Canada should act against unscrupulous immigration consultants, stop foreigners with no ties to Canada from advising people on coming here, and require all consultants to take courses and obtain licences, a government-appointed advisory board will recommend today.
In a report ordered by Immigration Minister Denis Coderre last year, a panel of experts calls for the government to regulate the unsupervised legion of non-lawyer immigration consultants because the worst in their ranks are tarnishing Canada's name.
Even before their release, Mr. Coderre indicated he backs the proposals, and said he would act on some of them this year.
"There will be regulation, not only just principles, but there will be some teeth attached to the process," he said.
"There are too many horror stories, and we have to do something about it."
The committee's report, obtained by The Globe and Mail, said action was needed on a litany of problems.
"We know that some consultants are involved in people-smuggling. We know that some immigration consultants use, or fabricate, fraudulent documents for aliens to enter this country," the report states.
"We know that some immigration consultants abuse their client's trust by promising the impossible and failing to deliver. We know that some immigration consultants charge exorbitant fees for their services."
To change that, the committee suggests that the government help establish a self-regulating body that immigration consultants must join if they want to have dealings on case files with Immigration Department officials.
That body would institute a code of conduct and discipline members who violate it. And it would also establish mandatory training courses and standards for obtaining a licence to practise as an immigration consultant.
In addition, the committee recommends that people without significant ties to Canada should not be licensed as immigration consultants -- an effort to control fly-by-night consultants in foreign countries who could refuse to appear for disciplinary proceedings. Foreign consultants affiliated with established Canadian firms could still be licensed.
The report, issued by a 14-member committee headed by immigration lawyer Benjamin Trister and refugee- and immigration-activist Rivka Augenfeld, is to be made public at a news conference today.
At the same time, other proposals brought forward by Mr. Coderre received mixed reactions from the House of Commons immigration committee.
The committee rejected his suggestion that some immigrants be issued temporary visas that would require them to live three to five years in a specific area.
Mr. Coderre has championed the idea of settling more immigrants outside the major cities, suggesting visas that tie immigrants to a job in a smaller urban centre might be one solution to the problem.
However, the committee also urged Mr. Coderre and the provinces to expand so-called provincial-nominee programs, which allow the provinces to select some immigrants to meet immediate labour-force needs -- something Mr. Coderre has also proposed.