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, measures were introduced to address systemic challenges in the refugee system, such as:

  • A large increase in annual refugee claims. In 2009, a total of 33,000 refugee claims were made, 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 a large backlog of 62,000 cases at the IRB’s Refugee Protection Division, 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.

Project Phase:

The Refugee Reform Project remains in the execution phase.

Sponsoring and Participating Departments and Agencies
Sponsoring Department Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Contracting Authority Public Works and Government Services Canada
Participating Departments Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, 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
Major Milestone 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 lease and fit-up 06–14–2013
IRB: Staffs positions for Refugee Protection Division 06–30–2013
IRB: Staffs positions for Refugee Appeal Division 10–21–2013
CIC: Ends PRRA backlog funding 03–31–2014
CIC/IRB: Transfer PRRA function to IRB TBD
All: Conduct three-year evaluation 12–31–2015
Project Completion 03–31–2016

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 time lines for each step of the process;
  • enhancing system integrity 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 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.

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 Program, Canada planned to resettle up to 14,500 refugees annually. Canada resettled over 12,000 refugees in 2014.

To facilitate reporting on the success of the new asylum system, CIC 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 Performance Measurement Framework and Performance Measurement Strategy, and will be used to support the Three-Year Evaluation.

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 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 – archived claimants.

Evaluations of the three pilot projects under Refugee Reform, including the CBSA Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration program, the CIC Ministerial Reviews and Interventions program, and the RCMP Enhanced Security Screening program, have been undertaken, which yielded the following results:

  • the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration pilot was terminated as of March 31, 2015;
  • the Enhanced Security Screening pilot ceased as of March 31, 2015. The RCMP is finalizing the results of the evaluation; and
  • the Reviews and Interventions pilot has been extended to March 31, 2016.

The transfer of the PRRA function from CIC to the IRB, scheduled for December 2014, has been postponed, subject to the outcome of the Three-Year Evaluation.

The Project Completion date has been amended to March 31, 2016. 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 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.

Similarly, the Three-Year Evaluation date has been amended. The Three-Year Evaluation will be conducted in collaboration with partner departments and agencies.

As of April 2015, the new refugee system appears to be working as envisioned. However, CIC and partners will continue to monitor the system closely. 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.

Industrial benefits:

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 savings in social assistance and education costs.

Temporary Resident Biometrics Project


In 2013, the Temporary Resident Biometrics Project (TRBP) was introduced. The project provides for the mandatory biometric screening (collection and use of digital photographs and fingerprints) of approximately 20% of visa-required temporary resident applicants seeking to come to Canada. Thirty visa-required nationalities are required to provide biometric information when applying for a temporary resident visa, work permit or study permit. At the port of entry, Border Services Officers visually compare the visa holder against the digital photograph to confirm identity. At selected airports, Border Services Officers can conduct fingerprint verification at secondary inspection on a discretionary basis. While biometric screening deters inadmissible persons from applying in the first instance, this program is helping officers to confirm identity and uncover identity fraud and criminality.

As a result, biometric screening improves the safety and security of Canadians and reduces abuse of the immigration system by limiting opportunities for persons with Canadian criminal records, previous refugee claims or deportation histories to use alternate identities to return to Canada. Biometrics screening also facilitates the processing of legitimate travellers. More than 70 countries have implemented, or are planning to implement, biometric screening in their immigration and border programs, including key allies such as the United States (U.S.), United Kingdom (U.K.), Australia, New Zealand and the European Union.

The TRBP was approved under the Treasury Board Project Approval Policy and was project managed and governed in accordance with the Treasury Board Management of Major Crown Projects Policy. While these policies were subsequently superseded by the Treasury Board Policy on the Management of Projects, the project was well advanced and a decision was made to remain within the policy framework under which the project was approved and operating. All required project authorities were obtained through Treasury Board submissions, a monthly status report was provided to the Treasury Board Secretariat Executive Project Oversight Committee through the Executive Project Oversight Committee dashboard, and all major crown project requirements were fulfilled.

Project phase:

The administrative closeout of the project was finalized with the Project Sponsor’s approval in November 2014. The TRBP was delivered within the confirmed scope, under budget and on schedule and is now in steady state. The Visa Application Centre (VAC) headquarters team successfully completed deployments, bringing the total number of enrolment sites to over 300 globally including ongoing operations of TRBP post-project close. To date, the total number of sites where CIC deployed biometrics capabilities includes 134 VACs in 94 countries, 50 Visa Offices and one Canadian Embassy in 44 countries, and 136 Application Support Centres across the United States.

Sponsoring and Participating Departments and Agencies
Sponsoring Department CIC
Contracting Authority PWGSC 
Participating Departments CBSA, RCMP, Shared Services Canada 
Prime and Major Subcontractor(s)

Prime Contractor

Fujitsu Consulting (Canada) Inc.

VF Worldwide Holdings Ltd., Port Louis, Mauritius

Computer Sciences Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Major Subcontractor(s)

Aware Inc.

Major Milestones
Major Milestone 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 May 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 June 2014
All Privacy Impact Assessments Complete June 2014
Project Close Report Completed September 2014
Administrative Close-out and Sponsor Approval November 2014

Project outcomes:

The biometrics solution was successfully deployed in May 2013. The solution is operating as expected and the required capacity to sustain operations is in place. The TRBP is already delivering business value and there is considerable confidence that expected business objectives will be met.

The TRBP has fully delivered the capacity to collect, store and process biometrics for affected applicants. Required organizational capacity is in place, the technology solution is stable and operating as expected, required monitoring mechanisms are in place, and the integrity of the solution and privacy of personal information is being protected through a range of industry standard safeguards.

The use of biometrics as an identity management tool has helped supplement existing biographic checks and significantly reduced the chance that one individual could pose as or be mistaken for another individual. Visa officers now 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.

Photo verification was integrated with the border verification process and has been successfully operating since deployment to 151 ports of entrys in June 2013. The fingerprint verification capacity was deployed at secondary processing at eight major airports in June 2013. Fingerprint verification has been integrated with the border verification process and is operating as expected. It was expected that approximately 3% of applicants who are referred to secondary inspection at the eight airports with fingerprint verification technology would be biometrically verified. In 2014, of the 95,343 clients who presented themselves at a port of entry, 31,781 (33.3%) were referred to secondary verification. Of those, 2,168 (6.8%) underwent biometric verification. The TRBP fingerprint search capability using the RCMP’s Automated Fingerprint Identification System was successfully deployed in May 2013. One-to-many searches to support biometric enrolment and one-to-one searches to support biometric verification are operating as expected. Matches to RCMP-held Canadian criminal fingerprint records are routinely assessed and results of this assessment made available to visa officers for consideration in admissibility decisions.

Effective communication, orchestrated through a strategic communications plan and audience-specific engagement plans, was an essential element of project success. Stakeholders were categorized in terms of audiences and their specific information needs identified. Clear communication objectives were established and key messages defined to ensure consistency in messaging. Communications products were developed and timely and relevant information disseminated through a variety of audience-appropriate channels. The success in engaging the broad range of TRBP stakeholders, many with diverse interests and concerns, throughout the lengthy time frame of this complex project is testament to the importance placed on communications and the competence and dedication in which it was executed.

Progress report and explanations of variances:

The TRBP was provided funding of $174.2 million and $53.1 million ongoing to biometrically screen prescribed applicants for temporary resident visas and work and study permits. Detailed planning indicated the full scope could not be delivered with the original funding. The project scope was scaled down in 2010 to remain within the funding provided. Under the reduced scope, a scalable biometrics solution was built, deployment was reduced to focus on applicants from visa-required countries posing the greatest risks to program integrity and security, and a biometrics fee of $85 was introduced. A total of 30 nationalities subject to the biometrics policy were identified and approved in December 2011. A subsequent public announcement followed in December 2012.

At the time of policy approval in 2007, the TRBP was planned as a five-year project to run from April 2008 to March 2013. Early delays, predominately attributed to the need to seek a scope adjustment, required a one-year extension to the schedule for completion in March 2014. Delays in technology procurement required the planned deployment start date to be adjusted by two months, from March 2013 to May 2013. The biometric solution was deployed in May 2013, including collection of biometrics at a number of initial visa offices and VAC locations. Following this, incremental roll-out of the biometrics collection capability to other visa offices and VAC locations was undertaken as per the roll-out schedule. Difficulties with some deployment locations, beyond the control of the project, required the extension of limited project activities until June 2014 in order to complete deployment of the biometric capability to a number of VAC locations.

Overall, the approved TRBP scope was fully delivered within the expected time frame and at $30.7 million less than the project budget. 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. Early adjustment to plans to align the biometrics collection approach with emerging marketplace models and align scope with available funding positioned the project to move forward with confidence and achieve delivery objectives.

Industrial benefits:

The TRBP has improved the safety and security of Canadians. 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. Through the use of biometrics in Canada’s immigration program, criminals, terrorists and other known inadmissible persons are identified at the earliest opportunity and refused entry into Canada.

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