Government targets bogus immigration consultants
By Juliet O'Neill
Canwest News Service
June 10, 2009
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says the government is trying to curb “massive, widespread, deliberate” fraud by bogus consultants against foreign nannies, caregivers and others who seek to live in Canada.
The government has stepped up advertising and warnings about bogus consultants in 17 languages in Canada and abroad, Kenney said Tuesday, and he has asked for the matter to be a priority in discussions with some foreign governments.
One such government is the Philippines, from which thousands of nannies and caregivers come to Canada each year, some having paid thousands of dollars to consultants claiming to be Canadian government agents.
Another target country is India, where Kenney's spokesman said the government has found “a suspiciously high number of Punjabi men in their 20s trying to enter Canada as nannies.”
Kenney told the House of Commons immigration committee that the government would come up with “meaningful changes to increase the penalties and the sanctions for operating outside the law and to provide a more robust regulatory framework for the consultants who operate illegally.”
The new rules are expected by the end of summer. Kenney was testifying on the eve of the committee tabling its second report on migrant workers and bogus consultants.
“The fraud is massive, it's widespread, it's deliberate, it's probably a multi-hundred-million-dollar industry on an international level,” Kenney said.
“And it is taking advantage of the dream that people have coming to Canada for which some people are willing to pay a very great deal — thousands of dollars in some parts of this world.”
The committee has defined bogus or “ghost” consultants as paid immigration consultants who advise clients in immigration matters without being “authorized representatives,” which means without being lawyers in good standing or members of the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants.
Kenney said the bogus consultants advertise in newspapers in Canada and abroad and on billboards abroad using “ripoff” versions of the Canadian government logo.
“The challenge is that overseas obviously we can't apply Canadian law to regulate immigration consultants in other parts of the world,” Kenney said.
“What I've asked is that we make the proper regulation and policing of third parties in this field in foreign countries a priority bilateral issue in our relationship with certain countries.”
The committee's report also includes a segment on its examination of allegations by caregivers from the Philippines that they were mistreated while employed in the Toronto-area home that Liberal MP Ruby Dhalla shares with her mother and brother.
MPs from all parties say they are upset that a draft of their report, calling on provincial and federal authorities to investigate the allegations against Dhalla, was leaked to the media.