OTTAWA, Ont. – A legislation that will regulate immigration and citizenship consultants is now in force, the federal government announced Thursday.
The College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants Act will provide a statutory framework to regulate the consultants, it said.
The college, aimed at protecting newcomers and applicants to Canada from unscrupulous and fraudulent consultants, is expected to open next year.
Immigration consultants have been under scrutiny for some time for alleged malpractices, especially in the recruitment of truck drivers from abroad.
In October, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) issued a warning against trucking companies and immigration consultants against the abuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).
The warning focused on the abuse of the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) process, which allows companies to hire people under the TFWP.
Before any foreigner can be hired for a particular job, employers have to prove that no Canadian is available to fill the position, and that is done through the LMIA process, supervised by ESDC.
The abuse is widespread in the trucking industry, which has faced an acute shortage of drivers over the past few years, with fleets small and big charging potential employees anywhere between $15,000 and $60,000 for a positive LMIA – all paid in cash to avoid any paper trail.
This is being done in collusion with immigration consultants.
On Thursday, the government said it is committed to the implementation of a new professional governance regime.
“We’re taking decisive action to hold immigration and citizenship consultants to account by improving oversight and increasing accountability to protect both the public and consultants in good standing from dishonest consultants who are taking advantage of vulnerable people,” said Marco E. L. Mendicino, the minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship.
The college will be subject to significant official oversight to ensure public protection, the government said.
This includes authority to establish a code of professional conduct for licensees of the college, to set the composition of the college board of directors, and appoint up to a majority of directors.
The board’s mandate is to manage the activities and affairs of the college.
The new law stems from the 2019 Budget Implementation Act, which proposed to improve the oversight of immigration consultants in Canada.
Ottawa said the college will have the authorities necessary for the regulation of consultants, in particular tools to investigate professional misconduct and discipline its licensees.
“This includes the power to enter the premises of a consultant for the purpose of gathering information to support an investigation, and compelling witnesses to appear and testify before the discipline committee,” it said.
Further, the college will have the ability to request court injunctions to address unlicensed actors providing immigration advice without authorization.
A code of conduct for the college is also being developed. This will help establish strong ethical and professional standards that all licensees must abide by, the government said.
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