Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

2nd Session, 40th Parliament,
Volume 146, Issue 47

Wednesday, June 17, 2009
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker

Citizenship and Immigration

Temporary Foreign Work Permits for Exotic Dancers

Hon. Mobina S.B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, my question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate regarding exotic dancer work permits.

Why is Canada still issuing these permits? The U.S. State Department has just released its ninth annual Trafficking in Persons Report. Amongst its findings and reprimands about Canada was the issue of temporary foreign work permits for exotic dancers.

The Canadian government said that it would eliminate these permits, but the U.S. State Department says that Canada is still issuing them, to the tune of 14 permits last year and 15 in 2007. These permits put women at risk. Human traffickers use them as a loophole to legally import women into forced prostitution.

Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us if the Canadian government is in fact issuing these permits and why?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State (Seniors)): Honourable senators, this is an issue of great concern to all of us. Apparently, the figures the honourable senator cites are accurate, and they are down considerably from the hundreds of permits that were issued previously.

All I can say to the honourable senator is that my colleague, the Minister of Citizenship, the Honourable Jason Kenney, is working on this and other matters with regard to our citizenship and immigration system. I expect that in the not-too-distant future he will be coming forward on behalf of the government to address this and other issues. Obviously, this is a program that has caused great difficulty in the past and was widely abused, and it is the minister’s intention for that not to continue.

Senator Jaffer: I have a supplementary question. May I ask the minister to inquire as to why these permits are still being issued? I understood that we would no longer be issuing these permits.

Senator LeBreton: I do not know the details or how exactly this happened. I will take that question as notice.