With the resignation of four board members in less than four months, The Canadian Bar Association expressing concern, and an independent auditor describing its expenses as “unusually high”, the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC) is raising considerable doubt over its ability to self-govern.
December 14 2004 – Francisco Rico, formerly a CSIC board member, is but the latest in a string of resignations protesting the board’s “failure to carry out its mandate”. Rico, who was formerly the co-director of FCJ Refugee Hamilton House in Toronto, admitted to a general lack of experience within the organization that led directly to internal struggle among its board members. He has also expressed reservations about the high levels of compensation, as well as the society’s failure to create an effective disciplinary hearing model to oversee complaints against its card-carrying members.
The Canadian Bar Association (CBA) has also voiced their concern over CSIC’s ability to regulate the profession; set up disciplinary proceedings, and maintain standards of corporate governance. “There has been tremendous dissension on the board…” reads a letter written by the founding member of CBA’s immigration section, Mendel Green.
Furthermore, Mercer, an outside human resources consulting firm, was recently called in to examine CSIC’s financial activity. It has concluded that 19 per cent (approx. $479,800) of all expenses was allocated to “directors’ fees” in 2004, a number the agency has described as “unusually high”.
In response to the recent firestorm of accusations regarding exorbitant compensation, CSIC has stated that “all Board compensation was justified”. The organization is currently undergoing its second annual independent audit to ensure that all expenditures are properly authorized and are in accordance with Society policies. The results of this audit will be available in mid-January 2006.
CSIC is an independent, not-for-profit organization operating under the authorization of the Canadian Federal Government. It was created in 2003 in response to the various problems which existed within the formerly unregulated immigration consulting industry. The Society’s mandate is to ensure that professional standards and accountability exist with regards to fee-based immigration consulting services. In addition, the Society is responsible for ensuring the education, skills, competency testing and recognition of its members.