, and I support the amendments.
I thank Senator Downe for his work on this bill, and the member for Calgary Rocky Ridge for helping to get the bill through the House of Commons. I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this bill today.
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
View Pat Kelly Profile
2019-05-16 18:24 [p.27983]
Mr. Speaker, it is a tremendous honour and privilege to sponsor a bill in this place.
First, I want to acknowledge and thank Senator Percy Downe for his passion on this issue and for obtaining unanimous support in the other place for the bill and giving me the opportunity to sponsor it in the House.
I want to thank my dear friends, the member for Edmonton Riverbend and the member for Calgary Nose Hill, for their speeches tonight. I also want to thank my friend, the member for Calgary Shepard, who spoke in the first hour of debate on the bill, and indeed the other members who spoke in support of the bill, in particular the member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, who spoke tonight, and the member for Sherbrooke, who spoke in the first hour. I would also like to thank the members for Châteauguay—Lacolle and Winnipeg North as well as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue, who also participated in the debate.
The bill would allow the Parliamentary Budget Officer to measure a problem that all parties acknowledge exists. As the member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques noted, the Auditor General has repeatedly called out the Canada Revenue Agency for not treating Canadians the same way it treats those who file taxes offshore.
When he said that, I was reminded that the CRA, in its self-audit, believed that its call centre was operating just fine. It took a report from the Auditor General to reveal that it was a complete disaster. Without giving the Parliamentary Budget Officer the tools it has asked for, we are asking it, with the misleading information the CRA hands over, to be the final word on the scope and scale of this problem. That is not acceptable. It is not good enough. It is not good enough for Canadians, and it is really just more of the same.
I take exception to the parliamentary secretary castigating my motives as a Conservative in bringing forward, under Private Members' Business, the bill. As was pointed out by the member for Calgary Nose Hill, she essentially said, “Shame on the Conservatives”. Because we did not do this for the 10 years we were in government, she said we should be ashamed for saying that this is important, even as the Liberals plan to vote against the bill. Only a Liberal could say this and not understand the hypocrisy and ridiculousness of that position.
I was not part of the former Parliament. However, despite the previous government's incredible track record and that Canadians are now yearning for a return to a Conservative government, I am comfortable admitting that not every single problem under the sun was solved during the 10 years of the Conservative government. Tens years was not long enough to undo everything done by the previous Liberal government. It was not long enough to solve every problem in the world.
All speakers on the Liberal side claimed to support the motivation behind the bill and claimed to care about the problem it would solve, yet they came up with excuse after excuse, which is all we heard in the parliamentary secretary's speech, for why we should not pass it and should not bother. Shame on the Liberals if, as has been indicated to me by the minister, they reject the bill tonight.
Again, I want to thank Percy Downe for his advocacy on this and thank all members who participated in the debate on the bill.
View Jim Eglinski Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2018-11-05 12:51 [p.23240]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask a simple question. The Liberal government talks about its contributions to our military veterans, yet in the last two years, it has spent over $38 million taking our veterans to court. I wonder if the member would speak about that money maybe being better spent somewhere.
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
View Pat Kelly Profile
2018-11-02 11:59 [p.23206]
Madam Speaker, the Minister of National Revenue keeps claiming that service is her priority, yet under her watch, service continues to get even worse, despite the budget increase. She has been picking on single parents, she has not reviewed all of the disability tax credits she took away, she has taken no meaningful action on offshore tax avoidance and evasion, wait times are getting longer and the call centre is still a disaster.
Will the minister stop claiming that service is her priority and start delivering service to Canadians?
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
View Pat Kelly Profile
2018-09-28 13:08 [p.21998]
Mr. Speaker, I will deal with the first part of the member's question quickly by saying, yes, we support the bill and that it is important that the loopholes be closed.
To the second part of the question, the personal experience the member relayed is so familiar to people I have spoken to across Canada. Everything he addressed, from the inability to reach someone on the phone to being given incorrect and conflicting information when getting through to a person, to being told that it would take months to get a cheque even when there is no information in dispute, is so painfully typical of the experiences I have heard from taxpayers across Canada. I have heard tax preparers from across Canada say that the service and the level of competence have never been worse. Quite specifically, I have been told by tax professionals that even in the last couple of years, it has gotten worse. Therefore, it is certainly going to take more than the passage of the bill before us to address the comprehensive problems with tax collection in Canada.
View Blaine Calkins Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blaine Calkins Profile
2018-09-25 13:30 [p.21796]
Mr. Speaker, for most of the day so far I have listened to my colleague across the way who seems to be the point man for the government in the House on this today.
What the member fails to understand is this is a one-off case. The government, the minister, the Prime Minister and this member himself are hiding behind hypotheticals. They do not have the courage to actually know when something is right or wrong and to fix it.
Just like the minister who could say that this is wrong and demand that his department officials fix it, in the hypotheticals that the member is talking about, the minister could at some future point in time, should it ever come to pass, say that this is wrong, fix it.
Why is the member, who is a veteran himself, unable to understand that is how government actually works, that is the purpose of members of Parliament, and that is the purpose of the leadership of a minister, to fix the wrongs when the bureaucracy gets it wrong?
Does the member honestly think that the credibility of veterans affairs is being served by this ridiculous defence that the member is putting forward right now?
View Dane Lloyd Profile
CPC (AB)
View Dane Lloyd Profile
2018-09-25 15:42 [p.21817]
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time speaking to this important issue with my colleague from Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.
I rise today to speak to our Conservative opposition motion regarding the outrageous and unjust payment of veterans benefits to cover post-traumatic stress disorder treatment for a convicted second-degree murderer.
My heart is with the family of officer Campbell. The murder of a loved one is something a family can never get over. Although justice has been served in the sentence of the loved one's killer, knowing this criminal has received benefits that are intended for veterans must be painful.
It is painful for me to talk about this issue as well. It is not something that I gladly rise to speak about today, but it is serious and it needs to be addressed. The Liberal government has failed to address this issue adequately.
It has been known for several weeks now that a convicted killer who has never served in the Canadian forces is receiving benefits intended for veterans. A veteran is involved, and we certainly want to respect the privacy of this individual and the family, but we cannot use that right to privacy to bypass the fundamental principle that veterans benefits are for veterans and their families, not for a convicted killer who has never served a day in his life.
There has been some movement on this issue over the last couple of hours, but a lot of my speech still applies.
I am proud to represent many communities that have significant numbers of military personnel and their families. Many of these soldiers choose to retire in my area after their years of service.They are looking for a quiet place to settle down, on a country acreage or in a small town. I have had the privilege of meeting with many of these veterans to discuss issues like their benefits. I am happy to call many of them my friends and my dearest supporters.
Today I am going to speak about two veterans I have had the opportunity to get to know over the past year. They have had a really big impact on me.
Many members in the House know of Major Mark Campbell, an infantry officer who lost both of his legs to an IED in Afghanistan. He and his comrades took the federal government to court again and again, finally appealing to the Supreme Court, which refused to hear their case. It was then that they realized that the party that had promised to never take a veteran to court to fight over benefits had broken its promise.
I bring up this example because in the past few weeks we have seen a government, a Prime Minister and his Minister of Veterans Affairs absolutely stonewall this Parliament, even in some cases refusing to answer questions and denigrating the opposition for having the audacity to hold them accountable.
They claim they are standing up for a veteran and that we should not be speaking out on this outrageous decision from Veterans Affairs for a killer who is receiving benefits and yet has never served.
Why is the Liberal government fighting against our veterans so fiercely in our courts and yet in the House defending so vigorously someone who has never served?
I often say in my riding that I am running because I want to put victims and their families first, not criminals, but too often it seems that the Liberals put criminals first, not victims and their families.
Many members in the House will also remember that back in February, when the Prime Minister came to Edmonton, he took questions from a constituent of mine, former corporal and Afghanistan veteran Brock Blaszczyk. Brock told the Prime Minister that he was ready to be killed in action, but he was not ready for his government to turn its back on him. Some of that is on us as Conservatives, but a lot of it is also on the Liberal government. The Prime Minister's response was to tell Brock that veterans “are asking for more than we can give right now”.
Today we see that resources that should be going to our veterans are being diverted inappropriately to someone who has never served, someone who, even if he had served, would not be eligible for these benefits because he would have been dishonourably discharged for his crime.
Why does the Prime Minister tell our veterans they “are asking for more than we can give”, while holding out his hand to provide for those who are not entitled to these benefits?
When this issue came up, I decided to text Brock to ask him what he thought. He messaged me back later, saying, “This is another slap in the face to veterans. The government says that every claim is treated on a case-by-case basis, but what could the case have been for a 30-year-old cop killer who never served?”
Brock has been continually denied his full benefits from Veterans Affairs, despite having lost a leg, suffering 55% soft tissue loss, 80% nerve damage in his other leg, and 30% nerve damage in his arm, and being diagnosed with PTSD from his time serving his country in Afghanistan.
Last week, the Prime Minister rose in the House to state that when members serve, their families serve with them. This is something I absolutely agree with. It is absolutely true. However, no member of the Canadian Forces who murdered a police officer, or anyone for that matter, who hid the body of their victim and who then was even caught in the process of trying to make it impossible to find the body, would be eligible for those benefits. No one who served would be given those benefits. Why should someone who has never served be treated better?
This brings me to my final example. This extraordinary woman is not a veteran herself, and her husband did not serve in the Canadian Forces. Nonetheless, he gave his life in service as a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. This man is the late Constable David Wynn from St. Albert, Alberta, which is just next to my riding in Sturgeon River—Parkland. His wife's name is Shelly MacInnis-Wynn. Shelly and I have known each other for a couple of years now, and despite the crime that was committed against her and her family, she has never backed down from saying what needs to be said.
The Prime Minister says that when members serve, their families serve with them. If the Prime Minister is true to his word, why does Shelly have to fight this government for funding to cover the cost of her PTSD treatments from the brutal murder of her husband that fateful day? Has she not given enough? Why does she have to fight, while this killer gets his benefits up front? Should a victim not be given priority?
Why is it that the Liberals will fight so hard to ensure that all criminals get their payout and receive their benefits, yet they throw the book at and stymie the needs of victims' families with endless bureaucracy? It is perverse. It defies logic and common sense.
Speaking for my constituents, I call on the Liberals to do the right thing, to not hide behind sympathy or some legal bafflegab but instead take action. Today, we have seen some action, but we need to get more clarity on that action. I call on them to rescind his benefits, which are benefits for veterans, not for criminals. Give him what he is due as a criminal in our justice system, but do not give him what he has not earned through service to our nation.
Immediately after this, I hope the government will work immediately to ensure that no victim and no victim's family has to fight the bureaucracy for the benefits they deserve. I call on the Liberals to stand up for victims, stand up for their families, do the right thing, rescind these benefits and get the job done.
View Dane Lloyd Profile
CPC (AB)
View Dane Lloyd Profile
2018-09-25 15:52 [p.21818]
Mr. Speaker, I also want to wish happy birthday to the hon. member's constituent, Max. As someone who has also served in the Canadian Forces, when we see someone who has put themselves out there to serve our country, we want to ensure they get the best possible treatment they can get.
One of the things we need to recognize is that all treatment needs to be veteran led, in the sense that most of the time, the veteran is the best person to know what would work best for him or her. We have seen that with the service dog and equine programs, and I certainly see a lot of potential with the camp my colleague mentioned. We need to refocus and reorient so it is veteran-led treatment.
View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2018-05-28 15:11 [p.19745]
moved:
That, the ninth report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration presented on Thursday, March 23, 2017 be concurred in.
She said: Mr. Speaker, I would like to talk about some important work the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration did earlier in this Parliament in relation to the modernization of client service delivery within Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. This was a very extensive report, which the committee put a lot of time into, with the goal of trying to improve the experience for people who are applying, through various processes, through this department to legally come into Canada.
There were many witnesses who appeared before our committee, and there were many recommendations put forward by the committee, unanimously, as a matter of fact, to improve that experience. I will note, however, that it has been many months, over a year, since this report was tabled, and the government has not responded to many of the recommendations herein, nor has the government accepted the reality that we have seen a major change in the operating environment in Canada, with the influx of tens of thousands of people at the Lacolle border crossing trying to illegally enter the country and subsequently claim asylum, and the impact that has had on the overall client service delivery experience for people who are trying to access the immigration system.
The genesis of this report was earlier in this Parliament, as I mentioned. The purpose was to look at ways IRCC could improve the user experience for people entering the system. There were many reasons the study was undertaken. I can think of a few.
I would like to talk about the public servants who work within IRCC. For the past two years, they have had to deal with a lot of immigration policy decisions being made on the fly by the current government. They have done their best to respond, but because of the rigid system of processing within the department, it has become a very inflexible system. We are seeing delays and backlogs happen more and more, especially now, since the government did not budget or take into account in its levels plan that by the end of this year, the minister will have overseen what could be close to 100,000 people illegally crossing the border into Canada and claiming asylum. That has had an enormous impact on the processing system as well as on client service delivery for IRCC.
I listened to the minister's responses to four hours of questioning last week with regard to the illegal border crossing crisis. He made many assertions about the government's record on client service delivery. I want to set the context of the system he came into.
Previous Liberal governments created a backlog of 108,000 for the parents and grandparents application stream alone. The previous Liberal government also increased wait times for parents and grandparents to 64 months and created a total immigration backlog of 830,000. Previous Liberal governments also imposed a right-of-landing fee of $975 on new immigrants.
When we came into government, obviously it was a very daunting task to address the backlog, and we had a lot of success. Our former Conservative government had an action plan for faster family reunification. It included increased numbers of parents and grandparents as permanent residents and managing the number of new applications to reduce the backlog, including introducing the super visa and cutting the backlog and processing times in half. Part of the reason we introduced the super visa, in terms of service delivery, was to ensure that families were reunited faster. It was a 10-year multiple-entry visa, introduced by our Conservative government. Some 50,000 super visas were launched, with an average processing time of only three months. It also protected taxpayers by requiring private health insurance. Again, we were being cognizant not only of client service delivery but of the sustainability of Canada's social programs.
We saw more parents and grandparents welcomed as permanent residents under our government as compared to the previous Liberal government. Over 171,000 parents and grandparents were admitted, versus 154,000 grandparents admitted from 1997 to 2005. I should go through the numbers, because government members keep standing up to talk about the illegal border crossing crisis, which, of course, was launched by the Prime Minister's #WelcomeToCanada tweet. Some keep trying to say that somehow it was Stephen Harper's fault that the Prime Minister tweeted #WelcomeToCanada.
We need to focus on client service delivery right now, because all members in the House are getting calls in our riding offices from people who are trying to legally enter the country and are now encountering seven-year-plus wait times to come in under certain streams. What I think is most disgusting is the fact that the government is prioritizing the allocation of resources to process people who are illegally entering the country and is taking resources away from streams such as the privately sponsored refugee program, in which we now see wait times of up to seven years.
Do they think about that? Someone languishing in a UNHCR camp, who does not have access to a lot of resources, is now facing that long of a backlog. Meanwhile, the work the committee did over a year ago needs to be updated, given that the immigration levels report has been blown out of the water. In fact, the immigration levels report is probably birdcage liner at this point. This report not only needs to be concurred in, it needs to be updated because of the backlogs that are being created because of the reallocation of resources.
The minister will stand up here and tell us that this is not happening, that there are different processing lines, and that this is bananas. However, that is just cover, because we know that as of six months ago, over 80 processing staff from other lines of processing were reallocated to processing illegal border crossers, and I think that number has increased over time. When one thinks about removing 80 staff members, although I am sure it is at over 100 now, to process the crisis that is happening at Roxham Road, and we have seen these numbers exponentially increase since that figure was put forward, certainly we will continue to see backlogs. That is going to reduce the client service delivery experience for people who are trying to legally enter the country.
We should be prioritizing some of the recommendations included in this report, because we should be trying to prioritize the client service delivery experience for people who are legally entering the country as opposed to people who are illegally entering the country. If we continue to build tent cities and send people to process their applications and turn the CBSA and the RCMP into a glorified concierge service, we are, in fact, incenting people to continue with this activity rather than trying to enter the country legally.
I would argue that client service delivery for people who are trying to legally enter the country would be improved if the minister would seek to close the loophole in the safe third country agreement. If the minister closed the loophole in the safe third country agreement, or sought legislation that would allow him to designate the entire Canadian border an official point of entry for the purposes of being applied to the safe third country agreement only, we would reduce demand on the system for processing the applications of illegal border crossers, thus allowing resources to be freed up for legal border crosses, which is what this report talks about.
To me, it is very important that the House move this report forward, but the committee should probably update this report as well. I think it is another piece of work we could do to investigate the burden of this border crossing crisis, which is squarely the Prime Minister's fault. It is squarely the Prime Minister's fault that he has refused to walk back his tweet, and these services are being impacted.
I would be very curious to see how the government votes on concurrence on this report, because many of the recommendations outlined here the government has not responded to. They have been exacerbated under the government's tenure.
I would like to point out some other things. There is a call centre. If a person is trying to access information when applying for permanent residency, citizenship, or any of the myriad of other services IRCC provides, there is a call centre that a client, ostensibly, should be able to call to get information.
Here is an interesting piece of information from the study:
The IRCC Call Centre has been the subject of numerous complaints about poor client service. Departmental officials provided detailed information regarding complaints received. Specifically, they noted that, with regard to the 4,453 feedback web forms received in 2015, there were 35 complaints specific to the Call Centre;
For those of us who do a lot of casework related to immigration, which would be almost every single person in the House, we understand the problem with the call centre intimately, because our staff actually have a hard time calling into it. Under the tenure of the former immigration minister, John McCallum, the government tried to remove the dedicated line for members' staff who were enquiring on behalf of their constituents. This report recommends that the government, under all circumstances, keep that line ongoing. It is very important for the House to accept that recommendation, because sometimes it is the last line of defence under the incompetence of the government in terms of being able to get information on an application that is pending.
My colleague, who has Vegreville in her riding, seconded this motion. She has been making an impassioned plea to the government. We have this whole report on client service delivery, and the government has decided to shut that processing centre down, even though, first, it is one of the most efficient processing centres in Canada, and second, the union of labourers there has been saying that there have not been job guarantees for all workers. Third, why is it kicking Alberta when it is down? It is taking away the equivalent of taking 100,000 jobs out of Toronto in terms of the impact it will have on the community of Vegreville. It is completely decimating that community. I do not think the minister even bothered to visit Vegreville.
When we are looking at client service delivery, we have all these recommendations in the report that have not been responded to, which the government is making worse by closing one of the most effective processing centres in the country. There were also documents that came out that showed that there would be an additional expense to the government to shut down this processing centre. The Liberals' whole argument for closing it down was that it was supposed to be more efficient and save the taxpayers money, when, in fact, it is going to make the taxpayers spend more money. We get less efficiency and an increased cost for taxpayers. That is the hallmark of Liberal management.
There is one other thing I want to point out. The last time I tried to get concurrence on a report from the Citizenship and Immigration committee, it was on the issue of immigration consultants who were essentially fraudulent. We know that there are instances of people we would call ghost consultants. These are people who contract themselves out to newcomers to Canada under the guise of providing services promising to get them to Canada faster. It is very difficult for people who are working like this to face any sort of punishment under our current system.
Liberal and Conservative governments have made changes in how the immigration consulting profession is regulated. We know that there are still a lot of problems with that. I believe the committee put forward a unanimous report on recommendations on how to fix some of these things. However, the government, including the members on the committee that voted for the recommendations, when we tried to have it concurred in in the House, voted against the concurrence motion, therefore showing the true colours of the government on immigration, which is that it does not really care about improving client service delivery for people.
Why am I talking about immigration consultants in the context of this report? If we are talking about client service delivery, in a lot of ways, people should not have to contract an immigration consultant to do some of the most basic work it takes to apply to come to this country. We should be looking at ways to streamline and simplify processing for people who are seeking to enter the country.
This is what I have been saying all the time. When the immigration system of a country like Canada is functioning well, it should be a debate about process and how we improve processes. We can have partisan differences on that, but we should not be having a discussion about the fact that the entire system is melting down because the government has no control over a planned, orderly migration system.
What is striking to me is that since this report was written in March 2017, we have seen close to 40,000 people illegally entering the country from the United States of America, which we know is safe third country, to claim asylum. A lot of the processing issues that are noted within this report have been exacerbated because the government has refused to respond to this report in any sort of meaningful way after the recommendations were put forward by the committee, and then, of course, the additional burden on the system has made things worse.
The current government is very good at standing up in the House of Commons and using one thing to describe its action on a file: the amount of money spent. I am assuming that the remarks the parliamentary secretary is about to give on this matter will be that the government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars. I am sure the government is quite proud that it has made a more expensive plan to deal with the Prime Minister's tweet. However, the reality is that it is throwing money into things and it is getting worse. The metric here should not be how much money the government has spent. In fact, I would argue the opposite. I think the government should be saying it has created efficiencies while saving the taxpayers' money. It should be about how we are moving back to a planned, orderly migration system wherein we are talking about things like how we modernize client service delivery for people who are seeking to legally enter the country. However, we are not there.
Where we are today is that we have the minister on national TV spreading falsehoods that Parliament can put forward legislation that could technically deem the entire Canadian border as a legal point of entry. There are ways we can legislate it such that it would only apply to the safe third country agreement. I think it is probably Parliament's job to look at legislation that could do that. However, the government refuses to walk back the ill-advised tweet that the Prime Minister put out, essentially for his own ego. I wonder also why the Prime Minister has not staged a photo-op at the refugee camp at Roxham Road. Perhaps the photo opportunities are not as good there as they are in other places.
I should not be glib. We should be providing incentives for as many people as possible to come to Canada through legal, planned, orderly migration that meets the needs of Canada's growing economy, that meets the needs of our obligations to humanitarian immigration. However, it needs to be done in a way that we are focusing on integration, not on entitlement, and on an easy-to-use, good system that would provide incentives for people to legally enter into the country. We should not be talking about spending hundreds of millions of dollars, which could be upward of a billion dollars, to the court's failed asylum claimants who have come in under the current government's watch. In fact, that is going to be one of the legacies of the current Prime Minister. In years to come, we will be looking at the tab he created for deportations of people he is essentially pedalling false hope to, who had no hope of ever claiming asylum in Canada. The cost to the Canadian taxpayer, and that diversion of resources that could have been used for the modernization of services for people who are legally entering the country, is something I do not think he or anyone else should be proud of.
I think this report is good. I might have a few quibbles here and there, but there are some good ways that I think are non-partisan. We could improve client service delivery. There are practical things. I love that the department officials at IRCC could be focusing on implementing these recommendations rather than having to focus their time on the tire fire that is happening at Roxham Road. It is very simple to me.
Therefore, I would like the government to acknowledge my points today by voting to concur in this report on modernizing client service delivery. We could reset the tone in this House. We could say that we want to focus on legal, planned immigration, on resources for the live-in caregivers, the reunification of parents and grandparents, and all of these people for whom we know we did a good job under our Conservative government. This report should be concurred in to do that.
View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2018-05-28 15:32 [p.19748]
Mr. Speaker, I am so glad that my colleague mentioned the decade of darkness.
Under previous Liberal governments, and the member talked specifically about parents and grandparents, I will reiterate the statistics for him. The previous Liberal government created a backlog of 108,000 people in the parent and grandparent stream. Let us think about that.
Our government had to come in and say to over 100,000 people that the former government had created a backlog under, that we needed a system to make sure those people could come to Canada in a planned and orderly way. What did the best immigration minister in Canadian history, Jason Kenney, do? He created the parent and grandparent super visa program. That super visa program cut backlogs and processing times in half. It also ensured the sustainability of our social programs, reducing the risks to taxpayers, by having a requirement for health insurance. This is something that the Liberal government has embraced. I am proud that I have the opportunity to talk about the fact that our Conservative government cleaned up a huge mess.
I believe my colleague represents a riding in Winnipeg. I would note that Manitoba has been one of the provinces that has complained that the Liberal government has created a problem for them, in terms of strain on social programs, affordable housing, health care, and access to legal services, because it refuses to close the loophole in the safe third country agreement.
As a Manitoba MP, he should be ashamed that his government is not doing more to close the loophole in the safe third country agreement.
View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2018-05-28 15:35 [p.19748]
Mr. Speaker, I could not agree more.
We should be doing everything possible to make it easier for people to go through these application processes, such that they do not need to hire an immigration consultation, or such that we can reduce the friction points within IRCC. With some of these processes, I think we still use carbon copy forms. It is just bananas.
I want to give some credit to department officials within IRCC. I would love to give them a mandate, to say that the government is going to deal with the issue at Roxham Road and they should put their brain power toward developing a web portal, or creating a cloud model, or ensuring that people who are processing applications are not in such rigid silos that demand cannot be met in different areas.
There are many different things that this minister could be focusing on in terms of modernizing client service delivery. Are there ways we could be using artificial intelligence to help client service delivery? How can we make the experience easier and more consistent, incenting people to come to Canada legally? That should be the focus of the minister. That is the focus of this report.
Unfortunately, we are not there because of what is happening at Roxham Road in Quebec.
View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2018-05-28 15:38 [p.19749]
Mr. Speaker, when I think of the minister's response to the immigration crisis in Canada right now, I think of the GIF of the cartoon dog sitting at a table with a cup of coffee while there is a fire behind him. It says that everything is fine. That is what I think of whenever the Minister of Immigration stands up in the House of Commons and comes up with a non-response to the fact that there are tens of thousands of people flooding across the border at the Roxham Road entry point while we are seeing backlogs of over seven years for somebody in a refugee camp in Djibouti to be privately sponsored as a refugee. Therefore, no, I would not classify that as everything being fine.
View Michelle Rempel Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2018-05-28 15:40 [p.19749]
Mr. Speaker, first of all, everything is not fine. My colleague opposite will likely be shocked when she sees numbers for processing times that are accurate and up to date after the illegal border crossing crisis came forward. The minister has been very silent on those wait time increases, because we know they are there.
Second, the government's response to the committee report was typical Liberalese. It said a lot of nothing. It did not implement any of these findings at all. It had a lot of nice words, though, and I am sure the bureaucrat who wrote it spent a lot of late nights trying to figure out how to write 10 pages' worth of stuff without committing to responding to any of these things.
We have had to fight tooth and nail to not have the MP's response line be cut. The government has not responded to the immigration consultant issue. The fact is that the IRCC is essentially imploding from within, as every member of the committee saw in front of that particular study.
Again, I would point to the wait times on things like private sponsorship for refugees. They continue to increase. Therefore, people who are legally trying to come to the country are having to wait, because the government is spending all of its time on Roxham Road. It is like the eye of Sauron has been diverted to Roxham Road instead of just closing the safe third country agreement. It should be more simple, and they should be doing that.
View Martin Shields Profile
CPC (AB)
View Martin Shields Profile
2018-05-28 16:07 [p.19753]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my hon. colleague's interest in this file and his past history with it.
Monte Solberg, a friend of mine, was a former immigration minister. I remember visiting with him in the immigration building, where he took me from floor to floor and showed me the stacks of files that the Liberals had left him with. Those files were stacked in rooms on every floor. He told me that his department was left with a staff that spent 50% of its time finding a file and 50% of the time putting it back. He said that was what the Liberals had left him with. His job, he said, was to try to change the process, digitize it, make it modern, and make it work.
The Liberals left paper files and a bureaucracy of paper that created this nightmare of finding files and putting them back. Monte, as the Conservative minister of immigration, undertook the process of modernizing the process.
If we are talking about continuing the process that the Conservatives started, I would be happy to see that, but it was not what the Conservatives were left with when they took office. Is the member talking about carrying on the process of making it more advanced than it was when the Liberals left it when the Harper government came to power?
Results: 1 - 15 of 39 | Page: 1 of 3

1
2
3
>
>|
Export As: XML CSV RSS

For more data options, please see Open Data