ARCHIVED – Speaking notes for the Honourable Jason Kenney, P.C., M.P. Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism at the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration

Ottawa, Ontario, February 17, 2011

As delivered

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am glad to be here today to present to the committee my department’s Supplementary Estimates (C) for the 2010-2011 fiscal year. I think that you have met all the senior officials here with me today.

Mr. Chairman, in 2010, Canada welcomed the highest number of immigrants in 57 years – 281,000 permanent residents. We did so by focussing on economic immigrants who can work, invest, create wealth and contribute to our prosperity. Now, within the economic category, we will continue to balance admissions between federal skilled workers – who are now doing increasingly well financially, according to some recent research we’ve done – with provincial nominees who are helping to fill labour market gaps, while ensuring a better distribution of newcomers across Canada.

In the future, we must select those immigrants who are most likely to succeed in the Canadian economy. To this end, today we are launching cross-country and online consultations on proposed changes to the Federal Skilled Worker Points system. We want advice from the public and, indeed, from you parliamentarians on how we can improve the points grid as a way of selecting those workers who will best integrate and contribute to our prosperity.

While we welcomed more economic immigrants last year, we also upheld our commitment to family reunification and to refugees. We will continue to so in the future. In 2011, we plan to receive even more newcomers through family reunification and more refugees than we did last year. I repeat: in 2011, we plan to receive more family class immigrants than we did in 2010. That’s not a cut in family class, as some have inaccurately suggested. Rather, it’s an increase.

Within the family class, we’ve opted to put wives, husbands and children first. That reflects the priority of immigrants, of Canadians and, indeed, of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. As such, we have slightly decreased the projected admissions range for parents and grandparents, in order to allow for an increase in the number of spouses and children admitted this year. That means more dads, more moms and more kids being reunited with their loved ones than in the past. That’s, after all, the whole idea behind our policy of family reunification which, I believe, is the most generous in the world amongst immigrant-receiving countries.

In the past few days, there have been a number of myths and mistruths recklessly thrown around on the issue of family class immigration. I’d like to give this committee the facts and some broader perspective on just how generous Canada’s immigration policy is to families. We’ve distributed to you some charts and tables. This table that you have in front of you shows that there are two primary categories of family class immigrants. One is called Family Class 1.This is the highest priority under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act; they are spouses and dependent children.

The key thing here, Mr. Chair, is the planning range which we use every year to plan, and which we publish in our Annual Report to Parliament. For Family Class 1 last year – spouses and children – the planning range was between 42 and 45 thousand. We actually landed a little under 44,000. This year, we are increasing – I repeat increasing – the planning range for spouses and children – that’s the priority category, to between 45,500 and 48,000.

Now, in order to accommodate that increase in spouses and children, we’ve had to make a modest reduction in the lower priority category under the Act, which is Family Class 4, parents and grandparents. Last year, the planning range was 15 to 18 thousand. This year, the planning range is 13,000 to 17,500. The total family class that we projected in our planning range for last year was between 57 and 63 thousand, and for this year it’s between 58,500 and 65,500.

This chart gives you a perspective on the two different categories. Green represents spouses and children, and blue represents parents and grandparents. What you can see here, is that we always have more – many more – spouses and children than parents and grandparents, and the numbers are about consistent every year. You’ll also notice that our planning range, if we come in midway between our planning range this year, it will actually exceed the average over the past decade in terms of family class and, most importantly, it will be going up, as you can see, from 2010 to 2011.

There’s another element I think that a lot of people lose track of. While we bring in people through these two categories, in fact, the majority of people who arrive in Canada on a given year under the economic categories are actually not principal applicants – those we assess according to their human capital under the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Canadian Experience Class, Provincial Nominee, the Quebec Skilled Worker Program – but they are in fact dependants....the spouses and children of principal applicants.

Here, you’ll see families as a percentage of total immigrant admissions. The green bar represents principal applicants. These are typically the heads of households. In some cases, they might be a successful asylum claimant who has family members attached to his application. The purple bars represent family members. As you can see, the ratio is about two-to-one. On average, 65 percent of immigrants coming to Canada are actually family members. It’s kind of extraordinary, if you see it in proportion. You’ll see that the numbers are pretty consistent over the past 17 years.

Now, here you’ll see the same thing expressed in terms of absolute numbers. Last year, 2010, was the largest number for intake of immigrants in 57 years overall at 281,000 –180,000 of which were family members, either family class or arriving with the principal applicants who represented 101,000. You can see that, in fact, last year was the largest intake for family members in our immigration system in 30 years.

The point here is that there’s a lot of immigration policy experts criticizing Canada, saying that we don’t put enough weight on human capital, on potential workers and taxpayers, and there’s some people that say we put too much emphasis on family. When I hear some critics saying that we’re actually cutting and slashing family class, I think, instead of falling for that kind of demagoguery, we need to actually look at the numbers and put all of this in perspective.

Now, onto the second issue I’d like briefly to address, Mr. Chairman, which relates to settlement funding. We believe it’s important to invest in the success of newcomers so they can realize their potential, and that’s why our government cut the right of landing fee in half. That has saved nearly $2,000 for the average family of four with two children over the age of 18. It has saved over $300 million for immigrant families since 2006.

That’s in addition to our decision to triple the federal investment in settlement services. Over the past five years, that represents an incremental investment of $1.4 billion that was not being invested in things like free language classes and other settlement services.

We have to make sure that those funds are going to where the immigrants are, and immigrant settlement patterns change. In fact, what we see is, for example, fewer immigrants are going to Ontario and Toronto, in particular, and more are going to the Prairie provinces and the Atlantic provinces. So we’ve developed along – in consultation with the provinces – a new settlement funding allocation formula based on objective criteria, to ensure that all newcomers across Canada benefit from similar levels of service. This has meant reducing funding levels in three provinces, while increasing them in seven provinces and the three territories.

For example, we have seen funding for Ontario more than triple since 2005, from $111 million to $390 million while, at the same time, the number of newcomers choosing to live in Ontario has fallen by 24 percent, from 141,000 to 106,000. So that’s more and more money for fewer and fewer immigrants. On the flip side, some provinces, like Saskatchewan, have seen more than a tripling of the number of immigrants and the settlement funding increases have not been able to keep pace.

What we have is a new formula that will seek to equalize things over the next couple of years. It will result in increased settlement funding for Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, and Quebec will also have an increase under its own Canada-Quebec Accord in the automatic escalator within it.

This new formula will equalize funding at about $3,000 per immigrant whereas, in Ontario, immigrants are now receiving about $3,500 per immigrant as opposed to say for $2,900 per immigrant in Saskatchewan. That’s just not fair. We need fairness in settlement funding. That’s why we’ve made these changes.

Some would say, ‘why not just increase the overall budget to equalize the funding, rather than reallocating it away from the over-funded areas?’ There’s three very simple reasons. One, because we’ve already increased the settlement budget by 300 percent. Secondly, this funding increase has not been matched by uptake in the number of clients. One estimate I’ve seen says there’s been an increase in update of about 31 percent, notwithstanding a funding increase of 300 percent. And, thirdly, that would be an unjustifiable expense of, I estimate, something in the range of an additional $50 million tax dollars annually – money which we, quite frankly, don’t have and we certainly can’t reallocate from within our department. It would mean cutting immigration levels by re-profiling money from our A base that deals with actual immigration processing.

Now, even within Ontario, there have been changes in settlement patterns. Fewer newcomers are arriving in Toronto, and a lot more, for example, are going to York Region. So Toronto will get a relatively modest reduction in funding. York will get a huge increase in settlement funding, in the range of 43 percent.

Now one last point, Mr. Chairman. There’s been some coverage about some of the settlement provider organizations with whom we will not be continuing our contribution agreements. We did a Call for Proposals. We received hundreds of proposals. Our public servants assessed them objectively. We also looked at past performance and efficiency. We looked at, as you can see in these maps, on the left there, and you have these, that’s the number of settlement provider organizations in Toronto proper before – in about 2005. Here, on the right, you see the settlement provider organizations located in Toronto this year, after these reallocations are done. So, you’ll see how much more coverage there is and, in point of fact, there is some duplication. We don’t want to waste tax dollars with duplication, so there has to be some rationalization.

Having said that, of the about 250 organizations we’ve been funding, over 80 percent will continue in Ontario to receive a contribution agreement as partners with us. We have not continued to fund about 37 because they didn’t meet the objectives. But there will be 30 new settlement provider organizations with whom we will partner, and they represent innovation and new ideas which we think is a positive thing.

One of the things we’re trying to do, this is a good point, is bring more programs together in the same place. We’re working on something called Local Immigration Partnerships, LIPS, where we work with the municipalities and big groups like the United Way. We try to get better coordination so, instead of dozens of little micro- organizations providing services in their own little silos, we’re trying to have a more rational approach to services in a particular region.

The bottom line is simply this: after these changes are all said and done, there will be only a slight reduction in the number of service provider organizations in Toronto and there will be no service gaps. Folks who come to Canada need free language training and they need some advice on how to get integrated. All of those services will continue to be available. I would argue, and I believe our department believes, that they’ll actually be more efficiently allocated both within Toronto proper and across the broader GTA, Ontario and, certainly, on a national level. I think, actually, that the settlement changes are good news and we’d certainly look forward to any of your questions that you may have.

Thank you

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