Access to Information Act, Privacy Act, Annual Report 2019-2020

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

November 2020

Executive Summary

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Privacy Act, Access to Information Act, Annual Report 2019-2020 (PDF, 875 KB)

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Through its key lines of business, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) interacts with millions of individuals every year, including those seeking temporary or permanent residence into Canada and subsequently settling into Canadian society, and those pursuing Canadian citizenship. The Department is also responsible for passport services in support of individuals seeking to obtain or renew a Canadian passport or other travel document such as a certificate of identity or a refugee travel document.

IRCC manages a considerable volume of personal information as part of delivering these programs and services, and remains committed to ensuring that the personal information held by IRCC is safeguarded, used and disclosed responsibly. During the reporting period, commencing April 1, 2019, and ending March 31, 2020, IRCC completed 5 Privacy Impact Assessments (PIAs) exploring privacy risks in new departmental initiatives. In addition, the Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Division provided privacy policy advice on over 639 requests (37% more than the year previous) concerning information sharing, consent, surveys, contracts, privacy notices, and other matters.

In recent years, the Department has experienced significant increases in some of its most important lines of business as many around the world seek to enter Canada temporarily or permanently, and as increasing numbers of eligible permanent residents seek to become Canadian citizens. IRCC’s challenge is to effectively manage these requests to enter and remain in Canada, while working with stakeholders to ensure that newcomers have the best opportunities to succeed and that the Canadian economy and society reap the benefits of newcomer success.

Increases in volume in other IRCC business lines are correlated with significant increases in ATIP request volumes. In 2019-2020, IRCC received 50% of all ATIP requests submitted to federal government institutions, and has experienced unprecedented growth in the number of ATIP requests over the past several years.

IRCC is unique in that most of the requests it receives under the Access to Information Act are for the personal information of its clients. This is because the majority of its requests concern IRCC clients who are foreign nationals that rely on representatives to submit an Access to Information Act request on their behalf and with their consent to seek information about their IRCC immigration file.

To manage these volumes effectively, the ATIP Division within IRCC has two teams that process ATIP requests:

The Department is committed to ensuring that its requesters receive timely access to the records they request, and has undertaken a number of initiatives to improve its performance and address a backlog of requests. Despite a 36% increase over the previous fiscal year, IRCC managed to close 26% more requests than the previous fiscal year.

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