Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Issue 5 - Evidence - Meeting of March 31, 2014
OTTAWA, Monday, March 31, 2014
The Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages met this day at 5:05 p.m. to continue its study on the impacts of recent changes to the immigration system on official language minority communities.
Senator Claudette Tardif (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: Honourable senators, I call this meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages to order. I am Senator Claudette Tardif from Alberta. I am the chair of this committee. I would ask senators to introduce themselves, beginning on my left.
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: Senator Suzanne Fortin-Duplessis from Quebec City.
Senator McIntyre: Paul McIntyre, senator from Charlo, New Brunswick.
Senator Charette-Poulin: Senator Marie-Paule Charette-Poulin from Northern Ontario.
Senator Robichaud: Senator Fernand Robichaud from Saint-Louis-de-Kent, New Brunswick.
The Chair: We are continuing our study on the impact of recent changes to the immigration system on official language minority communities. The purpose of our meeting today is to question researchers who have examined this matter.
Our witnesses today are Michèle Vatz-Laaroussi, who is a professor at the School of Social Work of the University of Sherbrooke. Her interest is immigration to Quebec's regions. She received funding from Citizenship and Immigration Canada a few years ago to conduct research on the settlement of anglophone newcomers to Quebec. She is appearing by video conference today.
We also welcome Chedly Belkhodja, who is a professor and the Principal of the School of Community and Public Affairs at Concordia University. He previously taught at the University of Moncton and was involved in the creation of the Atlantic Metropolis Centre, where he was research director from 2006 to 2012. His research focus is immigration outside the major centres, francophone immigration and the representation of cultural, religious and ethnic diversity.
We also have Matthieu Brennan from the firm of Brynaert Brennan and Associates. In June 2013, Mr. Brennan published a study with Ronald Bisson entitled, Analysis of Reforms to Canada's Immigration System and Its Implications on Communities of the Canadian Francophonie. The findings of that study were presented at the last Ministerial Conference on the Canadian Francophonie, which was held in Winnipeg.
Ms. Vatz-Laaroussi, you may start us off, followed by Mr. Belkhodja and then Mr. Brennan. Senators will ask questions after the presentations.
Michèle Vatz-Laaroussi, Professor, School of Social Work, University of Sherbrooke: Thank you for this speaking time. I will try to speak slowly, but first I will attempt to present a few points as background to the findings I will be discussing today.
I have worked for nearly 20 years on immigration to Quebec's regions, that is to say outside Montreal, and outside the major Canadian cities, but also on immigration outside the capital cities of other countries.
I have also examined immigration to francophone communities outside Quebec. Lastly, for the past five years or so, I have been conducting this research for Citizenship and Immigration Canada on immigration to Quebec's anglophone communities, mainly in four Quebec regions.
What is important to understand is that the question of Quebec's anglophone communities and immigration to those communities is a very new, very recent topic of concern. This concern stems from work that has been done with francophone communities outside Quebec and on the contributions that immigration has made to those communities, which Mr. Belkhodja will tell you about later.
However, my interest in this has also stemmed from the decline of certain anglophone communities in Quebec, something that is not very well known. Like francophone communities outside Quebec, anglophone communities in Quebec regions outside Montreal are experiencing a form of decline, a loss of their young people and economic losses. They are characterized by a degree of poverty and a lack of business. These communities have ultimately come round to the view that it might be worthwhile to see whether immigration can help them develop or revitalize their communities.
Based on that idea, we began to conduct studies to determine what might happen in those regions. You must clearly understand that Quebec differs from the rest of Canada with respect to immigration because, as the only francophone province in the country, it sets different immigrant selection conditions.
Under the Canada-Quebec accords, the Quebec government may select its own immigrants, particularly francophones and persons from countries where French is the second language. In fact, the anglophone immigrants that we have are rarely individuals whose first language is English. They are allophone immigrants who know or speak English a little better than French when they arrive in Quebec.
In addition, under Bill 101, these allophones must enrol their children in French schools and take French courses so that they can live and stay in Quebec. As you will understand, the situation of the anglophone community and immigration to the anglophone community in Quebec is very different from that of francophone communities outside Quebec, although there are nevertheless some common points.
Taking a closer look, we noticed a sharp decline in the anglophone communities in the Quebec regions and, more particularly, a significant exodus of young people. So when we looked at immigration, it was with a view to creating a strategy to bring young people and families back to those communities, knowing however that the children of those families would attend French, not English schools, at least until the end of secondary school.
When we analyzed our findings in that particular context, we first tried to determine what makes a minority community in Quebec a welcoming community and what helps develop that community's vitality. We identified four major areas of action, which are, first, of course, governance structures and local policies respecting newcomers; second, development of the community's employability capital; third, the business sector's openness to diversity; and, lastly, the openness of the community and local population to immigration and diversity.
These four points are also valid for local communities not necessarily living in minority settings, but they apply more particularly, of course, to our anglophone communities in Quebec.
Then we identified immigrants who were connecting most with those communities, or who might perhaps do so, because we were really working on assumptions. It is very hard to say whether any immigrants connect with Quebec's anglophone communities. In fact, it is ultimately impossible. On the other hand, we can say that some immigrants might be taking greater advantage of Quebec's anglophone communities upon arrival to integrate and make a place for themselves in Quebec.
So who are they? We have observed that allophones who may connect with the anglophone communities are often state refugees to Quebec and, in many instances, state refugees who have come directly from refugee camps or their native countries. These immigrants who may connect with the communities include allophones from Latin America and Asia who may be interested in working in English or in receiving English-language services, at least upon their arrival in Quebec.
This is why anglophone communities and anglophone community organizations in the regions felt it would be a good idea to promote this kind of immigration, or the influx of these immigrants, because they could help communities develop or improve their services, or avoid losing them, but also because they could help those communities build bridges to the francophone majority community.
As you will understand, immigrants arriving in these communities are not provided with English-language instruction or, especially, encouraged to become bilingual.
We have observed that communities must retain newcomers in order to maintain their vitality. The problem is not so much seeing them arrive, or even welcoming them, but rather retaining them and including them in decision-making and local development bodies. Of course, retention mainly means retention by employment and — as all the research shows — by providing access to skilled jobs corresponding to the training that immigrants have received. Lastly, we found that the quality of life in those regions and linguistic minority communities was an additional factor in retaining families not only in the minority community, but also in the region where they settled.
What I am going to tell you about the effects of the new immigration policies and the new immigration system is very hypothetical because I am not in a position to cite any findings or evidence as to their actual effects. However, I have identified a number of system factors — changes — and determined what might have an impact on our anglophone communities and on immigration to those communities in Quebec.
The first is the issue of controlling immigration flows in accordance with the needs of communities and employers, based the declaration of intent that will soon be in effect to shorten waiting times and to create a bank of potential immigrants who will be available on an as-needed basis.
The second important point will be the sharp increase in the number of temporary workers and visas related to specific jobs in specific regions, and the idea of basing immigration on economic considerations, meaning not only, but essentially, jobs. There will also be an increase in the waiting period and in linguistic and cultural requirements for access to citizenship, which may have an impact on immigrants' paths over the longer term and on their settlement in linguistic minority communities.
Lastly, it is important to discuss the decline in the number of asylum claimants and the fact that the number of refugees admitted has plateaued. All these points may have an impact on immigrants, their settlement in anglophone minority communities and their retention, particularly in the regions and communities where they settle. Those, very briefly and very hypothetically, are some of these effects.
First of all, few or even no businesses in Quebec's anglophone communities recruit employees from outside Quebec since Quebec gives priority to francophone employees in every case. This is a major problem for us. Employment is not a factor that can attract immigrants to those communities.
The other issue is that Quebec businesses in any case seek bilingual employees, and immigrants are not bilingual when they arrive. In the best-case scenario, they will know one language or the other, English or French, but they will not be bilingual and will develop their bilingualism before they enter an anglophone community in Quebec, for example.
The second point, which is related to the issue of businesses, is that there is a risk that the lack of demand for employees will ultimately undermine all the work that has been done to make businesses more open to diversity, not just linguistic but also cultural diversity, and therefore open to immigration. If it is observed in the anglophone communities that there is no chance of attracting workers who meet the needs of businesses, that may put a stop to efforts to increase awareness.
As regards temporary and low-skilled workers, I noted when I went to the Canadian embassy in Morocco that workers currently coming to Canada, and permanent residents being directed to Canada, are not very skilled and mainly go into the restaurant industry. Most of these low-skilled workers work in the fast food industry, are paid fairly low wages and come without their families. This will be a major problem for linguistic minority communities since we need families, and that is one reason why we are interested in immigration to those communities.
There is also the fact that there may be fewer refugees. Since we have refugees in our official language minority communities in Quebec, our OLMCs, there are fewer immigration options. The same is true of small business owners, who will be less and less interested in coming and will not know that they would have done well to settle in a region near a linguistic minority community. This may also have an impact on potential secondary mobility. People with secondary mobility do not directly enter the minority communities, our OLMCs, in or outside Quebec, and that fact has a very significant impact that must be kept in mind.
There is also the possibility that less work will be done. Very little attention was previously given to immigrants' quality of life and social integration in the anglophone communities. Although efforts have been made and work done in francophone communities outside Quebec, that work is just starting in the anglophone communities in Quebec. I very much fear that the new immigration system may put a final stop to that effort.
Lastly, the time it takes to acquire citizenship could restrict access and discourage temporary workers and students, who we know have a long path ahead of them but who can acquire permanent residence and citizenship. However, if that takes too long, it could discourage them from staying in Canada. More particularly, it might discourage them from staying in the OLMCs, even more so in our anglophone OLMCs in Quebec, where it is already so difficult to connect with other immigrants.
Ultimately, what I would say is that this effect will be more pronounced in the Quebec regions, among anglophones in the regions, those who need immigrants most. It will be felt to a lesser degree in Montreal's anglophone community, which is already well structured, much more solid and not looking for immigrants in the same way as the communities in the regions.
The Chair: Thank you very much, madam. We will have an opportunity to ask you questions later. Mr. Belkhodja, you have the floor.
Chedly Belkhodja, Professor and Principal, School of Community and Public Affairs, Concordia University: I would also like to thank the Senate committee for this opportunity to present my thoughts on the issue of francophone immigration. I have been working on this issue for many years and have been fortunate to work from a francophone minority region, Acadie, in New Brunswick.
I have also had the good fortune to be very much involved as a researcher in national consultation and cooperation structures such as CIC's francophone communities committee, as a result of which I have travelled the country and observed the reality of francophone immigration in the Northwest Territories, Yukon, Alberta and even Newfoundland.
I consider myself very much an engaged researcher, one who enjoys working in the field using a qualitative approach. That in a way is how I view the immigration question.
I would simply like to note from the outset that, for a long time in Canada, it was felt that immigration was more than a policy designed to meet employment needs and that it was also a national policy that could address geographic, identity and social considerations.
We have seen a change in Canada's immigration landscape over the past 20 years or so, since the 1990s. On the one hand, there is considerable talk of individual mobility, an important phenomenon. We talk about the diversification of migratory flows and about reforming the immigration system and increasingly targeted selection mechanisms, all of which has ultimately led to the major reforms we see today, particularly since 2006.
I would also say that the federal government started pushing a regionalization policy for francophone communities in 2001. I believe that was a significant move. The government wanted to spread immigration more evenly across Canada for all kinds of reasons, but we also noted that francophone communities outside Quebec began to view the immigration issue as being related to health and education, which had long been the only issues associated with those communities.
Immigration thus became an issue in the communities' development and in their involvement in governance mechanisms that could address the issue of official languages and linguistic duality, but also that of the diversity, which subsequently emerged.
I would say that research has been conducted on francophone immigration for many years now. As I said, the communities saw an interest in that. An effort was made to develop a community capability to communicate with researchers, and academics and researchers developed a field of research that could support policy development. That is very important because some outstanding research syntheses have been prepared. A lot of research was done on these questions, and here I would recall that major granting agencies provided support for research, as in the Metropolis project, which helped develop research on francophone immigration questions for some 15 years.
Francophone immigration research initially developed as a fringe field, and I believe that is what is interesting. You may perhaps understand why I say that in the end. It developed on the fringes in the sense that it raised different questions from those addressed in the research we saw in Canada. It raised questions that came from the minority. It explored different paths such as the minority-majority relationship.
The minority issue was thus its starting point. In our initial work, we often focused on the relationship between ``us'' and ``them.'' The ``us'' question was very sharply defined within the minority, and we examined the other — the other group, ``they,'' the immigrants — and how all that fit together.
I would say there has been a lot of research on the identity question, but the most important point today, and this is in a way the point that must be addressed here, is that francophone immigration must be considered as part of a discussion of the current reforms within the Canadian immigration system.
It is crucially important for the francophone minority communities to adopt a position on the profound transformations currently taking place. More particularly, there is a need for extensive research in this area, to help us conduct a more accurate assessment of the economic performance of immigrants who enter francophone minority communities.
Research work must therefore be done on immigrants themselves in order to help us understand what type of immigrant is being recruited in those communities and to see, on the other side, the communities' ability to function in the new economic immigration paradigm. As my colleague noted, we know that the expression of interest system will be introduced in 2015 and that it will have a significant impact on the way we select qualified immigrants.
We must do a better job of evaluating the francophone communities' ability to fit into this system. Are they ready to play the game? Are anglophone and francophone employers in those regions able to take part in the system? All these questions are still hard to gauge, but I believe there really is a need for research to help these francophone minority communities take advantage of the reforms that are being put in place.
There is also a tendency now to focus on the economic aspect. The government does not conceal the fact that it has been developing this aspect of the immigration system since 2006. Once again, it is important to do a better job of evaluating the impact of these reforms on everything that can be construed as economic immigration.
Allow me to cite an example. We have little data on the subject, but, in 2008, the government adopted the Canadian Experience Class, the CEC, which I would say is the federal government's jewel, the selection system that is promoted as the system for increasing the number of qualified, economically viable immigrants selected. We will have to see how francophones perform in these programs such as the Canadian Experience Class or in provincial programs that are important in selecting immigrants based on market needs. It is important to determine whether francophone minority communities are taking advantage of this. I know this is a research topic that must be explored.
Lastly, I would like to close by saying that more general aspects should not be overlooked. The research shows that it is important to adopt a holistic approach to immigration to francophone communities and to re-examine integration and citizenship issues, not disregard them.
The research also shows that it is important to take another look at questions that are really associated with the very definition of what a francophone community is. A francophone community has specific characteristics that are different from those of a majority community in the way they determine the impact that immigration can have on a francophone community.
Francophone communities are of course defined to a large extent by the identity marker of language. This has recently been discussed in research projects. Lastly, language is still a very important factor in defining these francophone communities. It would also be interesting to reflect on the impact of the current reforms on the identify markers of language.
Can these new immigration reforms divert our attention somewhat from this important issue of the language of communities as a determinant of membership in those communities? For immigrants who choose to live in francophone minority communities, English is clearly an entirely normal aspect of economic integration in those communities.
Language is still an important factor in defining the community, however, and we note that francophone communities attach considerable importance to it through their stakeholders and representative agencies. It is in a way the connection between immigrant and community, and this is still very important for francophone communities, although it may be different for the majority.
I will close by asking a question that was formulated at a recent conference: how can francophone immigration be successfully combined with a plan for francophone immigration to francophone communities? We must consider this aspect and assess all these changes in the immigration field in Canada today but not overlook the community and its specificity.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Belkhodja. I would like to invite Mr. Brennan to take the floor, please.
Matthieu Brennan, President, Brynaert Brennan and Associates: I would like to take the time allotted to me to survey the changes that have taken place in the immigration field and the impact they may have on the minority communities. To get straight to the point, based on the analysis that Mr. Bisson and I conducted for the Ministerial Conference of the Canadian Francophonie, the immigration changes as a whole will have a positive impact on francophone minority communities for the simple reason that they will change the immigrant recruitment and selection dynamic. We will be moving away from a system in which we waited for immigrants to appear at our door, hoping our power of attraction was strong enough to take them to Sudbury, Cornwall or Moncton.
The system transformation is currently under way. Specific immigrants will be invited to come and settle in our community based on identified jobs. This has a much more persuasive effect than saying, ``When you consider coming to Canada, look somewhere else than at Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver.'' Associating immigrant recruitment with specific economic opportunities gives francophone communities a very powerful tool that they did not previously have.
That is the first major impact of the changes being made to the immigration system for minority communities. It enables us to play an upstream role rather than leave us in reaction and waiting mode. If immigrants appear at our door, we will know they are there. Otherwise we will never know whether they are in our community until we realize that their children were francophones and that they went to English schools. This is a very significant change in dynamic.
Incidentally, for those of you in politics, the reform has been introduced by omnibus bills. If you want to know where the reforms come from, you should read the budget legislation since 2006. We did not have a white paper and there were no comprehensive project announcements, but an in-depth reform of the system was achieved by a set of changes made by order, by ministerial instructions or by regulatory amendment, but it was done in piecemeal fashion. This is a fundamental reform.
The first thing we talked about was the expression of interest system. Basically, we will now be in a position in which we invite a given immigrant to come to Canada for a given opportunity. We will no longer have a ``first come, first served'' system as we previously did, one that created an inventory of nearly one million open files. Minister Kenney's commitment was to be able to process an immigration file in less than 18 months from the moment the file was opened until the immigrant's arrival in Canada. In Australia, that takes eight weeks.
We are still far from having what could be called a straight-line process, but we are headed in that direction. Compared to the seven years it took in 2008, we are headed in the right direction.
The other aspect, when you see the major transformation in the balanced way immigrants are selected, is that economic immigration now represents 63 per cent of the overall target, federal and provincial governments combined. Family reunification represents 27 per cent and refugees still 11 per cent.
There has not been any decline in the number of refugees Canada will accept, but there has been a fundamental change in the way refugees are selected. Ms. Vatz-Laaroussi is right in saying that there are now far fewer asylum claimants. In December 2012, Ontario had a backlog of nearly 54,000 asylum claims for that year. There were approximately 4,008 in the third quarter of 2013.
The government's reform has thus stopped the influx of asylum claimants, people who turn to Canada and seek asylum when they arrive here, but the number of refugees has remained the same, at approximately 25,000. This is also part of extensive reforms in which administrative procedures and refugee selection methods have been tightened.
I would like to give you a rough idea of what I earlier called the perfect storm, but I meant that in a positive way because it combines some very powerful energies. On the one hand, we are currently witnessing a transformation in selection mechanisms. On the other hand, the government, focusing on economic immigration, announced the international student strategy in January. The department stated that Canada would aim to double the number of foreign students in Canada by 2022 from approximately 265,000 to 450,000 to meet the strategy's specific objective of retaining a larger number of foreign students as permanent residents.
We now recognize that one of the reasons for recruiting foreign students is to retain them. This is a very important vehicle for the minority communities because it is a vehicle that we control. We have post-secondary institutions that are capable of recruiting foreign students, of bringing them in and of having them live in our communities for three, four, five or six years before they move on to permanent residence. This is becoming another way to consolidate their emotional attachment to the minority community. This is something we cannot do when they come to Canada to work at Tim Hortons or in a mine or a factory. Unless they meet other francophone workers, they will not enjoy this kind of easy contact, but it is easier to establish that contact through education. Thus, in the transformation of economic immigration, a much more important role is being assigned to foreign students as part of the overall immigration strategy.
Lastly, the third aspect is the much more extensive role that the provinces play as a result of the Provincial Nominee Program. The federal government's economic immigration target for this year is 163,000 economic immigrants, and there are nearly as many federal skilled workers as there are provincial nominees. The provinces are starting to play a more active role in immigration, and several now have their own francophone immigration strategies or objectives.
The francophone immigration public policy environment is better now than it was 10 years ago. The federal government is engaged, as are several provinces, and it is now up to the communities to do the work. As communities, we have work to do, but we also have the tools to take action upstream. On the one hand, that requires the communities or the employers in our communities to begin taking part in immigrant selection. This must also be viewed in the context of the numbers that count. We tend to look at immigration from the standpoint of the national target of 260,000 immigrants or nearly 400,000 temporary foreign workers or 265,000 foreign students, which we consider enormous. When we look at the francophone immigration target of 10,000, it represents approximately 1,500 to 1,800 economic immigrant families. When those families are distributed across the country, we realize that we are talking about approximately 300 to 350 families for New Brunswick, some 100 families for Northern Ontario, about 10 families for the Cornwall region and 150 to 200 families for the Ottawa region. Stating the objective in these terms, we can see how the communities can now take direct action to achieve it.
We are wondering not how we can recruit 260,000 immigrants on our own, but rather what we are going to do to attract five families to the community. I spoke to people from Labrador City who are developing the immigration plan for Newfoundland and Labrador. Their objective in Labrador City is to attract four more children to the French- language school because, if they have four more children, they will get an additional teacher.
We are talking about francophone immigration, its impact and consequences in terms of these small proportions. However, an additional teacher at Labrador City's French-language school is a real possibility that is opening up. In Ottawa a few years ago, Ronald Bisson conducted a study that showed that 14 French-language schools had been opened in Ottawa because more immigrants had settled there. If there were no immigrants in the Franco-Ontario community, there would be 14 fewer French schools in the Ottawa region.
That represents 140 direct teaching jobs, which would mean that the entire school system would be impoverished, and that is precisely the dynamic in place in Quebec's anglophone community since its school system is declining because there is no influx of immigrants.
If we say that the community of Tracadie needs to recruit four or five more immigrant families with three or four children each, we must also create four or five jobs that will require the qualification levels that an immigrant may ideally have, not a job at Tim Hortons, but a job as an engineer or a health technician.
As you can see, the target is beginning to make sense to the communities. The work involved in transforming the public policy environment has been done. That is the work the FCFA and the immigration networks have done in the past 10 years. The public policy environment is there. It is not perfect and never will be, but now is the time for the communities to transform the kind of action they take in order to clarify that what counts for them is attracting a certain number of immigrant families to their community. To use a cliché, let us say this is really a seduction campaign.
We are no longer trying to persuade governments to do something. Now we are acquiring the tools to do it ourselves. We are not doing it in the absence of government action, but rather because the system that has been put in place permits and encourages it.
In the francophone immigration system, we could do 100 times what Steinbach, Manitoba, has done and on a small scale. We can see where the studies are very useful and instructive because we now know that, if we can recruit 30 or so immigrants, which means a dozen families, the dynamic within the community will be self-supporting. This community will start attracting other people from the same community. We saw this with the Filipino immigrants in Yukon. We are also seeing it Manitoba with its growing Filipino community because Manitoba has made a sustained effort to recruit nurses from the Philippines.
There is even a university in the Philippines offering Manitoba's nursing training program. In this way, when graduates come and settle in Manitoba, all they have to do is pass the test to obtain their licence to practise. That is part of one province's integrated strategy to attract people.
I believe that 14,000 Filipinos are now living in the Winnipeg area. This dynamic of attracting Filipino immigrants is working on its own without government intervention. I believe the ideal for a francophone community is to be strategic in our selection method and to swing into action. It has to be done far upstream because the system permits it.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Brennan. Now we will begin the period of questions.
Senator Charette-Poulin: Thank you very much, madam, gentlemen. Your three presentations were extremely interesting. I am from Sudbury, one of the most popular immigration cities following World War II. Sudbury is one of the most diverse cities and quickly became that way beginning in the early 1950s. It really established an extensive multicultural environment.
That is interesting because one day I heard someone ask Paul Desmarais what the secret of his business success was. He answered that it was the environment in which he had grown up, that it was thanks to his neighbours who had come from various countries and told him there were business opportunities in all countries.
You all said the immigration issue has changed a lot of philosophies. You mentioned the challenges of retention and integration. As regards the roles and responsibilities of the federal and provincial governments, employers and communities, is there some sort of coordination among these various players, which are so important to the successful achievement of the two objectives? I would like to get answers from the three of you, one at a time.
Mr. Brennan: If we are talking about minority communities, CIC has made quite significant investments in settlement services over the past 10 years. The francophone immigration support network has been established in all provinces. The main challenge is that several communities have received no immigrants. The infrastructure is there but not the immigrants.
As for the question of whether the communities are welcoming, I believe Mr. Belkhodja mentioned that a lot of work has been done on this collective ``we.'' I grew up in Vanier, and I can tell you I was around 13 years old when I first saw an immigrant, when a Portuguese refugee arrived in our neighbourhood wearing leather shoes in winter. We had not experienced that.
The community work has been done, and even though it is not obvious in some places, I believe the capacity to welcome people is indeed there. Is it structured? Is it coordinated? Does it need to be more so? In my opinion, no, because we are welcoming; it is almost human nature. We are welcoming in our neighbourhoods, not as a government, and I believe we made that public policy jump long ago.
Mr. Belkhodja: I think it is extremely varied. I have always felt that, when you work in the field, you ultimately notice that every community has specific ways of organizing reception and settlement structures. We have talked a lot about welcoming communities and everyone has developed reception capacity. Of course, we talked about two things: immigrants have to be provided with essential services, and the community must be made aware of the diversity of others. That has been done in several ways.
There are also a lot of issue tables and strategies. The municipalities have developed policies on diversity. The City of Moncton has innovated extensively. Every city, every municipality has done things as well. I would say we are headed toward an increasingly economic immigration model, and I get the impression we will be focusing on the idea that immigrants are individuals who come and meet an economic need. Make room for them and they will come. Of course they have families. That will require other resources, but, ultimately, the key word for me is support.
It is increasingly said that immigrants must be supported, that they have to be provided with services that are increasingly complex. International students live in a community and they ask questions, and sometimes the university does not know how to answer them. It is up to other structures to provide them with the right services. There is this whole idea of supporting immigrants, and that, I believe, is the major challenge today.
The Chair: Ms. Vatz-Laaroussi, do you have any comments?
Ms. Vatz-Laaroussi: Yes. If we look at immigration in Quebec's regions, which is very much like immigration in the francophone minorities outside Quebec, much has indeed been done to coordinate the division of responsibilities, issue tables and more or less formal partnerships. So we have made progress, but when we look at the anglophone community, we realize that virtually nothing has been done.
In fact, we realize that anglophone communities that are not organized around immigration have organized themselves around basic things such as education and health, mainly in the regions. However, immigration is a new issue that is evolving somewhat like the francophone communities issue. By that I mean that all the players, the private and public sectors, education and health, feel involved. All feel that they should perhaps try to do something, that there may be a promising dynamic whereby we can work together.
I would say that this dynamic is there in the communities, but what we are seeing is that it is not connecting very much with the dynamic of the majority community. In a city like Sherbrooke, for example, where there is a large anglophone community, immigration is almost solely a francophone community issue. The anglophone community, which is trying to establish intersectoral projects to address this issue, feels very much alone, isolated and not at all supported. The two communities — majority and minority — are not connecting.
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: Like my colleague Senator Charrette-Poulin, I want to tell you that all three of you made extremely interesting presentations. We have hundreds of questions to ask the three of you.
My first question is for Ms. Vatz-Laaroussi. In your book, Les Collectivités locales au cœur de l'intégration des immigrants, you emphasize that some regions are better equipped to take in and retain immigrants. You cite Quebec City, for example. In late February, we heard from Mr. Gignac, Executive Director of Voice of English-Speaking Quebec, who told us about the enormous support provided by municipal government. Mr. Belkhodja just mentioned that as well. Do you believe the municipalities have an essential role to play in welcoming and retaining immigrants?
Ms. Vatz-Laaroussi: That really is an important question, and I see you are very well informed. Personally, having conducted extensive research in Quebec's regions, I think the municipalities have a major role to play. It seems to me they should lead these joint efforts, these intersectoral immigration partnerships. Regional municipalities that have a francophone majority community and an anglophone minority community should absolutely support this dual immigration effort. The issue should not be addressed from separate sides, and the only authority that can really bring the two together over immigration is the municipality.
Quebec City is one of the good examples that we may cite. With regard to governance, simultaneous representation of all organizations but also of immigrants and the connection between the anglophone and francophone communities, Quebec City has made a lot of progress in a short period of time. This is quite an optimistic vision because there is indeed work to be done.
I believe that the other reason for Quebec City's success in this area is that it has adopted a bottom-up approach to all the organizations and citizen representatives that have been brought together. Quebec is a big city, not a small community, but they came together, did some thinking and came up with projects. I believe that was the key to their success.
In Sherbrooke, they are working on separate projects. In the book, I talk about the two solitudes in Sherbrooke — anglophones and francophones — whereas immigrants wind up somewhat caught between the two and do not really know where to turn. There was municipal leadership, but francophone only, whereas the anglophone community should have been included. That is very clear.
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: My second question is a bit unusual because we are in the midst of an election campaign in Quebec, and, even though Ms. Marois tells us she will hold a referendum only if Quebecers are ready, I nevertheless have some reservations.
In late February, the media made much of a survey showing that 50 per cent of anglophones in Quebec were considering leaving for another province. I wonder whether this is a new phenomenon or whether a relatively large percentage of anglophones has always considered leaving Quebec. I live in Quebec City, and we on the francophone side always get the impression that immigrants use Quebec as a gateway to Canada so they can then settle in another province. I do not know whether my reading is correct, but I would like to know your opinion.
Ms. Vatz-Laaroussi: I mainly conduct qualitative studies and necessarily meet a lot of people. Consequently, on your last point, I believe the studies show that immigrants, first of all when they find a good job — that is the main reason for mobility — and their family as a whole is able to feel at home in Quebec, they generally settle there and they appreciate life in Quebec. On the other hand, an entire segment of the new immigrant population find it hard to get a job that meets their expectations and, in some instances, have trouble accommodating their entire families and thus become more mobile. However, in many cases, they will wait quite a long time before leaving Quebec for another region.
You are asking an important question. When we think of anglophone communities, we think that might be a way for immigrants to feel a little better when they arrive in Quebec, particularly those who are not francophone. That could be a moment, a step, as it were, in their integration into Quebec. From that point, they could learn French, feel comfortable in the region, buy a house and, lastly, settle once they feel comfortable in that life.
The anglophone communities made the assumption, and I believe it may be true in certain cases, that they could really assist in retaining immigrants, not in the anglophone community, but rather in Quebec.
Senator McIntyre: Madam, gentlemen, thank you for your presentations. Ms. Vatz-Laaroussi and Mr. Belkhodja, I see that, in March 2012, you jointly published a book entitled Immigration hors des grands centres, in which you focused on immigration issues, policies and practices in five countries, Australia, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium and France — Paris —, as well as Canada. In that book, you address the issue of immigration in the minority communities.
Could you briefly clarify your thoughts on that subject? For example, how does Canada differ from other countries on this question?
Mr. Belkhodja: It is true that this project is in fact the result of several years' work, but also of cooperation with researchers in the five countries you named, including Canada, on chapters that focused on certain issues.
To answer your question, Canada and Australia are definitely very similar because they have developed what is called ``regionalization.'' The results of Canada's 2001 Census pointed to a somewhat worrisome situation. They indicated that immigrants were concentrated in Canada's three major cities, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, the MTV syndrome. We spoke with the government of the time, with Minister Coderre, as I remember, about regionalization and efforts to distribute immigrants.
I would say that, in other countries such as Belgium or Spain — I do not know, but, in comparison with other federations, there are countries that have no immigrant distribution strategy. Consequently, Canada is one of the only countries that has one. Anglo-Saxon countries such New Zealand have this kind of idea that immigration can work outside the major cities, and public policies can also encourage immigrants to go out into the regions.
Australia uses the points system as an incentive. They saw that they could award bonus points to foreign students who decided to stay in a community in the regions instead of moving to Melbourne or Sydney.
I would say that is one of the findings of the book. The comparison is always an interesting one because it shows how Canada compares with countries where immigration has reached significant levels.
The other aspect is the general discourse on immigration. Canada of course has a discourse that is favourable to immigration. If you talk about immigration in a small Belgian, French or Spanish community, people may give you a strange look. In Canada, we have an identity-building process that has long been based on immigration, and I believe that, in their attitudes, Canadians convey a certain multicultural pride in diversity. I believe that is a major difference between us and other countries.
Ms. Vatz-Laaroussi: With regard to differences, I would add that Canada also stands out in education and more particularly in the area of language and the place reserved for languages in education both in the minority communities and in the regions, as Mr. Belkhodja said earlier.
We have one or two chapters on education, and one on languages that both describes a concern that Canada has about these issues and contains some success stories. I think it is really important to tell those stories and to look at the processes that led to those successes.
And when we look at today's question, that is to say what influence public policies or changes in the immigration system can have on the minority linguistic communities, I believe we have to think of those areas, of language and linguistic identity, as Mr. Belkhodja said, but also education. These are areas where we have thus far stood out in a positive way. We should not allow ourselves to be carried away by economic considerations or the idea of employment and workers being settled in the right place, or forget all the education issues that concern them and their families as a whole and that benefit Canada to a large degree.
Senator McIntyre: I would briefly like to discuss the expression of interest system.
Next year the federal government plans to implement such a system, and, as we all know, it will help establish a more direct connection between immigrants and employers. If I am not mistaken, applications will be submitted online. This system is already in effect in New Zealand and Australia.
Mr. Belkhodja, you raised this subject in your presentation. Could you give us some more details on this system? Are you in favour of it?
Mr. Belkhodja: We definitely noted two things in the Canadian context. First of all, since economic immigrants selected under the conventional points system were being disqualified, and given the economic performance of immigrants — this was proven by many studies conducted by Statistics Canada and well-known researchers in the country — it was felt that bringing in immigrants, selecting them and then seeing them promptly disqualified because they could not find a job was absolutely not a workable idea.
Under the other system, applications accumulated and red tape reached extreme levels. Now we are talking about a faster, smoother, more flexible immigration model, and the expression of interest will definitely improve matters.
You are asking me for my opinion. I am not really an expert in the matter, but I am somewhat concerned. As I said, this is a system that can work well in a context in which employers are used to bringing in foreign workers or in situations where that may be harder to do. I see it in more outlying contexts.
We are also told that candidates will be selected, but some will be left in the pool. What do we do afterwards? Do we pull the plug? Do we remove them and ask them to apply again?
Here again, some people wondered whether we were giving employers too much leeway.
I come back to the original idea of the employer selecting an employee, but are there no other factors that should be taken into consideration?
Some people wondered who is left in the pool. Are they visible minorities? I keep coming back to this question. It might be a concern.
Senator McIntyre: Thank you, Mr. Belkhodja. Ms. Vatz-Laaroussi, do you want to comment?
Ms. Vatz-Laaroussi: Yes. I do a lot of work on transborder networks to see what goes on in the home countries. What Mr. Belkhodja said is obviously very accurate. The people who enter this potential pool of candidates who might be selected at the request of employers or the provinces are people whose lives will probably be on hold for several years.
It will of course take much less time than previously to process the files of those selected. However, for those who are not, there is the expression of interest and the possibility of leaving home and settling and working in Canada. For those who have families, this is a plan that people develop and that must involve all family members as a whole. I think that one factor has to be considered, and that is that these people, these families, will indeed be in an initial pool of potential candidates but may potentially stay in that pool for the rest of their lives and never leave.
In the research that we will have to conduct on the international agreements and on the connections between Canada and the countries our immigrants come from, I think there are questions we will have to ask and work we will have to do. We have to bear in mind that we are the ones who determine how fast the files are processed, not the immigrants.
Mr. Brennan: The expression of interest system is an improvement over the former system. Ms. Vatz-Laaroussi mentioned that you play a zombie-like role when you wait for the immigration system. In the former system, people waited seven years before the file was even opened. Now, if nothing else, you at least know you are in an expedited administrative process.
When the expression of interest pool is emptied, it will be done regularly. Consequently, if you have been in the pool for three or four years and have not been selected, you understand that the pool will be emptied at some point and that you are going to make room for someone else.
This is similar to the normal job market dynamic. If I send my CV to the same employer 10 times and am not selected, I will stop sending my CV to that employer. In that respect, the expression of interest system is at least a very significant bureaucratic improvement.
It should not be forgotten that the power to select within the selection process is not conferred entirely on employers. The federal government and the provinces will continue to select immigrants who do not have arranged employment offers, who are not immediately taking up a job, but who will be entering a priority occupation or in- demand trade in which we anticipate that Canada will have a labour shortage or labour needs. It should theoretically be easier to do the matching once candidates are in Canada. It should also be easier to find a job.
It is also hard for immigrants to live in limbo and spend their savings once they are in Canada because, make no mistake, immigrants who arrive in Canada without a job generally spend their life savings. This does not bother some immigrants who are well off, but most immigrants who arrive do not have large personal fortunes. If immigrants arrive in Canada and go without work for a year, they deplete their assets while waiting to be selected for a job.
Is it better to be selected for a job while they are still in their home country? Most immigrants will say yes to that unless they are in danger in a politically unstable country, for example. Most immigrants will say they prefer to prepare properly before leaving their country when they still have a house and a job and can prepare to come and integrate successfully rather than arrive in Canada and spend two, three or four years waiting for the papers they need to carry on their occupation and have to spend their money while waiting for a new job and house.
I think the expression of interest pool establishes a slightly healthier dynamic for everyone, although it will have as yet unknown consequences for immigration diversity. Will employers select people who are like them? It may not be a matter of racism, but it is often human nature to select people who are like oneself. This means that, if a man is making the decision, chances are the principal applicants will mainly be men. If Whites are making the decision, unless the individual concerned is highly qualified, another White may well be selected. This has happened in Australia, where there has been a major shift in immigration source countries. Without moving to a mainly White immigration policy, Australia has turned more toward European countries, whereas it focused predominantly on Asian countries before it established its expression of interest pool. These kinds of effects cannot be foreseen, but we can anticipate that they will occur.
Senator Robichaud: I come from Kent County, New Brunswick, where there is a francophone majority, but it is located in a majority anglophone province.
I am giving you some background because, when I look at the immigrants who have come to my region in particular, I suppose they were economic immigrants because they bought businesses, and those people spoke English.
When I look at temporary workers, who are needed at the plants back home, I do not see any workers who speak French.
The schools in our region are also suffering from a declining population. There are fewer teachers and everything is being cut, but there are also anglophones living nearby. How could we adapt this recruitment method to the specific region of Kent County? Are any efforts being made to do so? Is that specific region being taken into account? If not, people may be thinking that language is less important in the selection process since New Brunswick is a bilingual province.
Mr. Belkhodja: There are several part to your question. There is a strategy. We see that, in the francophone immigration file — and some provinces including Manitoba and Ontario may refer to targets — we are talking about a general target: 5 per cent or 7 per cent of a given number of immigrants who arrive every year must be francophone. The place is not specified. There has always been an urban vs. rural debate in immigration. Do cities benefit from immigration, whereas it is harder for the rural regions to do so? In rural contexts, there has to be an economic attraction, an employer, something. We all want to welcome immigrants; we think that a train is passing by and that immigrants will be getting off at every stop, but there has to be something in the community.
People in New Brunswick have also talked about linguistic balance, and some have said that 33 per cent of immigrants who come to New Brunswick every year should be francophone. What does that mean? It means that the province must think seriously about how it recruits, and that is often the major challenge. The provinces recruit based on models, on countries. They will regularly go to certain places, and perhaps we are not making enough of an effort to target francophone countries.
In New Brunswick and in other francophone provinces, there is the whole question of whether we should recruit elsewhere than in certain European countries and whether we should venture into North Africa. Do we go to Senegal, Guinea or Cameroon?
A real debate is being conducted in the communities. Are we prepared to say that we really want this immigration because it somewhat changes the visual landscape of certain communities? These are interesting questions.
I am starting a very interesting study on temporary workers in the village of Cap-Pelé. We have conducted some exploratory interviews, but Cap-Pelé has a population of 2,300 individuals and some 400 or 450 immigrants, temporary workers.
Remarks were reported in the newspapers. Some questions were raised. How will this change the way people perceive a francophone village that includes 400 or 500 temporary workers who do not speak French? At the same time, do we confine them solely to the workplace without trying to establish relations with them? I believe this is the major challenge of immigration involving temporary workers. Do they remain invisible workers? They come, they work and then they leave.
Or else we try to make connections. That is one of the major questions. When I talk about successful meetings with temporary workers, this is a major challenge.
Mr. Brennan: Going back to earlier comments on the role of municipalities in that regard, it is becoming clear that immigration is a community affair. All the higher-level governments can do is establish the general frameworks and selection mechanism, but immigrant recruitment, reception and retention are done at the local level. Immigrants are welcomed by their neighbours and employers.
One of the things that must also be borne in mind is that, according to the data on immigration to Canada, even in the permanent residence classes, half of permanent residents are people who change status. These are foreign students or temporary foreign workers who obtain permanent residence.
Senator Robichaud: You say it is 50 per cent?
Mr. Brennan: There are 163,000 permanent residents in the economic class. Of that number, approximately 45,000 are federal skilled workers, virtually the same number are provincial nominees, and 20,000 are in the Canadian experience class.
The Canadian experience class is a complete change in status. They are already in the country and are changing from temporary resident to permanent resident status. In the Western provinces, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, nearly 80 per cent of provincial nominee programs involve temporary foreign workers who become permanent residents.
They are already here. They already have a job. They are not coming from elsewhere to become permanent residents. One in two, or nearly two economic immigrants is already in Canada, in the community. Consequently, the issue is how to select the immigrant at the starting point. That is why francophone colleges and universities are becoming very important.
There will never be enough French-language jobs to attract francophone immigrants. One of the things they are trying to preserve in Cap-Pelé is the town's francophone character. So when we do our recruiting, we should do it in francophone countries because it is highly likely that one in two or one in three of them will stay. Work has to be done upstream.
Ms. Vatz-Laaroussi: I agree wholeheartedly with what was said about the role of the municipalities concerning attraction. At the same time, however, I believe that, together with Mr. Belkhodja, we noted in the studies we conducted several years ago that a kind of competition was setting up among the various communities, the small communities and the larger ones that were competing for the right immigrants, those that were a good fit for them.
I think that is a factor we will have to pay close attention to. We noted that what might work was networking so that each community would not have to attract its own immigrants, those that corresponded to its needs. The communities should work more as a network to enable those immigrants perhaps to move from one place to another. That is something that will have to be structured with the aid of the new system and in accordance with the new immigrant selection method.
We talked about support, supported mobility, but also about connections among communities wanting to attract or receive immigrants. That cannot be done if each one works individually on its own. Each of us may manage to get our three or four families, but we will not retain them. That is very clearly how Mr. Belkhodja and I analyzed it.
The Chair: I would like to ask a supplementary question.
Senator Robichaud: You take precedence, Madam Chair.
The Chair: Going back to Senator Robichaud's question concerning the seduction campaign, to what extent do our communities have the human and financial resources necessary to conduct this campaign to attract immigrants?
Mr. Brennan: Going back to the example I cited yesterday of the people from Labrador City, it is easy to attract when there is a job at the end of the line. Then you know what awaits you and you go for a reason. Where we need a seduction campaign is when we bring in someone by promising him something that has not happened.
You have academic training that we need in Canada, and we tell you, ``Come, you can easily find a job.'' That is a promise that we make to immigrants. This results in the disappointment of many immigrants who arrive, who are disqualified or who cannot find a job. The main disappointment for them at that point is feeling that they were told a story that was not true.
As I see it, the seduction campaign is based first and foremost on employment, and that is what the immigration system proposes to do. Consider this example. When we examined economic immigration in Kingston with the francophones, I asked them where the jobs were in Kingston. The same engineer position at Bombardier in Kingston has to be staffed every four months. They may be finding it hard to recruit or retain immigrants.
If I worked in francophone immigration in that community, my first role would be to sit down with the human resources people at Bombardier and to ask them, ``Can we work together to recruit a francophone engineer in Toulouse or from Airbus or somewhere else in the French-speaking world who will meet your need and bring a francophone family to my community?'' That is the kind of micro-commitment that we can make, and the francophone communities are capable of doing that.
It seems that the public policy environment and the selection systems that will assist it are in place or will soon be. Then the goal of the communities will be not to attract 1,000 immigrants but rather to attract 15 families and to know which ones, where they will go and to what they are going to attract them.
Senator Robichaud: Ms. Vatz-Laaroussi had a comment.
Ms. Vatz-Laaroussi: You asked a very appropriate question. The small communities have little in the way of human resources and especially small employability pools. I think you are right in saying that employment is important. However, there are no jobs in some communities. Should we then say that no immigrants will be contributing to their vitality? Or should we try to approach the matter differently? That is why I talked earlier about connections between these communities.
I do not really see how matters can play out in Quebec's anglophone communities, but it is quite clear that we will not be recruiting employees who speak English. That is very clear. So, from an official languages standpoint, I do not know how that will play out, how that can be dealt with. Perhaps we will completely abandon the idea of immigration as a potential strategy for contributing to the vitality of the anglophone communities in Quebec.
Senator Robichaud: You mentioned the village of Cap-Pelé. How many temporary workers are in that community?
Mr. Belkhodja: There are apparently two large fish processing plants there, and these are temporary people who will have little chance of transiting because we are talking about low-skilled workers. That is also an aspect of the kind of immigration system we have.
This is a system that will favour certain classes, whereas others will continue going around in circles. They will remain in a system in which they do not change from temporary to permanent resident status but rather remain Mexican workers or agricultural workers. We also see them in Nova Scotia and Ontario. It is a very striking reality.
Senator Robichaud: The situation is the same in Cap-Lumière and Pointe-Sapin, where houses are being bought to house temporary workers. The employer is responsible for housing, transporting and providing certain services to temporary workers. Jobs are available for those people because workers cannot be found in the region. Consequently, they come because there is a need.
You said that many of these temporary workers become residents and then Canadians. I get the impression that, when these workers are recruited, no one pays any attention to the language they speak or the region where they will be settling. Putting people who do not speak French in communities like Cap-Pelé, Cap-Lumière, Richibucto and Pointe- Sapin will definitely have an impact on community life.
Mr. Belkhodja: That is where there may be some work to do. Employers are being invited to the table. The employers' priority is to meet their employment needs. In many instances, they have been working with certain countries for years. In fish processing, we know that certain countries are targeted; that may also be related to the free trade agreement. There are virtually automated ways of doing things.
Bernard Richard, New Brunswick's former ombudsman, whom you know, wondered in one of his columns in L'Acadie nouvelle why temporary workers were not being recruited in Haiti or Guadeloupe. The Province of New Brunswick does not make the decision, but rather the employers, and the employers operate in accordance with their own logic. That is also the reality of this type of economic selection based solely on employment.
Mr. Brennan: A best practice has emerged from the francophone communities, from Saskatchewan. In Saskatchewan, there is a private business called Prudhomme International Inc., which recruits foreign workers for big businesses that need labour in Saskatchewan. The strategy of that company, its social responsibility to the francophone community, is to go to countries where it will find bilingual workers, workers who are proficient in French so that they can become social and cultural members of the Fransaskois community and who can function in English in the employer's workplace, which is the reality of work in most of our provinces. However, the workers must nevertheless meet the employer's needs.
What Prudhomme International does for employers is that it finds the employees they need, but those candidates will come from francophone countries. That is a business service. When people wonder whether the communities are equipped to do this, private enterprise steps in to meet a need, demonstrating a sense of social responsibility toward the community. And there is nothing preventing all the communities from doing this. There is nothing preventing a private entrepreneur in New Brunswick from becoming a labour broker and going and recruiting temporary foreign workers or even permanent residents and economic immigrants on behalf of New Brunswick employers, targeting countries where there are francophone and bilingual workers. Very few of our communities offer enough jobs in French to justify recruiting only unilingual francophones.
Senator Robichaud: I know that someone is doing it, but no importance is attached to language. That is a gratuitous statement; it is just a feeling I have.
Senator Wallace: When I listened to your presentations, many things resonated with me from what each of you had to say. Being from New Brunswick, as are Senators Robichaud and McIntyre — you are surrounded by New Brunswickers here today — the growth of our francophone communities is extremely important to us and we are proud of the fact that we are the only bilingual province in the country.
Many provinces and communities within them, as you point out, want to increase francophone immigration. Our province is no exception. Through the work you have done, have any studies been done in this country that would compare different regions, provinces and communities to one another and compare the factors that led to the decision of people — francophone individuals — to immigrate and arrive in those areas but also the ability to retain them?
From the New Brunswick perspective, is there anything we can learn? Has there been any analysis of that type that we can learn from to tailor our approach in New Brunswick to attract additional francophone families and retain them?
As you pointed out, I realize that jobs and quality of life are of utmost importance. However, I am thinking beyond that. Are there other factors?
We are from a smaller province. It is quite different than areas in Quebec, for example, and perhaps in Manitoba. Is there something we can look to? Are there studies that can determine more accurately and closely what the factors are, and how we can apply them for the benefit of our province and the people that arrive in the francophone communities in our province?
Ms. Vatz-Laaroussi: Yes, in addition to employment and quality of life, or together with employment and quality of life, the whole question of networks is very important. For immigrants to decide to settle or stay in a community, there first have to be networks of people with whom they have a certain acquaintance and who attract them.
These will often be either networks of immigrants who have been settled for a longer period of time or francophone networks but that are open to the broader international Francophonie as a whole. These networks may be useful in making francophones take an interest in immigrating to a province that is not necessarily the best known outside Canada. These will be ethnic networks, immigrant networks and international francophone networks, and what will retain these immigrants is the fact that the local networks will have to open up to them.
When we mention quality of life, we could say this is part of that too. These people, together with their families, feel that they are participating, that they are an integral part of the community — we talked about this earlier — and for that to happen, the networks of local inhabitants, people who have lived there for a longer period of time, have to be open to them in a way. It cannot not be enough to throw a welcome party. I think that is all well and good; it is often done in small communities when newcomers arrive, but this openness has to continue and people must really feel part of the local networks. I think that networks are absolutely a major issue.
Senator Wallace: Thank you for that. Those are the factors. I certainly had my sense of that from what I heard in all of your presentations. Maybe I didn't make my point clear.
Are there any studies? Is there anything we can look at where these issues have been studied? For example, for francophones that immigrated to various parts of the country, have there been interviews with them to find out why they came to that particular community? Why did they decide to stay in that community? Then we can look at the experiences in different parts of the country and determine what worked and what didn't, and what was unique to one area as compared to another.
Mr. Belkhodja: If you look at New Brunswick, there has been some research on single cases. When you look at immigration, you can also look at it by comparing different groups or looking at the welcoming community, but most of the research you see is on immigrant communities. You could say we can look at French immigrants or a few years ago maybe there was work on immigrants from the Netherlands who came to New Brunswick. That was a factor we saw a few years ago.
Recently, there has been interesting work. I looked at a case with a colleague from York University. It was Korean immigration. We looked at Korean immigration and why Koreans choose New Brunswick. What happened? There is a sales pitch. The cities of Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton went to South Korea and promoted it. Promotion is a key factor.
But why do they come to New Brunswick? We found that it was not economic opportunity for these families; it was education. It was the education system. It is very competitive in Korea and in South Korea. It is a very different system where children are almost being put in a pressure cooker and some don't succeed. They came to New Brunswick, and New Brunswick was able to show them that there is school — education and curriculum — but you also have activities and quality of life.
When you look at a single case such as the Koreans for a smaller province trying to recruit, you see a lot of interesting findings in that research.
On international students, we did some work, and Michèle is aware of this, comparing different universities and how different campuses recruit francophone international students. Do they integrate well? Do they stay in the community after? What type of experience do they have related to work experience in Moncton, for example? You can look at countries of origin, but you can also look at categories of migrants. Now we would say temporary foreign workers or international students. There is some research out there on different communities or case studies.
Senator Wallace: Would it not make sense in New Brunswick to have a similar study to the Korean study but apply it to francophone communities?
Mr. Belkhodja: Well, there has been search research. The Province of New Brunswick did some work probably because they have a strategy out. I think their new strategy is just coming out. There have been bits and pieces around it, but I thought with the one that we did on Korean immigration, we could take the same model and look at other immigrant communities.
Senator Wallace: The Korean community is a growing community in New Brunswick. Thank you very much.
Ms. Vatz-Laaroussi: I was involved in a study that could also serve as a model. It is a study on immigrants' secondary mobility once they have settled in a Quebec region. We monitored the movements, in Quebec and elsewhere, of cohorts of immigrants who had settled in small communities. Many of them left for Alberta, where we followed them. We met with them three times and asked them each time why they had moved. What had attracted them to the new region where they had settled? What did they appreciate about the new region? What factors had facilitated their settlement? What were the reasons for their decision to leave?
These studies should be conducted on a large scale. They are interesting because they help understand mobility. Immigrants are not static. They do not necessarily arrive in a city and stay for the rest of their lives. They are like all Canadians: they will move from various reasons. It is very important to conduct this type of research, which helps us monitor them and understand what guides their mobility.
The Chair: I have a question before we move on to a brief second round. You all said in your presentations that the provinces and employers will play a more significant role under the recent changes to the immigration system. I am a francophone from Alberta and I am concerned by the entire issue of francophone immigration to Alberta. How can I ensure that the province of Alberta and employers, the vast majority of whom are anglophone, will recruit from places where francophone or bilingual candidates can be found?
Mr. Brennan: I do not know whether you can buy insurance or whether it is like a gambler in a casino where you place your chip where you hope the roulette wheel will stop. I believe there are no assurances in that regard. The best assurance is what comes out of the community; it is the community that gets organized so that it can meet an employer's needs. It does so in order to create winning situations between the employer and the community.
The Chair: Who is the community?
Mr. Brennan: The community of Saint-Paul in northeastern Alberta. It is the mayor, the school principal, the people who work at the ACFA, who sit down and say, ``In our community, such and such an employer hires 10 new employees every year. We are going to work with that employer so that 3 francophone families who are joining us will be among the 10 that it hires. We are able to put the argument to the employer by saying that 3 more families means 12 children at school. Twelve children at school means purchasing power worth so much.''
We did the analysis in Toronto. One francophone student in the Toronto school system is worth $22,000 a year. That is $22,000 worth of economic activities associated with one child in the Toronto school system. When we put the economic argument to employers, describing multiplier effects and the impact of immigration in general and of francophone immigration in particular, we are able to develop arguments that get through to employers because that family of three or four that arrives in the community generates economic activity. The family buys a house, the children go to school, and they all use public and private services and generate a broader economic activity. That is what happened in Steinbach, Manitoba. They started the virtuous circle of immigration. As a result of that spiral, at some point when a number of families want to buy other goods that are not necessarily available in the community, a new business springs up, new restaurants emerge and suddenly the local community is tasting dishes it did not previously know and economic activity begins to grow.
The Chair: Is it not a fundamental role change for the Association canadienne-française de l'Alberta, for example, or a reception centre to start acting as a broker by recruiting employees for the region? Community groups and associations normally focus on advocating for education rights, linguistic compliance in the province and more general policies rather than recruiting employees.
Mr. Brennan: I would say that depends on the community's objective. Is it the ACFA's role to do that? Probably not, but is it the role of a local community player to do it? If you want it to happen locally, you need a player from the region or one who is aware of the local situation. You cannot ask the federal government, and that is in a way the problem that arose with the CIC system and even with all the settlement services that were put in place.
Senator Wallace, earlier you asked whether any studies had been done. One of the very good studies commissioned by CIC in recent years — this one was conducted by Statistics Canada — is the Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada, which is an outstanding survey of factors that help and hinder economic integration. According to the survey, two-thirds of immigrants to Canada never use a settlement agency, never. In our settlement network, which has been established in our communities, if francophone immigrants behave as immigrants in general, two-thirds will never use our reception services.
Unless there are other ways of attracting them, because they belong to a parish or because their children are in a francophone day care centre or because they play hockey or soccer, the community will have no way of knowing that those immigrants are there.
Senator Robichaud: In the case of temporary workers, people in the communities believe they are only passing through, that they have come only for the season. Consequently, they may not see the need to try to integrate them because their families are not there, because there are no children. Then they leave after the fishing season, in the case of the fishing industry. That is where the deficiencies are. Do we ask temporary workers whether they intend to stay when we recruit them?
Mr. Belkhodja: I am very interested in the context of seasonal workers. The idea is to understand what happens on the ground in communities. It is really to conduct a sociological analysis of relationships. The village of Cap-Pelé emphasizes the need to listen to what goes on in the streets because a lot of workers go to Tim Hortons. There is also the church and male-female relations in the village. Things happen.
The social workers see things happen. This is how small communities can express needs they never would have discussed five years ago and try a little to understand how they can go coexist or live together because there is a near permanence in small communities when it comes to employment.
Senator Robichaud: With regard to employment.
Mr. Belkhodja: With regard to employment, but there will always be temporary immigrants. I live in this region and I saw that some members of the population walked or used a bicycle to get around. One day someone told me that no one in Cap-Pelé goes around on a bicycle, that they were temporary workers. People from there have big trucks. They do not go around on bicycles. You want to know where they live; they are in that house there. That is a fact. As a researcher, I found that interesting.
I do not think the same is true for more skilled temporary workers whom we invite, for whom we roll out the red carpet and for whom permanent residence is an option.
Senator Robichaud: That in fact was the point I was trying to make.
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: My question is for Mr. Brennan. In your presentation, you were extremely positive about the immigration reform. That is very promising for the future. In your study on the impact of the reform of the immigration system in Canada, you emphasized some very interesting points, but I would like you to tell us a little about the increase in points for language skills.
Here is my question: do you think that assigning more points to candidates who have a knowledge of Canada's official languages will reduce the need for and costs of language training for newcomers?
Mr. Brennan: Absolutely, and the assistant deputy minister even said so at the ministerial conference. It is not just a matter of points; it is a matter of satisfactory or unsatisfactory results. If you do not achieve the levels required for your priority occupation or in-demand trade class, your immigration file is not opened. There are two satisfactory or unsatisfactory result conditions in the system now: language proficiency and credential equivalency. Immigrants' English or French language skills will be tested. For the skilled trades, they will have to have level 4 or 5 on the Canadian skill level scale, or 7 or 8 if you are in a priority occupation. These tests are administered by agencies authorized by CIC that use tests determined by CIC. Previously, candidates were rarely met in person. Their skill levels were determined during a telephone conversation. In the new system, if you do not pass the test, your application is not considered. Your application will not even be in the expression of interest system.
The assistant deputy minister admitted outright that, in the analyses, CIC expected this to achieve savings of approximately $200 million a year for the federal government. A lot of language training is currently being provided for newcomers to Canada.
At the last federal-provincial meeting of immigration ministers two or three weeks ago, the ministers announced in the news release that language training programs would increasingly be directed toward family reunification and the dependants of the main applicant. The language training programs are being positioned differently.
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: Here is my final question: Under the current immigration reform, do you think there are any factors that may undermine the attraction of newcomers to the official language minority communities?
Mr. Brennan: The importance attached to a potential employer role remains a problem. This will always be a problem because we do not have a francophone economy. We live in an economy, period. As long as employers tend to evaluate based on commercial economic success, as long as that is employers' reference point, it will be difficult to develop the argument that will make them active players. That will require stakeholders in the community who have the community's interests at heart and who are able to speak the employers' language. There are not many of them. Money talks.
What I tell the working groups in the immigration field is that the magic key to the new immigration system is the arranged employment offer. If we are able to provide an immigrant with an arranged employment offer, we maintain contact with him from the starting point until he arrives. We can do the preparatory work prior to departure and provide information on the minority community's school system, all in advance. The employer must be prepared to select from the pool of bilingual francophones rather than from the pool of unilingual anglophones. That is not done.
The Chair: I want to thank our three partners, Michèle Vatz-Laaroussi, Chedly Belkhodja and Matthieu Brennan. Thank you for coming and sharing your expertise and experience with us to assist us in gaining a clearer understanding of the recent changes to the immigration system and the effects they may have on our official language minority communities and the challenges that arise.
(The committee adjourned.)