Conservative MP seizes agenda from immigration minister at committee

December 7, 2016

By CBC News |

Immigration Minister John McCallum appeared before a House of Commons committee Tuesday to answer questions on Canada’s plan to bring in 300,000 immigrants and refugees next year, but his time was cut short by a Conservative MP whose Alberta riding stands to lose 280 jobs due to a federal office closure.

MP Shannon Stubbs took the floor for more than an hour to read letters from residents about the impact of the planned closure of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s case processing centre in Vegreville, Alta.

Stubbs told McCallum she wanted an economic impact analysis of the decision that she said would be “complete devastation” for the town of 5,800. She broke down in tears as she read statements from employees, businesses and local residents who said it would ravage the local economy, sports teams and charities.

Stubbs added she was advocating for the community that is enduring “extreme anxiety and escalating stress.”

She said the closure, announced in October, is the equivalent of the loss of 290,000 jobs in Toronto. It would have a dramatic effect on the community’s youth, who look to the office as a future employer and an entry into the civil service.

“The impact on our youth population will be felt on locals schools, with up to 25 per cent of Vegreville students possibly having to leave our schools to relocate with their families,” she read from one letter.

Her office has received about 100 letters and more than 200 phone calls on the issue, she said.

McCallum defended the decision to move the centre to Edmonton, about 100 kilometres away, saying it would improve efficiency. He said the lease on the Vegreville building was up and that certain job vacancies were not being filled.

“It was felt there would be a much stronger performance in Edmonton and hence the decision was made,” he said.

The committee returned to questions on the immigration targets after about an hour.

NDP MP Jenny Kwan raised concerns about the lengthy delays in the caregiver program, where processing applications can take longer than four years.

“We value these workers and we should treat them right,” she said. “And this is wrong.”

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