June 22, 1972

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

FINANCE. TRADE AND ECONOMIC AFFAIRS


. Fourth report of Standing Committee on Finance, Trade and Economic Affairs-Mr. Kaplan. [Editor's Note: For text of above report, see today's Votes and Proceedings.]


IMMIGRATION

ANNOUNCEMENT OF MEASURES TO ELIMINATE

LIB

Bryce Stuart Mackasey (Minister of Manpower and Immigration)

Liberal

Hon. Bryce Mackasey (Minister of Manpower and Immigration):

Mr. Speaker, in 1967 Parliament passed the Immigration Appeal Board Act and eliminated elements of the Immigration Act legislated 14 years earlier. At the same time as this new legislation came into force, new immigration regulations were passed by Order in Council. These regulations for the first time allowed visitors to Canada to apply for landed immigrant status while in our country. At the same time, we reaffirmed the advantages such as extra credits for prearranged employment and better preparation for those who applied while still in their home countries, the traditional method of immigrating to a new homeland.

The 1967 legislation refined appeal procedures and included for the first time the right of sponsoring Canadian relatives to appeal on behalf of people still in their home countries. The regulations provided objective selection criteria, based on education, skill, occupational demand, language capability, age and other factors. They eliminated what may have been unintentional discrimination under the earlier systems. A person's race, colour, creed or sex is not a factor in selection as an immigrant.

The 1967 regulations were based on recognition of the fact that an open immigration policy goes hand in hand with the economic and cultural growth of our country. Our present problem in immigration is not the calibre of the thousands of persons applying in Canada to become landed immigrants. It is rather the unexpected volume of desirable and worthy persons from many countries who are caught up in what is, in fact, a very thorough and equitable appeals system. It is interesting to note that in 1971 there were 122,000 immigrants to Canada, of whom nearly 40,000 were landed while here as visitors.

Five years ago no one could have forecast the tremendous impact jet-age world travel would have on immigration. More than 38 million persons visit Canada each year and thousands of these visitors want to settle here permanently after becoming enamoured with this land.

Whatever changes may be desirable in the Immigration Act, and these are being considered with care, are not relevant to solving the problems of today. Those problems must be met by coping with the situation we have. We have not had the administrative flexibility to clear, one way or another, the great number of cases requiring decision. In human decency and fairness, decisions must be given and given soon. Legislative changes are for the future. They can wait.

The result of our inability to cope with the large numbers who could not immediately be granted landed immigrant status has been a large build-up in backlogs at two levels of procedure, that is, in the immigration inquiry system and at the Immigration Appeal Board. Unintentionally, this has created hardship for many people anxious to become Canadians. As an example, abnormally long delays in determining the final status of immigrants have caused financial hardship forcing some immigrants to take employment without authorization. It is our objective to eliminate these delays so that this situation will not arise in the future. While I intend to remove the immediate hardships and eliminate delays, I do not intend to change the basic policy under which persons coming to Canada are prohibited from taking employment without permission.

I want to say that the program we are instituting now is not in the category of a general amnesty such as we have had in former years. Rather, the plan calls for action on two fronts: first, to streamline and improve current procedures to prevent a further build-up of the backlog of cases and, second, to eliminate this backlog of some 13,500 applications now awaiting hearings by special inquiry officers who determine in the presence of the applicant and his counsel whether an applicant should be landed or ordered deported.

The department's field strength is being increased by 260 persons so that backlog cases can be reviewed and be assessed and delays in the handling of current applications can be drastically reduced.

The prospective immigrant's performance in Canada will be reviewed, taking into account how he has been able to adjust to Canadian life while awaiting his departmental hearing. Consideration will be given to his financial stability, trade and language training, participation in community activities and his employment potential.

We hope this will result in the granting of landed status to some 50 per cent of the applicants whose cases have

June 22, 1972

Immigration Regulations

been caught up in the backlog. Those not immediately accepted as landed immigrants will have their departmental hearings continued with full protection of their right of appeal to the independent Immigration Appeal Board.

Each applicant in the backlog will be notified that the department is undertaking a review of his case. He will be informed of the factors on which this review will be based and invited to provide any new information to show that he has in fact successfully established himself in Canada. He will also be asked to produce letters of recommendation from Canadian citizens or other permanent residents of Canada. For purpose of this review, we will be prepared to seek relief by Order in Council from the application of the relevant immigration regulations for those persons who have established themselves successfully in Canada.

In regard to new applications, our objective is that any future applicants for landed immigrant status from within Canada will be assessed within one month, and if a further hearing is necessary it will be held without delay.

It is expected that this rate of processing new applications can be achieved by January 1, 1973. No additions will be made to the existing backlog after that date. A target date of April 1, 1974 has been set to eliminate the remaining departmental inquiry backlog.

Although they cannot be resolved directly by any administrative measures, the department will also reexamine its files on some 10,000 cases now before the Immigration Appeal Board. Since I am a party to all appeals I shall, through my representatives, make submissions and arguments for favourable consideration wherever possible. It must, however, be emphasized that the board as an independent tribunal makes its own decisions on the basis of the law and the evidence adduced in each individual case.

Topic:   IMMIGRATION
Subtopic:   ANNOUNCEMENT OF MEASURES TO ELIMINATE
Sub-subtopic:   BACKLOG OF APPLICATIONS AND PREVENT FURTHER BUILD-UP
Permalink
PC

Sylvester Perry Ryan

Progressive Conservative

Mr. S. Perry Ryan (Spadina):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to thank the minister for his courtesy in sending a copy of his statement to me during the lunch hour. This will enable me, I hope, to make a few charitable observations about his initiative in respect of immigration.

I should like to make it clear at the outset that this initiative is most welcome and that the Official Opposition is very happy and relieved for the sake of all those who will benefit from the minister's intention to proceed by way of Order in Council in order to provide amnesty for half or 50 per cent of visitors seeking landed immigrant status. This measure was inevitable and long overdue. We are also glad to see that the number of immigration officers will be increased by 260, which should help greatly in administration. But we are not convinced that the problem is by any means solved. We feel that this is only a stopgap measure that will itself create more problems and more inequities.

We also believe that the statement of the minister this afternoon has sounded the death-knell of the government's point system policy. There remains no equity but only hardship for those who apply from abroad, in the approved manner, to become landed immigrants in Canada. In addition, in our opinion this amnesty will encourage a flood of visitor applications for landed status

in Canada and discourage homeland applications, which are the preferred type.

This problem is not just one of today. It is sad that it took so long, and particularly that it took the suicide of a distraught woman, to bring the problem to the minister's attention and force him to act. The problem has been building up since 1967 when amendments were made to the act. It reached crisis proportions some time ago. In fact, the previous minister of immigration promised amendments to the act but he failed to produce any.

At the end of October, 1971, there were 7,443 cases before the Immigration Appeal Board. Today the total has reached the 10,000 mark. It took that magic number of

10,000 to waken the minister and the government to the situation.

The minister says that legislative changes are for the future and can wait. This has been the constant theme song of each of the Trudeau government ministers. The Canadian people will wait forever if they wait for the Trudeau government to perform.

The minister's measures, if they accomplish his objectives, will remove only half of the present backlog of 13,500 applications. Hearings will continue for the others. Therefore they only go half way to meet the problem of clearing the backlog.

The minister is not going to change the visitor entry policy. Until next January 1 new visitor applications will apparently be added to the existing backlog. Therefore between now and then I visualize a flood of visitor entries, urged on by travel agencies and others, seeking to beat the deadline and be accepted under the new easy entry provisions.

What happens to those already under deportation orders? Will there be a review of their cases as well? What is going to be done about work permits for tourists who seek permanent entry into Canada?

Canada needs a new immigration policy because the government's policy and its administration have failed to meet today's needs. This whole subject, I suggest, should be put before the Standing Committee on Labour, Manpower and Immigration forthwith.

Topic:   IMMIGRATION
Subtopic:   ANNOUNCEMENT OF MEASURES TO ELIMINATE
Sub-subtopic:   BACKLOG OF APPLICATIONS AND PREVENT FURTHER BUILD-UP
Permalink
NDP

Francis Andrew Brewin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Andrew Brewin (Greenwood):

Mr. Speaker, we welcome the minister's statement. The situation had become intolerable. In fact, I described it in the House a few weeks ago as "a horrendous mess". We cannot blame the present minister for it as it is the accumulation of neglect over the years. In throne speech after throne speech new immigration legislation has been promised but has not been forthcoming. The immigration portfolio has been in the hands of ministers such as the present Minister of Justice (Mr. Lang) who was preoccupied with other important offices such as minister of manpower and minister in charge of the Wheat Board.

All interested parties have become familiar with the lengthy delays in special inquiry hearings on deportation cases, particularly in metropolitan centres such as Toronto and Montreal. Owing to a further backlog in the immigration appeals system, it has been estimated that it takes

June 22, 1972

up to eight years to complete the proceedings authorized by law. During part of this period, that is to say, up to the time of an appeal to the Immigration Appeal Board, work permits have been refused. As the minister has indicated, this has had the effect of forcing those who did not have funds to work surreptitiously and to seek to defy the law in order to exist. It no doubt contributed to the sense of desperation which led to the tragic case of the Polish immigrant who committed suicide.

I am glad that in order to resolve this problem the minister has not relied on greater restrictions but, on the contrary, has indicated that greater administrative flexibility is to be exercised. We do not desire to restrict visitors to this country and we do not desire to prevent suitable visitors from applying for and receiving permission to stay in this country. I am quite sure that this so-called amnesty-the minister disclaims that title but it is something of that nature-will not be used to permit the admission to Canada of persons with criminal records and things of that sort.

As the regulations now stand they permit immigration officials to approve the admission of an independent applicant who does not meet the norms set out in the point system if they are of the opinion that there are good reasons why these norms do not reflect the applicant's chance of establishing himself successfully in Canada. Unfortunately, these provisions do not seem to have been used extensively in the past. Most immigration officers seem to have ignored them and relied exclusively on the point system. The point system itself requires review; it has been one of the causes of trouble. One thing that the minister can do is to make sure that his officials pay attention to the regulations.

As much as 15 points out of a total of 50 are allotted to the purely subjective judgment of the examining officer as to the personal qualifications of the applicant. The points to be allowed for occupational demand have been kept a tight secret so that the applicant does not and cannot know the basis on which he is assessed. This practice makes a farce of many special inquiries, and even appeals to the Immigration Appeal Board, because the applicant cannot know the real nature of the case against him.

Another point that needs to be reviewed is the practice of examining officers not to reveal the points they have allotted until the date of the inquiry is fixed. This has the result that applicants and their advisers cannot assess whether they will have a reasonable chance on appeal because they do not know how many points were allotted. This has led to many people entering appeals on pure speculation when the cases were hopeless or might have been seen to be hopeless if the full facts had been disclosed.

Although the minister is to be commended for the amendments and the new policy he has announced, it is only a start. The Immigration Act and the Immigration Appeal Board Act both need revision.

As far as the Immigration Act is concerned, in 1966, six years ago, the government, in the white paper on immigration by the then minister of manpower and immigration who is now Minister of Regional Economic Expansion (Mr. Marchand), proposed detailed changes in the act

Immigration Regulations

but nothing has been done. The Immigration Act still contains vague and antiquated provisions. It confers the right to make regulations prohibiting or limiting the admission of persons by reason of nationality, citizenship, ethnic group, occupation class or geographical area of origin, peculiar customs, habits and modes of life,- methods of holding property, and so forth.

The white paper in 1966 urged that the provisions in regard to the admission of refugees be codified and made part of the law. This has not been done and cases have been dealt with on a sort of ad hoc basis.

It seems to me that the Immigration Appeal Board Act should be reviewed. It does not seem to me that exclusive jurisdiction to deal with humanitarian and compassionate grounds for not executing deportation orders should be in the hands of the board which is a court of law. Many of these cases could be dealt with far more expeditiously and just as satisfactorily by the minister or his officials. Greater power should be given to the minister and his officials to act on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. I am coming to a conclusion, Mr. Speaker.

There is no doubt that where there is large-scale unemployment, there is bound to arise a public demand for more and more restrictive measures with respect to immigration. In our view, this is not the answer. It is not the immigrants who are to blame for large-scale unemployment and it is not the immigrants who create unemployment. The net effect of immigration in Canada has been not only a great enrichment of the quality of Canadian life but also a larger measure of prosperity and expansion than we could possibly have achieved without immigration-happily, now, from many different quarters of the world.

The temptation of restriction has been avoided, and for this we are grateful. Immigration is not only an economic matter-

Topic:   IMMIGRATION
Subtopic:   ANNOUNCEMENT OF MEASURES TO ELIMINATE
Sub-subtopic:   BACKLOG OF APPLICATIONS AND PREVENT FURTHER BUILD-UP
Permalink
IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

Order, please. I must remind the hon. member who has the floor and other hon. members of the restriction imposed by the Standing Order which allows only brief comments on ministerial statements. It seems to me the hon. member is now making a general statement which goes some distance beyond the confines of the statement the minister made, and I hope he will find it possible to bring it to a close.

Topic:   IMMIGRATION
Subtopic:   ANNOUNCEMENT OF MEASURES TO ELIMINATE
Sub-subtopic:   BACKLOG OF APPLICATIONS AND PREVENT FURTHER BUILD-UP
Permalink
NDP

Francis Andrew Brewin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Brewin:

Mr. Speaker, I had just about come to the last sentence of my remarks. As I said, the temptation of restriction has been avoided by the minister, and we are grateful to him for that. In our view, immigration is not only an economic matter but one which involves the lives of people. There is no reason why Canada cannot be just and generous.

Topic:   IMMIGRATION
Subtopic:   ANNOUNCEMENT OF MEASURES TO ELIMINATE
Sub-subtopic:   BACKLOG OF APPLICATIONS AND PREVENT FURTHER BUILD-UP
Permalink
SC

Romuald Rodrigue

Social Credit

Mr. Romuald Rodrigue (Beauce):

Mr. Speaker, at the outset I wish to thank the minister for sending us the French version of his statement before the beginning of the sitting, and we are much grateful to him for that.

The minister has announced the elimination of some features of the Immigration Act, enacted 14 years ago. That modification of the act will eliminate some delays and improve administrative efficiency.

June 22, 1972

Business of the House

In his statement, the minister summed up the procedures previously in effect. Once more, one can realize that bureaucracy is almighty and that it needs at times to be put to reason.

I commend the minister who had the strength to repeal some outdated sections of the act and I invite him to continue along those lines in other fields which come under his jurisdiction.

We agree on the modifications announced by the minister, but I wish to remind him that Canada must not make the regulations and the law less efficient, so that the economic expansion of this country not be jeopardized by the entrance of too many immigrants.

We must continue to make a sound selection of individuals who have decided to live in Canada, especially this year when the unemployment rate is rather high.

I therefore urge the minister to be careful when amending the legislation and I ask him to continue to seek the advice of the provinces as partners, since immigration under the constitution comes under the provincial and federal authorities.

I hope that the minister will take those recommendations into consideration when the legislation is amended.

Topic:   IMMIGRATION
Subtopic:   ANNOUNCEMENT OF MEASURES TO ELIMINATE
Sub-subtopic:   BACKLOG OF APPLICATIONS AND PREVENT FURTHER BUILD-UP
Permalink

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

HANDLING OF ESTIMATES-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION UNDER S.O. 43

NDP

William Arnold Peters

New Democratic Party

Mr. Arnold Peters (Timiskotming):

Mr. Speaker, I wish to move a motion under Standing Order 43 that is of national and obvious importance. As the time limit makes it mandatory that the total estimates for 1972-73 amounting to $11 billion shall be voted later this day and as many of them have not even been cursorily examined, I would move, seconded by the hon. member for Surrey-White Rock (Mr. Mather):

That the subject of handling of our future estimates be immediately referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and Organization, to provide for legislative control over our tax expenditures.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   HANDLING OF ESTIMATES-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION UNDER S.O. 43
Permalink
IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

The hon. member's motion requires unanimous consent. Is there consent?

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   HANDLING OF ESTIMATES-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION UNDER S.O. 43
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   HANDLING OF ESTIMATES-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION UNDER S.O. 43
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

No.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   HANDLING OF ESTIMATES-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION UNDER S.O. 43
Permalink
IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

There is not unanimous consent and the motion cannot be put.

(Mr. Rodrigue.]

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   HANDLING OF ESTIMATES-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION UNDER S.O. 43
Permalink

TRANSPORT

KOOTENAY AND ELK RAILWAY-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION UNDER S.O. 43

June 22, 1972