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View Laurie Hawn Profile
CPC (AB)
Okay.
I want to talk about the purpose clause for a bit. That's been a sticking point, because it was, as you said, omitted for whatever reason when the legislation came into effect in 2006. But in de facto terms, has not every government of every stripe since 1917 tried to live up to that clause, whether written or not? In my view, every government—Liberal, Conservative, it doesn't matter—has tried to do the best they can.
I mean, the clause is nice. If it gives people comfort, that's great; it makes it more clear, more specific. But de facto, have governments not been trying to live up to that forever, basically?
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View Rona Ambrose Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and thank you to the committee. I want to thank all of you for the work you do on the health committee. I know many of you are passionate about the issues of health, and I thank you for your commitment to that.
I'm joined by Simon Kennedy, Health Canada's new deputy minister; Krista Outhwaite, our newly appointed president of the Public Health Agency of Canada; and Dr. Gregory Taylor, whom you've met before, Canada's chief public health officer. I know he'll be here for the second half. You might want to ask him about his trip to Guinea and Sierra Leone to visit our troops and others who are working on the front dealing with Ebola. I'm sure he'll have some great things to share with you.
Michel Perron is here on behalf of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. He's also new. Last time I know you met Dr. Alain Beaudet.
We also have Dr. Bruce Archibald, who's the president of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. I think you've met Bruce as well.
Mr. Chair, I'd like to start by sharing an update on some of the key issues that we've been working on recently. I'll begin by talking about Canada's health care system, the pressures it's facing, and the opportunities for improvement through innovation. I will then highlight some recent activities on priority issues such as family violence and the safety of drugs in food.
According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, Canada spent around $215 billion on health care just in 2014. Provinces and territories, which are responsible for the delivery of health care to Canadians, are working very hard to ensure their systems continue to meet the needs of Canadians, but with an aging population, chronic disease, and economic uncertainty, the job of financing and delivering quality care is not getting easier.
Our government continues to be a strong partner for the provinces and territories when it comes to record transfer dollars. Since 2006, federal health transfers have increased by almost 70% and are on track to increase from $34 billion this year to more than $40 billion annually by the end of the decade—an all-time high.
This ongoing federal investment in healthcare is providing provinces and territories with the financial predictability and flexibility they need to respond to the priorities and pressures within their jurisdictions.
In addition of course, federal support for health research through the CIHR as well as targeted investments in areas such as mental health, cancer prevention, and patient safety are helping to improve the accessibility and quality of health care for Canadians.
But to build on the record transfers and the targeted investments I just mentioned, we're also taking a number of other measures to improve the health of Canadians and reduce pressure on the health care system. To date we've leveraged over $27 million in private sector investments to advance healthy living partnerships. I'm very pleased with the momentum we've seen across Canada.
Last year we launched the play exchange, in collaboration with Canadian Tire, LIFT Philanthropy Partners, and the CBC, to find the best ideas that would encourage Canadians to live healthier and active lives. We announced the winning idea in January: the Canadian Cancer Society of Quebec and their idea called “trottibus”, which is a walking school bus. This is an innovative program that gives elementary schoolchildren a safe and fun way to get to school while being active. Trottibus is going to receive $1 million in funding from the federal government to launch their great idea across the country.
Other social innovation projects are encouraging all children to get active early in life so that we can make some real headway in terms of preventing chronic diseases, obesity, and other health issues. We're also supporting health care innovation through investments from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. In fact our government now is the single-largest contributor to health research in Canada, investing roughly $1 billion every year.
Since its launch in 2011, the strategy for patient-oriented research has been working to bring improvements from the latest research straight to the bedsides of patients. I was pleased to see that budget 2015 provided additional funds so that we can build on this success, including an important partnership with the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement.
Canadians benefit from a health system that provides access to high-quality care and supports good health outcomes, but we can't afford to be complacent in the face of an aging society, changing technology, and new economic and fiscal realities. That is why we have been committed to supporting innovation that improves the quality and affordability of health care.
As you know, the advisory panel on health care innovation that I launched last June has spent the last 10 months exploring the top areas of innovation in Canada and abroad with the goal of identifying how the federal government can support those ideas that hold the greatest promise. The panel has now met with more than 500 individuals including patients, families, business leaders, economists, and researchers. As we speak, the panel is busy analyzing what they've heard, and I look forward to receiving their final report in June.
I'd also like to talk about another issue. It's one that does not receive the attention that it deserves as a pressing public health concern, and that's family violence. Family violence has undeniable impacts on the health of the women, children, and even men, who are victimized. There are also very significant impacts on our health care and justice systems.
Family violence can lead to chronic pain and disease, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, self-harm, and many other serious and lifelong afflictions for its victims. That's why this past winter I was pleased to announce a federal investment of $100 million over 10 years to help address family violence and support the health of victims of violence. This investment will support health professionals and community organizations in improving the physical and mental health of victims of violence, and help stop intergenerational cycles of violence.
In addition to our efforts to address family violence and support innovation to improve the sustainability of the health care system, we have made significant progress on a number of key drug safety issues. Canadians want and deserve to depend on and trust the care they receive. To that end, I'd like to thank the committee for its thoughtful study of our government's signature patient safety legislation, Vanessa's Law. Building on the consultations that we held with Canadians prior to its introduction, this committee's careful review of Vanessa's Law, including the helpful amendments that were brought forward by MP Young, served to strengthen the bill and will improve the transparency that Canadians expect.
Vanessa's Law, as you know, introduces the most significant improvements to drug safety in Canada in more than 50 years. It allows me, as minister, to recall unsafe drugs and to impose tough new penalties, including jail time and fines up to $5 million per day, instead of what is the current $5,000 a day. It also compels drug companies to do further testing and revise labels in plain language to clearly reflect health risk information, including updates for health warnings for children. It will also enhance surveillance by requiring mandatory adverse drug reaction reporting by health care institutions, and requires new transparency for Health Canada's regulatory decisions about drug approvals.
To ensure the new transparency powers are providing the kind of information that Canadian families and researchers are looking for, we've also just launched further consultations asking about the types of information that are most useful to improve drug safety. Beyond the improvements in Vanessa's Law, we're making great progress and increasing transparency through Health Canada's regulatory transparency and openness framework. In addition to posting summaries of drug safety reviews that patients and medical professionals can use to make informed decisions, we are now also publishing more detailed inspection information on companies and facilities that make drugs. This includes inspection dates, licence status, types of risks observed, and measures that are taken by Health Canada. Patients can also check Health Canada's clinical trials database to determine if a trial they are interested in has met regulatory requirements.
Another priority of mine is tackling the issue of drug abuse and addiction in Canada. There's no question that addiction to dangerous drugs has a devastating and widespread impact on Canadian families and communities. In line with recommendations from this committee, I am pleased that the marketing campaign launched last fall by Health Canada is helping parents talk with their teenagers about the dangers of smoking marijuana and prescription drug abuse. The campaign addresses both of those things, because too many of our young people are abusing drugs that are meant to heal them.
Our government also recognizes that those struggling with drug addictions need help to recover a drug-free life. From a federal perspective, of course, we provide assistance for prevention and treatment projects under our national anti-drug strategy. We've now committed over $44 million to expand the strategy to include prescription drug abuse and are continuing to work with the provinces to improve drug treatment.
I've now met and will continue to meet with physicians, pharmacists, first nations, law enforcement, addictions specialists, medical experts, and of course parents to discuss how we can collectively tackle prescription drug abuse.
Finally, our government continues to make very real investments to strengthen our food safety system. As only the latest example, I recently announced a five-year investment of more than $30 million in the CFIA's new food safety information network. Through this modern network, food safety experts will be better connected, and laboratories will be able to share urgently needed surveillance information and food safety data, using a secure web platform. This will put us in an even better position to protect Canadians from food safety risk by improving our ability to actually anticipate, detect, and then effectively deal with food safety issues. This investment will continue to build on the record levels of funding we've already provided, as well as the improved powers such as tougher penalties, enhanced controls on E. coli, new meat labelling requirements, and improved inspection oversight.
In conclusion, those are just some of the priorities that will be supported through the funding our government has allocated to the Health portfolio. This year's main estimates, notably, include investments for first nations health, for our ongoing contribution to the international response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and the key research and food safety investments that I have already mentioned.
I'll leave it at that. If committee members have any questions, my officials and I would be very pleased to answer them. Thank you.
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View Chris Warkentin Profile
CPC (AB)
View Chris Warkentin Profile
2015-03-12 11:46
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Thank you, Mr. Martin. I appreciate that.
It is clear to me, based on what the clerk said, that that there was some confusion about the invitation. We are very confident in the ability of Mr. Friday, and I'm certain that when he does come before this committee we will all be satisfied that he has conducted and will continue—
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View Chris Warkentin Profile
CPC (AB)
View Chris Warkentin Profile
2015-03-12 11:54
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Yes.
This is getting absolutely ridiculous, to impugn motive without having heard from the interim commissioner. It's absolutely unfortunate and certainly below the office to which the member opposite has been called.
We expect and look forward to hearing from the commissioner, but this has turned into a bit of an unfortunate circumstance. We'll be voting against it, but we look forward to hearing from the commissioner in due course.
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View Chris Warkentin Profile
CPC (AB)
View Chris Warkentin Profile
2015-03-10 16:14
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Minister, thank you so much for being here. We appreciate the fact that you and your officials have made yourselves available to spend this next little while with us.
I was reading a national columnist this last week, and there was an expression of concern about the estimates process and the ability of the average Canadian and possibly of parliamentarians to understand it. Certainly he, as a member of the media, was confused by the estimates process. I think it's important for people watching this and for those who don't fully understand the estimates process that you explain in general terms how Canadians should look at the estimates. Maybe you can also explain some of the things that have been done to help people understand the estimates and some of the recent things that have happened.
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View James Rajotte Profile
CPC (AB)
View James Rajotte Profile
2014-11-03 17:10
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Okay, thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Adler.
I'm going to take the next few minutes here, as the chair.
The issue of access to information was raised, responsiveness of various departments. You mentioned that some departments are better than others. Which are the best departments and which are the worst ones?
Voices: Oh, oh!
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View Blaine Calkins Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blaine Calkins Profile
2013-11-28 9:37
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Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Minister, for being here today. It's quite enlightening to hear what the government has planned going forward with the legislative agenda. I know that my colleagues and I are looking forward to having that legislation come to this committee.
Minister, you've been here a little longer than I have been here, and I have been here for quite a while now. I'm looking at the estimates—we go through this exercise quite frequently—and I notice that there are changes made in the preparation of the main and supplementary estimates. Basically it looks as if there's more information available. It's provided in a more usable format, and it's easier to read.
I'll give you an example. In both the published books and the online tables, various departments and agencies are presented alphabetically according to the legal name of the department or agency. It makes it easier to find the organizations, and so on.
I was wondering if you could enlighten us as parliamentarians here at the table on the importance of making these estimates not only more understandable for the general public, but also for the work that we do here as parliamentarians. I think this is an ongoing theme of openness and transparency that we've established here through various other mechanisms as well. Could you explain how this fits into that context?
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View Linda Duncan Profile
NDP (AB)
Thank you.
Just at the outset, I would like to say that I'm not going to dwell on the particular issue, the particular employee that Mr. Regan spoke to, but I do want to raise with the minister—he doesn't have to worry about responding, but he could—the concern about ministerial responsibility, and perhaps a word for the wise, given a recent court decision in Alberta about ministerial accountability for the conduct of senior staff.
In that case, the court ruled that the energy regulator had erred in law because senior officials had suggested behind the scenes that witnesses on energy projects shouldn't be heard if they were opposed to such energy projects. It goes to the conduct of officials, so it would be our understanding.... It's a big theme over the last year on what's going on in the House about ministerial accountability for what goes on in staff, so probably all ministers should be taking heed of that recent court decision.
My first question, Mr. Minister, goes to vote 1b and more dollars—$750,000 essentially—being spent to “streamline...import regulations border processes for...trade”. I'm raising a concern on that because it is actually a violation of both NAFTA and the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation for any of the parties to that agreement, which of course includes Canada, to downgrade environmental measures for any kind of economic benefit.
I had the privilege at working at the NAFTA environment commission. At that time, there was a big issue of fuel cocktailing, and there was an issue of a lot of illegal trade in endangered species and so forth, so we were trying to step up inspections at the border. Since then, there's a big push to fast-track movement at the border. I wonder if you could explain what you mean by “streamline”. Does that mean to deregulate and downgrade at the border any inspections for environmental reasons?
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View James Rajotte Profile
CPC (AB)
View James Rajotte Profile
2013-11-25 20:28
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Okay.
I'm going to take the final round here, as the chair.
I just want to clarify the process. We are discussing the overall bill, but this panel is largely focused on part 3 of the bill, division 1, which discusses employment insurance, EI hiring credit, EI premium rate, EI fishing regulations. All the questions with respect to EI are completely germane to this division of the bill.
I want to address a larger part of the process. The full briefing given by the Department of Finance is now online, thanks to this committee's work. We're one of the committees that does everything online. We're a very open committee. You can in fact go to our website and see every single study or every single witness who has ever presented on any pre-budget thing.
In regard to this bill: part 1, measures related to income tax; part 2, the Excise Tax Act; part 3, you have employment insurance, financial institutions—two sections on that. It's true, you have the Canada Labour Code, the reorganization of certain crown corporations, the Financial Administration Act, and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act.
But I'd like to take it back to the process. This is the second Budget Implementation Act. The government presents the budget in February or March of each year, following up with one act in the spring and one act in the fall. But the start of this process is actually the pre-budget consultations at this committee.
Ms. Yalnizyan, I'm going to ask you the questions I ask my political opponents. We get submissions on every single topic at this committee every summer and fall. So if we don't want sections on environment or labour in the budget bills, and that's in the budget, do we as a finance committee say no to people who want to present on the environment, on labour, on immigration?
We take submissions at the pre-budget consultations on everything. We accept submissions on everything. The budget is the largest document each year and the budget act is to implement that. So if we're not going to allow it at the Budget Implementation Act process, we should probably cut it out of the pre-budget consultations. I'll tell you, if I did that as the chair, I wouldn't be a very popular person in this country.
Can you respond to that?
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2013-11-21 12:47
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Thank you, Mr. Chair.
It's good to have you both back.
As you know, I come from Alberta, and we have a saying, “All hat and no cattle”. That is a saying that I think could very aptly apply to the NDP when it comes to transparency—“All talk, no action”. Certainly we're hearing all this talk today about things on their website. Well, it's disclosure that of course Parliament provides. On Mr. Julian's website, for example, it's buried way down at the bottom. When you look at the actions we're taking and the Liberals are taking, there's certainly proactive disclosure. I just wanted to point that out, that there is some level of transparency that comes with that, in terms of disclosing your travel and hospitality on a line-by-line basis. Hopefully, we'll bring them into that at some point. They seem quite reluctant for some reason.
I want to continue my questioning in relation to expenses. My questions will be mainly for you, Mr. Watters, but, Ms. O'Brien, if there's something you feel you can add, please do.
Mr. Julian had a question about a new independent agency, something like an IPSA, which, as we heard from the IPSA officials themselves, actually works quite a bit like the Board of Internal Economy that currently exists. I believe 21 employees are responsible for adjudicating the claims put in by members of Parliament. You indicated that essentially, if something like that were created, those individuals would just have to move over and basically replicate what they do now under a different organization.
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2013-11-21 12:49
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I take it from that comment that you essentially feel that what's being done now is quite sufficient, in terms of combing through the expense claims that are put in, that you feel they're being adjudicated in a fulsome way and that the process is quite sufficient as it exists now.
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2013-11-21 12:50
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The bottom line has to do with the kinds of things we've seen with the four senators who have had a lot of publicity recently based on some of the inappropriate expense claims that were made. IPSA was created in the U.K. as a result of some significant concerns that arose with some of the expenses being claimed by members there. I would assume you would feel that with the process we have, there's really no way we could see.... I know there are no guarantees in life, but there's really no way we could see, given the magnitude of expenses.... I suppose there is always the odd thing that could slip through, but we wouldn't see those kinds of things happening in our House of Commons because of the way our expense claims are adjudicated currently. Is that fair?
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2013-11-20 19:50
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Thanks, Mr. Chair.
I sympathize, because that happened to me the other day, so I know how it feels. But unfortunately, it's my opportunity now, and I appreciate that.
I want to go back to Speaker Milliken and some of the comments you were making earlier. You were talking about there having been a number of cases—and I can't remember the number you said, but it wasn't a large number—in which you had to look at a member's expense claim when they were questioning the decision that had been made about their expenses.
How often did that occur? Would it be something that—
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2013-11-20 19:53
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Something in that neighbourhood? Maybe a few times a year.
Maybe I'll ask Mr. Fraser if he recalls during his time as well. Can you give us some examples, obviously without giving personal information or people's names, of what type of thing that would have been? Would it generally have been something where they just weren't able to provide documentation, or was it something where there was a rule that was in place and maybe in an instance where the rule itself just didn't make common sense in the situation?
I know I can think of one, and I don't think it went to the Board of Internal Economy for me, where there was a snowstorm. I think it's 100 kilometres to be able to claim a hotel room in your riding and I was 88 kilometres from home and in a terrible snowstorm. I would have been leaving there at 10 p.m. and having to be back there at 7 a.m. the next day in the same community, so I was able to have an exception made. It was actually a cheaper thing to do, the hotel room, than the mileage anyway.
Was it more something like that, where common sense kind of dictated that the rule needed to be bent in that case, or was it lack of documentation? What would it have been?
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2013-11-20 19:53
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Sure.
Speaker Fraser, basically the same two questions: how often did you see those kinds of things come forward, and can you give us any examples, or maybe just even a broad generalization of what types of things they may have been that would have come before you in terms of members looking at their expenses and questioning the decision that was made by the staff of the board?
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2013-11-20 20:54
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Thank you, Mr. Chair.
It has been brought up a couple of times, but I want to go back to something that has been discussed a little bit previously and ask you a couple of direct questions in regard to it.
It has been noted already during the meeting that both our party, the Conservative Party, the government, and the Liberal Party are currently moving toward posting more proactive disclosure—our hospitality, our travel expenses in line-item type status—so there's an ability to see where an MP has travelled, what was spent on that travel, hospitality type of expenses.
I guess I would want to ask you, looking at something like that, would you see that as a move toward greater transparency, and would you see that as a positive step?
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2013-11-20 20:55
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Okay.
If something like that were to be made mandatory so that all parties would be doing it, we'd have to obviously drag the NDP kind of kicking and screaming toward it. Despite their protestations otherwise, certainly there's no question that actions speak louder than words. They talk a little bit about accountability and transparency over there, but we in our government live that, we embody it. You look at our record and it's a move toward things like the Accountability Act, that kind of move. We're trying to bring them kicking and screaming toward that transparency.
If something like that were to be made mandatory, so that all parties were doing it and it was a mandatory system, would that be something you would see as an improvement, something that would be greater transparency and something that journalists would appreciate?
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2013-11-20 20:56
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Absolutely. Okay. Well, I appreciate that. Thank you very much for that, and I hope that we can bring them into that—
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2013-11-20 20:56
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I understand. Of course you have to be non-partisan, and of course you wouldn't want to endorse that, but certainly we would have to do that. We'd have to bring them kicking and screaming, and we hope to do that.
An hon. member: [Inaudible—Editor]
Mr. Blake Richards: Well, as I've said, to talk about something is one thing and to show action, like we've done, is another. Now—
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2013-11-20 20:57
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I just want to move towards the board minutes—
An hon. member: You had your turn.
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2013-11-20 20:57
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Thanks, Mr. Chair.
You talked about the board minutes themselves.
Obviously they are now being posted and you are able to see some of the decisions that have been made by the board. As a journalist yourself, have you read those minutes? Are they something that you look at on a regular basis? Have you looked at them once or twice...?
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2013-11-20 20:58
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Okay. Now having done that, when you look at those decisions.... Try to be conservative in your estimate, I guess, but when you look at those decisions and you try to imagine what led to those decisions and the discussion, in trying to picture what may have been in camera types of discussions to arrive at certain decisions, what would you see—
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2013-11-19 11:50
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Thanks, Mr. Chair.
This is an important topic we're discussing today, no question. Obviously transparency and accountability are very important topics. That's why we as a Conservative government have chosen to voluntarily disclose some of our expenses. Give credit to the Liberal Party for that as well. It's unfortunate that not all parties have followed that lead, but certainly it is important that we do look at this.
Having said that, I have some information here from when we heard from the clerk, Audrey O'Brien, about the current system. I just want to just go through that.
You talked about the 98.5% compliance that you saw. I know you've had a number of questions about this already, and have certainly indicated that it seems to compare quite favourably with other corporate audits or those kind of things that you've been a part of.
Having said that, Ms. O'Brien indicated to us that 21 staff are involved now in adjudicating members' expense claims, which seems to be a significant amount of resources put towards that to ensure it's done right and done thoroughly. She indicated that there were about 70,000 member payments on average in the fiscal year, and that in an average year, they also received about 20,000 calls or e-mails from members' offices. It obviously indicates there is a concerted effort on the part of members, or I'm sure at least the vast majority of members, to ensure that they're complying and that they're being thorough and doing a good job of reporting the expenses as they should be reported.
She also indicated that 4,365 regret letters were sent on average in a year to members advising about some modification that was made to an amount claimed, which obviously indicates they're doing a pretty thorough job of examining those claims.
I'll use myself as an example. Certainly we are very diligent. I have a great staff member who has a lot experience on the Hill who's very helpful in making sure my claims are done right. Of course, I'm also accused by my staff of being a bit of a micro-manager. I always ensure that I've combed through them thoroughly myself as well.
One thing I will admit is that my signature is fairly erratic, and it doesn't often look the same from one day to the next. A number of times they've come back and questioned the signature to verify that it was in fact mine. Clearly that tells me they are looking quite thoroughly at these documents, and that's a really good thing to know. It gives me comfort, certainly, to know that the job is being done as thoroughly as it is.
Let me use one other example from my own experience. I recall that one time an item that had cost $20 or $25—I can't remember the exact amount—had been purchased as a gift for an official visit I was making to a first nation. I guess the receipt that accompanied it didn't give sufficient detail from the store it was purchased from on what exactly it was, so that was brought back to me.
Now, I'm assuming that probably in many instances, among the 4,365 letters, it would be something of that nature. I'm wondering, from your look at things.... You mentioned the 98.5%. So in that 1.5%, would it have generally been that kind of thing? You indicated insufficient documentation and that kind of thing. I'm assuming you wouldn't have discovered anything that would be of the magnitude of some of the things we've seen in the Senate.
I guess the first question is—
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2013-11-07 11:55
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Thank you very much.
Mr. Walsh, I think I understood this in your presentation and in response to some of the questions you were asked, but I wanted to clarify. Obviously you made a proposal of some suggestions that you felt would be helpful in terms of the Board of Internal Economy improving its operations. I think I also understood, in that you felt it.... In the premise of the motion that created this study we're undertaking is an idea that the Board of Internal Economy would be looked at as being replaced by some kind of outside body. My understanding, I believe, from what you were saying is that you don't really feel that an outside body is a wise idea to contemplate. Is that a correct characterization of your comments?
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2013-11-07 11:56
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One of the suggestions you had was this idea of members of the public...but you suggested that you felt they should be people who had an elected office previously. I assume the rationale behind that was looking to take some of the partisanship out of the board.
If you would give me a yes or no answer to that question first, then I will proceed.
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2013-11-07 11:57
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Okay.
You may have addressed what I was getting at there. I wondered about them having elected office. You were indicating that it could have been a municipal office or a school board. I wondered. Obviously, with anyone who has sat in this parliament or in any of the provincial legislatures, there'd most likely be some level of partisanship.
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2013-11-07 11:58
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I appreciate your clarifying that.
I understand that when you were law clerk from, I believe, 1999 to 2012—I do remember that you appeared before some committees that I sat on during my time in Parliament, certainly—you did sit in on meetings of the Board of Internal Economy during that time. Would you have regularly attended the Board of Internal Economy? Would your appearance there have been when there were specific legal matters, in that role of providing legal advice on legal matters? Would that have been the reason for you attending, or did you regularly attend?
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2013-11-07 11:59
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So you were quite often at the meetings. In terms of the meetings the board would have held in that time, what would you say the percentage of the meetings you would have attended would have been on those types of matters, roughly?
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2013-11-07 11:59
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If you averaged it out over that 13-year span, what would you say it was?
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2013-11-07 11:59
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Fifty per cent of the time...?
Often when you were there, I assume those would have been matters that then likely would not have been able to be dealt with in public meetings, that they would have been in camera types of meetings. You're suggesting that with the two subcommittees, they would probably be matters that would generally be held in camera in those subcommittee meetings, if it were to move to that model. Am I understanding that?
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View Devinder Shory Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
My thanks to you, Mr. Verheul, and your team for coming here today. I understand you are not here in a political role. It is so unfortunate that I have to make this comment, that on the one hand, 80% of Canadians, according to an Ipsos poll, support the Canada-EU trade agreement, but on the other hand, everybody knows the NDP is anti-trade. They have never supported any trade. They have already said that it will be the worst trade agreement, that we have sold out our lumber and all kinds of things. They have been asking for the text now, and they have never asked for it before.
Is there enough information out upon which to base a decision on whether to support it or to oppose it?
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2013-11-05 12:34
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Thank you.
I have a few questions for both Ms. O'Brien and Mr. Watters. I'm sure we won't get to them all, but we'll get to as many as we can.
I do certainly think when we're looking at changing something or replacing something as this motion contemplates, it's always best to start from the point of view of looking at what is being done currently, and how or if it's working or not working, and certainly having the two of you here is very helpful to us as a starting point in that. That's very much appreciated.
With that in mind, I think I'll first pick up on the line of questioning that Mr. Julian was undertaking in his initial part of his time, in relation to the consensus on the board.
Ms. O'Brien, you indicated that you could recall at least one occasion when that wasn't able to be arrived at so a vote had to be taken. I cannot imagine, but I would like to ask if you could imagine any other way, if consensus could not be reached, that a decision could be made. In that instance is there any mechanism through which to make a decision other than a vote?
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2013-11-05 12:35
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I know you also indicated in your presentation some of the recent changes that have taken place in the way the board operates. One of them was the posting of the minutes.
I'm wondering if you have kept any stats on how many people are clicking on that page to see those minutes, and if they were unique hits or whether we're seeing.... Obviously you can imagine that within the Parliamentary Press Gallery or the research staff we have here on the Hill, inside the bubble, people would probably be clicking on it quite frequently.
Are there any stats that have been taken on this to help us understand...?
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2013-11-05 12:36
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The next question is if the board were to be replaced by some kind of an arm's-length organization, do you have any idea how something like that might look or function? Also, if you've done any of that kind of work or research, has the House of Commons done any estimates on what it might cost to replace the Board of Internal Economy with an outside body?
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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 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 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 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 Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
I'll say that it was a technical point, just to clarify—
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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 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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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 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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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 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 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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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 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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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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
Francophone immigration is always included within our publications and our objectives. The plan to increase francophone immigration outside of Quebec to 4.4% remains an important goal in all of our planning.
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
In theory, yes, but the government does not decide how many immigrants come from a given country. We do not have a per country quota. Our system responds to those who apply for citizenship. So, if more francophone immigrants coming from francophone countries make applications, we will see an increase.
The important point with respect to Destination Canada is that it is the only program formally subsidized by my department that has targeted promotional activities throughout the world. This program is specifically offered to francophone immigrants.
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
That's a factor. It certainly played a role. I think it's primarily attributable, frankly, to our decision to reduce the number of immigrants selected according to the federal skilled worker program and shift those positions, as it were, over to the provincial nominee programs.
Basically, Mr. Chairman, the provincial nominee program was a tiny pilot project about seven or eight years ago. There were only a couple of thousand people arriving in that program. It was started mainly in Manitoba, but then other provinces started to see this as a very valuable tool where they could work with employers to select qualified immigrants. The western and Atlantic provinces got quite excited about this, and they asked for more and more spots to be allocated for the selection of immigrants.
Our government was quite happy to accommodate them. I mentioned the positive results we've seen from that program. The Ontario government for whatever reason chose not to participate in any meaningful way in the provincial nominee program. They basically said, “We don't need this. We've relied in the past on the federal skilled worker program”. The train left the station on the provincial nominee program without Ontario being on board in any serious way. That's really what's responsible for the shift in immigration patterns. In addition, economic patterns have a lot to do with it.
This is not just a question of primary immigration but also secondary. Ontario has net secondary immigration. That is to say, a lot of people who come and settle in the GTA, for example, then move to the west, particularly to Alberta, which has very large secondary immigration. Quebec has a certain amount, but a lot of Ontario immigrants end up moving west.
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
We fund about 170 points of service is what we call them. They are typically non-profit organizations. I don't know about that particular group, but they are groups like it. They provide services to francophone immigrants, and these are outside of Quebec. I think this is a pretty clear indication of our commitment to support francophone immigrants outside Quebec.
Let me use that to segue back to the last question I received. The question was why we aren't doing more to increase francophone immigration from francophone countries. I pointed out that we don't choose how many immigrants come from a particular country. It's really a demand-driven immigration system. I don't sit down at the beginning of the year and say that we're going to take 10,000 from India and 20,000 from France. It doesn't work that way.
The only program we have currently that deliberately promotes Canada as a destination for immigration is destination Canada. It is done specifically in francophone countries—France, Belgium, and Tunisia—but it's also regional.
I'm pleased to announce to you, colleagues, that we are also going to be expanding a very important program that we developed in 2006 called the Canadian immigration integration project. This is pre-arrival orientation for selected economic immigrants. It's a two-day free seminar and personalized counselling after they have been selected for immigration but before they have arrived here, when they're wrapping up their affairs back home. This is helping them line up jobs in Canada, find housing, apply in advance for credential recognition for the professional licences. We now have it available to about 80% of our economic immigrants and are about to launch a pilot for this out of Paris to help serve our selected francophone immigrants coming to Canada.
Corinne, do you want to add something?
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
No, temporary workers can submit their applications to be included within this pool, but all selected individuals within the pool will obtain permanent residency.
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
I do not have the report here with me, but a formal response was given. Right?
I am told a formal reply was given.
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
I am sorry, but I do not have all of the recommendations before me. I know that, globally, we said that we were already acting on the recommendations. I do not believe there are any major gaps between the recommendations of the committee and actions already undertaken by the government.
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
There are no cuts. Our government has increased the federal funding available for settlement services, including francophone services, by 300%. So that's an increase outside Quebec. The amount has gone from $200 million to $600 million. There are no cuts under the Roadmap to services specifically targeting minority language communities, except for a few hundred thousand dollars for corporate and provincial travel costs to Paris.
I don't think that in this fiscal environment we should be paying for people's junkets to Paris, quite frankly.
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
To be honest with you, we don't have very good data on that. There are a lot of studies—about which I'm not an expert—on learning languages and language proficiency. As it relates to the free language services that we provide, this is called language instruction for newcomers to Canada, or LINC. It's a program that we fund out of that envelope of $600 million in settlement services. It's typically provided by non-profit community service organizations.
To be honest with you, because it's delivered often by small non-profits, we don't have a lot of data about outcomes, but we're working on that. That's been a weakness in the system. We are developing a new framework for reporting so that we can actually track the progress that we're making. We don't want to be spending tax dollars on these programs if we're not actually getting a good result from them.
I would say as a supplementary comment that typically, but not exclusively, the clients for those language classes are not the primary economic immigrants, but are dependants or refugees, because by definition, most of the primary economic immigrants have already demonstrated a high level of English or French language proficiency. It's often their spouses and refugees who have a steeper hill to climb in terms of language proficiency.
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
Yes.
We are supporting a program called HIPPY, home instruction for parents of pre-school youngsters, where we send settlement workers into homes to do visits on a weekly basis, often with moms who might be stuck there, maybe living in an ethnic enclave, not having many social opportunities to speak English or French. We send workers into their homes. It's not mandatory; it's if they want to participate. We also have online language instruction as well, which again is trying to reach those folks who might be more stuck at home.
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
Because those questions are a bit technical, I am going to ask Corinne to answer.
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
I can discuss this in general terms.
When it comes to the criteria we base our decisions on, departments use a point system to assess the quality of an organization's positions and performance over time. This has to be done fairly and objectively.
Frankly, we cannot accept all of the applications. However, for each application they get from an organization, officials do an analysis using a point system.
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
Obviously, in connection with the recent budget cuts, we had to come up with some administrative efficiencies. So we closed a certain number of local offices, but frankly, most of them were very small. They had a staff of only one to three people and provided no direct service. Maintaining all kinds of small offices providing very little service was not efficient.
I have just been to Moncton where I visited the Multicultural Association of the Greater Moncton Area, MAGMA. That organization has received four times more funding from our department for settlement services, including services for francophones. Its staff and services have greatly increased. In my opinion, that is much more important than having two officials, in an office, doing precious little for clients.
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
We have not closed offices in minority language communities. The decision did not affect official languages. It was a matter of efficiency. We have also downsized our Vancouver office. It was not a language issue.
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