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Results: 1 - 15 of 2884
View Rachel Blaney Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Chair.
I thank you all so much for being here today.
You talked in your report about Manitoba. I know that in the election of 2019, the Interlake region within the riding of Churchill—Keewatinook Aski in Manitoba had to be evacuated due to a severe snowstorm that hit a lot of communities. The storm impacted largely indigenous communities. As the evacuations took place during early voting, hundreds of voters were not back in their home communities on election day, which meant many first nations were not able to vote. Really, to me, that means they were disenfranchised.
I'm just wondering how Elections Canada has moved with this. Has there been any internal investigation done on what went wrong leading up to this election day in that particular area?
View Rachel Blaney Profile
NDP (BC)
There was also a record that Elections Canada officials from Ottawa were making decisions and not really listening to the people who were there locally. I'm just wondering how you figure out that process to make sure, because I think this is really important when looking at rural and remote communities, even if they are in a more urbanized Winnipeg area. There are specific things that local people would know and it doesn't sound like the communications.... I'm just wondering. What are you doing to look into improving that communication line?
View Rachel Blaney Profile
NDP (BC)
You said transportation was left out after voting. You said earlier that it was not as organized because of the nature of this particular issue. I understand it wasn't mandatory but I'm sure Elections Canada didn't want to decide for people how to make decisions about their safety and well-being.
View Rachel Blaney Profile
NDP (BC)
I'm just wondering. How did you coordinate to make sure that these people actually had access to the transportation? I would like to hear more on that.
View Rachel Blaney Profile
NDP (BC)
In my riding, hiring people for Elections Canada was really a significant challenge. I'm just wondering if in any of your reports you'll be looking at the difference between hiring in rural and remote communities as opposed to urban ones. One of the challenges was that some of our communities are smaller and have multiple challenges. There were fewer people to hire. I'm just wondering if you will be looking at that.
View Rachel Blaney Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much, Madam Chair; and thank you to the minister and his officials.
My first question deals with the estimates component. In the overall spending from the minister, according to the government's website, the planned expenditure is $67.7 million. The actual spending is $48.3 million. That's a shortfall of close to $20 million.
On the FTE side, the planned FTE was 613, but the actual was 460, a shortfall of 153.
Now we go to the programs. On settlement targets, as shown on the website, it achieved one out of three of the desired results. Targets were not met on the percentage of clients who received language training services, yet funding cuts have taken place for NGOs in delivering of services in support of resettlement.
In my own riding, Mount Pleasant Family Centre Society's circles of care and connection program received a funding cut of close to $140,000. That funding shortfall would mean it cannot sustain the program. The number of outreach workers to the refugee community has been slashed significantly.
I'm very troubled by that. The NGOs had a discussion with officials prior to their funding allocation. In the webinar, officials told NGOs that the funding model from IRCC would be improved and resources would be redirected to support the small and local non-profits. This association that I mentioned is a very effective small, local organization, yet it received a significant funding cut.
Why is that, especially when your ministry actually underspent?
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
Sorry, Minister. I don't want to get into all those details. I have six minutes and I asked a specific question, so I want it answered specifically.
In the spirit of working together, back on February 4 I wrote you a letter on this. I have yet to receive a reply.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
Minister, with all due respect, I appreciate those lines, but the reality on the ground is that people are experiencing funding cuts. Some of those organizations that you visited actually received funding cuts. There are programs that have been eliminated.
In spite of all this grand talk, the reality on the ground is different. This is what I'm telling you right now, with these specific case examples, and I have more to come.
Therefore, I want to raise this issue and I would ask you to go back and look at those numbers and talk with your officials to see how it is that those organizations received a funding cut when your department underperformed on the resettlement services, and particularly on the language training component. This is a real issue for many people on the ground. If we want people to be settled successfully, they need to be supported. The funding cut is not helping that.
Your ministry actually had resources. There were resources within your ministry and you underspent by $20 million. I'm going to park that with you, and we can have a further discussion about that.
I want to raise another issue with respect to this. Your ministry mandate letter specifically outlines, “continued work with the United States to modernize the Safe Third Country Agreement”.
I want to get clarity. When the government said “modernize”, a word that has been used previously, does that mean to say that the government is looking for ways to extend and expand the safe third country agreement?
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
You have $20 million there.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
Yes. Minister. I just want to understand the mandate letter. When it says “modernize the Safe Third Country Agreement”, does that mean to say that the government is planning to expand the application of the safe third country agreement?
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
What does “modernize” mean? Does that mean that it's going to expand the usage of the safe third country agreement?
View Kenny Chiu Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Minister, for coming to talk to us.
The cost of eliminating citizenship fees for new applicants is estimated to be about $75 million in forgone revenues just in fiscal year 2020-21. In the meanwhile, the department has suffered a reduction of funding of approximately $50 million. On one side you have a reduction of income, and on the other side you have a reduced amount of money coming from the government.
Is there any plan to help recoup immigration costs?
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
According to the government's website on service standards, while the target is to process applications 80% of the time within the standard, the reality is that in the provincial nominee program the process performance is at 5% of standard. The performance of the Quebec-selected skilled workers program sees 2% of applications done within the standard. In the skilled trades program—the express entry, of which the minister is very proud—the performance standard is 38% of applications within standard.
While setting standards is great, you're not meeting them for these critical areas.
I want to highlight this again, tying it to the fact that the ministry underspent and cut staff FTEs significantly, by close to 200. That is the kind of performance we're seeing. Is it a wonder that we have such long wait times in processing? I want to highlight this as an issue.
Another issue is that at the last committee meeting, the official said that when a form is missing in an application, or a signature or something is missing, they would contact the applicant to have it fixed, instead of sending the whole application back.
I have two active cases in which the application was sent back and as a result, the people's work permits expired. This creates great problems for them.
Social media is lit up, because somebody had put out something asking the community what their experience has been. Social media is lit up with people with lots of problems with respect to officials not processing these applications as such.
I want to flag these issues to your attention, Minister, and I hope they get fixed.
I'd like to ask a question about refugee sponsorship. In the Group of Five community sponsorships, the refugees who need sponsorship are required to provide a refugee determination certificate. This requirement was waived between 2015 and 2017 for the government to get their Syrian refugee initiative numbers up. This requirement is also not required for any other privately sponsored refugee stream.
Why, then, do we have this for the Group of Five sponsorships?
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
On a point of order, Madam Chair, I'd like to get clarification.
From our last meetings, I thought that the request was to have the minister appear before our committee for the full two hours. Because we have collapsed both the mandate letter and the estimates component into this one meeting, I thought that was going to be the case.
It is now clearly not the case, because the minister is preparing to leave.
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