Refugee Reform Project
Canada’s system is world renowned for its fairness and generosity. By implementing the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, Canada sought to improve its asylum system to help those truly in need and to do so in a timely manner. This legislation supports the underlying principles of Canada’s asylum system: ensuring fairness; protecting genuine refugees; and upholding Canada’s humanitarian tradition. These measures will help Canada continue to meet or exceed its international and domestic legal obligations to asylum seekers.
The project sought to address systemic challenges in the refugee system since 2010, such as:
- a large increase in annual refugee claims. In 2009, 33,000 refugee claims were made, far surpassing the capacity of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) and a significant increase from 2005, when Canada received fewer than 20,000 claims. This increase in volume, coupled with a shortfall of decision makers at the IRB, led to a large backlog of 62,000 cases at the IRB’s Refugee Protection Division, which ultimately undermined the efficiency of Canada’s asylum system;
- an increase in the time it takes to have a hearing at the IRB. In 2010, it took close to 19 months, which contributed to rising backlog numbers; and
- inefficient processes. In 2010, approximately 62% of claimants were found not to be in need of protection (claims were withdrawn, abandoned or rejected). The high volume of unfounded refugee claims indicated possible misuse of the asylum system. Such inefficiencies affect Canada’s ability to protect those in genuine need and reduce the ability to deter misuse.
The business outcomes of the Refugee Reform Project include:
- streamlining the process from the point of claim to the end of the determination process and imposition of specific time lines for each step of the process;
- enhancing system integrity through ongoing monitoring and analysis, increasing capacity for ministerial reviews and interventions, introducing enhanced security screening on a pilot basis, and increasing efficiency by maximizing use of resources (time, human, financial); and,
- ensuring timely removals through increased removals capacity at the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the introduction of an Assisted Voluntary Returns Pilot, which facilitates the timely removal of low-risk failed refugee claimants and further supports the CBSA’s backlog reduction efforts.
To facilitate reporting on the success of the new asylum system, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and partners have also developed the Metrics of Success report. The report follows new system claimants as they move through the asylum system, to monitor performance and identify successes and challenges. By closely monitoring each stage of the asylum system, challenges are identified early, allowing for targeted solutions to be implemented. The Metrics of Success are guided by the thresholds and targets set out in the departmental Performance Measurement Framework and the In-Canada Asylum Program Performance Measurement Strategy, and were used to support the Three-Year Evaluation completed in 2015-16.
As part of the measures to reform Canada’s refugee protection system, the Government committed to increasing the total number of refugees resettled each year by 20%. With the introduction of the Blended Visa Office-Referred Refugees Program, Canada planned to resettle up to 14,500 refugees annually. Canada resettled 19,571 refugees in 2015. This increase in the number of cases was in large part due to the Minister’s November 24, 2015 commitment to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees by February 29, 2016.
Refugee claimants will benefit from a streamlined process and Canadian society at large will benefit from system integrity and the timely removal of failed claimants. The provinces and territories are expected to realize substantial savings in social assistance and education costs.
Public Services and Procurement Canada
- Department of Justice/Federal Court
- Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)
- Canadian Security Intelligence Service
- Courts Administration Service
Various subcontractors are used on a task authorization basis.
Close-out phase: The Refugee Reform Project ended on March 31, 2016.
- June 2011: IRCC pre-publishes Pre-removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) Regulations.
- June 2012: CBSA launches Assisted Voluntary Returns Pilot, Phase 1.
- October 2012: IRCC launches Ministerial Reviews and Intervention Pilot.
- October 2012: All participants complete IT critical system modifications.
- November 2012: IRB begins employee training.
- December 2012: Legislation comes into force.
- December 2012: IRCC and the IRB revise their system for tracking appeals and refugees, and deploy the field operations support system interface.
- December 2012: RCMP launches an enhanced Security Screening Pilot.
- March 2013: IRCC assesses its backlog reduction strategy.
- April 2013: CBSA launches its Assisted Voluntary Returns Pilot, Phase 2.
- June 2013: IRB completes regional accommodations leases and fit-up.
- June 2013: IRB staffs positions for the Refugee Protection Division.
- October 2013: IRB staffs positions for the Refugee Appeal Division.
- March 2014: IRCC ends funding for the PRRA backlog.
- March 2016: Three-Year Evaluation approved by the IRCC Departmental Evaluation Committee.
- March 31, 2016: Refugee Reform Project completed.
Progress report and explanation of variances
Bill C-31, the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, was tabled on February 16, 2012, and came into force on December 15, 2012. It included a number of amendments to the Balanced Refugee Reform Act to, among other things, make the asylum system faster and fairer, including reducing time lines at the IRB for refugee hearings and appeals, and introducing a three-year bar on PRRA for designated country of origin claimants.
Evaluations of the three pilot projects under Refugee Reform, including the CBSA Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration program, the IRCC Ministerial Reviews and Interventions program, and the RCMP Enhanced Security Screening program, have been undertaken, which yielded the following results:
- the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration pilot was terminated as of March 31, 2015;
- the Enhanced Security Screening pilot was terminated as of March 31, 2015; and
- the Ministerial Reviews and Interventions pilot was extended to March 31, 2017.
The transfer of the PRRA function from IRCC to the IRB, scheduled for December 2014, was postponed.
As a result of the legislative amendments, the change in the coming into force date delayed the project by a year; therefore, the project completion date was changed to March 31, 2016, to accommodate the delay in implementation. This resulted in a revised total estimated cost of the project to include an additional year, net of identified efficiencies.
In addition, on July 23, 2015, the Federal Court rendered a decision impacting the right of designated country of origin claimants to appeal their decisions to the Refugee Appeal Division of the IRB.
Initially, $550.9 million (excluding HST) in funding over a five-year period (2010-11 to 2014-15) was provided, with $85.4 million (excluding HST) in ongoing funding for backlog reduction, asylum system reforms, and refugee resettlement assistance. Subsequently, the budget was revised to $508.0 million (excluding HST) to reflect anticipated cost savings. Actual expenditures for the five-year period (2010-11 to 2014-15) were $443.5 million (excluding HST), which represented a surplus of $64.5 million due to revised assumptions and lower asylum intake volumes than anticipated.
In 2014-15, additional authorities were granted to extend the Ministerial Reviews and Interventions pilot project for one year to March 31, 2016, to provide IRCC with additional time to finalize the evaluation of the pilot.
In 2015-16, additional authorities were granted to extend the Ministerial Reviews and Interventions pilot project for one year to March 31, 2017, in order to prevent significant disruption to the pilot project until it can be determined whether the pilot will be regularized.
A three-year evaluation was finalized in collaboration with partner departments and agencies.
The Refugee Reform Project was completed on March 31, 2016.
Passport Program Modernization Initiative
The Passport Program Modernization Initiative (PPMI) will implement the transition of accountability for the Passport Program to IRCC. The initiative will also modernize the Passport Program over the course of three phases including the development and implementation of a new business model, a new passport issuance capability, and the optimization and consolidation of the service delivery network.
The PPMI will:
- increase access to services for Canadians (online and expanded in-person network);
- strengthen program security and integrity of passport entitlement and issuance processes; and
- improve program efficiencies.
- Employment and Social Development Canada
- Global Affairs Canada
- Shared Services Canada
Planning (next gate – Gate 5)
- May 2015: Obtained Project Approval and Expenditure Authority for Phase I (amended) and Phase II.
- May 2015: Global Case Management System Passport Module developed and initial testing performed.
- November 2015: Pilot launch of online renewal applications (delayed).
- March 2016: Full launch of online renewal applications (delayed).
Progress report and explanation of variances
- Initially, the PPMI project was approved with an estimated cost of
$101.3 million (including $4.2 million in HST).
- In May 2015, additional authorities were granted to the PPMI project to support a change in the project deployment plan. The total cost is now estimated at $176 million (including $7.8 million in HST).
- The PPMI project is running under budget due to delays in deployment activities. The project schedule is under review and planned activities are being resequenced to occur at a later date.
- The intended business objectives of the project will be achieved as the Global Case Management System is deployed across the service delivery network. A phased approach to deployment is set to begin in 2017.
- The PPMI project was planned for completion by June 2018. This date is subject to revision once replanning is completed.
Expanding Biometric Screening in Canada’s Immigration System (Biometrics Expansion Project)
Between 2013 and 2015, IRCC introduced biometric technology to enhance the screening of temporary resident applicants from 30 nationalities through the Temporary Resident Biometrics Project (TRBP).
In November 2014, policy authority was granted to expand biometric screening and verification to all temporary resident visa, work permit, study permit and temporary resident permit applicants (excluding American citizens) and to all permanent resident applicants.
This includes systematic verification of fingerprints of these travellers through self-service kiosks upon arrival at Canada’s major airports. It also includes in-Canada biometric enrolment services, increased biometric information sharing with the United States and implementation of automated biometric information sharing with the other Five Country Conference (FCC) partners (the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand) to inform visa decision making.
The costs of expanding biometric screening are expected to be fully recovered through the existing biometric fee.
Building on the TRBP and the Beyond the Border Action Plan, this initiative falls within the Government’s ongoing efforts to improve the security and integrity of the immigration system.
The use of biometrics as an identity management tool helps supplement existing biographic checks and significantly reduces the chance that one individual may pose as or be mistaken for another individual. Immigration officers will know with greater certainty if an immigration applicant undergoing biometric screening has a Canadian criminal record, has made an asylum claim in Canada, was previously deported from Canada, has submitted an immigration application in the past or has used a different biographic identity.
Biometrics will also provide border services officers with greater certainty that an individual who was granted authorization to enter Canada is the one actually seeking entry. Over time, biometrics will also facilitate legitimate travel by:
- Strengthening identity management: The expanded collection and screening of biometric information will add a more secure and reliable identity element to a wider range of applicants. Immigration information sharing with FCC partners will further enhance identity management by providing officers with more information to confirm an applicant’s identity and detect cases of identity fraud or inadmissibility.
- Preventing inadmissible individuals from entering Canada: Broader fingerprint collection at the application stage will allow for more applicants to be screened against records of known criminals, past refugee claimants, persons previously deported and previous immigration applicants, thus assisting officers in the admissibility decision-making process at the application stage. Immigration information sharing will also contribute further to admissibility screening by providing officers with access to a wider range of immigration data.
- Facilitating movement of admissible individuals into Canada: The expanded collection, screening, verification and sharing of biometrics will simplify confirmation of a traveller’s identity, reduce the need for more in-depth questioning at the application and arrival stages, and facilitate the processing of low-risk returning applicants both overseas and upon arrival in Canada.
The Biometrics Expansion Project will improve the safety and security of Canadian citizens. Facilitating entry to legitimate travellers while deterring and detecting individuals who pose a risk is central to Canada’s security and economic and social prosperity. To support the Government of Canada outcomes of strong economic growth and a safe and secure world, the Department must maintain a balance between the desire to welcome newcomers to Canada and the obligation to protect the health, safety and security of Canadians. Criminals, terrorists and other known inadmissible persons must not be allowed to enter or stay in Canada.
Public Services and Procurement Canada
- Shared Services Canada
- Fujitsu Consulting (Canada) Inc., Ottawa, Ontario, Canada – Technical Solution;
- VF Worldwide Holdings Ltd, Port Louis, Mauritius – Service Delivery;
- Computer Sciences Canada Inc., Kanata, Ontario, Canada —Service Delivery; and
- 3M Cogent Inc., Pasadena, California, U.S.A. – Technical Solution.
- Aware Inc., Bedford, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
The Biometrics Expansion Project is currently in Phase 2 (Development), which began in April 2016. The objective of this phase is to detail requirements and solidify strategies and plans for defining, building and deploying the expanded biometric and information sharing solutions.
The project will be implemented in three phases before transitioning to steady state operations upon project close in March 2019.
- Phase 1 (Planning), completed in March 2016: In this phase, the project developed preliminary strategies and plans for defining, building and deploying the expanded biometric solution and enhanced information sharing.
- Phase 2 (Development), to be completed by March 2017: In this phase, requirements for the project will be detailed, and plans for defining, building and deploying the expanded biometric solution and information sharing will be finalized. Major milestones include:
- regulatory changes for information sharing agreements with FCC partners will be completed and published by March 2017; and
- in-Canada service deployment will be completed by March 2017.
- Phase 3 (Deployment), to be completed by March 2019: In this phase, the biometric solution and supporting infrastructure will be finalized. Implementation of the communications plan will prepare clients, partners and other stakeholders for the expansion of biometric screening and information sharing. Major milestones include:
- biometric-based information sharing with FCC partners to begin between April and November 2017 (actual start dates to be negotiated for each country);
- regulatory changes for information sharing on criminal removals with FCC partners will be completed and published by March 2018;
- sharing of information on criminal removals with FCC partners to begin by March 2018;
- regulatory changes for expanded authority to collect biometric information from additional nationalities and business lines to be completed and published by May 2018;
- increased biometric-based information sharing with the United States to begin by July 2018;
- biometric enrolment at all service points and expanded verification at certain points of entry into Canada for the expanded nationalities and business lines to commence between July and November 2018; and
- systematic fingerprint verification at major airports to begin by March 2019.
Ongoing operations: Once all elements of the Biometrics Expansion Project are implemented, ongoing activities will be required for business and technology support, as well as service delivery. It is anticipated that operations will reach a steady state in 2020-21.
Progress report and explanation of variances
Initial funding for the Biometrics Expansion Project was announced in Budget 2015. In June 2015, the Treasury Board approved new funding of $312.6 million (excluding HST) over five years, and $103.2 million (excluding HST) ongoing.
The total estimated cost for this initiative was estimated at $330.5 million over five years and $110.1 million ongoing. These numbers exclude HST.
The shortfall of $17.9 million over five years and the shortfall of $6.9 million ongoing were to be covered by existing reference levels.
Included in this $330.5 million, the amount of $133.9 million (or $146.7 million including HST) was approved in order to implement the Biometrics Expansion Project.
In March 2016, the Treasury Board granted additional authorities to the Biometrics Expansion Project Phase 2 as a result of revised assumptions and further substantiation of costs. The total funding required over five years went from $330.5 million to $359.9 million (all excluding HST) while the ongoing costs increased by $9.8 million from $110.1 million to $119.9 million.
Included in this updated estimation of $359.9 million is an amount of $154.8 million (or $169.2 million including HST) of received amended project approval in order to implement the Biometrics Expansion Project.
The change in the project costs component, which rose from $133.9 million to $154.8 million, is mainly due to several factors: additional requirements for information sharing with Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom; a significant change to deliver a more robust communication strategy; and the transfer of existing resources and activities to this project from other projects, such as remaining elements from Immigration Information Sharing, the TRBP and the Visa Application Centre Network Management project. The latter represents the main source of increased funding. As a result, amended project approval of $169.2 million (including HST), which is up from the original $146.7 million (including HST), was sought and granted in March 2016.
The increase in the ongoing component, from $110.1 million to $119.9 million, is also attributed to existing resources for operating activities such as Visa Application Centre Network Management and the TRBP.
Planning objectives set out in Phase 1 have been achieved. Development objectives set out in Phase 2 are under way and the project remains on track to commence Phase 3 in March 2017. The project is expected to be completed as planned in March 2019.
The Biometrics Expansion Project is running slightly under budget as a result of IRCC’s lower than anticipated legal service and consultant costs in Phase 1 and as a result of certain charges being waived by CBSA.
- Date Modified: