Agency that oversees immigration consultants appears to be in turmoil

This was a fairly high profile initiative of the previous government, meant to improve the integrity of immigration consultants. Better to use immigration lawyers who have stronger – but not perfect – codes of conduct and regulation:

The council that oversees thousands of immigration consultants in Canada is in the midst of what many describe as a crisis, beset by resignations, infighting and harsh criticism from lawmakers and lawyers.

The chief concern about the apparent crisis confronting the ICCRC (Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council) is that those who will suffer most are the immigrants and refugees who often use consultants in their efforts to live in Canada.

The regulatory council, which was set up in 2011,  sets the rules for how immigration consultants conduct themselves, providing education, licensing and discipline. It’s needed to help and protect those who want to come to Canada, overseeing approximately 4,000 consultants. It is run by a 15-member board of directors.

“The council is there to protect the public,” said immigration lawyer Richard Kurland. “It’s not going after the crooked consultants adequately and at risk is the public — the immigrants, refugees and vulnerable visitors.”

Everyone agrees that most immigration consultants do a good job of representing their clients.

“I am deeply, deeply concerned about the status of operations and governance with the board (of directors) right now,” said Conservative MP Michelle Rempel, a member of the Commons immigration committee that has been looking into the immigration consultant industry.

When board representatives appeared before the committee last month, Rempel upbraided them for allowing internal disputes to spill over into their professional work, labelling one letter submitted to the committee by the board of directors “garbage” that was “deeply disappointing.”

ICCRC board chair Christopher Daw told committee members in March that the council “is fulfilling its mandate to protect consumer by effectively regulating the immigration and citizenship consulting profession.”

No one from the ICCRC’s executive would agree to an interview, but acting president and CEO Lawrence Barker did respond to written questions.

‘Turnover can be challenging’

In an email Barker defended the organization, says it is “financially sound.”

“With respect to governance, the board of directors is elected by the membership and the resulting turnover can be challenging at times,” said Barker, noting the agency is undertaking a review of the way it’s governed.

The parliamentary committee is considering what changes to recommend to the government. The suggestions range from retooling the council to having the government take over regulation of the industry to scrapping it, allowing only lawyers or public servants to deal with immigrant and refugee clients.

Asked for a comment, Jennifer Bourque, a spokeswoman for the Immigration Department, told CBC News in an email:

“The department is following this issue carefully. We remain confident that the ICCRC will resolve any internal issues. The department is in regular contact with the ICCRC and there are reporting requirements that the ICCRC must follow. The department will continue to monitor and will provide support as necessary.”

Source: Agency that oversees immigration consultants appears to be in turmoil – Politics – CBC News

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About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

One Response to Agency that oversees immigration consultants appears to be in turmoil

  1. Pingback: Liberals face pressure to crack down on crooked immigration consultants | Multicultural Meanderings

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