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View Scott Reid Profile
CPC (ON)
Just on relevance, I appreciate that Mr. Lamoureux would be fully within his rights to introduce a motion or, indeed, several motions. I don't think there's a notice requirement under our committee's rules, but we are actually in the midst of discussing not merely another motion—and everything discussed must be germane to that motion—but an amendment to that motion. I would think that these remarks would be more appropriate when we've dealt essentially with this.
Let's deal with Mr. Cullen's amendment to Mr. Lukiwski's motion first.
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View Joe Preston Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Reid. I was about to get there as Mr. Lamoureux was rounding the corner into new motions.
We are still on Mr. Lukiwski's notice of motion of today. Unless you are trying to move these as amendments to that, I don't see a way forward until after that discussion is complete. I'd be happy to come back to it at that time.
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View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
I'm not sure if this is a point of order or a point of clarification, but if you take a look at the motion we passed on June 18, paragraph (vi) says:examine the subject-matter of the motions, standing in the name of the Member for Papineau, placed on the Order Paper on June 10, 2013.
I think, Kevin, you are trying to reintroduce the same motions that we have agreed to study anyway. I don't see the necessity of that. Part of the House order, and part of the motion that was unanimously passed, was to study the motions that your leader brought forward. We have agreed to do that.
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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2013-09-08 13:18
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I think a big part of it, Tom, is recognizing—which I wasn't too sure of in terms of the most appropriate way of bringing it forward in the form of an amendment—that what we're looking for is just getting the recognition from all three political parties that these suggestions or motions that were brought forward back on June 10 are very tangible and whether in fact they're supported by all political parties.
Now, it might not necessarily be appropriate as an amendment. That's why I was looking to see if we could get the unanimous support of the committee to at least acknowledge their existence and in fact support them, because what we're talking about is not studying them per se, but rather adopting them.
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View Joe Preston Profile
CPC (ON)
Well, I think this committee would like to usually move in that step, where we'll study before we come to the conclusion as to what we'll put in our final report.
I have Mr. Scott, Mr. Cullen, and then Mr. Lukiwski, but I'm trying not to get out of sync here as to where we are.
Mr. Lamoureux, as Mr. Lukiwski has pointed out, the subject matter you're talking about is already in the motion that founded the reason for our meeting. Belt and suspenders I understand, but I just don't understand why we need to go that deep at this moment, further—
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View Joe Preston Profile
CPC (ON)
If you'll allow me, let's leave it. If at the end you don't believe that the subject matter you're looking for is going to be covered, I might even give you some leeway to bring it back, but at this moment I think we're already discussing the topic that you're trying to put on the floor, either as an amendment to Mr. Lukiwski's motion or as another motion.
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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2013-09-08 13:20
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Okay. On that particular point, then, Mr. Chair, I appreciate your comments and I'll look forward to maybe a more appropriate time, when we could actually have some dialogue on the four motions that were brought forward by Mr. Trudeau.
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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2013-09-08 13:20
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Yes. I was hopeful that maybe we'd be able to draw some conclusions if possible, at least before the end of the day, so that we would have something tangible prior to the end of the meeting. I will hold off on providing more comments in regard to those particular motions, but suffice it to say that we're glad to be here today. We're anxious to see some movement in this area. We'll have to wait and see where it goes.
Thank you.
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View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
Yes.
All I was going to say in response to Kevin is that with all due respect, Kevin, I just think what you're attempting to do here is somewhat redundant, because it's in the motion that we passed unanimously to study all of the elements of your leader's motions of June 10. So I don't think we need an amendment or a clarification. It's in the House order that was discussed.
Eventually...and obviously I don't want to cut off any further discussion of my motion, but I would just reiterate that the commitment of our government is to honour the motion that was approved unanimously on June 18, and that is to conduct a full and thorough review of all issues dealing with transparency and accountability of members of Parliament. It's I think fairly clearly presented in the motion that was adopted where we're going to go with this. We're going to talk about things, about the Board of Internal Economy. We're going to talk to the Auditor General and other financial people. We're probably going to examine other jurisdictions. But the sole purpose of and the spirit behind this motion was to try to increase transparency and accountability. That's why my motion comes forward: just to reaffirm the fact that as a government we are absolutely committed to doing that.
With respect to one further comment that Nathan made as to honouring the deadline of December 2, as a committee—and everyone knows that we're the masters of our own fate—we can meet as often and as frequently as we want. We can have extended hours. We can meet evenings, on weekends, whatever. Our point is that we believe the December 2 deadline can and will be met, and we're fully committed to participating in a thorough review.
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View Joe Preston Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Lukiwski, thank you for that recap, but I'm wondering if you wanted to read your motion into the record, because it was done while we were in camera.
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View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
Sure. Everyone has notice of it and this is public, but I will read it just for the record:
That, the Committee hold meetings in the fall of 2013 pursuant to the House order of Tuesday, June 18, 2013, regarding the transparency and accountability of the House of Commons, and that the Committee show respect for the will of the House by allowing one Member who is not a member of a recognized party to participate in these hearings as a temporary, non-voting member of the Committee.
I know that other people are on the speaking list, but I would like to deal with the substance of this, and I would call the question at the first opportunity so we can vote on my motion.
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View Craig Scott Profile
NDP (ON)
View Craig Scott Profile
2013-09-08 13:24
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Great, thank you, Mr. Chair.
I think what I have to offer will actually assist in one respect: it will clarify to an extent a small concern about the extent to which we are committing in advance to move forward in the fall on the exact same motion adopted in the House on June 18. I think that's absolutely in the spirit of everything I've heard from Tom. I want to suggest an amendment that makes it even clearer.
In suggesting this amendment I think I'm probably helping on the point by Mr. Lamoureux as well, because my amendment makes it exceptionally clear that in the motion of June 18, the provision “examine the subject-matter of the motions, standing in the name of the Member for Papineau, placed on the Order Paper on June 10, 2013” will be part of the study. This will be made even clearer by my amendment.
What I'd like to do now is just to read the amendment. Tom's motion would stand exactly as is, and then I would suggest simply adding these words:
and that the Committee further show respect for the will of the House by instructing the Chair of the Committee to write to the Government House Leader to request that he, on the first day of the return of the House, seek unanimous consent from the House to bring back the House order of June 18 2013, in the exact form adopted on that day.
I think this is a good idea procedurally, because we are going to have prorogation—it's almost certain—between now and when we'll be able to really study this. In that case I think it's really a good idea to have the exact same motion back before this committee, and the mechanism I'm suggesting here would accomplish that.
At the same time, it absolutely makes clear something that is possibly just a little bit too general in the first three lines of Mr. Lukiwski's motion. The first three lines talk about holding meetings pursuant to the House order regarding transparency and accountability, but then it says, “and that the Committee show respect for the will of the House”, and it only specifies paragraph (h). The idea of showing respect for the will of the House with respect to including a non-recognized party member is really important, but it's isolating one element of the motion, whereas the first three lines are quite general. All I am doing, I think, is crossing the t’s and dotting the i's with what we've exactly heard already from Tom, that the government is in support of the motion as adopted.
I would like to add the extra procedural boost by asking you, the chair, to write to the House leader to ask him to seek unanimous consent when we return.
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View Nathan Cullen Profile
NDP (BC)
That's right.
This reiterates in black and white what Mr. Lukiwski just confirmed to the committee, the assurance that the government has maintained the political will over the summertime to continue the work that we unanimously agreed to in the spring. It provides specificity and assurance to Canadians that this work will continue.
I take the assurances from Tom just with regard to the committee's work. As soon as we get through this motion—I think we're almost there—I'd like to get into some of that discussion today so that the work can begin in advance on witness lists and whom we would call, with some suggestions made already, and the pace of work. As I've suggested already, while the goal is quite clear, getting there will be somewhat subtle and complex in changing the very, very old institution of Canada's Parliament, specifically the Board of Internal Economy, how to bring the Auditor General in properly, and those kinds of things.
This motion I think it just confirms the assurances that Mr. Lukiwski talked about. I think it should certainly confirm and give validation that the Liberals seem to be seeking. It allows the committee to know exactly what the work is about, and puts it in your hands, Mr. Chair, so that on day one the government House leader can introduce this. Of course, we will agree and we'll move forward, and the committee will have its marching orders to complete its work on that specified date.
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View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
I just don't have a problem with this. As I said verbally, our commitment is to do it. I've said so in public now, and so if this committee wants to instruct you, as chair, to write a letter requesting that we reaffirm the motion we have already passed, we don't have a problem with that. We are fully committed to having the study.
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View Nathan Cullen Profile
NDP (BC)
Just procedurally, I want to confirm technically that a prorogation of the House, which we have not had yet, would nullify the motion we passed in the House in the spring. Is that correct? I wonder if we can just—
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View Nathan Cullen Profile
NDP (BC)
Yes, I think that's correct. I ask because people might be wondering why we have all of these assurances. That's because it doesn't exist. The moment the Prime Minister seeks prorogation from the Governor General, the motion we passed in the House in the spring won't exist, so this is a very public confirmation that even though technically that's procedurally true, when we come back we'll have exactly the same wording, in advance, already confirmed by this committee and others.
I just wanted to assure my colleagues and others of that.
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View Joe Preston Profile
CPC (ON)
All right, I have no one else on the speaking list, so shall we call the vote on the amendment?
Some hon. members: Yes.
(Amendment agreed to)
(Motion as amended agreed to)
The Chair: Fantastic. That accomplishes a good combination of motions today. Thank you very much. That's great.
Mr. Cullen.
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View Michael Chong Profile
CPC (ON)
Welcome to the 85th meeting of the Standing Committee on Official Languages, Thursday, June 13, 2013. We are meeting today pursuant to Standing Order 108, to study the Department of Citizenship and Immigration's obligations under the Official Languages Act.
We are joined today by the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.
Also with the minister are Mr. Sylvester and Madame Prince St-Amand from the department. We welcome all of you.
Minister Kenney, you have the floor for an opening statement.
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you very much.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and dear colleagues.
I am pleased to be here with my officials to participate in your study of the Roadmap for Official Languages in Canada.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank the committee members for having inviting me to appear here today. As I said, I am accompanied by Peter Sylvester, the Associate Deputy Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Peter is also CIC's official languages champion — and Corinne Prince St-Amand, Director General, Integration and FCRO.
In 2006, the government — in collaboration with representatives from francophone minority communities — established a target to increase the percentage of French-speaking immigrants to those communities to 4.4% of the total number of immigrants settling in Canada outside of Quebec by 2023.
As part of the 2008-2013 Roadmap objectives, our goal was to reach an interim target of 1.8% of the total number of permanent residents settling outside Quebec by 2013. And we managed to achieve this target, two years ahead of schedule. Since 2005, the number of French-speaking permanent residents in Canada increased by almost 40%. This is a major achievement.
The significant progress we have made to date has allowed us to revise our recruitment target to 4% out of the total number of economic immigrants settling outside Quebec, to be reached by 2018, and we are confident that we will meet our original target of 4.4% by 2023 ahead of schedule. We will achieve this target as the result of an increased collaborative effort among all our federal partners, other levels of government, and stakeholders.
Chairman, as my colleagues here today are well aware, the government is in the process of implementing transformational changes to ensure the immigration system works in Canada's best interests, attracting immigrants with the skills we need, who can integrate into our labour market quickly, and work at their skill level shortly after their arrival in Canada.
We believe these improvements will have a very positive effect on Canada's official language minority communities.
Time doesn't permit me to go through all of the important changes we are making, but I'd like to focus on one key change in particular. That is the movement towards what I call the meta reform, following the example of Australia and New Zealand, with the adoption of an expression of interest system, which will subsume most of our economic immigration streams. It will allow for Canadian employers, provinces and territories, and perhaps community groups, to select skilled immigrants from a pool of pre-qualified applicants who we are confident have the human capital to integrate successfully.
Under the current federal skilled worker program, also known as the point system, applicants apply based on the objective points grid, which we've just made some significant changes to, by the way. Once they receive permanent residence—what used to be called landed immigrant status—they can choose to settle, obviously, wherever they like in Canada. That's the mobility rights.
Efforts are usually made by governments and stakeholders reactively after they arrive to try to get them to settle in an official language community. With the new expression of interest system, which we plan to have in place by the end of next year, employers and provinces will be able to more effectively recruit immigrants to official language communities across the country by directly choosing applicants with the language skills and human capital they need from the pool.
In addition, our government has increased the number of immigrants chosen by the provinces through the provincial nominee program by 500%, from about 8,000 a year to around 40,000 this year.
This is important, Chairman. In the past, my predecessors from different parties expressed great frustration at the hugely disproportionate number of immigrants who settled, often in ethnic enclaves, in the three big metropolitan areas, rather than settling in regions in Canada, including rural Canada, where there were often better employment opportunities.
I'm pleased to tell you that as a result of our shift in weight from the skilled worker program to provincial selection through these provincial nominee programs, we've seen a dramatic improvement in the geographic distribution of immigrants across Canada. There has been a tripling of immigrants to the Prairies, a doubling to Atlantic Canada, and more newcomers going to the interior of B.C. rather than the greater Vancouver region. The number of immigrants settling per annum in Toronto is down by over 25%.
I think that's all positive, and this presages where we hope to go with the expression of interest system, which we also hope will include or partner with provinces so they can select out of that pool.
This is very important because when you're trying to get a francophone immigrant to go to St. Boniface or Saint-Léonard, frankly, if they're just coming in through the old points grid, chances are they won't go to such places. But if local community groups or employers in those smaller minority language communities can recruit them out of the pool, they're much more likely to settle in such places that need demographic reinforcement.
Mr. Chair, I would also like to discuss another successful way that we have managed to attract more French-speaking new comers: the Destination Canada Job Fair. We have been operating this event for almost 10 years. It has become especially popular in the past five years. Last year, in fact, there was a record high attendance for the fair in Paris and Brussels. More than 80 employers posted more than 1,000 jobs. Of more than 20,000 interested candidates, nearly 5,000 had skills employers sought and were selected to participate.
We are expecting similar success at this year's Destination Canada Job Fair, which will be held in Paris, Brussels and Tunis in November. Through the job fair, employers may hire candidates who are eligible to immigrate to Canada on a permanent basis. They may also hire temporary foreign workers in francophone minority communities if they satisfy criteria established to assist official language minority communities, or if they are unable to find French-speaking Canadians to fill positions, while ensuring the integrity of our immigration system. Of course, I must continuously emphasize that this program is based upon the principle that Canadian applicants must be considered for a job before foreign nationals.
This is not the entire story, Chairman. As we bring more official language minority immigrants into Canada, it's equally important that we make sure, once they get here, that they integrate into their new communities and that they succeed.
To that end, my ministry continues to focus on providing a variety of settlement services, including free language training, job search training, orientation services, mentorship programs, internship programs, and the like.
In fact, since 2006 our government has tripled settlement funding from about $200 million a year outside of Quebec, to $600 million this year. Quebec's funding is based on its own separate formula.
In recent years, we have significantly increased the number of settlement services in francophone minority communities. Between 2009 and 2012, we increased the number of points of service for French-speaking newcomers across Canada by almost 70%, from just over 100 to about 170. These are now located in 24 cities across Canada, outside Quebec.
Just recently, we released Welcome to Canada, a guide to help newcomers to settle in Canada. The French version of the guide can act as a map to help French-speaking immigrants settle in their new country, and can also act as a resource for communities welcoming French-speaking newcomers.
Moving forward, we remain focused on ensuring that we are serving the needs of newcomers and the communities that welcome them.
That is why, between 2008 and 2011, CIC funded more than 50 research projects focusing on access to support services for official language minority communities. This research has contributed to a better understanding of the needs of French-speaking newcomers and the challenges they face in integrating into their new communities.
I would like to pause for a minute here to point out that the federal government has a separate immigration arrangement with Quebec under the Canada-Quebec Accord. In theory, Quebec selects immigrants for that province and determines how settlement funding is distributed. I use the expression in theory because 90% of immigrants registered under Quebec's immigrant investor program settle elsewhere than Quebec, particularly in British Columbia. It would be useful to study the issue, because in our opinion it makes no sense for Quebec to be promoting an immigration program that allows permanent residents to immediately move to other provinces.
We work closely with the government of Quebec in immigration, as well as the issue of official language minorities.
The federal government has funded research that has helped us to define retention issues and the needs of English-speaking immigrants in Quebec. This research could improve the reception and integration of immigrants in official language minority communities across Canada.
Mr. Chairman, I know your committee is always looking out for the interests of official language minorities of both languages in all parts of the country. But when it comes to immigration, it gets a little tricky, because most of the power in immigration selection and settlement is devolved to the Government of Quebec. The question of attracting anglophone immigrants to Quebec or supporting them directly through settlement services is much more complex than it is in the rest of the country, where we make the selection choices and fund the services directly.
I'll start wrapping up, Mr. Chairman. The government recently unveiled a new road map for official languages. The road map identifies three pillars, with which you're very familiar. As the Prime Minister has said in the context of immigration, our official languages are a crucial anchor point between newcomers and established Canadians.
Under the Roadmap for Official Languages, the government will be investing $149.5 million in official language initiatives related to immigration over the next five years.
Extensive research consistently shows that official language ability is one of the most effective pathways to integration into Canadian society for immigrants to Canada. By this, I mean not only economic integration, but of course social and cultural integration.
Because of this, the government is committed to promoting the benefits of Canada's official languages and investing in language training for newcomers.
Mr. Chairman, in my remarks I have tried to give you an overview of some of our most recent initiatives in immigration, of how they relate to the Official Languages Act, and of the significant progress we have made in increasing the number of immigrants in official language minority communities. I admit that there is more work to do. We remain committed to further progress and look forward to your questions and suggestions in this respect.
Thank you very much.
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View Yvon Godin Profile
NDP (NB)
View Yvon Godin Profile
2013-06-13 15:46
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Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I would like to thank Minister Kenney for being with us today. The questions that will be asked during the coming discussion are very important. Knowing our colleague Mr. Kenney, we will surely obtain answers.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to let you know that motions have been tabled before the committee.
First of all, a motion has been tabled for a study to be conducted before September 30 about the closing of the Marine Rescue Sub-Centre in Quebec.
There is also another motion asking the committee to invite Ms. Donna Achimov, the CEO of the Translation Bureau, to appear before the committee between now and June 14 for a two-hour public and televised meeting about official languages in the public service.
A third motion proposes that the committee invite the Minister of Industry to speak with us about the Industry Canada report entitled Language of Work in Federally Regulated Private Businesses in Quebec not subject to the Official Languages Act. We plan to discuss the issue next Tuesday.
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View Yvon Godin Profile
NDP (NB)
View Yvon Godin Profile
2013-06-13 15:48
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We also have another motion which reads as follows:
That the Committee invite the Privy Council Office to appear for a two-hour meeting about official languages and the Governor in Council appointment process before June 1, 2013.
Mr. Gourde is saying that the government is in favour of this motion but that he would prefer waiting until the fall to debate it and that is what we will do. Does that suit you?
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View Yvon Godin Profile
NDP (NB)
View Yvon Godin Profile
2013-06-13 15:48
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Minister Kenney, I must confess that something has been bothering me a great deal recently. We have immigrants who come to Canada, but we also have temporary immigrants. I think you may already know what I am going to say. In your presentation, you said that Canadians should be the first to get jobs. Do you agree with that?
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
Pardon me.
Your question highlights a central issue, because immigrants do not come to Canada in order to obtain settlement services. They come here for economic opportunities. That is the main point. If we want to attract, for instance, francophone immigrants to New Brunswick, there have to be some jobs there.
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View Yvon Godin Profile
NDP (NB)
View Yvon Godin Profile
2013-06-13 15:49
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I do not believe that you have understood the meaning of my question. I will get straight to the point.
What happens when a company in Fort McMurray has gone through all of the applications submitted to the Human Resources Canada job bank but is still looking for a rigger with five years of experience? Think about it. Such a job requires 11 weeks of training, however, and in addition, this person must speak English. That is the case here. I can provide you with a copy of a document that I have with me. You said that this came under the purview of Human Resources Canada. The applicant must speak English and that is one of the hiring criteria. Then, if you keep reading the criteria, the other spoken language must be Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi or Spanish, and not French. And the job posting goes even further, then stipulating that the people in these positions don't even have to be able to speak English. I am talking about an isolated camp located two hours north of Fort McMurray. The company offers on-site housing and there is a work schedule of 14 continuous days followed by 7 days of leave.
Is that not against the law? Because when I asked you the question, you said that this came under Human Resources Canada. When I met with Minister Finley and asked her about this issue, she told me that that did not make sense.
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View Yvon Godin Profile
NDP (NB)
View Yvon Godin Profile
2013-06-13 15:51
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Are you the minister responsible for bringing immigrants to Canada when there are French-Canadians who are not able to go to Alberta to work because of the fact that temporary immigrant workers are being hired?
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
In order to answer your question, I need to know the date of the application. Did this occur last year? Are we talking about the past?
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View Yvon Godin Profile
NDP (NB)
View Yvon Godin Profile
2013-06-13 15:51
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I am talking about last year. So this took place a year ago.
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
This would have been legal at that time, but I am very pleased to highlight the fact that, last month, we announced that it would no longer be possible to indicate this obligation to speak non-official languages on the job notices in order to have access to the workforce.
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View Yvon Godin Profile
NDP (NB)
View Yvon Godin Profile
2013-06-13 15:51
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How could that be legal when the people in my region...
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
I'll say that it was a technical point, just to clarify—
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View Yvon Godin Profile
NDP (NB)
View Yvon Godin Profile
2013-06-13 15:52
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How could it be legal when people from my region have the training to work as riggers but do not get the job because they are francophone and do not speak English? When we have the skills here in Canada, how can it be legal to bring in foreign workers to do the jobs that Canadians should be doing?
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
I'll say it in English just because there are some technical terms here, but basically, Mr. Godin, just take yes for an answer. We changed the rules. We've made that illegal to do as of last month, so I know you'll be very happy with that.
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
We changed the rules last month. There can be no more language skill requirements in such job postings, except for Canada's two official languages.
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View Yvon Godin Profile
NDP (NB)
View Yvon Godin Profile
2013-06-13 15:52
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I have another question for the minister.
$120 million dollars has been earmarked for the new Roadmap. Earlier, you announced that $149.5 million had been allocated for the language training of economic immigrants. Your department already provides such training under the Immigrant Settlement and Adaptation Program for newcomers. Is this new money or is this money transferred by your department?
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
The money was not transferred but several departments are investing in the Roadmap. This is not new funding.
Mr. Sylvester, do you wish to add anything on this matter?
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Peter Sylvester
View Peter Sylvester Profile
Peter Sylvester
2013-06-13 15:53
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I will provide some clarification.
Of the $149.5 million, $22.5 million represented new funding.
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Peter Sylvester
View Peter Sylvester Profile
Peter Sylvester
2013-06-13 15:53
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$22.5 million, with $7 million in recurrent funding and, as well, $120 million in funding provided for language training.
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View Yvon Godin Profile
NDP (NB)
View Yvon Godin Profile
2013-06-13 15:54
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The Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages said that the Roadmap represented new funding, but that is not really the case. There is some new money, but not all of it is.
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Peter Sylvester
View Peter Sylvester Profile
Peter Sylvester
2013-06-13 15:54
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The total government contribution to the Roadmap was $1.1 billion. This amount, which was divided amongst 13 departments, included $266 million in new funding. This has been spread over five years.
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View Yvon Godin Profile
NDP (NB)
View Yvon Godin Profile
2013-06-13 15:54
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Minister Kenney, could you ask your officials to send the committee a table breaking down, per province, the amounts allocated to immigration under the former Roadmap and the one that has just been developed? I would like to know how much each province received and how much each one will receive.
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
I have all of this information here, in my notes, and we would be pleased to provide it to the committee.
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View Jacques Gourde Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I would like to thank Minister Kenney for being here with us today, despite his very heavy schedule.
In your presentation, you referred to the Expression of Interest system. Could you provide us with more details about this system?
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
Yes, certainly.
It is difficult to explain the system to people who are not familiar with our former immigration system. In all honesty, the system was broken. It was not functional. We had reached the point where more than a million applicants had been waiting in our immigration programs for more than eight years.
The economic situation of new Canadians had deteriorated over the past 40 years. The rate of unemployment amongst immigrants was twice as high as that of the general population. The rate of unemployment amongst immigrants with university degrees was four times higher than that of members of the general public with university degrees. The average income of new immigrants was lower than the average Canadian income.
Fundamental reform was therefore needed. Under the grid system, we attracted too many immigrants based on their human capital. These people arrived in Canada after waiting several years, but found themselves unemployed or underemployed.
With the concept of the new Expression of...
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Peter Sylvester
View Peter Sylvester Profile
Peter Sylvester
2013-06-13 15:57
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The Expression of Interest system.
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
The Expression of Interest system.
The purpose of this system is to match, to the extent possible, immigrants with employers. Indeed, our data showed us that immigrants who already had a job waiting for them when they arrived in Canada generated an income twice as high as those immigrants who arrived without an established job. New Zealand and Australia reformed their system, the idea being to create a pool.
We say “pool” in English, sorry. They're going to jump in the pool.
We talk about a pool of applicants. Using an online application process, these applicants indicate their skills, education, language skills, profession while specifying whether or not they are qualified. Should they meet the qualifications, we invite them to submit an official application. Over time, we will develop a pool of several hundreds of thousands of pre-qualified potential immigrants. The provinces, communities and employers can then go through this pool to find potential immigrants that they may need.
That means that Saskatchewan, through its Provincial Nominee Program, will have access to this pool to find francophone immigrants in order to strengthen communities such as Gravelbourg, for example. The idea is to match the provinces, employers and communities with potential immigrants so that we will have a more effective and cost-effective system for immigrants.
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View Jacques Gourde Profile
CPC (QC)
According to your forecasts, which provinces will be receiving the largest number of immigrants over the next 10 years?
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
I would say all of the provinces, with the exception of Ontario. Immigration rates have increased over the past few years, mainly because of the expansion of Provincial Nominee Programs. As I said, immigration rates have tripled in the three prairie provinces and doubled in the four Atlantic provinces. The rate has remained stable in British Columbia. Quebec has seen a slight increase but, given that it has the power to select its own applicants, we do not get involved. In Ontario, however, we have seen a reduction of approximately 24%. In my opinion, this is not a bad thing because, beforehand, this province received approximately 60% of the immigrants. This percentage has gone down to 45%, which is an appropriate percentage for Ontario with respect to the rest of Canada.
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View Jacques Gourde Profile
CPC (QC)
Do you have any statistics about the percentage of immigrants who say they are francophone but who are bilingual compared to the percentage of anglophone immigrants who can speak French? For instance, immigrants from France are francophone but they practically all speak English as well.
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
That is a good question. According to our definition, a francophone immigrant is somebody whose mother tongue or first official language is French, before English.
Do you wish to add anything to that, Mr. Sylvester?
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Peter Sylvester
View Peter Sylvester Profile
Peter Sylvester
2013-06-13 16:01
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Yes, that is in fact the definition, Minister.
Do you want some data on this topic, Mr. Gourde?
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View Jacques Gourde Profile
CPC (QC)
Yes, if that is possible, because in my opinion, the francophone immigrants who come from France nearly all speak English.
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Peter Sylvester
View Peter Sylvester Profile
Peter Sylvester
2013-06-13 16:01
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According to the 2011 census results, 10.3% of the immigrants who come to Canada are French-speaking. Outside of Quebec, this percentage is 2%. As an aside, in New Brunswick, the rate is 12%. So this is the province with the highest percentage of French-speaking immigrants.
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View Jacques Gourde Profile
CPC (QC)
Do these immigrants state that they are unilingual French or do they speak the two official languages?
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Peter Sylvester
View Peter Sylvester Profile
Peter Sylvester
2013-06-13 16:02
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It could be a combination of the two, but according to the definition, as the minister stated, these are immigrants whose mother tongue is French or immigrants whose mother tongue is a language other than English or French, but who choose French as the first official language.
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View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-06-13 16:02
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Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Kenney, I am replacing Mr. Stéphane Dion. I am going to quote a few of his comments that have appeared in the newspapers and I would invite you to respond.
First of all, I need to give you a little bit of background.
The new Roadmap indicates that your department intends to refocus its official languages activities in order to take the modernization of the immigration system into account. Here is a comment made by Mr. Dion on this issue:
There is always the danger that the Roadmap be used as a showcase enabling the Conservative government to hide its program cutbacks. We see an example of this with the use of part of its plan to finance another government objective, an objective other than the one to promote the vitality of our official language minority communities.
Do you have a response to this issue?
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
By the way, I am impressed by your proficiency in French, Mr. Casey. I did not know that you were bilingual.
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View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-06-13 16:03
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It is a big challenge. I started learning French immediately after the election.
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
Congratulations.
It's always funny when we anglophones are speaking French together.
Voices: Oh, oh!
Hon. Jason Kenney: I was under the impression that there were no reductions in the budgets. The Roadmap is indeed one of the federal government programs that was not really affected by this. That being said, I would say that the budget cutbacks were necessary. Generally speaking, this program did not have its budget reduced, although there were some small decreases.
For example, we have a budget of several million dollars to support the Destination Canada program, which involves promotion activities in Paris, Brussels, Tunis, etc. We eliminated the travel grants for provincial, municipal and non-government organizations. We said to ourselves that if they wanted to go to Paris, it was up to them—and not the Canadian taxpayers, to cover expenses. This was a reduction of approximately $400,000.
Would you like to add to that?
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Peter Sylvester
View Peter Sylvester Profile
Peter Sylvester
2013-06-13 16:05
Expand
Yes.
I would just like to complete the answer by saying that, indeed, there was probably some misunderstanding about the budget cutbacks. People were concerned we had some very good success this year with the 2012 edition.
As the minister stated, what we did cut was the money allocated for travel costs. The primary reason behind these cuts was that the employers who wish to attend this job fair, this opportunity to promote and recruit, had the means to pay for all of that. Looking ahead, with the new Roadmap, we are going to also build and even expand the Destination Canada program to include other locations where we can recruit.
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View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-06-13 16:06
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I want to focus in on the concern that this $120 million and the change in emphasis is going to result in teaching the official language of the majority to economic immigrants.
Mr. Minister, you know that this subject was raised at this committee by the Commissioner of Official Languages. He expressed concern that the road map had gone through a change of name, from being a road map for linguistic duality to being a road map for official languages. He shared Mr. Dion's concern that this is exactly what would happen. His concern was that this fund for official language training would end up being spent on something other than the promotion of linguistic duality.
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
I'll be absolutely blunt about this. Primarily what we're talking about with economic immigration federally is outside of Quebec. I'm not saying we're abandoning Quebec, but we have an agreement with them. They choose their own immigrants. We're talking primarily about francophone minority communities outside of Quebec. With the exception of the francophone refugees, whom we select and direct to live in certain francophone minority communities like Saint Boniface, the economic francophone immigrants who choose to go outside of Quebec, in almost all cases, are going to have some proficiency, if not fluency, in English.
Let me just put it to you this way: Good luck. You can be a francophone working in Winnipeg. That's wonderful. We want you to be there. We want you to support the francophone community, hopefully working for a francophone employer, but if you don't speak English living in Winnipeg, you're going to have a hard time. Let's face it.
I think we can almost take for granted that the francophone economic immigrants going outside of Quebec already have basic English. What we really want to do is help the non French-speaking immigrants outside of Quebec to learn French. They have these 170 points of service where they can go to learn French and get French services. They provide advice, counselling and whatnot to the francophone immigrants outside of Quebec. We're doing that as well.
I think we have to be practical about this. We're not going to turn the 250,000 immigrants we get every year into developing instant fluency in both official languages. We have to be a bit realistic about it.
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View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-06-13 16:09
Expand
If, as you say, we're being realistic and this isn't necessarily about linguistic duality, is the funding really aimed at majority language training as opposed to minority language training?
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
It's demand based. We don't aim it at English or French; we aim it at the official language the immigrants would like to learn. In most places outside of Quebec that happens to be English, although we are offering French services. I'll be honest. There's not a heck of a lot of demand in British Columbia for immigrants to learn French, but they can if they want to. We're offering it for free, and we encourage them to do it.
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View Royal Galipeau Profile
CPC (ON)
View Royal Galipeau Profile
2013-06-13 16:10
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Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I thank you, minister, for being here accompanied by your champions. I have witnessed Mr. Sylvester's work as champion for official languages in your department. I have also noted that you are a champion for official languages within government and I thank you for that.
I have noticed that, quite often, immigrants that are supposed to be French-speaking and are recruited by the Quebec immigration system get to Canada through Quebec and then end up in communities outside of Quebec. So, francophones have been recruited by the province of Quebec and end up in Toronto, leading to an increase in the number of francophones in Toronto. That is not a bad thing.
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View Royal Galipeau Profile
CPC (ON)
View Royal Galipeau Profile
2013-06-13 16:14
Expand
There are some in Calgary, but perhaps not as many in Fort McMurray.
The Roadmap for Canadian Linguistic Duality that your colleague, Minister James Moore, included in the 2013 Economic Action Plan is more or less equivalent or perhaps a bit more generous than the previous Roadmap. It is 40% more generous than the 2003 to 2008 Roadmap was.
This Roadmap for Linguistic Duality is now focused on immigration. How is this new focus expressed in Quebec within anglophone minority communities?
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
As I was saying, in the context of the Canada-Quebec Accord on immigration, we grant quite a bit of funding to Quebec for settlement services. This year, we are disbursing over $250 million to Quebec. Quebec has the power to decide about the way in which it wants to spend this money. In fact, it does not spend all of these amounts for settlement services. That is a problem.
Also, because of the agreement, we cannot directly support settlement services for minorities in anglophone communities.
That being said, we are aware of our responsibility towards anglophone communities in Quebec. That is the reason why we subsidize certain research projects for anglophone organizations in Quebec, to the tune of $500,000.
Under the agreement we cannot directly provide services for the settlement of anglophones in Quebec. However, we can support them a bit through these supplementary projects.
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View Royal Galipeau Profile
CPC (ON)
View Royal Galipeau Profile
2013-06-13 16:15
Expand
For over 40 years, throughout Canada, we have seeing evidence of federal funding transferred to provinces for linguistic duality being spent by the provinces for other purposes.
With respect to this agreement with the province of Quebec, is there a sunset clause?
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
Officially, according to the best available data, the Department of Immigration and Cultural Communities in Quebec spends approximately $110 million per year on settlement services. However, I think that this year we are granting $260 million to the province.
Actually, the Government of Quebec has never been very clear on the way in which it makes use of this money.
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View Royal Galipeau Profile
CPC (ON)
View Royal Galipeau Profile
2013-06-13 16:15
Expand
These transfers exist because there is a Canada-Quebec agreement. What I'm asking is, does that agreement have a sunset?
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
No, it does not. In fact there is an escalator clause in the agreement for the federal transfers for settlement services in Quebec that can never go down, but always goes up. Consequently, I think when the agreement started they were at about $90 million circa 1991, and they're now at over a quarter of a billion dollars. Notionally, the Government of Quebec has the responsibility to report on how those funds are spent, but in practice there's very little information that's furnished.
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
I actually intend, Mr. Galipeau, to write the minister, my counterpart in Quebec, shortly to raise some concerns that we have around some of these issues.
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View Corneliu Chisu Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and thank you very much, Minister, for your great presentation. I appreciated it very much.
Actually, more than your presentation, I appreciate what you are doing for the immigration system in Canada. Why am I telling you this? In 1976, the year that I decided to immigrate to Canada, I didn't have any information and the consular officer at immigration told me, “You go to Toronto,” but I wanted to go to Calgary or Edmonton. Anyway, here I am, so thank you.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Corneliu Chisu: One thing that is very important is the combination of the immigrants and the jobs that you are proposing and promoting. This is a very important thing, because an immigrant is coming from outside Canada and they cannot come to Canada after someone tells them, “Oh, you'll find a job”. You are doing a service for the immigrant and also for Canadians. You are dealing with an issue and turning it into a win-win situation for both. You are applying the skills the immigrant has in areas where they're necessary in Canada.
You also were mentioning in your presentation that the provincial nominee program increased by 500%. How does this benefit the immigrants recruited by the provinces? They will stay in the provinces, but this means that they will also be served in the minority language communities. It is very important that they are not using the immigration system and then going to Toronto or somewhere else. That is happening. I can tell you that a lot of people from the Romanian community used the Quebec immigration system to come here after being all over the place and then they ended up in Toronto.
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
The answer is that retention of immigrants who are nominated by provinces in their provincial nominee programs is pretty good. It's very high in the west. It's over 95% in Alberta. It's lower in Atlantic Canada, where it's more in the range of 65% to 80%, depending on the eastern province. Those provinces are working on strategies to do a better job of retaining those immigrants.
In the short term we're seeing better economic outcomes for immigrants selected through the provincial nominee programs because many of them are actually selected by employers. The employer sees someone whose skills they need. They can't find those skills in the Canadian labour market, so they nominate someone from abroad who they've identified, who maybe is already working in Canada on a work permit, which very frequently happens, and then that person gets permanent residency. We are finding in the short term very strong incomes among those provincial nominees, again because of the pre-arranged employment factor for most of them.
However, I add a caveat. In the longer term, the federal skilled worker point grid immigrants overtake them in terms of income. The federal skilled workers have lower incomes in the short term, but higher in the long run, because typically you're talking about the federal skilled workers being better educated and they have what we call more flexible human capital. They might come and work as a cab driver, as our colleague Devinder Shory did for the first two or three years he was here. When their degree gets recognized, they move up into a professional category. Whereas your typical provincial nominee would be a skilled tradesperson who maybe has a very good job as a carpenter in Manitoba earning $60,000. They're doing well, but they don't have the same growth in income in the long term.
Anyway the provincial nominee program is working pretty well. Some of the problems were it got a bit loose on the criteria and started getting into extended family reunification. We had a gong show in Saskatchewan where one Pakistani family had nominated 29 people under their extended family reunification program, many of whom couldn't speak any English. We've worked with the provinces to shut down some of those abusive streams and to focus much more on their economic needs.
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View Corneliu Chisu Profile
CPC (ON)
My second question is a very short question.
We have these immigrants coming to Canada and they are proficient in one of the official languages. How are we making them speak both official languages? What can we do to make them proficient in both official languages? Our goal is to have a fully bilingual country.
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
Yes.
First of all, in the points grid for the federal skilled workers, if they have proficiency in both English and French, they get bonus points, which gets them closer to being selected.
Second, as I mentioned, we are offering services, including free language classes, in both official languages all across the country. Yes, in an ideal utopian world, they would all have proficiency in both English and French, but let me be honest: many immigrants are struggling to master their first Canadian official language. I'm not going to criticize them for focusing on the local dominant language. I'm not going to criticize a Chinese immigrant in Vancouver for taking English language lessons. Chances are they might send their kids to French immersion, and maybe later in life they'll make an effort to learn French. We encourage them to do that and the services are there, but mastering one official language is the most important thing for their economic success in Canada.
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View Pierre Dionne Labelle Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Good day ladies and gentlemen.
I must admit I am somewhat surprised, today, to hear the minister's comments. I came to this meeting expecting to hear about the Immigration Department's record and I have heard very harsh comments regarding Quebec. I am wondering if the Conservative government is questioning the immigration agreement with Quebec.
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View Pierre Dionne Labelle Profile
NDP (QC)
You know full well that is a word that has become a cliché.
Last year, out of 200,000 immigrants, you were pleased to have reached the 1.8% target. Is that correct?
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View Pierre Dionne Labelle Profile
NDP (QC)
Yes, that is right.
I was looking at the decline in the mother tongue population of New Brunswick. Two per cent out of 200,000, representing approximately 3,600 people. Is that the case?
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View Pierre Dionne Labelle Profile
NDP (QC)
Two per cent of 200,000 is equivalent to approximately 3,600 people.
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View Pierre Dionne Labelle Profile
NDP (QC)
Since 2001, the decline in the number of individuals with French as a mother tongue in New Brunswick amounts to that number.
We do not know if these 3,600 people end up in francophone communities. Do you have data on that?
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
I have data indicating that in 2004, for instance, 68 francophone immigrants settled in New Brunswick compared to last year when 182 francophone immigrants settled there. That means a tripling in the number of francophone immigrants settled in New Brunswick since our government took office.
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View Pierre Dionne Labelle Profile
NDP (QC)
With respect to the actual decline in the number of people with French as a mother tongue, which has been approximately 3,500 in 10 years, and considering the fact that there are 182 new francophones—and I am only referring to the situation in New Brunswick here—the official language minority community is still experiencing grave difficulties. Are the targets you proposed sufficient to reverse the trend and ensure that French, relative to general demographic growth, remains at the same ratio in the coming years?
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Chairman, I am not aware of demographic figures for francophones in New Brunswick. I am the Minister of Immigration and, as such, I can tell you that we have seen a tripling in the number of francophone immigrants settling in New Brunswick since the current government took office. We are heading in the right direction and I hope we will continue to see an increase. That is our goal. We should not be ignoring the fact that things are headed in the right direction.
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View Pierre Dionne Labelle Profile
NDP (QC)
In your report on Plans and Priorities tabled in Parliament, francophone immigration was not indicated as being a priority. Why?
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