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Canada does a poor job monitoring its visa system: federal auditor


09:39, November 23, 2011

OTTAWA, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- The Canadian government does not check its immigration visa system to ensure the country does not give legal immigrant status to criminals and people with chronic diseases, a federal auditor said on Tuesday.

Just after releasing his report, Federal interim Auditor General Wiersema said at a news conference in Ottawa on Tuesday that the Canadian visa system is outdated, and it needs new rules to deal with modern problems and better staff training.

The fall report said that Citizenship and Immigration Canada ( CIC) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) "need to do a much better job of managing the health, safety and security risks associated with issuing a visa."

Wiersema said that visa officers do not get the "basic elements " to ensure they get the right information about people applying for a visa to Canada.

Security manuals have not been updated for ten years. People entering the country are screened under 50-year-old rules for syphilis and tuberculosis, but not for HIV and other modern diseases.

Wiersema's investigation exposed poor training of border services agents, leaving them unable to properly advise immigration officials on whether visa applicants should be admitted. Supervisors rarely checked the work of border agents.

Supposedly mandatory checks on visa applicants were not completed, he said.

"We've been reporting on some of these problems with visas for 20 years and I find it disturbing that fundamental weaknesses still exist," he said. "It's time that CIC and CBSA work together to resolve them."

Later in the House of Commons, Immigration Minister Jason kenney said that his department will fix the problems identified by the auditor.

"We accept all of the Auditor General's recommendations," Kenney said. "We think they are very constructive and, in fact, my department is already working with our security partners, with the Public Health Agency to put those measures in place."

The auditor also criticized the government's spending controls over its 47 billion Canadian dollars Economic Action Plan, which was supposed to stimulate the flagging Canadian economy with infrastructure construction projects.

"The Economic Action Plan involved 47 billion (Canadian dollars) of stimulus to the economy, I think it's really important that the government follow through on its commitment to report to Parliament on the overall success of the Economic Action Plan," Wiersema said.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told the House of Commons that the government will table a final report on the stimulus program.

He said that the Canadian government's job-creation efforts have created 600,000 net new jobs since 2008.

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