Status Report on Transformational and Major Crown Projects

Refugee Reform Project


Canada’s refugee system is world renowned for its fairness and generosity. Through the implementation of the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, Canada is improving its asylum system to enable it 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 new measures will help Canada continue to meet or exceed its 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. In 2009, 33,000 refugee claims were made, far surpassing the capacity of the Immigration and Refugee Board (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 (RPD), 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.
  • Inefficient processes. In 2010, approximately 62 percent of claimants were found not to be in need of protection (claims were withdrawn, abandoned or rejected).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 abuse. Such inefficiencies affect Canada’s ability to protect those in genuine need and reduce the ability to deter misuse of the asylum system.

Project Phase

The Balanced Refugee Reform Act remains in the execution phase.

Leading and Participating Departments and Agencies

Lead Department CIC
Contracting Authority 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 Milestone Date
CIC: Prepublishes Pre-removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) Regulations 06-30-2011
CBSA: Launches Assisted Voluntary Returns Pilot, Phase 1 06-29-2012
CIC: Launches Ministerial Reviews and Intervention Pilot 10-01-2012
All: Complete IT critical system modifications 10-17-2012
IRB: Begins employee training 11-05-2012
All: Legislation comes into force 12-15-2012
CIC and IRB: Revise system for tracking appeals and refugees and deploy Field Operations Support System Interface 12-15-2012
RCMP: Launches enhanced Security Screening Pilot 12-17-2012
CIC: Ends backlog funding 03-13-2013
CIC: Assesses Backlog Reduction Strategy 03-29-2013
CBSA: Launches Assisted Voluntary Returns Pilot, Phase 2 04-01-2013
IRB: Completes fit-up of leased regional accommodations 06-14-2013
IRB: Staffs positions for RPD 06-30-2013
IRB: Staffs positions for Refugee Appeal Division 10-21-2013
CIC (IRB): Transfers PRRA function to IRB 01-05-2015
All: Conduct three-year evaluation 03-31-2015
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 for ministerial intervention to designate countries of origin – archived, 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, which facilitates the timely removal of low-risk failed refugee claimants and further supports the CBSA’s backlog reduction efforts.

To underscore Canada’s commitment to protection, and to facilitate passage of the legislation, reform measures are complemented by efforts to strengthen Canada’s role as a global leader in refugee protection. By the end of 2013, Canada will resettle up to 14,500 refugees and other individuals in vulnerable circumstances, an increase of 20 percent since 2010.

CIC and relevant partners have implemented the Metrics of Success, a performance measurement system, to monitor the new asylum system as well as identify any challenges in a timely manner and enable CIC to provide recommendations.

Progress Report and Explanations of Variances

Bill C-31, the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, was tabled on February 16, 2012, and came into force December 15, 2012. It includes a number of amendments to the Balanced Refugee Reform Act (BRRA) to, inter alia, make the asylum system faster and fairer, including reducing timelines at the IRB for refugee hearings and appeals, and introducing a three-year bar on PRRA for designated country of origin – archived  claimants.

As of June 2013, the new refugee system appears to be working effectively; however, CIC and relevant partners will continue to monitor the system closely.

A three-year post-implementation evaluation will be conducted in collaboration with partner departments and agencies.

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. The provinces and territories are expected to realize substantial savings in social assistance and education costs.

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 Immigration Program will enhance the screening of applicants, thereby fixing the client’s identity at the time of application for a visa or study/work permit, and allow verification of that identity when the individual seeks entry at the border. As a result, Canada will improve 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 such key migration countries as 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 (TRBP) recently completed its Deployment Readiness Phase. During Deployment Readiness, CIC, CBSA and the RCMP worked collaboratively to develop and test the technical solution, as well as finalize the approaches and plans for implementing the TRBP solution. Comprehensive business and supporting requirements were agreed to by all partners.

As of May 2013, the TRBP moved from the Deployment Readiness Phase to its final phase, Deployment, where the project will focus on:

  • implementing the technological solution in the visa offices and global visa application centre (VAC) network;
  • implementing the verification solution in the CBSA ports of entry; and
  • transitioning all business functions to home organizations.

Leading and Participating Departments and Agencies

Lead Department CIC
Contracting Authority PWGSC
Participating Departments CBSA, RCMP, Shared Services Canada

Prime and Major Subcontractor(s)

Prime Contractor

Fujitsu Consulting (Canada) Inc.

Ottawa office:
55 Metcalfe, Suite 530
Ottawa, ON Canada K1P 6L5

VF World Holdings Ltd, Port Louis, Mauritius

Computer Sciences Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Major Subcontractor(s)

Aware Inc.

40 Middlesex Turnpike
Bedford, MA, 01730, USA

Major Milestones

List of Major Milestone Date
Phase 2 Deployment Readiness Approved June 2012
Solution Design Phase Complete November 2012
U.S. Memorandum of Understanding Signed August–September 2012
TRBP Interdepartmental Privacy Impact Assessment November 2012
VAC Contract Awarded November 2012
Pre-publication of Regulations and Country Announcement December 2012
Technology Solution Complete April 2013
Phase 3 Deployment Approved April 2013
Deployment Begins May 2013
Deployment Readiness Phase Complete September 2013
Deployment Complete and Project Close March 2014

Project Outcomes

Funding was included in Budget 2008 to enhance and strengthen identity management within the Temporary Resident Program. The use of biometrics as an identity management tool will help supplement existing biographic checks and significantly reduce the chance that one individual could pose as or be mistaken for another individual. Visa officers will know with greater certainty if a temporary resident applicant has a Canadian criminal record, made an asylum claim in Canada, was ever deported from Canada, made a temporary resident application in the past, or used a different biographic identity in the past.

Biometrics will also enable border services officers to have greater certainty that the individual who was granted a visa is the one seeking entry into Canada. Over time, biometrics will also facilitate legitimate travel by readily confirming identity. The project has the following objectives:

  • Strengthen identity management: Ensure that the Government of Canada is using accurate and robust tools to store and safeguard client identity information so that only legitimate holders of temporary resident visas and permits gain entry to Canada.
  • Enhance security: Reduce the likelihood that known criminals or persons who violate immigration laws will gain access to Canada through the temporary resident visa program.
  • Improve program integrity: Introduce additional tools that make it more difficult for previous deportees, previous refugee claimants, previous temporary resident applicants and persons with Canadian criminal records to exploit identity loopholes for economic benefit by assuming different identities. Identity and nationality information of refugee claimants, gained through biometric checks, will support decision making at the IRB.
  • Facilitate processing of legitimate clients: For returning clients, biometric identifiers will provide an additional tool to help re-establish identity. More efficient and effective identity management is one of a number of key enablers in support of ongoing processing improvements that will enable CIC to increasingly automate service delivery.

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 approval for the implementation of the TRBP.

In June 2012, the TRBP successfully transitioned from the Solution Design Phase into the Deployment Readiness Phase. An independent review supported project transition. As a result, the TRBP was able to report a green overall project health status. The project remained within budget.

Fiscal year 2012–13 was a year of great success for theTRBP, as evidenced by a continuous stream of key accomplishments culminating in support for advancement to Phase 3, Deployment.

The TRBP received approval for a decrease to its substantive cost estimates as a result of lower than projected contract costs and diligent management of project contingency. The total cost is now estimated at $168 million versus previous estimates of $180.3 million, approximately $12 million under budget.

CIC is establishing an extensive overseas biometric enrolment network consisting of over 131 VACs, 53 visa offices and 135 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Application Support Centers. The successful award of the VAC contracts in November 2012 to Computer Services Canada and VFS World will allow CIC to expand VACs globally to provide the platform for biometric collection capabilities, standardize services and enhance service delivery by providing visa applicants easier access to services closer to home.

Industrial Benefits

The TRBP 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, a balance must be maintained 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.

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