CIMM - Parliamentary Context - June 2, 2021
CIMM Ministerial Appearance on the 2021–2022 Supplementary Estimates (A)
The 2021–2022 Supplementary Estimates (A) are expected to be tabled on May 27, 2021, in the House of Commons. The line item for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on Interim Lodging Services, a component of the Enhancing the Integrity of Canada’s Borders and Asylum System initiative, will automatically be deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, triggering an invitation for the Minister to appear.
On April 19, 2021, Budget 2021 was presented in the House of Commons which includes funding for a number of items implicating immigration, including Digital Platform Modernization, temporary resident processing, client support, ending gender-based violence, Racialized Newcomer Women Pilot Program, and temporary foreign workers.
With the downstream impact of the pandemic trending in Parliament across all parties, the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration has applied this lens to their questioning and has been focused on the role of immigration in Canada’s economic recovery and growth. Recent parliamentary interventions and business, as well as media attention has largely been focused on the following:
- The application of travel restrictions, quarantine and other pandemic measures, as well as the impact of possible border reopening on immigration;
- Resumption of operations, programs and services and processing times for various streams, digitization and modernization;
- Attaining immigration levels, permanent residence for various skill levels, regional and sectoral approach to filling labour needs;
- Canada-Quebec Accord, Quebec Skilled Workers and backlog and processing of all Quebec lines of business;
- Temporary Foreign Worker Program, including pathways for all skills, language testing, worker safety/rights, access to vaccines, Caregivers;
- Family reunification issues, including spousal sponsorship and dual intent, extended family definition;
- Canada-China issues relating to immigration, Hong Kong refugees, human right defenders, VFS Global, foreign intimidation of newcomers; and
- Security and privacy issues, including integrity of the system, potential breaches, and foreign or political interference.
- As the main opposition, the Conservative Party of Canada has consistently been critical of the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. On immigration, the party has largely aimed its attention on system backlogs and processing delays in a variety of streams, especially the downstream repercussions on businesses, the economy and mental health. They have equally paid close attention to the status of operations and services offered in immigration offices domestically and abroad. Conservatives have focused on ways in which the administrative and financial burden of the Labour Market Impact Assessment can be reduced, and have been vocal on issues surrounding the roll-out of the recent “TR to PR” announcement. The Party expressed concerns on a broad range of safety and security issues, both in relation to China and the VFS Global contract, as well as privacy and data breaches.
- The New Democratic Party is a strong advocate of permanent residence upon arrival and remains actively concerned about the precariousness of and abuse faced by temporary foreign workers as well as undocumented workers. The party believes that the government should bring back an economic program for all skill levels, should remove language requirements in permanent residence applications, and make a number of adjustments to the Caregiver pilots. They often criticise the overall efficiency of the immigration system by noting that backlogs and processing times are high, and that many are left behind due to rigorous program requirements. Dual intent in family sponsorship has also been heavily scrutinized. Similar to the Conservatives, issues relating to China, VFS Global and the safety of Hong Kong citizens are front of mind and criticisms are plentiful on various aspects of the “TR to PR” announcement.
- The Bloc Québécois holds Quebec’s interest and the protection of the French language at the forefront of their interventions, as well as considerations surrounding francophone immigration. Recently, issues regarding processing times and backlogs on the Quebec Skilled Worker Program has gained party attention, including how Quebec wait times far surpass those of other provinces. The party has advocated strongly for the need to introduce flexibilities in the Labour Market Impact Assessment process to ensure labour needs are met across regions and sectors, and expressed the need to prioritize in-Canada applicants in light of border closures. The Bloc has called on the government to exempt Confirmation of Permanent Residence holders from travel restrictions and has been a strong advocate for guardian angels.
- The Liberal Party of Canada actively promotes the transformation and innovations that have taken place throughout the pandemic in various lines of business. The party focuses their efforts on responding to opposition member criticisms and concerns, including on the recent announcement on TR to PR for essential workers and international graduates, and previously on the Hong Kong announcement. The government is focused on collecting evidence to improve various policies and programs, and frequently highlights the importance of immigration in Canada’s present and future.
- May 25 – A special report from the Information Commissioner was tabled, entitled, “Access at Issue: Challenging the Status Quo, Systemic Investigation of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada”. The report focuses on processing of access to information requests, and was referred to the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics (ETHI).
- May 13 – CIMM tabled a report entitled, “Immigration in the Time of Covid-19: Issues and Challenges”, which explores the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in relation to the immigration system and provides 38 recommendations.
- May 4 – The Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food tabled a report entitled, “Room to Grow: Strengthening Food Processing Capacity in Canada for Food Security and Exports,” in which the committee recommends that access to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the Agri-Food Pilot program be increased and facilitated to address labour shortages.
- April 30 – The Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs (FAAE) tabled a report entitled, “Igniting a Crisis: The Devastating Impacts of COVID-19 on Displaced Populations Globally,” which recommends that the government increase labour market access for displaced Venezuelans.
- April 29 – MP Jenny Kwan introduced Private Member’s Bill C-291, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, seeking to amend dual intent provisions for family sponsorship.
- March 12 – FAAE tabled a report entitled, “The Human Rights Situation of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, China,” in which the committee recommends the development of a refugee stream and the suspension of removals for those in need of protection.
- March 10 – The Minister and IRCC officials appeared before CIMM on the Labour Market Impact Assessment and Immigration and Refugee Measures for Hong Kong studies.
- March 8 – The Minister and IRCC officials appeared on the 2020–2021 Supplementary Estimates (C) and 2021–2022 Main Estimates.
- February 17 – the Standing Committee on Finance presented a report entitled, “Investing in Tomorrow; Canadian Priorities for Economic Growth and Recovery,” which recommended that the Agri-Food Pilot be replicated for the hospitality industry, that retention be improved for rural regions, and that economic immigration consider all occupations and all skill levels.
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