Immigration Minister Sean Fraser told the House of Commons government operations committee on Feb. 15 that consulting firm McKinsey & Company had no impact on his determination of immigration targets for the country. “I don’t have a relationship with representatives of McKinsey or Dominic Barton, if anybody had been curious,” Fraser said. The current immigration targets are similar to what the Advisory Council on Economic Growth, chaired by Barton when he was head of McKinsey, had suggested in 2017 to significantly increase immigration levels. The federal government wants to reach 500,000 new immigrants in 2025.
Fraser said he was unaware of any involvement McKinsey could have had on the immigration levels plan and that he hadn’t reviewed anything they had produced in that regard. Deputy Minister of Immigration Christiane Fox told the committee that there was no report in which McKinsey had contributed to the immigration levels plan.
The Commons government operations committee is reviewing contracts awarded to McKinsey by the Trudeau government, which have grown exponentially since it came to power in 2015. CBC had reported on the contracts in early January and provided information from sources within Immigration Canada who criticized McKinsey’s involvement with their department. Immigration Canada had two contracts with McKinsey, one for $2.9 million and the other for $24.8 million, Fraser said. Those were for an external assessment on digital transformation and to make operational improvements to move towards digitization.
Fraser was asked about the information sources provided to CBC to the effect that McKinsey was influencing policy. He said, “McKinsey was an idea from the government. The policy was decided for civil servants. It causes a lot of operational instability.” The minister also downplayed his responsibility, saying, “In any event, this is an ordinary exercise where the department was seeking to grow its capacity to offer digital services.” McKinsey has defended its work with the government, saying, “Our government work in Canada is entirely non-partisan in nature and focuses on core management topics, such as digitization and operations improvement. Our firm does not make policy recommendations on immigration or any other topic.”