Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Social Affairs, Science and Technology

Issue 13 - Evidence - May 7, 2014


OTTAWA, Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, met this day at 4:14 p.m. to study the subject matter of those elements contained in Divisions 11, 17, 20, 27 and 30 of Part 6 of Bill C-31, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 11, 2014 and other measures.

TOPIC: Division 20 of part 6.

Senator Kelvin Kenneth Ogilvie (Chair) in the chair.

[Translation]

The Chair: I would like to welcome you to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology.

[English]

I'm Kelvin Ogilvie, Senator from Nova Scotia and chair of the committee. I ask my colleagues to introduce themselves, starting on my left.

Senator Eggleton: Art Eggleton from Toronto, deputy chair of the committee.

Senator Cordy: Jane Cordy from Nova Scotia.

[Translation]

Senator Chaput: Senator Maria Chaput from Manitoba.

[English]

Senator Nancy Ruth: Nancy Ruth from Toronto.

Senator Enverga: Senator Tobias Enverga from Ontario.

Senator Eaton: Nicky Eaton, Ontario.

Senator Stewart Olsen: Carolyn Stewart Olsen, New Brunswick.

Senator Seidman: Judith Seidman from Montreal, Quebec.

The Chair: Thank you, colleagues.

I will remind all that we are here today to deal with the subject matter of Division 20 of Part 6 of Bill C-31, otherwise known as the budget bill.

We have witnesses with us today whom I will identify and invite in the order we have agreed that they will appear. I welcome, from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Maia Welbourne, Acting Director General, Strategic Policy and Planning; and David Manicom, Director General, Immigration Branch. We also have Alexis Conrad, Director General, Temporary Foreign Worker Program, Employment and Social Development Canada.

By understanding, we invite Ms. Welbourne to make her comments first.

Maia Welbourne, Acting Director General, Strategic Policy and Planning, Citizenship and Immigration Canada: Mr. Chair and members of the committee, my name is Maia Welbourne and I'm the Acting Director General of Strategic Policy and Planning at Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Thank you for the invitation to speak to you today about Bill C-31, specifically, Part 6, Division 20, related to legislative amendments that CIC is making to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to prepare for the implementation of a new application management system called Express Entry.

Following my opening remarks, my colleague David Manicom will also speak to Part 6, Division 20, on proposed amendments related to the Immigrant Investor Program and Entrepreneur Program, followed by Mr. Conrad from ESDC.

[Translation]

As you may be aware, CIC is working to create a new application management system for economic immigration programs. Recently branded as ``Express Entry'', this application management system will facilitate the selection of skilled immigrants who best meet Canada's economic and labour market needs and is a key component of reforming Canada's immigration system.

Economic Action Plans 2013 and 2014, and the most recent Speech from the Throne, have underscored the government's goal to make the immigration system more efficient, flexible and responsive.

[English]

As an electronic and fully automated system, express entry will be a mandatory pre-application step for all prospective federal skilled worker, federal skilled trades and Canadian experience class applicants and for a portion of provincial nominees.

Within this system, there will be a two-step process where prospective applicants will express their interest in immigrating to Canada by providing information electronically about their skills and work experience. Candidates who meet certain eligibility criteria will be placed in a pool where they will be assigned points according to a published ranking system on the basis of their skills and work experience and other key characteristics.

As a second step in this process, CIC would then invite the most highly ranked candidates in the pool, including those with job offers or provincial nominations, to apply for permanent residence in one of the economic immigration program streams.

[Translation]

I will now briefly explain the amendments that we are proposing in Bill C-31.

In order to situate these provisions more clearly, I am going to discuss them in a different order than they appear in the bill. I will start with clause 301, then discuss clause 300 and conclude with clauses 306 and 307.

[English]

To prepare for the launch of express entry, CIC is working to modernize its systems and its business lines. To help ensure that applications for permanent residence under express entry are processed within six months, clause 301 seeks the authority to require applicants to submit their application for permanent residence electronically, unless they have a disability or other circumstances that prevent them from doing so. This will require forthcoming regulatory change to take effect.

[Translation]

Since the adoption of Bill C-4, the department has made further policy refinements to ensure that Express Entry is designed and implemented in a way that makes the immigration system fast and responsive. This means that certain legislative provisions introduced last year in Bill C-4 are no longer necessary and are being repealed in Bill C-31.

It has become clear, for example, that certain provisions introduced in Bill C-4 last year ran the risk of slowing down applicant processing times.

[English]

One of those provisions required candidates who receive an invitation to apply to report any changes in their circumstances or attributes to CIC before they made an application for permanent residence. For example, such changes could have included updated work experience or language testing results. A companion provision authorized the minister to cancel an invitation to apply in cases where candidates' change in circumstance meant that they no longer met the criteria on the basis of which they were invited.

A key amendment being proposed in clause 300 is to require that claims made in express entry submissions be maintained at the time a candidate makes an application for permanent residence. Candidates will be ranked and invited to apply for permanent residence based on the qualifications they claim to have in their express entry submissions. Therefore, this amendment will ensure that candidates still have these qualifications when they apply for permanent residence. The system will be flexible enough to allow candidates to update their circumstances and attributes, such as language testing results or work experience, prior to the issuance of an invitation to apply and/or at application for permanent residence stage.

The series of amendments proposed in clauses 306 and 307 are more technical in nature and are being introduced to solidify the existing legislative framework that express entry is being built upon. In brief, these amendments will permit the provinces and territories to utilize additional levels space under the express entry system using a portion of their respective provincial nominee programs; establish that candidates who do not make an application for permanent residence within a certain time frame after receiving an invitation to apply are ineligible to receive another invitation to apply unless they submit a new expression of interest and all applicable criteria and conditions are met; clarify the minister is authorized to give ministerial instructions that relate to all components of the express entry system and submission process; permit the use of language test results or educational credential assessments provided by designated third-party organizations to determine certain assessment of points in express entry; and allow for flexibility in the coming into force of the provisions in this bill.

[Translation]

In conclusion, Mr. Chair, these amendments will help CIC to implement the Express Entry system by January 2015. Express Entry will allow the department to strengthen the immigration system by making it fast and flexible in a way that will contribute to Canada's economic growth and promote positive outcomes for skilled immigrants.

[English]

David Manicom, Director General, Immigration Branch, Citizenship and Immigration Canada: Economic Action Plan 2014 announced the government's intent to terminate the federal immigrant investor and entrepreneur programs, and to eliminate their associated backlog of applications. This is part of the Government of Canada's plan to build a fast and flexible immigration system that contributes to the country's economic success.

As you've already heard, CIC is also moving toward a just-in-time system that recruits people with the right skills to meet Canada's economic and labour market needs.

Large backlogs of applications are the biggest challenge to Canada's immigration system. The backlog of immigrant investor and entrepreneur program applications represents more than 70,000 persons and acts as a drag on the immigration system as a whole.

[Translation]

The decision to terminate these programs and their backlogs is the result of an in-depth program review undertaken over the last several years, which concluded that these programs were out of date and of limited economic benefit to Canada.

[English]

The entrepreneur program was designed in the 1970s when the federal focus was on small business. Today, a more globalized economy requires a shift toward innovation, productivity and creating better jobs and stronger businesses that can compete on a global scale.

The immigrant investor program grants permanent residency to investors in return for a five-year loan of $800,000, $400,000 prior to 2010. These loans, typically financed by Canadian banks, are serving a limited need given the requirement to repay them within five years. We are now 15 years into the current investor program, and less than half of the funds on loan by investors are actively invested in the Canadian economy.

[Translation]

Eliminating these programs and their backlogs will allow the government to test new approaches to attracting high value business immigrants to Canada that will better fuel the continued growth of the Canadian economy.

[English]

In this vein, CIC launched the Start-Up Visa pilot program in April 2013 to attract the best and brightest entrepreneurs from around the world, with ideas for new business ventures.

Economic Action Plan 2014 also announced that the government will introduce a new immigrant investor venture capital pilot project, which will require immigrant investors to make a real and significant investment in the Canadian economy in return for the benefits of Canadian residency.

[Translation]

The government will also undertake consultations on a potential Business Skills pilot program to address any gaps in immigration programing with respect to attracting valuable business talent.

[English]

To set the stage for this shift to more innovative business immigration programming, amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act contained in Bill C-31 provide for the following: Applications to the immigrant investor or entrepreneur program for which an officer has not made a selection decision or an approval in principle before February 11, 2014, and have not been finalized before Bill C-31 comes into force would be terminated. Where an application is terminated, CIC will return any fees to the applicant that the applicant had paid, without interest. The amendments also provide for the return of any investment that may have been made by an immigrant investor program applicant whose application is terminated. We expect these circumstances to be very rare, but this provision ensures that we can give the applicant their money back if their application is terminated, as opposed to locking it in for five years. This provision has no fiscal implications.

Finally, a provision is also included to set out that there is no right of recourse or indemnity against the Crown in connection with the termination of an application. This is intended to include, for example, claims for damages, accumulated interest or loss of income.

[Translation]

These changes will contribute to building a fast and flexible immigration system and allow the Government of Canada to focus on attracting experienced business people and raising investment capital that is of maximum benefit to Canada's economy.

Thank you.

[English]

Alexis Conrad, Director General, Temporary Foreign Worker Program, Employment and Social Development Canada: The amendments introduced to section 32 of the Immigration and Refuge Protection Act provide authority for the Governor-in-Council to make regulations to promote and enhance the regulatory compliance of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program by establishing a system of administrative monetary penalties for employers of temporary foreign workers. The amounts of administrative monetary penalties and the contraventions to which they would apply will be set out in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.

This amendment follows from the Government of Canada's commitment in Economic Action Plan 2014 to further strengthen the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to ensure that employers comply with program requirements and that employers are deterred from breaking program rules. An AMP system will fill a gap in the current compliance regime between other administrative measures such as bans and criminal sanctions.

The introduction of this amendment stems from the comprehensive review of the TFW program that is currently being undertaken to ensure that the program continues to operate in the national interest. I would like to note that the first program changes coming out of this ongoing review were announced in April 2013 and included a suspension of the Accelerated Labour Market Opinion Initiative and removal of the wage flexibility policy. Employers must now pay temporary foreign workers the prevailing wage rate for the occupation where the work will take place.

In July 2013, a number of additional reforms were implemented that restricted employers from identifying non- official languages as job requirements in LMO applications, expanded job advertising requirements for employers and introduced a fee of $275 per TFW position requested on an labour market opinion to ensure that taxpayers aren't burdened with paying the cost of processing an LMO. In addition, employers are now asked for information on their LMO application that allows us to better assess where TFWs are being used to facilitate the outsourcing of Canadian jobs.

Additional changes were brought into force on December 31, 2013. These changes gave ESDC the authority to conduct inspections to make sure employers are meeting program conditions and to ban non-compliant employers from the program. In addition, ministerial instructions were issued that give ESDC and CIC the authority to suspend or revoke LMOs and work permits, or refuse to process LMO applications in order to protect the labour market and temporary foreign workers.

Building on the reforms that have been introduced to date, Economic Action Plan 2014 announced additional measures to help strengthen the LMO process. These changes will continue to strengthen the program and ensure that Canadians are given first opportunity at available jobs.

[Translation]

The amendments proposed in this bill will be key to enhancing the TFWP compliance regime and will be an effective mechanism to encourage employer compliance with TFWP rules.

Thank you, Mr. Chair. We would be happy to answer any questions the committee members may have.

[English]

The Chair: I will open the floor to questions, starting with Senator Eggleton.

Senator Eggleton: I'll start with the last comments on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. This program has been around for a while and still has some basic good to it; but, boy, is it getting out of control. In spite of these various measures of these dates you mentioned, Mr. Conrad, it's still out of control.

In 2005, there were about 100,000 people coming into the country. Now we're up to 338,000, as of the figures in 2012. Interestingly, the top five non-live-in caregiver occupations in 2005 were musicians, singers, actors, comedians, producers, directors, and related occupations. By 2008, the top five had shifted to food counter attendants, kitchen helpers, cooks, construction trade helpers, labourers, light-duty cleaners, and then musicians and singers.

There has been a fair bit of controversy of late with respect to McDonald's and other food counter operations where many people are complaining that jobs are being taken away from Canadians.

How is the government going to tighten up the labour market opinion, LMO? You mentioned additional measures to help strengthen the LMO process. Like what? What are you going to do that will stop this situation from happening? These people are taking jobs away from Canadians and this thing needs some reform. How can you demonstrate to us the reforms that are now being put into effect particularly with respect to the labour market opinion?

Mr. Conrad: I believe the amendments before us today are actually an important step in the program's evolution. As I mentioned in my opening remarks, at the end of last year, on December 31, regulatory changes came into force that transformed the inspection regime by which we verify employers' compliance with program requirements and dramatically increased those inspection powers. These proposed amendments will enable the ministers to bring forward administrative monetary penalties. I sincerely think that the strength of the compliance system is an important tool for employers to know that sanctions and severe sanctions are associated with not complying with program requirements.

The changes I mentioned to the upcoming assessment strengthen the program. On each labour market opinion application entered, a variety of checks are done on both the employer and the labour market for which the employer wants to bring in workers. We give each application a significant amount of scrutiny.

Senator Eggleton: Wait a minute. Those are nice words, but give me an example of something you're doing differently now — unless you're telling me you weren't scrutinizing those LMOs before and I assume you were. What are you doing differently now? You can see what's happening now. What are we doing to stop this McDonald's kind of thing?

Mr. Conrad: To that example in particular, as I mentioned, the changes to the compliance regime are extremely significant and have strengthened the compliance aspects of the program. The minister has been forceful in his statements around punishing employers who break the program rules. As far as the specific case you mentioned, the minister has announced a moratorium on labour market opinion applications from any employer working in the food services sector pending the outcome of the review.

Senator Eggleton: We could go on with that for some time, but let me go to Ms. Welbourne.

You talked about express entry. All our documents to this point in time talk about an expression of interest or EOI system. I take it this has evolved into something that has the brand name of ``express entry.'' Not a bad name. Express entry won't be used for any temporary foreign workers; it's only for skilled workers, et cetera.

On the invitation to apply, you say that a companion provision authorized the minister to cancel an invitation to apply in cases where Canada exchange circumstance meant that they no longer met the criteria on the basis for which they were invited.

Is that relevant to the clause in here? It's section 290 of the Economic Action Plan 2013 Act. Proposed subsection 10.1(2)(5) says the minister may cancel an invitation to make an application if the invitation was issued in error. Is that what it's talking about or is it something different?

Ms. Welbourne: That's something different. The one you just referred to continues to be in play. It allows the minister —

Senator Eggleton: What criteria can the minister use? Let's not talk about the current minister. Let's talk about any minister of any political stripe at any time. How do you prevent abuse of that? The minister can call anything he likes in there, I guess. Are there any criteria?

Ms. Welbourne: For the invitation-to-apply regime?

Senator Eggleton: No, no. For the application —

The minister may cancel something that he or she deems to be in error.

Ms. Welbourne: It would have to be clearly some kind of error. It's not the same as the previous section you were asking about, where there's been a change in an individual's circumstance.

Senator Eggleton: Does it say that anywhere in the bill that it has to be this or that?

Ms. Welbourne: No. That's where it is. I think it's well understood what an error would be.

Senator Eggleton: Let me go to this matter of the new programs coming on. When will the investor venture capital pilot project come into effect?

Mr. Manicom: The final details haven't been announced yet. The intention of the government is to develop a program that will require immigrants to make a real and significant investment in the Canadian economy. It wouldn't simply be a loan, in effect, as the current one is.

The assumption at this point is that the pilot program will be low-volume, high-impact and address funding gaps in the availability of risk capital in Canada — for example, support for early stage start-ups. Unlike the prior immigrant investor program — which wasn't really an investment and was a bit of misnomer as it was an interest-free loan — in the concept that we're developing, the investor will need to accept the risk inherent in investing in early-stage ventures. That's the intention of that program.

Senator Eggleton: That's the intention. That's fine. When are we going to see criteria on this? How will that surface?

Mr. Manicom: The minister will be doing consultations in coordination with Industry Canada over the next little while, and he will be looking to announce the details of the new pilot program later this year.

Senator Eggleton: Finally, on this, you say you want to get this replacement program into a just-in-time system, which sounds fine, but, for the second time in a year, we're seeing the department come forward and ask for permission to cancel a whole bunch of applications that are in the system. Yes, you're going to cancel the immigrant investor program and the entrepreneur program and replace them with this new one, but there are 63,000 applicants in the first one and 78,700 in the second one that you're just going to cancel out. Are you going to offer them an opportunity to go into the express entry system? Isn't there some sense of fairness? These people have been waiting for a response. They have been in the queue, and now suddenly they're told to get lost — or are they?

Mr. Manicom: We understand that the individual applicants may be disappointed. They will be eligible to apply for any of the Government of Canada programs for which they may qualify. They will get their application fees back. The decision has been taken because of a very large accumulation of inventory occurring over many years when the government accepted far more applications than there was sufficient space in the levels plan to process. It was felt that if we were going to move toward a just-in-time system without waiting until 2020 or 2025 to work our way through these very large backlogs, then this was a decision that needed to be taken in the national interest.

Senator Eggleton: Of course, the government could have provided more resources to be able to go through those applications.

Mr. Manicom: It was not a resource issue.

Senator Eaton: Ms. Welbourne, I will start with you. The express entry system sounds wonderful. You will do everything electronically. How will you check people's references? I could write to you and say, ``I can do this, this and this, and these are my qualifications and this has been my experience.'' How will you check that?

Ms. Welbourne: Well, there will be a number of ways. As part of this system, individuals will be required to provide language test results as well as an educational credential.

Senator Eaton: Do they go and take a language test that you approve of somewhere in their home country?

Ms. Welbourne: They will be required to provide language results in a format that is internationally available, like an IL score or something with a Canadian Languages Benchmark, up front, as well as an assessment of their educational credential by an organization that we recognize to do such assessments. Then they provide information. It is all online, and it is all automated, so it's not verified by an officer unless and until an individual is invited to apply and does apply for permanent residence. At that time, they will be asked to provide the normal kinds of supporting documents that they're currently asked to provide in terms of a permanent resident application. That's when the officer will assess that.

In terms of deterring individuals from providing false information that may lead to their being invited to apply when they shouldn't have because it was on the basis of false information, there will be fairly strong deterrents built into the system and communicated to the candidates in the form of candidates who have been found to have misrepresented themselves or provide fraudulent information or documents will not be permitted to apply for permanent residence again for a period of five years.

Senator Eaton: Have you done any pilot programs? Have you tested this in any way?

Ms. Welbourne: The actual system?

Senator Eaton: Yes.

Ms. Welbourne: The current system is being built, but we do have some experience as a department with the idea of electronic applications, for instance, in some of our temporary resident lines.

Senator Eaton: Clause 300 is to require that claims made and express entry submissions be maintained at the time a candidate makes an application for permanent residence. Candidates will be ranked and invited to apply for permanent residence, et cetera, and this amendment will ensure that candidates still have these qualifications when they apply for permanent residence.

I'm invited to apply. Am I invited to apply for permanent residence after you've given a preliminary look at my electronic application? Is that it?

Ms. Welbourne: Maybe it would be helpful to just walk through the steps along the way, as we envisage.

Senator Eaton: Yes.

Ms. Welbourne: It will be a fully automated front-end system. Individuals who wish to come to Canada in one of the economic streams I mentioned — the Federal Skilled Worker Program, Canadian Experience Class or the Federal Skilled Trades Program or part of the Provincial Nominee Program — will be required first to fill out online what we call an expression of interest, but an online form that asks for details about their credentials, experience and so on. On that basis, it will be determined whether they are eligible for at least one of the programs being managed through express entry.

If they are eligible, they will be admitted to the pool, is the language we've been using. Once in the pool, they will be ranked using what we're calling the comprehensive ranking system. Points will be awarded —

Senator Eaton: How long will that take? I fill out an expression of interest and send it in. It makes it into the pool.

Ms. Welbourne: It's instant. You fill out the online submission, you hit ``submit,'' and you get told ``you're in'' or ``I'm afraid you're not eligible because . . .''

Senator Eaton: I get put into the pool, and then?

Ms. Welbourne: You move into the pool. You'll be given a score that gives you a sense of how well you've done and how well you will likely do the next time the department issues invitations to apply. For instance, we are figuring out whether that would be on a weekly or a biweekly basis, whatever the period.

Senator Eaton: If my score is 75, it's not 100?

Ms. Welbourne: It's not 100. It's more complicated than that. But say you get a score of 500, you will be able to assess, given information on our website, how likely it is with a score of 500 for you to be invited to apply. You will see that in previous draws, a previous round of the department or the system inviting candidates to apply, that everybody with a score of 475 and above was invited. Therefore, you're going to get a sense that you have a good chance.

Senator Eaton: Will the average change? In other words, if one week the average is 450 and they get asked, but a month later suddenly there are a lot of people hitting 750 and 800, then I would fall off, wouldn't I?

Ms. Welbourne: Exactly. It will change over time. It depends. You are always ranked against all the other people in the pool at that point in time, so there is no hard number above which you are guaranteed to be invited. It is your standing compared to all the other individuals in the pool at the time that the invitations to apply get sent out.

Senator Eaton: I see. And how long do I remain in the pool?

Ms. Welbourne: We haven't totally come to ground on that, but we're thinking probably about a year. Your individual expression of interest will remain valid for a year. If you're not invited to apply within that year, you're out, but you can go right back in again if you want.

Senator Eaton: I can reapply and hope my skills are better?

Ms. Welbourne: As long as you continue to meet the eligibility requirements, you can go back in.

Senator Cordy: I'm starting to get used to Citizenship and Immigration appearing before us on a budget bill, and that's sort of scary to me.

I'd like to go back to Senator Eggleton's line of questioning regarding the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. To say that this program has run amok is certainly an understatement because of all the concerns we've heard about recently. We know that, as Senator Eggleton said, in 2009 the number of temporary foreign workers was 280,769, and in 2012 it increased to 338,189. We have to keep in mind that this was during a recession when a number of Canadians were losing their jobs.

We've also heard reports of Canadian workers who have been fired and replaced by temporary foreign workers. We've also heard of cases of Canadian employees who were training temporary foreign workers who would then take over their jobs, as was the case with a bank in Canada.

We know that a lot of work has to be done in this area. We also know that perhaps the number of job openings was not as high as it once was, given the numbers coming out of the department.

Would the department give us the kinds of jobs being offered to temporary foreign workers — the kinds of jobs being offered in specific communities? We know that there are pockets across the country where jobs are required, but we also know that there are jobs in some locations where employment rates are quite high, and yet temporary foreign workers are being brought in. Does the department have that information? Would you be willing to release it to Canadians so they can see it?

Mr. Conrad: The department obviously tracks every detail around where temporary foreign workers are approved for entry. ESDC approves the employer request or refuses the employer request for a given number of foreign workers for a given occupation in a specific location for a fixed period of time. The employer then has a decision after they've received the approval whether to proceed and formally request a foreign worker. There's always a mismatch in the number of positions approved and the number of foreign workers who enter because a significant number of employers find Canadian workers during the time after they apply and before they're approved or even during the time from when they're approved to when they find a foreign worker to enter the country. In fact, as part of the labour market opinion advertising requirements we require employers to continue to advertise a job until the labour market opinion is approved or refused.

We track all the statistics in terms of which positions are approved by region and by occupation. I obviously don't have the specifics with me, but I'd be happy to provide the committee with any of that information it feels is relevant.

Senator Cordy: It would be great if you could send that information to us.

The Chair: What the senator has asked for could be an enormous amount of data, and we have a limited amount of time here. This will have to be limited to a representative answer that you could get to us within a matter of days.

Senator Cordy: Good point; thank you, chair.

The Chair: Presumably, there would be useful examples, at the very least.

Senator Cordy: Perhaps having the numbers for each region would be helpful, if you have that. You said you have that information.

Mr. Conrad: Yes. I have the numbers per year and per program stream, but I don't have the provincial breakdown with me.

Senator Cordy: You said that employers have to demonstrate that there is no Canadian who is either qualified to take the job or is willing to take the job. Yet, we've heard stories, particularly over the past few months, about Canadians who are losing their jobs to temporary foreign workers. Could you tell us what an employer has to do? You said an employer has to show that they have advertised for the position, but I've heard that the advertising is very short. Could you give me specifics on what an employer has to do to demonstrate that they do not have a Canadian who can take that job?

Mr. Conrad: The requirements differ a little bit between agricultural jobs and low-skilled and high-skilled jobs. Generally, as far as the advertisement goes, we require the employer to advertise in several different types of media. We require them to advertise generally through the national job bank or provincial job bank. We require them to advertise at the prevailing wage and indicate what the wage is and details around the job. As I say, we require them to advertise not only before the LMO application is made, but also during the process. For most applications before they come in, we require a minimum of four weeks' advertisement in more than one medium; and then we require them to continue that advertising until we actually make a decision on the labour market opinion application. As I said in my opening remarks, over the last few months those advertising requirements have been lengthened.

Senator Cordy: You said in your comments that the minister's language was forceful. I'm not speaking of a specific minister but the minister at the time we heard about the bank issue where Canadians were actually training temporary foreign workers who were then going to take over their jobs. The language was pretty forceful at that time as well. How is the new forceful language going to ensure that Canadians are not losing their jobs?

Mr. Manicom: Mr. Conrad is best placed to answer the question specific to the labour market opinion process. The incident you're talking about with regard to the Royal Bank of Canada and the Indian software company iGATE were individuals not subject to the labour market opinion process. They came in under Canada's international trade obligations through the General Agreement on Trade in Services, GATS.

With regard to the particular incident, details were reported in the media. They are media reports. The department has no evidence specifically that the program criteria were violated. However, the government is doing a review of the provisions of that program, which are reciprocal in nature. They do not subject the individuals to a labour market test in exchange for the same treatment by Canadian citizens seeking to work internationally.

That incident is not related specifically to the labour market opinion process and the broader issues that have been recently in the fore in that sense.

Senator Cordy: Nonetheless, the indications we got were that Canadians were training foreign workers to come in and take their jobs.

I'd like to address Citizenship and Immigration Canada. You held consultations on the immigration investor program in 2012, but the summary report has never been publicly available. Is it available?

Mr. Manicom: I don't believe so, madam.

Senator Cordy: Why would it not be available? If we're making changes, it would certainly be helpful for us as a committee and let Canadians to know what the findings were in terms of those public consultations. Were the findings the reason for the changes in terminating the inventory of investor class applications? That would be helpful information for us to know. Is there a reason that it has not been made public?

Mr. Manicom: I'd have to verify that. These consultations were conducted by the minister. I'd have to verify whether summary documents are available.

The decision to terminate the program was based on both the consultations and the analysis by the department going back some time and redone recently to look at the economic impact of the program. We've been conscious for some time that the economic benefits were relatively limited. The government had been making prior changes to the program to increase the dollar value. Increasingly we felt that providing Canadian citizenship and permanent resident status in exchange for an interest-free loan and the real value of that, especially in a low interest rate environment, was quite minimal.

Our ability to analyze the economic impact continues to improve, so we're able to do statistical comparisons, for instance, of taxes paid over a lifetime by individuals in that category versus our other economic categories. We found, for example, that the average immigrant investor program participant paid $200,000 less in taxes over a 20-year career than a federal skilled worker paid. So it was about the relative priorities.

Senator Cordy: You've made those types of comments in your speech to us. I just find it unusual that, for the public consultations that were made, the public doesn't have access to a summary report on it. That would certainly be very helpful to me, looking at these changes that are being made.

Mr. Manicom: I'll have to verify, but I don't believe a public summary has been prepared.

Senator Seidman: I might start, Ms. Welbourne, with you, just to clarify a few issues. I'd just like to be sure: You said the express entry program is a new application management system. That would mean that it's not a new entry program; it's a new management system. I just want to be really clear.

Ms. Welbourne: Yes. If I can clarify, it's a system, not a program. It's a system that will allow us to manage applications in the programs to which it will apply. It is a pre-application step that will be mandatory for the federal programs that I've talked about as of January 1.

Senator Seidman: When the express entry program is implemented, will applicants apply for those specific programs that exist, that you mentioned, or will they make more general application and then be directed to a program that is pertinent for their requirements or their talents or skills?

Ms. Welbourne: To try to put it a slightly different way, individuals who wish to come to Canada in one of those three federal programs will no longer be able to just apply for permanent residence in one of those programs. They will be required, as a first step, to express their interest through this online system. Only those who are invited to apply will be permitted to submit an application for permanent residence. It's an application management system in the sense that we will control the number of applications coming in in a way that we have not been able to thus far. We will only invite the number of people to apply for which we have processing capacity and levels space in our annual levels plan.

Senator Seidman: You've answered my final question to you, which was what the advantages are of this program yet to be implemented over the current, existing system.

Ms. Welbourne: The other element I would add is that because of these innovations and this new approach, we'll be able to offer a six-month processing service standard, which will be a significant improvement over the current processing standards for permanent residence applications.

Senator Seidman: Thank you. That really helps.

Mr. Conrad, if I could ask you a question or two. My understanding is that Citizenship and Immigration Canada and HRSDC can inspect premises to verify compliance, and they may require employers to provide documents or report at a certain time or place to answer questions. Would you explain how that inspection process works, please? For example, how are inspection sites chosen? Is it at random, or do you get a complaint? How does that work?

Mr. Conrad: Without getting too much into the details of how we select specific employers to be inspected, we do certainly a representative sample of employers using the program. We have several different program streams, and we ensure that there's a representative sample from different program streams, because the requirements are different. We do a large volume of random inspections. We also do a large volume of risk-based, where we feel inspections should be particularly targeted. In response to complaints from a variety of sources, including through the tip line that the minister introduced recently, we follow-up on all of those complaints. It's a mix of complaint-driven, risk and random inspections.

Senator Seidman: I think you said you do, though, have some kind of selection process by industry?

Mr. Conrad: We actually have quite a sophisticated internal model that we use in terms of using predictive analytics and other tools to decide which companies to review. It is a weighting of various variables, as I said, between program streams, geographic location and a range of other activities that are mostly hidden from public view, to be honest.

Senator Seidman: Would you have any data to share with us on the number of inspections performed and the success of these inspections?

Mr. Conrad: I don't have the specifics with me, but I know the minister was asked at committee for similar details. I can make sure the material the minister committed to is circulated more broadly.

The Chair: You're saying that the minister will what? How will this get to the committee?

Mr. Conrad: Sorry. I will, through my own department, make sure that the information that has already been requested by another committee is sent to you.

The Chair: It will need to reach us by or before next Tuesday in order for us to consider it.

Mr. Conrad: Understood.

Senator Seidman: If I might ask one last question of you, Mr. Conrad: How will the monetary penalties help to ensure compliance with the program?

Mr. Conrad: The administrative monetary penalties by themselves are a deterrent tool, and their existence is meant to be a deterrent rather than punitive, per se, although obviously if an employer is given a penalty, then there is obviously a punitive aspect to it.

Right now we have a system where the consequence of employers being found non-compliant with the program is a program ban. It's a two-year ban. We feel in some cases a monetary penalty is a more appropriate tool to use, either in addition to some kind of ban or in and of itself, because there are certain types of employer actions where the potential to be handed a monetary penalty is more significant than a ban. For example, there are employers who only use a program once, and a program ban would not be a useful sanction as it wouldn't be a deterrent, whereas a monetary penalty would be.

Senator Seidman: So you have the ability to distinguish in that sense?

Mr. Conrad: In fact, yes, through the regulatory process, the minister will be outlining the kinds of sanctions and the circumstances in which different sanctions would apply.

Senator Seth: Thank you for your information and for being here.

My question is for Ms. Welbourne. You have said that established candidates who do not make application for permanent residence within a certain time frame after receiving an invitation to apply are ineligible to receive another invitation to apply unless there's some new expression of interest and all eligible criteria and conditions are met.

My question is the following: What time frame do you give once I'm already eligible and you have invited me to apply for permanent residence? Can you explain to me ``expression of interest'' and ``conditions are met''? I was okay the first time you invited me to become a permanent resident. What will make me not okay the next time? What will change?

Ms. Welbourne: I'll break that down into two pieces. We haven't finalized the period within which an individual would be expected to submit their application for permanent residence following an invitation to apply, but it will be likely in the order of a couple of months. An individual will receive an invitation to apply, and they will be asked to submit their application completed within a period of about two months. When they receive the invitation to apply, if for whatever reason they're not ready to proceed, they will actually be given the possibility to go back into the pool, so to speak. They will be permitted to say, ``No, I don't wish to accept this invitation to apply at this time; I wish to go back.'' Only those who have committed that, yes, indeed, they do want to proceed will be limited by this time period. That's just to avoid a situation where we have a lot of potential applications in limbo and to keep the system running.

The implications of not submitting the application for permanent residence within that period are that, if they wish to be considered again, they would have to resubmit an expression of interest. As long as they met the criteria for eligibility — they are still eligible for one of the programs managed through the express entry system — they would be able to essentially go right back into the pool.

Senator Seth: Citizenship and Immigration Canada wants to create a pool of skilled labour to meet the needs of industry. I think you have already given some information about the pool system to Senator Eaton; and I understood.

What types of professionals make up the pool? Are they doctors, engineers, administrators? What would be the process for professional accreditation for pool candidates once they are selected?

Ms. Welbourne: As noted, the express entry system will apply to individuals who wish to come to Canada under one of the three federal programs or some portion of the provincial nominee programs. These are highly skilled individuals. To qualify for one of the federal programs, you have to be working at the national occupational classification level of O, A, or B, which means you're managerial, professional, or have skilled trades, which would be B level. They are the kinds of individuals we would look at. They're the individuals who currently come to Canada in one of those three programs.

In terms of changes to credential recognition processes, there's nothing about express entry that changes any of those requirements. There is nothing additional within the express entry in terms of credential recognition processes. Those continue to operate the way they have operated. There is work ongoing, I'm sure you're aware, to continue to work at credential recognition issues. The express entry system is more a reflection of the current program parameters and any changes that may occur over time to credential recognition requirements or whatever will be reflected within the express entry system. They are not changed in themselves by the express entry system.

Senator Seth: I do not yet understand what it would be for professionals.

Ms. Welbourne: We're talking about doctors, engineers, professors and skilled tradespeople such as electricians and plumbers.

The Chair: I think we've got that. Next question?

Senator Seth: I'm not clear, but I'll leave it there.

The Chair: There's a range of professionals and those are clear examples.

Senator Seth: That's fine. Suppose I'm a doctor in India and I apply here. How would I be taken? How would I be working as a professional here? That was my question.

The Chair: You said explicitly that doctors can apply within these programs; is that correct?

Ms. Welbourne: Yes, absolutely. But what they have to do in order to qualify to be able to work in Canada is separate from express entry. That's what I'm saying. Nothing about express entry changes the requirements or the steps that would have to be undertaken for somebody who is qualified to work as a doctor overseas to come to work as a doctor in Canada once here. It doesn't change anything.

Senator Seth: Okay. Thank you.

Senator Enverga: I'm interested in the express entry system. Foreign workers already here can apply to this express entry system. Am I right about that?

Ms. Welbourne: Who do you mean by foreign workers?

Senator Enverga: Temporary foreign workers already in Canada already who want to apply for the express entry system.

Ms. Welbourne: If they meet the eligibility requirements for one of the programs, then, yes, they could do that.

Senator Enverga: Will live-in caregivers be able to apply if they have the right requirements?

Ms. Welbourne: The express entry won't apply to the live-in caregiver program.

Senator Enverga: Senator Eggleton mentioned that the government could have added more resources to fix the backlog. Mr. Manicom, you mentioned that it was not an issue of resources. Could you elaborate on that? Why is it not an issue of resources?

Mr. Manicom: Canada has an annual levels plan submitted to Parliament each year. By that plan, the government states its intention to admit a certain number of permanent residents overall and a certain number in each category. The department cannot process more applications than the annual Immigration Levels Plan.

The fundamental driver of backlog accumulation is not departmental resources; it's the fact that we had for many years unmanaged intake. We took everyone who applied, but we had carefully managed and quite successfully managed output to meet and not exceed the annual levels plan as submitted to Parliament. The number of applications we can process each year is driven by the levels plan.

Senator Enverga: The department of Employment and Social Development Canada proposes to increase the powers of the minister through regulations by the Governor-in-Council to implement administrative monetary penalties for non-compliance with current regulations. The minister has made statements recently that there are laws in place to punish employers who abuse the Temporary Foreign Worker Program under the Criminal Code. Can you explain why the minister needs administrative powers in addition to this?

Mr. Conrad: There are any number of behaviours that employers could exhibit while using the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Certainly a certain percentage, and some have been in the public eye and the news, have been criminal in nature and a criminal response and referral to the police or another law enforcement body is the appropriate step to take.

Certainly, the vast majority of compliance problems we uncover with the program are minor and administrative in nature. They range from a farm worker being paid one cent an hour more than was advertised or one cent less. We have other cases where vacation allotments have been calculated on base pay but not on overtime pay. Those are clearly a different type of compliance problem. Sometimes employers don't keep proper records. So there are different kinds of compliance problems that aren't criminal behaviour, although there are a couple of high-profile cases of illegal criminal behaviour.

For the vast majority we have an administrative compliance system where we verify that employers have complied with the program requirements. If they haven't, we force them, for example, to pay the farm worker back or to fix the problems where they can. In cases where the infraction is not criminal in nature but it's severe enough, they will be banned from the program. At any given point, a decision is made about the employer's behaviour and whether it's criminal and should be referred to law enforcement or whether, through the department's administrative system, it should be inspected and sanctioned.

[Translation]

Senator Chaput: My first question is for Mr. Conrad.

In your presentation, you talked about modifications to programs which included suspending certain initiatives. One of the initiatives that was suspended was the policy of wage flexibility. That is what you said.

Could you tell me more about that policy? When did it come into force? When will it be suspended and why?

[English]

Mr. Conrad: Wage flexibility gives employers paying Canadians a certain wage the ability to reduce the amount of pay for some temporary foreign workers. I believe it was 15 per cent for high-skilled occupations and 5 per cent for low-skilled occupations.

Senator Chaput: Less?

Mr. Conrad: Less than the prevailing wage if they were paying a Canadian in that same job that wage. There was a bit of flexibility to allow them to reduce the foreign worker's wage by those percentages to make them match up better with what they were paying Canadians.

To be honest, offhand I can't remember the date it was put in place. It ended, I think, April 29 last year. One of the main reasons behind that was in truth few employers actually used the flexibility. When we looked at employer usage and how that was being managed, it turned out to be basically a non-issue and seemed like it was a fairly poorly understood but also an unnecessary program requirement. So the minister made the decision to end the flexibility. As I said, it was far less than 5 per cent of employers who actually used it.

[Translation]

Senator Chaput: Could the result of such a policy be that an employer would hire people that he can pay less, which would leave Canadians aside? Could the hiring of someone at a lower wage have been a possible consequence?

Mr. Conrad: I would say no.

Senator Chaput: No?

Mr. Conrad: It would only be in the situation I described, where the employer pays a Canadian the same salary. So I would say that there is not really any impact.

Senator Chaput: Thank you. My second question is for Mr. Manicom. In your presentation, you said that the government would conduct consultations on a possible pilot project concerning business skills. This project was also mentioned in Canada's Economic Action Plan 2014, where possible consultations are discussed.

When do you think these consultations will happen? And what are the main elements that will be part of this business skills program?

Mr. Manicom: We will conduct consultations on two potential pilot projects, first on the venture capital program, and we will conduct consultations with industry specialists so that the government can implement the program which brings the greatest added value to the economy, and to the sector where there is the greatest financial need. Consultations on this pilot project will begin in the next few weeks, but the details have not yet been decided.

That initiative will be followed by a second, somewhat more complex consultation, later in October or perhaps next spring. We want to know if it would be possible to implement a program that would capitalize on business peoples' talent.

In the past, we were not really able to do so. Frankly, competing countries cannot implement a program that truly capitalizes on innovation, and real entrepreneurship. We think that with a small-scale pilot program, and through consultation with the public and with business people, we can try to use fairly objective, but also targeted, criteria in order to find a small number of people with real experience, people who have attained broad success, people who have the talent necessary to develop new businesses, collect capital, capitalize on innovation, and so on.

This is a concept that we would like to carefully and cautiously explore within the pilot program.

Senator Chaput: When you say ``talent,'' do you mean ``skills''?

Mr. Manicom: Yes, skills, not only to show that they can manage large business deals, but to show that they have been successful internationally. We would like people from the business sector to tell us where Canadian industry is currently falling short, for example by taking a small business as an example, to see if it would be a good idea to move forward, and to determine how to move forward, by examining and defining criteria.

Senator Chaput: The goal of this exercise would be essentially to match talented people with businesses looking for talent? Is that it?

Mr. Manicom: Yes, and to try to develop the program, which would be more effective than previous programs.

Senator Chaput: In your opinion, could this concept be developed into a pilot project this year? Next year?

Mr. Manicom: As for the first program, the venture capital program, which is more advanced, consultations will help us flesh out the details. We intend to implement this program probably early next year.

The timeline for the second project is less clear; the consultations will be more exploratory in nature. We do not have a date set, but it would certainly not be before the middle or the end of next year. We will wait and see.

Senator Chaput: Do I have time for another short question?

Ms. Welbourne, in your presentation, you mentioned that the assessment of qualifications would be carried out by designated third parties. Could you give me an example of a designated third party?

Ms. Welbourne: Yes, of course.

[English]

The two obvious examples are language testing institutions. They provide language testing to candidates and the results are recognized by CIC, as well as organizations that have been designated to provide assessments of education credentials. This is something that is currently in place in the Federal Skilled Worker Program as a requirement, and there are already designated organizations that provide this for that purpose.

Senator Eggleton: Last week on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, of course, the discussion was all about McDonald's, but there's a new employer in today. It turns out to be the federal government. At least five federal government departments and one minister's office have requested temporary foreign workers in the last two years. They mention which departments, but they haven't got all the details as to what kind of workers these were, except in one case. Apparently, Public Works and Government Services said that the department is hiring people for the Translation Bureau. It says here that news of seeking temporary foreign workers for the Translation Bureau came as a surprise to the Canadian Association of Professional Workers President Claude Poirier, who previously served as president of the Translation Bureau. He's quoted as saying: ``Locally, we always can find someone.''

What's this all about?

Mr. Conrad: Senator, to be honest, I haven't seen the specifics of the case that you're talking about in the news, which I suspect has probably been quite recent, so I can't comment on the specific situation.

This question has come up before in terms of the federal government's use of temporary foreign workers. We have looked into it.

Last year, for example, we did find that Public Works actually had used a number of temporary foreign workers as interpreters generally between two languages, neither of which are Canada's official languages. We often found that they would bring in people for a couple of days, if there was a foreign delegation, to work as an interpreter, if there was more than one foreign delegation. For example, Canada may not have someone who is a certified interpreter between Croation and German.

While I can't speak to that specific example, I do often find, when the story comes out later, that it's slightly different than what was first reported. Health Canada, for example, does occasionally bring in specific scientists who teach something for a few days, and that's generally been the type of use that the Government of Canada has had for foreign workers.

Senator Eggleton: That's quite plausible. The former president of the Translation Bureau says that they can always find someone locally. Anyway, have a look further at this, because there are five departments and one ministerial office in total involved here. I'd like it if you can find out more about what kind of positions we're talking about and what kind of rationale was used by the federal government to hire these people.

I want to come back to the express entry system. Senator Enverga and I both talked about this question of the backlog, and you said you have to manage the intake. Yes, I understand that. There are quotas, but of course you can still leave people in and they'll come up next year, but they're being removed. They're being removed, but is it really going to get any better? ``Express entry'' is a very appealing piece of terminology here. If you get tonnes of people applying, how can you manage that? What makes you think that by cancelling this backlog you're not going to get into another backlog?

Ms. Welbourne: Maybe I'll start with the express entry just to make it clear that the express entry system as a pre- application stage will only apply to the federal skilled worker, Canadian Experience Class and federal skilled trades class, and a portion of the provincial nominee program. These are the only individuals who will be managed through the express entry system.

Senator Eggleton: How many applications will we get per year in those programs?

Ms. Welbourne: The important thing about the express entry system is it will be tied to our levels plans, and only those individuals who are invited to apply have the right to submit an application for permanent residence. In fact, we hope to get many expressions of interest and candidates in the pool, but only those who are most qualified and will do the best in the Canadian economy will be invited to apply. In that way, we align the number of applications —

Senator Eggleton: I'm still at the first step. I'm still where they send in the electronic ``we'd like to,'' and you get deluged with those kinds of things. That's going to take a long time, and you will develop another backlog.

Ms. Welbourne: No. It's fully automated. It's an online application. There's no officer intervention. It's an IT system. Decisions are made by the system whether individuals are accepted into the pool or not. It's instantaneous. All of that is fully automated, an electronic system. It's only at the point where an application for permanent residence has actually been received by the department, and that will also be an electronic application, so that —

Senator Eggleton: So the automated system can tell them whether they comply or not. If they comply, what is the next step? The next step is to put in a full application?

Ms. Welbourne: If they're invited to apply, they will be permitted to submit an electronic application for permanent residence. That's all online. When that's received, that's the first time an officer handles the file and does the assessment as per the normal process right now.

Senator Eggleton: I just don't see how you can avoid getting into another backlog.

The Chair: On this point, she explained it earlier. At the end of one year, they fall off, and then they have the opportunity to come back in.

Senator Eggleton: I see.

Ms. Welbourne: Just to go back to clarify, as David mentioned, there's an annual levels program that sets the number of admissions per year per program. We will align the invitations to apply with that plan. We will only invite the number of individuals to apply that we can accommodate within the levels.

Senator Eggleton: All right.

What about the foreign credential problem that has been going on for some time now? People come over here with expectations. Senator Seth mentioned a doctor in India. We know from previous discussions that you have to go through quite a bit of retraining and examinations, et cetera. People have an expectation that they're going to be able to practice whatever profession they did, whether it's doctor or engineer, whatever. They come over here and find it's a different reality.

Is there something you can do to better prepare these people to better deal with this? We've been talking for a long time about trying to get a better handle on this, but I don't see anything that's a big breakthrough yet.

Mr. Manicom: As Maia mentioned, the expression of interest system is an application management system, so it's not related in either a positive or negative way to this very important issue. Government, along with the provinces, has been devoting enormous time and effort to improve our credential recognition opportunities and information to clients, but it's a two-part question. It's ensuring that those who do have equivalent credentials have relatively easy ways to get those credentials assessed, but many people's credentials will not be equivalent. It's partly about providing good communication to people.

I think we took a major step forward over the last year or so when we began the Education Credential Assessment. Now, when you apply in the Federal Skilled Worker Program, in the future in the express entry program, you will be required to have professional bodies who do this for a living provide an equivalency review of your credential to the Canadian standard. That doesn't complete the credential recognition process. Let's take pharmacy, for example. That will tell the applicant that their pharmacy degree from India, the Philippines or France is or is not equivalent to the standards of a Canadian pharmacy degree. They still may need to do exams. They've still may need to pay fees and so forth to get their credential as a pharmacist once they get to Canada, but this is a big step forward because they know there is a general equivalence.

Senator Eggleton: They will be doing that over there, where they are now, as opposed to after they get over here?

Mr. Manicom: They'll be submitting their documentation to a designated education credential assessment agency before they apply.

Senator Eggleton: Is that a government agency? It's not private, is it?

Mr. Manicom: There are several private agencies designated by the government through a call-for-service-proposals process in 2013.

Senator Eggleton: Quebec has a different system than the other provinces. Is that system going to stay in place? They have their own version, I think, of the investor immigration program. Are they going to continue to operate that? Are other provinces going to get those options as well?

Mr. Manicom: With regard to the investor program, Quebec, under the terms of the Canada-Quebec accord, will be able to continue their investor program. As you know, our minister has expressed some concerns about how that program operates, and we continue to work with Quebec to try to ensure that a larger proportion of the individuals they select in their investor program do have the genuine intention of residing in Quebec.

At this point, as far as I understand, Quebec intends to continue to keep their present model of the investor program, that is, the interest-free loan, with whatever value one feels that adds.

I think all we would say is that we hope that our program going forward will demonstrate that there is a better model and then Quebec will make their own decision about whether or not they wish to continue with their current program.

Senator Eggleton: And you're not offering it to any other provinces?

Mr. Manicom: No. The other provinces do not have the ability in law to run a passive investment program. They do have entrepreneur programs for active business engagement. It's a complex federation, senator.

Senator Eaton: I'd like to talk about the immigrant investor program. I walk into an embassy in Hong Kong and say, ``I'd like to invest $1 million in Canada.'' Will that get me a passport? Or, ``I'm investing $1 million in the oil sands in Suncor.'' Would that get me a passport?''

Mr. Manicom: No.

Senator Eaton: All right. I walk in and say, ````I would like to invest $1 million in Canada.'' Would that get me a passport?

Mr. Manicom: No. Right now, there is no federal investor program, so it doesn't matter what you want to invest or how much. We don't give you permanent resident status in exchange for your money.

If the Budget Implementation Act is approved, there will be no federal investor program. It will be replaced, we think, early in the next year by the venture capital program, of which we are finishing the design details. Conceptually there, an individual who meets both some human capital criteria and some business expertise criteria, and who is prepared to make an at-risk investment in the most-needed parts of the Canadian economy managed by a professional fund in some way, using market principles, may be able to get permanent resident status. It will be a small number, though.

Senator Eaton: I guess it's not fair to question you because you're still drawing it up.

Mr. Manicom: Yes, and I hope I'm describing it in ways identical to those our minister has spoken publicly about it to date.

Senator Eaton: I think you have. I won't press for further details right now. I'll wait until next year when you come before the committee.

Mr. Manicom: We'll be bringing the final details forward after the consultations. We really want to do the consultations with the sector experts to get the design right. I think the Government of Canada and all our competitor countries feel that no one has yet designed a really good immigrant investor or business program, so we would like to be the first.

Senator Eaton: The idea is if people invest their money in this country, we also want them to live and work in this country. Is that right?

Mr. Manicom: Yes, and we also want to use their money where it's most needed. If you can put the money in the right part of the Canadian economy where there are financing gaps and if the money is at risk, then you can leverage that money in entirely different ways than you can in an interest-free loan. An interest-free loan, in today's interest-rate environment, is of pretty limited value.

The Chair: Mr. Manicom, I think it would be difficult to have a lower degree of success than the previous investor program, so we certainly hope that your pilot project works. If you can come up with those characteristics and criteria of evaluating individuals that can actually tell you who will be a successful entrepreneur, I think Canada will in fact lead the world in a number of ways following that. I wish you great success there.

I have to say, given the various major things that this committee has reviewed, all the way from health care in Canada and so on, I'm absolutely delighted to hear about your new approach to evaluating the express entry program. In all the other areas we have been pounding different departments, shall we say, and one in particular, with regard to the critical need for data to be submitted electronically, to be collected —

Senator Eaton: We won't name them.

The Chair: We don't name that department at all, no.

What you describe, Ms. Welbourne, is, to my mind, tremendously refreshing. We have also reviewed a number of these immigrant programs and the major issue has been the one that Senator Eggleton has today reflected on, and has always reflected on in these issues, and that is the tremendous backlog and the impact that has on individuals and the inability to relieve them of the frustration of the long wait with no success in the end.

To do something on the basis of the actual application process being very short in time in terms of the initial evaluation to being determined to be qualified to enter the express pool and then to be able to deal with that electronically, in real time, against an evaluated need, at least some relative evaluation based on experience of the actual need and the numbers that therefore can be accepted, by the end of roughly a 12-month period to be able to relieve people of the anxiety that they will actually be able to continue will be of enormous benefit to individuals who are going to apply, and they still have the opportunity to requalify, resubmit and reapply. They're not just in a long list that stays there for 10 or more years.

I must say that from my perspective — and I'm speaking personally here, not on behalf of the committee — this is the first major advance in large application data issues that have come before us in the time that I've been on this committee. I'm absolutely delighted to hear about it. I think that, even with reasonable success, it will be a major step forward in helping employers and individuals — especially the individuals — applying to enter Canada.

The final thing that I would like to say is we slipped a bit into the issue of professional qualifications at the level of medical people. In these areas, I certainly hope that Canada will maintain a requirement for very clear evaluation of medical qualifications, in particular, and other serious professional qualification for which lives are at stake — this could be in aerospace engineering and other areas — and that it will maintain a very high level of rigour with regard to establishing equal qualifications. We have too many examples of what happens when things slip through in those areas. Again, I'm speaking personally here.

With that, I want to thank you very much for your appearance today. I think, certainly from my perspective, you've helped us a great deal with this division in all aspects of it. I want to thank my colleagues for their questions which have drawn out many of the issues that are going to be important to us in sending our advice forward.

I want to repeat that nothing that arrives to us in information beyond next Tuesday morning will be accepted as any part of our deliberation.

With that, I declare the meeting adjourned.

(The committee adjourned.)