Liberals face pressure to crack down on crooked immigration consultants

More on the problems of immigration consultants (see earlier Agency that oversees immigration consultants appears to be in turmoil):

The government is facing pressure from MPs of all political stripes to crack down on bogus immigration consultants who prey on people who are desperate to work or live in Canada.

The Commons immigration committee has just wrapped up weeks of hearings on unregistered representatives called “ghost consultants.” MPs are now considering recommendations ranging from overhauling or even scrapping the independent oversight body, to imposing heavier penalties for perpetrators.

Members heard harrowing stories from duped clients who testified behind closed doors. Some were ripped off for thousands of dollars, or brought over with the promise of work only to be dumped at the side of the road or left in a warehouse. In all, they heard from 50 witnesses and read 24 written submissions.

Liberal MP and committee chair Borys Wrzesnewskyj said testimony about crooked and ghost consultants made it clear the status quo can’t continue.

“There is an appetite to fix this. It’s just not acceptable that the present set of circumstances continue,” he told CBC. “It won’t be an easy job. The fact that it’s been studied a number of times and we’re still having to listen to circumstances and their very poignant stories speaks to that.”

Wrzesnewskyj hopes the committee can table its report, which is expected to include recommendations for sweeping reforms, before the House rises for the summer.

Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel believes there is broad consensus that the current system is broken and needs an urgent fix. The “hair-curling” stories heard underscore the need for major reforms.

Blacklist for bad actors

While there are many above-board immigration consultants, their reputation has been stained by reports of unethical representatives preying on vulnerable people.

Along with suggesting a possible blacklist for bad practitioners, Rempel said the government must work to modernize and simplify the complex system so people can navigate it themselves instead of turning to third parties.

“More broadly, the fact that there even needs to be an industry suggests there are a lot of improvements that could be had within the actual department in terms of ease, efficacy of approaching the Canadian immigration system,” she said.

Rempel said testimony about significant governance problems with the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC), which was established in 2011 to oversee registered consultants, raised questions about its ability to fulfil its mandate.

Source: Liberals face pressure to crack down on crooked immigration consultants – 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.

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