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Status Report on Transformational and Major Crown Projects

Refugee Reform Project


Through the implementation of the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, Canada is improving its asylum system to enable the country to help those truly in need and to do so in a timely manner. This new legislation supports the underlying principles of Canada’s asylum system: ensuring fairness; protecting genuine refugees; and upholding Canada’s humanitarian tradition. Canada’s refugee system is world renowned for its fairness and generosity. These new measures will continue to exceed Canada’s international and domestic legal obligations to asylum seekers.

Receiving royal assent on June 29, 2010, the Balanced Refugee Reform Act addresses systemic challenges in the current refugee system, such as:

  • A large increase in annual refugee claims. Nearly 37,000 claims were made in Canada in 2008 and about 33,000 claims were made in 2009, which far surpasses the capacity of the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB). Claims have increased since 2005 when Canada received fewer than 20,000 claims. This increase in volume, coupled with a shortfall of decision-makers at the IRB has led to a large backlog at the IRB’s Refugee Protection Division (RPD), which ultimately undermines the efficiency of Canada’s asylum system.
  • An increase in the time it takes to have a hearing at the RPD. It currently takes about 19 months. Lengthy wait times for a decision also contribute to rising backlog numbers.
  • Inefficient processes. These inefficiencies affect Canada’s ability to protect those in genuine need and reduce the ability to deter misuse of the asylum system. Approximately 62% of claimants are found not to be in need of protection (claims are withdrawn, abandoned or rejected). The high volume of unfounded refugee claims indicates possible abuse.

Project Phase:

The Balanced Refugee Reform Act is currently in the execution phase. The next project gate is 6—Construction Complete and Deployment Readiness.

Leading and Participating Departments and Agencies
Lead Department Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Contracting Authority Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC)
Participating Departments Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), IRB, Department of Justice/Federal Court, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Courts Administration Service

Prime and Major Subcontractor(s)
Prime Contractor None
Major Subcontractor(s) Various subcontractors are used on a task authorization basis

Major Milestones
List of Major Milestones Date
CIC: Prepublish Pre-removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) Regulations 06-30-2011
CIC/IRB: Revise system for tracking appeals and refugees / deploy Field Operations Support System Interface TBD
IRB: Complete regional accommodations leased and fit-up TBD
IRB: Staff positions for RPD TBD
IRB: Begin employee training TBD
All: Complete information technology (IT) critical system modifications TBD
All: Coming into Force TBD
CBSA: Launch Assisted Voluntary Returns Pilot, Phase 1 TBD
CIC: Launch Ministerial Reviews and Intervention Pilot TBD
CIC: Begin issuing Protected Person Status Documents TBD
RCMP: Launch enhanced Security Screening Pilot TBD
IRB: Staff positions for Refugee Appeal Division TBD
CIC: End backlog funding 03-13-2013
CIC: Assess Backlog Reduction Strategy 03-29-2013
CBSA: Launch Assisted Voluntary Returns Pilot, Phase 2 04-01-2013
CIC/IRB: Transfer PRRA function to IRB 01-05-2015
Project Completion 03-31-2015

Project Outcomes

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 timelines for each step of the process;
  • enhancing system integrity by reducing abuse of the system through ongoing monitoring and analysis, increasing capacity to conduct Ministerial Intervention to designate countries of origin, 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 CBSA and the introduction of an Assisted Voluntary Returns Pilot.

To underscore Canada’s commitment to protection, and facilitate passage of the legislation, reform measures are complemented by efforts to strengthen Canada’s role as a global leader in refugee protection. By 2013, Canada will resettle up to 14,500 refugees, an increase of 2,500 refugees since 2010.

CIC and relevant partners are developing metrics of success to measure the success of the project.

Progress Report and Explanations of Variances

Bill C-31, the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, was tabled on February 16, 2012. C-31 proposes a number of amendments to the Balanced Refugee Reform Act (BRRA). The impact of C-31 on the implementation of the BRRA is currently being analysed. In particular, C-31 would amend the existing coming into force date for the BRRA from 06-29-2012, to a date to be determined by the Governor in Council.

Industrial Benefits

Bona fide refugee claimants will benefit from a streamlined process and Canadian society at large will benefit from system integrity and timely removal of failed claimants.


Temporary Resident Biometrics Project


Today, the use of biometrics is expanding rapidly given its unique approach and its potential to identify an individual reliably. The introduction of biometric technology into the temporary resident stream screening process will enhance the screening of applicants in the Temporary Resident Program, thereby fixing the client’s identity at the time of application for a visa or for a study or work permit, and allowing verification of that identity when the individual seeks entry at the border. As a result, Canada will better ensure the safety and security of Canadian society and reduce abuse of the immigration system by limiting opportunities for persons with Canadian criminal or deportation histories to use alternate identities to return to Canada. The project will also facilitate the processing of legitimate temporary workers, students and visitors. Many other countries, including key partners like Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, have either recently implemented or are planning to implement similar projects.

Project Phase:

The Temporary Resident Biometrics Project is currently in the execution phase. During the planning phase, CIC, CBSA and the RCMP worked collaboratively to define the solution, as well as the approaches and plans for implementing the Temporary Resident Biometrics Project. A critical first step was the definition of a set of comprehensive business and supporting requirements agreed to by all partners in 2010, culminating in 2010–11 with a project submission. Substantive plans and strategies for deployment and management of the business change are expected to be finalized and approved by all partners in 2012–13. During the execution phase, the project is focusing on developing, monitoring and controlling deliverables (as defined by the business requirements), while meeting scheduling commitments.

Leading and Participating Departments and Agencies
Lead Department Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Contracting Authority Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC)
Participating Departments Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)

Prime and Major Subcontractor(s)
Prime Contractor

Fujitsu Technical solution Visa application centre (VAC) RFP 2012

Major Subcontractor(s) Not applicable

Major Milestones
List of Major Milestones Date
Global VAC RFP posting on MERX January 2012
Technical solution contract award February 2012
Global VAC contract award 2012–13
Deployment 2012–13
Project shutdown 2013–14

Project Outcomes

Funding was included in Budget 2008 to enhance and strengthen identity management within the Temporary Resident Program, allowing overseas visa officers and CBSA border service officers at ports of entry (POEs) to make decisions based on accurate identity and immigration admissibility information, and permitting border service officers to verify applicants’ identity at Canada’s POEs. As a result, the Government of Canada will be in a better position to reduce identity fraud, enhance the safety and security of Canadians through strengthened criminality screening, and facilitate the processing of legitimate applicants by confirming identity promptly. The following performance indicators underscore the benefits of the project.

Protect Canadians

The rise of identity fraud and theft globally and the use of sophisticated means to evade detection present challenges for Canada’s immigration program in verifying and managing applicants’ identification. Proper identification of applicants is crucial to the decision-making process of CIC officers abroad and CBSA officers at Canadian POEs. Decisions taken by CIC and CBSA form the first line of defence against individuals who pose a criminal or security threat to Canadians and against certain migrants who seek to take advantage of Canada’s high standard of living.

Reduce Abuse of Visa Program

Biometrics will allow the government to better detect and deter temporary applicants who use different identities, including previously refused visa/permit applicants.

Reduce Abuse of Refugee Program

Biometrics will make it possible to cross-reference visa/permit applicants against the refugee claimant database and vice versa. Even within the limited scope of the field trial (October 2006 to April 2007), 12 cases out of 1,482 recorded entries into Canada were found between the visa and refugee streams—a rate of 0.8 percent. Under the auspices of the Five Country Conference, CIC, in partnership with CBSA and the RCMP, began sharing 3,000 fingerprint records per country per year under the High Value Data Sharing Protocol in September 2009. Canada is exchanging bilaterally with Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. This initiative covers refugee claimants as well as immigration enforcement cases. To date, the Protocol has yielded positive results, including potential interventions and warrant closures. This type of biometric matching could increase the quality of evidence available for decision makers at the IRB to establish the credibility of refugee claims.

Facilitate Removals

Biometrics will facilitate the removal of individuals who should not be in Canada by linking undocumented foreign nationals to the identity and place of origin stated on their visa application. Of the approximately 23,172 in-Canada refugee claimants in 2010, 6,215 or 27 percent were without identity or travel documents. Biometrics will also assist in the detection of previous deportees who apply for a Canadian visa under a different identity, thereby preventing them from returning to Canada.

Ensure Border Security

Biometric verification at the POE will strengthen identity management and allow CBSA officers to confirm that the individual arriving in Canada is the same one to whom CIC issued the visa/permit abroad. Currently, one of the key vulnerabilities is the inability to ensure that the visa/permit and the genuine holder remain together once the document is issued by CIC. It is this gap that resulted in 454 Canadian visas being used fraudulently by foreign nationals to travel to Canada in 2010. This includes altered and counterfeit visas as well as impostor fraud. The actual extent of the abuse is estimated to be higher as not all fraud is detected.

Improve Service Delivery by Building a Global Network of VACs

Since 2005, the Government of Canada has had contracts with private sector service providers to operate VACs that deliver a range of visa application support services to applicants in 60 VACs in 41 countries. In 2010, as part of its modernization agenda, the Department developed a plan to implement an expanded global service delivery network of VACs, which will enhance service delivery by providing visa applicants easier access to services closer to home and include biometrics enrolment. Given the high volume of temporary resident applications from visa-required foreign nationals temporarily residing in the United States, service delivery options are also being explored to allow applicants to enrol their biometrics at U.S. application support centre locations. Safeguards governing the protection of personal information will continue to be part of the terms of agreement or arrangements with each service provider.

Progress Report and Explanations of Variances

In late 2007, CIC sought policy approval for the introduction of biometrics into the Temporary Resident Program, and funding to support this initiative was included in Budget 2008. In March 2009, CIC received preliminary project approval for the implementation of the Temporary Resident Biometrics Project. In March 2011 effective project approval was granted for a total project cost of $123 million.

The technology RFP was released in 2011 and contract was awarded in early 2012. The VAC RFP was released in early 2012, initiating the procurement of a global network of VACs that include biometrics enrolment services.

Over the course of the last year, the Department has made important strides in the development of a plan to implement an expanded global service delivery network of VACs. In collaboration with its project partners, the Department has developed a concept of operations, business process maps, and the business and technical requirements for its VAC network. In addition, it has conducted industry consultations that supported the preparation of a statement of work for the launch of the global VAC RFP in 2011–12.

The Temporary Resident Biometrics Project is currently running under budget due to procurement delays of the biometric IT solution and biometric advisory services. In both cases, the initial procurement attempt resulted in non-compliant bids and therefore the project had to retender. Retendering had a direct impact on related activities such as planning and design of the biometric solution, development plans for user acceptance testing, privacy impact assessments, and development of deployment strategies and plans. In 2011–12, the funding associated with these activities was included as part of a reprofile request to Treasury Board.

During the course of the retender process for the IT solution, the project was able to recover two months of delay by applying findings and best practices from the first RFP, specifically as it relates to development timelines and bid evaluation approach. As a result, the contract for the technical solution was awarded on February 3, 2012. The Temporary Resident Biometrics Project is currently in the execution phase, is achieving defined performance objectives and will be on schedule to begin deploying in 2013.

Industrial Benefits

The Temporary Resident Biometrics Project will improve the safety and security of Canadian citizens. Immigration and the granting of Canadian citizenship are vital to the continued growth and prosperity of Canada. To support the Government of Canada outcomes of strong economic growth and a safe and secure world through international engagement, a balance must be maintained between the desire to welcome newcomers to Canada and the obligation to protect the health, safety and security of Canadian society. Criminals, terrorists and other known inadmissible persons must not be allowed to enter or stay in Canada.