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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)
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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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
It is up to the employer. We cannot dictate to private sector employers whom they should hire nor whether they should be bilingual, francophone or anglophone. We are talking about the labour market in the private sector. However, since last month, they can no longer post or publish a job offer that requires a non-official language.
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
We do not intend to propose changes to the agreement. Moreover, we would like to raise some issues with the Government of Quebec concerning their selection of immigrants which, in my opinion, does not correspond with the principles of the agreement.
On this topic, I would like to put a question to our NDP colleague who represents a riding in Quebec and who has just raised certain concerns. Is he comfortable with the following:
In Quebec there is the Investor Program. Each year Quebec accepts approximately 4,000 permanent residents through this program. According to all the data we have, including data provided by the Government of Quebec, out of these immigrants, over 90% of those selected by Quebec do not stay in the province. They do not live in Quebec and they do not even pass through the province. In fact, 90% of those immigrants settle outside of Quebec.
In short, I am simply raising the point that the authority to select economic immigrants through the agreement is intended for immigrants in Quebec. In fact, it is not up to Quebec to select immigrants for Vancouver or Toronto.
I think there is some skimming going on in the program, whereby Quebec is taking the money of immigrant investors and using it, but the British Columbia taxpayers must pay the price for the social services provided to immigrants selected by Quebec.
What I am saying is that we support the Canada-Quebec Accord relating to immigration. This agreement exists so that Quebec can choose immigrants who will boost the number of francophones in Quebec. This is not about taking money from Chinese millionnaires so that they settle in Vancouver.
I personally would like to raise our concern over the way the Government of Quebec manages this program. In fact, it is not up to the taxpayers of Ontario and British Columbia to bear the costs to support these immigrants, while Quebec cashes in.
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
That is the challenge. Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, there are mobility rights, so a person cannot be forced to live in a given province.
That being said, I intend to request investigations to counter fraud in cooperation with the Canada Border Services Agency. For example, if a person fills out Quebec's Investor Program form and indicates their intention to reside in Quebec, but then it later becomes clear that the person never had such intentions, then goes straight to Vancouver without even going to Quebec, that would be fraud. A message must be sent to the promoter of this program, particularly in Asia and the Middle East.
They take big commissions. I'm sure the NDP would be really happy to know that this program is making millionaires out of some immigration consultants and lawyers through big upfront commissions. By the way, most of that money is offshore; it's not being taxed by Canada. We are sending a message to those guys who, frankly, I think are knowingly facilitating a form of immigration fraud that the gig is up. We are going after them. We are going to take enforcement action against the promoters who are coaching people to make an application for Quebec so that they can get into Canada without any intention of living in that province.
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
No, not at all.
Perhaps this misunderstanding was due to the way I expressed myself in French, but a few moments ago, when I answered Mr. Dubé, I clearly said that there had been closures of CIC administrative offices. I believe I said that clearly. I said that I would provide the committee with a list of these closures. Perhaps you were not listening to what I said?
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
I understand.
Mr. Chair, it was necessary to close certain administrative offices not only in the Atlantic regions, but in all regions of the country. For example, there were many more office closures out west.
There is a deficit. Savings need to be made somewhere, and one of the ways was to centralize certain services.
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Godin, you are mistaken.
I am not personally familiar with the details of these subsidies, so I will ask Mr. Sylvester to answer.
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
Well, it's had a lot of media attention and a certain amount of buzz. In fact, we partner with a major French magazine called L'Express, which does a cover story every year on Canada and all the opportunities of working and living here. We're one of the only countries that actually does these promotional activities in France and Europe specifically targeted at francophone immigrants.
You know about the unemployment in Europe. Youth unemployment in France is well over 20%. In southern Europe, youth unemployment is in the are of 40%. A lot of young Europeans in particular are looking for opportunities to move elsewhere. They hear about the incredibly strong economy in Canada and they're attracted not only by the beauty of our country but also by the economic opportunities. I think the interest in visiting or immigrating to Canada is increasing, and that's why we get more and more attention there. By the way, Ms. O'Neill Gordon, it's not just through our destination Canada projects in France, Brussels, and Tunisia, but also in other areas.
I was in Ireland in October. I know your constituents of Irish descent would be interested to know, as would those of Mr. O'Toole—we'll get the Irish ghetto going on over here—that I was in Ireland with Canadian employers in October. There were 9,000 mainly young Irish lined up at a job fair, run largely by Canadian employers, to pursue opportunities to immigrate to Canada.
I know in this place we talk a lot about our imperfections, and Lord knows we have a few, but when you get away from this country, you see how people are clamouring to get to this place. We should all be proud of that fact.
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
The funds are distributed on a per capita basis per province now. That didn't used to be the case. We try on an annual basis to adjust the investment in settlement services by province so that it is the equivalent of about $2,900 per immigrant, and then it's actually spent by non-profit organizations—we call them service providing organizations—with which we have contribution agreements that are arrived at following a request for proposals process. Basically, once every three years we put out a request for proposals. We say that we have this chunk of money and we'd like to receive proposals on providing language training and other services to immigrants. Non-profit organizations submit their applications. Our officials then score those proposals, often based on historic performance, and then they make the funding decisions. I don't interfere in that. They make the funding decisions, although I do, of course, have final sign-off, and then we monitor the performance.
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
I think there's a misunderstanding implicit in your question, and I'm sorry if I contributed to that.
Earlier when I said that the language services are demand-driven, I meant that globally. That relates to the overall framework of these things. We try to provide services where they are requested in the official language in which they are requested.
Having said that, we have dedicated a specific amount of funds in my ministry, $30 million, to provide services in French for French-speaking immigrants. We have some very specific projects in that regard. For example, in St. Boniface we have African francophone refugees who we settled there, and we have a contribution agreement with a local francophone service-providing organization to help those francophone immigrants in French. We do that sort of thing all across the country. There are specific dedicated minority language services in addition to which we write into many of our contribution agreements a requirement that they offer services in the minority language in that area. If you are an immigrant in Vancouver and you want to learn French—you already have English but you want to learn French—you can go into one of the service groups that we fund and ask for services in French.
Is there anything else I can add to that?
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
We do dedicate money, but at the end of day.... The bottom line is that if a whole bunch of people in Calgary, immigrants, suddenly decide they want to learn French rather than English, we'll give those services to them.
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
No, the $600 million is overall there to help people learn the languages they want, find jobs, and stuff like that. There is $30 million set aside as a part of our contribution that's specifically for minority language services.
Did you want to add something?
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
Yes. Sorry. I hope you don't think we're hogging time, but I'll go back to my Winnipeg example.
Let's say you're a west African francophone refugee and we decide that you're going to live in St. Boniface. That's great for the francophone community in that they have another francophone family that's going to contribute to the cultural life of their francophone community, but you know what? You're likely not going to stay in Winnipeg if you don't speak English, because you can't get a good job. So to retain that person in St. Boniface, helping them learn English only makes sense.
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
Well, probably you are drawing that inference from my use of the word “junkets”, and I apologize if I'm using it in the sense that is frequently used by your party. The other day the NDP's immigration critic referred to the Prime Minister's trip to the G-7 summit as a junket. So if the Prime Minister going to represent Canada at an international summit is a junket, then I think that's defined as a business trip. That seems to be your definition.
In any event, governing is about making choices. You can't balance a budget without realizing some reductions in spending. The reductions in spending that we're experiencing in Canada are a tiny fraction of what they are in countries like France, and if we can't realize spending cuts by reducing subsidies to travel to conferences in Paris, then I don't know where we can find economies.
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
If someone states that they intend to live in a province, but in reality never intended to, it is fraud. We need to start enforcing the law.
I am a bit surprised to hear a New Democrat say that we should ignore a system that allows Canadian lawyers and consultants to make huge profits by encouraging people to apply to immigrate to Quebec when they do not intend to live there.
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
Yes, of course. It is a crime. We are talking about fraud.
It's a crime to fill out an immigration form expressing the intention to go to one place when you never had that intention. It's called misrepresentation. It's a form of fraud. Of course, there are sanctions in Canadian law for that.
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
I will share with Quebec our concerns about the fact that 90% of the people who participate in Quebec's Immigrant Investor Program do not settle in Quebec. I am shocked that the New Democratic Party is not concerned about the fact that millionaires are giving money to consultants to be able to live in Quebec when, in reality, they do not intend to do so.
It is really bizarre.
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View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
I'd like to thank the member for the last exchange. It was very helpful.
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