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 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 addressed 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 of Canada (IRB) and representing 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 an extensive 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 get 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 In 2010, approximately 62% of claimants were found not to be in need of protection (claims were withdrawn, abandoned or rejected).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 Refugee Reform Project 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 Milestones Date
CIC: Pre-publishes 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/IRB: Revises system for tracking appeals and refugees / deploy Field Operations Support System Interface 12-15-2012
RCMP: Launches enhanced Security Screening Pilot 12-17-2012
CIC: Assesses Backlog Reduction Strategy 03-29-2013
CBSA: Launches Assisted Voluntary Returns Pilot, Phase 2 04-01-2013
IRB: Completes regional accommodations leasing and fit-up 06-14-2013
IRB: Staffs positions for RPD 06-30-2013
IRB: Staffs positions for Refugee Appeal Division 10-21-2013
CIC: Ends PRRA backlog funding 03-31-2014
All: Conduct three-year evaluation 03-31-2015
Project Completion 03-31-2015

CIC/IRB: Transfers PRRA function to IRB

Note: Transfer postponed; timing options for the transfer are being considered (date to be set by Order-in-Council)


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 reviews and interventions, introducing enhanced security screening on a pilot basis and increasing efficiency by maximizing the use of resources (time, human, financial); and
  • ensuring timely removals through increased removal 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 facilitate passage of the legislation in 2010, reform measures have been complemented by efforts to strengthen Canada’s role as a global leader in refugee protection. Canada remains committed to resettling up to 14,500 refugees and other individuals in vulnerable circumstances in 2014, a 20% increase from 2010.

CIC and relevant partners have implemented the Metrics of Success, a performance measurement system, to monitor the new asylum system and to 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, among other improvements, make the asylum system faster and fairer, for example through the reduction of timelines at the IRB for refugee hearings and appeals and the introduction of a three-year bar on PRRA for Designated Country of Origin – archived claimants.

As a result of a drafting error in the BRRA, some refugee claimants were erroneously provided access to the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD) of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) prior to the actual creation of the RAD in December 2012. This resulted in a four-month period where applicants under the previous refugee determination system had a right to access the new RAD. To correct this unintended outcome, CIC included a legislative amendment in the Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, Part 1 (EAPA) that removed access to the RAD for certain claimants from that period. However, as a result of the EAPA amendment, this client group was not afforded an automatic stay of removal when seeking leave from the Federal Court for judicial review of a negative refugee determination, which they benefitted from under the previous system. In order to ensure consistency with the policy intent, an amendment to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations will soon be implemented to ensure that claimants who were referred to the IRB during this four-month period and whose RAD access was eliminated would continue to benefit from an automatic stay of removal.

The PRRA function is expected to transfer from CIC to the IRB by December 2014. In conjunction with partner departments, CIC is developing regulatory amendments to streamline the process following the transfer and to ensure a seamless transition of responsibility to the IRB.

The three pilot projects under Refugee Reform, including the CBSA’s Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration, CIC’s Ministerial Reviews and Interventions and the RCMP’s Enhanced Security Screening, were extended by one year to March 31, 2016.

As of June 2014, 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 reliably identify an individual. The introduction of biometric technology into the Temporary Economic Residents Program enhances the screening of applicants, thereby fixing the client’s identity at the time of application for a visa or study/work permit, and allows verification of that identity when the individual seeks entry at the border. As a result, Canada improves the safety and security of Canadian society and reduces 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 also facilitates the processing of legitimate temporary workers, students and visitors. Many other countries, including key migration countries such 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) successfully completed its last scheduled biometrics deployment in Ahmadabad, India, on May 9, 2014, bringing the total number of enrolment sites to over 300 globally. This total includes 129 Visa Application Centres (VACs) and 51 Visa Offices (VOs) in 92 countries and 135 Application Service Centres (ASCs) across the United States. 

The TRBP was delivered within the confirmed scope, under budget and on schedule. 

The administrative closeout of the project will be finalized with the Project Sponsor’s approval expected by the end of September 2014. 

Sponsoring 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  K1P 6L5, Canada

VF Worldwide 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
Major Milestones Date
CBSA Deployment Complete June 2013
US Implementation Complete September 2013
Mandatory Coming into Force – 1 September 2013
Mandatory Coming into Force – 2   October 2013
Mandatory Coming into Force – 3   December 2013
Canadian Immigration BioID System Release 1.2 August 2013
Canadian Immigration BioID System Release 1.3 September 2013
Canadian Immigration BioID System Release 1.4 January 2014
Business Operations Functions Transitioned March 2014
Project Close Evaluation Completed March 2014
Biometrics Deployment Completed May 2014
All Privacy Impact Assessments Complete June 2014
Project Close Report Completed September 2014

Project Outcomes:

Funding was included in Budget 2008 to enhance and strengthen identity management within the Temporary Economic Residents 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 whether 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 with greater certainty as to whether 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 on 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 many 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 Economic Residents 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 to 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.

In 2012–2013, the TRBP received approval for advancement to Phase 3 (Deployment), with a decrease to its substantive cost estimates as a result of lower-than-projected contract costs and diligent management of project contingency. (The latest project approval had been estimated at $168 million, versus the original budget of $180.3 million.) 

In 2013–2014, biometrics became mandatory for nationals of 29 countries and one territory when applying for a temporary resident visa, work permit or study permit. Biometrics capability was deployed to over 300 locations to facilitate biometric enrolment. The project is expected to close out approximately $18.6 M under budget as per the latest project approval. This surplus can be explained by many factors such as CIC’s release of unused contingencies, the non-approved TRBP advertising proposal, lower deployment travel costs, the RCMP reduction in the project contingency, and the CBSA lapse in capital funds due to lower-than-expected implementation costs. Overall, the project is tracking to a net surplus of approximately $30.9 M against the original budget. 

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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