Response to Parliamentary Committees and External Audits

Response to parliamentary committees

In February 2014, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration decided to study how to strengthen the integrity of spousal sponsorship. In particular, the Committee agreed to examine:

  • ways to ensure sponsored spouses have the skills they need to succeed in Canada, including actions the Government has taken or plans to take to ensure vulnerable spouses are protected and have the skills they need to succeed independently;
  • how to better prevent vulnerable women from being victimized by an abusive sponsor, and as a consequence any potential penalties to the sponsor; and
  • what peer countries have done to protect women in spousal sponsorship programs. Areas of study included forced marriages, polygamy, proxy marriages, immigrant women in the work force and helping women break out of isolationism.

The Government of Canada response to the committee report was tabled on Wednesday, July 22, 2015.

Additional background information:

In February 2015, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration presented its report and five recommendations. Generally, the report recommended that the Government take steps to:

  • increase the minimum age for sponsored spouses from 16 to 18 years;
  • expand pre-arrival orientation to ensure sponsored spouses receive information in a language they understand and to ensure that the topics covered include gender equality, women’s rights, their legal rights, what constitutes abuse in Canada and how to seek help;
  • evaluate conditional permanent resident status and monitor the number and outcome of abuse exception requests, percentage of tips that result in removal, and incidence of reported abuse within these sponsorships with a view to understanding the effect of this policy instrument on domestic abuse and its effectiveness in terms of addressing marriages of convenience;
  • amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, section 72.1(6), to include forced marriage as a ground for exception from the condition on permanent resident status; and
  • assess the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) designated help-line for victims of domestic violence to ensure that victims have timely and efficient assistance in their usual language.

In April 2013, the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages undertook a study of the impacts of changes to the immigration system on official language minority communities. In particular, the study focused on legislative or regulatory amendments, orders in council, reallocation of expenditures and ministerial instructions that were implemented by the end of 2014. The committee noted that in some cases, the changes had a direct impact on the language component of existing immigration policies. In other cases, the committee found that broader transformations may have affected official language minority communities or may affect them in the future.

The Government of Canada response to the committee report was tabled in the Senate on Friday, June 26, 2015.

Additional background information:

Through its hearings, the Committee noted that the following key idea emerged from the public hearings: communities must seize the opportunities that arise in a constantly changing immigration system. The Committee observed that for its part, the federal government must fully implement Part VII of the Official Languages Act and section 3 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. With this in mind, the committee presented a series of recommendations to urge the Government to take positive measures to enhance the vitality of official language minority communities and to support and assist their development.

Response to the Auditor General (including to the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development)

No such audits were completed in 2015 16.

Response to external audits conducted by the Public Service Commission of Canada or the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

  1. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner tabled an audit report on December 10, 2015 entitled “Privacy and Portable Storage Devices.”

    The objective of the audit was to determine 1) where selected departments have mechanisms in place to register and track, throughout their life cycle, the issuance of portable storage devices that may contain personal information; 2) whether the security and privacy risks inherent to the use of portable storage devices have been assessed; and 3) whether policies have been established governing the use of portable storage devices that are consistent with Government of Canada security requirements and best practices.

    There were three recommendations that impacted IRCC:

    1. Ensure that the issuance of all portable storage devices—that may be used to retain personal information—is recorded for identification and tracking purposes.

      IRCC’s response:

      CD/DVD burning capability is currently blocked at IRCC. Users who need to copy data from the IRCC network require approval from the Assistant Deputy Minister of Corporate Services. This, in turn, significantly reduces the use of CDs/DVDs within IRCC.

    2. Assess the current disposal process—that is the shipment of surplus or defective portable storage devices from various locations to a central site (such as head office)—to ensure appropriate controls are in place to mitigate the risk of a data exposure.

      IRCC’s response:

      As mentioned in IRCC’s August 2015 management response, only encrypted USB keys are now used for portable data storage at IRCC, following the implementation of the Data Loss Prevention initiative.

      In addition to this control against the risk of data exposure, hard drive encryption software was deployed as part of IRCC computer operating system upgrades. Furthermore, since May 2015 all hard drives that are at the end of their useful life are sent to National Headquarters to be sanitized—or they remain encrypted if they cannot be sanitized—prior to their destruction.

    3. Retain documentary evidence—either the confirmation report generated by a certified cleansing mechanism or confirmation of physical destruction—as verification that all data on surplus or defective portable storage devices have been destroyed in a secure manner.

      IRCC’s response:

      IT Security reviewed the current products that are certified to meet the guideline on Clearing and Declassifying Electronic Data Storage Devices (ITSG-06) and that also generate documentary evidence. The software meets the Communications Security Establishment guideline ITSG-06. It also generates documentary evidence. The product is currently on the Government of Canada Software Licensing Supply Arrangement.

  2. The Public Service Commission (PSC) of Canada tabled its 2014-15 Annual Report on February 23, 2016.

    The organizational audits conducted in 2014-15 are published as part of the PSC Annual Report. The PSC audit reports for 2014-15 included IRCC.

    In 2014-15, the PSC found that an adequate basis existed to establish reliance on the comprehensive monitoring of appointments exercise performed by IRCC (then Citizenship and Immigration Canada). The PSC encourages organizations to undertake a periodic comprehensive, risk-based assessment of staffing activities that meets their unique requirements.

    No recommendations were received.

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