Status Report on Transformational and Major Crown Projects

Refugee Reform Project

Description

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:

Project outcomes

The business outcomes of the Refugee Reform Project include:

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.

Industrial benefits

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.

Sponsoring department

IRCC

Contracting authority

Public Services and Procurement Canada

Participating departments

Prime contractor

Not applicable

Major subcontractors

Various subcontractors are used on a task authorization basis.

Project phase

Close-out phase: The Refugee Reform Project ended on March 31, 2016.

Major milestones

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 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

Description

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.

Project outcomes

The PPMI will:

Industrial benefits

Not applicable.

Sponsoring department

IRCC

Contracting authority

IRCC

Participating departments

Prime contractor

Not applicable

Major subcontractors

Not applicable

Project phase

Planning (next gate – Gate 5)

Major milestones

Progress report and explanation of variances

Expanding Biometric Screening in Canada’s Immigration System (Biometrics Expansion Project)

Description

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.

Project outcomes

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:

Industrial benefits

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.

Sponsoring department

IRCC

Contracting authority

Public Services and Procurement Canada

Participating departments

Prime contractors

Major subcontractor

Project phase

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.

Major milestones

The project will be implemented in three phases before transitioning to steady state operations upon project close in 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.

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