Question Period Highlights – Immigration

December 7, 2013

Your NDP MLAs were hard at work in the legislature this week, holding the government to account during Question Period on a number of key issues, including Liberal patronage, the proposed $10 million cut to Community Services, and changes to a popular federal immigration program.

Below is a passage from Hansard, the official record of the Nova Scotia legislature, on steps the Liberal Immigration Minister is taking on federal changes to the Canadian Experience Class.

MR. GORDIE GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, on November 8th the federal Citizenship and Immigration Minister made big changes to one of Canada’s most popular immigration programs, the Canadian Experience Class, what they call the CEC. These changes are bad news for potential immigrants to Nova Scotia, so my question to the minister is, could she provide details about the conversation between she and her federal counterpart after she called Ottawa to express her frustration over these short-sighted changes?

HON. LENA DIAB: Mr. Speaker, he’s addressing me as the Minister of Immigration, so I’ll put that hat on for the moment.

You’re quite correct, there were various changes made to the CIC Act and I will certainly attempt to answer your question, but definitely not today. This is a very complicated regulation that has been made to the Act and I’m actually in the process of contacting the federal minister to have a face-to-face meeting with him.

MR. GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, the changes to CEC include an annual cap of 12,000 new CEC applications and a subcap of 200 applications in certain occupations. But what is most troubling about these changes were the new qualifications regarding who will be excluded from the program. Effective November 9th, experience in certain jobs will no longer qualify an applicant for the CEC; jobs like cooks, bookkeepers, food service, and retail managers, and others.

My question to the Minister of Immigration is, does the minister agree with the Conservatives that people who work in these sorts of occupations deserve less of an opportunity to become Canadians?

MS. DIAB: This minister is very much concerned about all Canadians and all immigrants to this country regardless of the types of positions that they are going to be employed in, and this minister will certainly be addressing these issues and every other type of issue with the federal minister.

MR. GOSSE: I grew up in a community of immigrants. My community was once the industrial immigration capital of Canada. My question through you, Mr. Speaker, to the minister, since immigration was a large part of the Liberal election platform, what is she going to do to ensure these changes will not have a negative effect on Nova Scotia communities?

MS. DIAB: I too come from a very rich immigrant community, and in fact I know a lot of the constituents of the member opposite and his community as well. We will start with an advisory committee to the Premier and we will soon be able to roll information on that, and I invite the member opposite as well as everyone else in the House if they have any suggestions or comments to please speak with me.