Gender-based analysis plus (GBA+)

Institutional GBA+ capacity

Gender, diversity and intersectionality are key considerations in the work of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), given its global mandate and its impact on newcomers, refugees and Canadians. At IRCC, the GBA+ Unit promotes and supports the Department’s application and implementation of GBA+.

The Director General of the Strategic Policy and Planning Branch is responsible for GBA+ functional guidance to the Department. IRCC’s GBA+ departmental capacity is also supported by champions at the senior management level for Diversity and Inclusion, and the Women’s Network.

Since 2001, IRCC has had a legislative requirement under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) to report on GBA+ in the Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration. The Department has extensive data that is disaggregated by gender, as well as other intersectional factors, such as age and country of citizenship, in order to better support evidence-based analysis that underpins GBA+. In addition, IRCC is working to further incorporate GBA+ into performance measurement and evaluation processes to ensure that IRCC programs address GBA+ considerations.

Highlights of 2021–22:

In 2021–22, IRCC will continue advancing the implementation of GBA+ governance by embedding gender, diversity and inclusion in its policies, programs, and operations through:

Highlights of GBA+ results reporting capacity by program

Visitors Program

IRCC’s Visitors Program seeks to achieve a balance between facilitating the legitimate travel of foreign nationals, while protecting the integrity of the immigration and asylum system. Despite the shorter-term nature of the program, the Visitors Program can support the Gender Results Framework’s pillars on education and skills development, economic participation, and eliminating gender-based violence and promoting access to justice. For example, to protect vulnerable out-of-status foreign nationals who are victims of human trafficking, a Temporary Resident Permit may be issued to regularize their temporary status in Canada. Furthermore, the Visitors Programs can play an influential role in an individual’s decision to return to Canada under other programs, such as a foreign worker or an international student.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Visitors Program has been supporting families through the operationalization of the family exemptions under the Orders in Council implemented under the Quarantine Act that imposes travel restrictions to limit the importation and spread of COVID-19 in Canada. IRCC supports family reunification for immediate and extended family members of Canadian citizens, Permanent Residents and Registered Indians wishing to be reunited with their loved ones abroad. Recognizing the importance of all relationships, “exclusive dating partner” (this includes couples in different-sex or same-sex relationships) was added to the definition of extended family member, in order to reunite loved ones who did not qualify under more traditional forms of marriage or common law, but who faced undue hardship as a result of the border closures.

The Visitors Program collects data to monitor and report impacts by gender and diversity. Data from relevant performance indicators may be disaggregated by demographic characteristics (such as age, gender/sex, citizenship, marital status and citizenship at birth). In 2019, approximately 50% and 49% of Electronic Travel Authorizations (eTAs) were issued by IRCC to males and females respectively (less than 1% were issued to persons identifying as Gender X). That same year, approximately 48% and 52% of TRVs were issued by IRCC to males and females respectively.

Disaggregating data may be used to address and mitigate any gaps or barriers highlighted in the data collected from a GBA+ perspective. As an example, GBA+ data may be extracted from the annual Client Service Survey of Citizenship and Immigration clients to assess whether specific client groups or demographics experience certain aspects of the Visitors Program differently. Where a performance data collection cannot be disaggregated by demographic characteristics, the Visitors Program will explore other sources of data.

There are a number of notable initiatives that will help to expand the Visitors Program’s capacity to report on impacts by gender and diversity in the future. For example, to comply with the Treasury Board Secretariat’s Policy Directive to Modernize the Government of Canada’s Sex and Gender Information Practices, IRCC is finalizing a departmental-wide Sex and Gender Identifier Policy. The purpose of the Policy is to set out how a client’s sex or gender information should be collected, recorded, and displayed in the administration of IRCC programs (immigration, citizenship, and passport lines of business).

Another example is the upcoming case study on the Super Visa, which will be carried out in 2021–22 as part of the Family Reunification Program Evaluation. The case study will assess the extent to which the Super Visa has been an effective measure as an alternative form of family reunification and to what extent it contributes to the expected outcomes of the Family Reunification Program. Part of the case study will examine GBA+ considerations, specifically in relation to access and potential challenges/barriers for hosts and applicants.

International Students Program

IRCC facilitates the entry of students who wish to study at a designated Canadian educational institution. The International Students Program contributes to the Gender Results Framework pillar on education and skills development. The Department collects disaggregated data on study permit holders that can be broken down by gender, age, Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) holders, and study permit holders, and this data forms the basis of evidence-based policy and program development. In the context of future work related to program integrity and other priorities in the International Students Program (e.g., Kindergarten to Grade 12 (K-12) students, and PGWP), GBA+ considerations will be reflected in the analysis. Moreover, GBA+ considerations will be relevant as IRCC continues to assess and adapt to the impacts of COVID‑19 measures, including those that affect the international student population and the program.

Temporary Workers

IRCC facilitates the entry of foreign nationals who wish to work temporarily in Canada, through two main streams: the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (employer-specific work permits), and the International Mobility Program (open work permits). Through IRCC’s Global Case Management System, IRCC collects a number of socio-economic variables on work permit holders that allow for monitoring and reporting program impacts by gender and diversity. These variables include: gender, age, country of birth, country of residency, official language, language spoken at home, and family status.

For 2021–22, there are two areas to highlight:

Open Work Permit for Vulnerable Workers

The Open Work Permit for Vulnerable Workers (OWP-V) program contributes to the Gender Results Framework pillar on eliminating gender-based violence and access to justice. In particular, access to justice is a key point for OWP-V holders, as the work permit helps to facilitate temporary foreign workers (TFWs) in leaving abusive employment and gives them the ability to work for another employer, without compromising their authorization to work in Canada. Overall, the OWP-V program promotes the security of temporary foreign workers.

Specifically for the OWP-V holders, qualitative and quantitative data on gender, age, country of citizenship, ability to speak in English/French, prior work permits, and location of work (in Canada) is collected. This information is used to inform program management and policy work. Significant data analysis has been conducted to better understand program barriers for clients and to identify opportunities to improve the OWP-V program for clients, including the development of training to support immigration officers when assessing applications for the OWP-V.

International Experience Canada

International Experience Canada (IEC) offers Canadian citizens aged 18 to 35 the opportunity to work and travel abroad in one of over 35 countries and territories through youth mobility arrangements. Those youth mobility arrangements allow IEC to provide foreign youth with the opportunity to travel and work in Canada.

IRCC’s approach has been to focus on signing and maintaining youth mobility agreements with countries and territories that can typically promote equal opportunities for a diverse Canadian population. Going forward, IRCC will also include annual review mechanisms in new agreements to provide officials with the opportunity to address issues, including those related to GBA+, which could impact barriers to participation.

A key objective of IEC is to ensure that Canadians are aware of, and can benefit from, these international opportunities abroad. Promotional and engagement opportunities so far have demonstrated the need to ensure IEC’s engagement activities are as inclusive as possible. Further promotional and engagement activities will include initiatives and research directed at various communities of interest, including Indigenous youth, youth who identify as part of the LGBTQ2+ community, young women, and disadvantaged youth.

IRCC collects disaggregated data on IEC participants to enable monitoring and reporting on the program’s impacts. In 2021–22, the Department will continue to review its research, metrics and data to further expand on its reporting capabilities. The gender distribution of International Experience Canada work permit holders (i.e., inbound foreign youth) has been evenly split at 50/50 over the past decade. However, data on outbound Canadian youth is limited because Canada does not track Canadian youth going abroad as part of its youth mobility agreements and not all of Canada’s youth mobility partners have the systems in place to share the demographic characteristics of Canadian participants entering those countries.

Federal Economic Immigration Program

In accordance with Canada’s Immigration Levels Plan, IRCC facilitates the admission of a targeted number of permanent residents under the economic immigration category. Federal economic immigrants seek to live and work permanently in Canada. IRCC selects candidates based on their ability to meet program eligibility criteria, such as official language ability, education, work experience, age, and whether the individual has a valid job offer.

Program data can be disaggregated by age, gender, education, knowledge of official language, and other variables to measure impacts by gender and diversity.

For 2021–22, there are three areas to highlight:

Express Entry

The 2020 Evaluation of Express Entry: Early impacts on economic outcomes and system management includes information on the outcomes, as well as profiles, of clients for the programs managed by Express Entry drawn from existing data sources, which include some gender and demographic components. While data is collected to be able to monitor and report on program impacts by gender and diversity, the Department has identified certain limitations, such as a gap in the public availability and analysis of disaggregated data, including sex-disaggregated and gender-sensitive data, as well as on invitations to apply and admissions, which would improve understanding of the impacts of Express Entry. IRCC will continue to explore ways to address these limitations.


Caregiver immigration has taken multiple forms in recent years, including the legacy Live-in Caregiver regulatory program, two 2014 Ministerial Instruction pilots, and several initiatives in 2019: a public policy Interim Pathway for Caregivers, and two new pilots for caregivers launched in June 2019. Caregiver programs have traditionally been pathways for immigration to Canada, where the majority of clients are women. The two caregiver pilots launched in 2014 removed the former mandatory live-in requirement of the program. This was done in an effort to address some of the vulnerabilities that caregivers faced due to the previous live-in requirement, as demonstrated in the 2014 GBA+ analysis of the previous Live-in Caregivers Program. Features of the most recent caregiver pilots, launched in 2019, reflect lessons learned from previous caregiver programs and test innovative approaches to addressing unique vulnerabilities and isolation associated with work in private households. Continued monitoring of the outcomes of the 2019 pilots will look for impacts of program changes on caregivers and their families, including GBA+ considerations.

Program stocktake

One of the objectives of the upcoming Federal Economic Immigration Program Stocktake is to provide evidence-based assessment of the performance of all three program streams against stated outcomes: High-skilled immigration managed through Express Entry (Federal Skilled Worker, Federal Skilled Trades, and Canadian Experience Canada); Economic Pilots (Caregiver Classes and the Agri-Food Immigration Class); and Business programs (the Self-Employed class and Start-Up Visa). The stocktake activity will include an assessment of IRCC’s capacity to report impacts by gender and diversity. It will allow for program comparisons to highlight relevant gender-specific outcomes.

Regional Economic Immigration Program

In accordance with Canada’s Immigration Levels Plan, IRCC facilitates the admission of a targeted number of permanent residents under the provincial/territorial economic category. Regional economic immigration programs, namely the Provincial Nominee Program, Atlantic Immigration Pilot, and Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot, are designed to allow delivery partners (i.e., provinces, territories, and communities) to select immigrants with the skills and experience needed to fill labour market needs in local and regional labour markets.

More recent federal economic programs – the Atlantic Immigration Pilot and the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot – look beyond immigrant selection to the settlement of both the principal applicant and their family members in sponsoring regions and communities. As an example, the Atlantic Immigration Pilot requires Atlantic employers to work with the program applicant to develop a settlement plan that captures the needs of the entire family, not just the principal applicant. Additionally, under the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot, community partners match immigrants to established members of the community to ease transition for the principal applicant and their family into their new community. As a result of these programs taking a whole-of-family approach to ensuring that newcomers have the support they need upon arrival, it maximizes the potential for economic participation from accompanying spouses/partners.

With the goal of holistically monitoring results and impacts, IRCC is currently developing a performance information profile capturing all three regional programs, which will allow the Department to disaggregate data on newcomers based on gender and occupation (i.e., by National Occupational Classification). This data will allow IRCC to better understand the impacts of regional programs by gender, in alignment with select indicators under the Gender Results Framework for economic participation and prosperity pillar, such as the labour force participation rate of women and underrepresented groups and the proportion of women across occupations.

Family Reunification Program

In accordance with Canada’s Immigration Levels Plan, IRCC facilitates the admission of a targeted number of permanent residents under the family reunification category. Candidates include spouses, partners and dependent children, parents, grandparents and certain other relatives (such as an orphaned relative) wishing to join their family in Canada.

Having family members already in Canada assists the sponsored newcomers (spouses/partners) with initial settlement, helping them to successfully integrate into society as well as the labour market. Similarly, sponsored parents and grandparents also provide emotional support, in addition to providing child care in many cases. Their presence often allows their sponsor to pursue further education or labour market participation, which support the family’s economic success. As 59% of Family Class immigrants are female, Family Class immigration also supports the economic integration, potential educational development, and well-being of women specifically (pillars of the Gender Results Framework).

In 2019, IRCC introduced two new measures to support cases of family violence, namely a Temporary Resident Permit and an expedited Humanitarian and Compassionate application process. These measures align with the elimination of gender-based violence and promoting access to justice pillar of the Gender Results Framework. They were implemented in recognition that the sponsorship process can exacerbate the power dynamics of an abusive relationship and create an unintentional, negative impact on sponsored spouses and partners who are reliant on remaining with their abuser to maintain their status in Canada. These measures aim to mitigate the risks of intimate partner violence in the immigration context by providing a means for individuals escaping abusive relationships to maintain their immigration status, independent from their abuser. In alignment with the Gender Results Framework’s pillars on economic participation and prosperity and poverty reduction, health and well-being, the Temporary Resident Permit for cases of family violence also includes a work permit, to help support the economic independence of violence survivors, as well as Interim Federal Health Program coverage.

IRCC has also committed to enhance culturally responsive and trauma-informed training for IRCC officers handling abuse cases. This training initiative supports current work by the Department to address stakeholder concerns regarding vulnerable persons within the immigration system experiencing different types of abuse, such as cases of family violence and gender-based violence.

For the Family Reunification Program as a whole, IRCC collects disaggregated data on the gender of sponsors, co-signers (when applicable), and applicants (principal applicants and accompanying family members). The Department also collects data on the age and country of citizenship of applicants.

While IRCC does not collect data on the mental or physical disabilities of applicants, in light of public concerns regarding access to the Parents and Grandparents program, IRCC engaged with stakeholders prior to the program’s 2020 launch. The program’s design was adjusted to better accommodate persons with disabilities, and to improve accessibility for those previously limited by literacy, geography, and technical capacity/internet connectivity.

Since the 2019 implementation of the measures to support cases of family violence, IRCC has created the capacity to more systematically collect data on the incidence of family violence within the Canadian immigration system, including data disaggregated by gender, age, and country of origin.

Additionally, in 2021, IRCC will conduct a formal evaluation of the Family Reunification Program, which will take into account various GBA+ considerations for the program, in accordance with the Treasury Board Secretariat Directive on Results.

Humanitarian Compassionate and Discretionary Immigration Program

In accordance with Canada’s Immigration Levels Plan, IRCC facilitates the admission of a targeted number of permanent residents based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds or public policy considerations. These provisions allow the Minister to address exceptional circumstances by granting an exemption from certain criteria or obligations of IRPA or by granting permanent or temporary residence.

Many humanitarian-based public policies are used to facilitate immigration for at-risk populations with protection needs. These provisions allow IRCC to grant permanent residence or exemptions to certain immigration program requirements in exceptional circumstances. They have been used to uphold Canada’s humanitarian tradition and can respond to a myriad of situations for which gender and diversity considerations are a factor.

With regard to humanitarian and compassionate consideration, this tool provides the ability to address exceptional situations where a foreign national does not qualify for other immigration programs, on a case-by-case basis, based on unique circumstances and factors provided by the applicant. Factors that can be considered vary depending on personal circumstances and may include (but are not limited to) a person’s establishment or ties to Canada, the best interest of children directly affected, and country conditions in their country of origin.

The public policy provisions provide the IRCC Minister with the authority to grant permanent resident status to a foreign national or an exemption from any criteria or obligations of IRPA or the accompanying Regulations, if the Minister is of the opinion that it is justified by public policy considerations. While each public policy has distinct conditions and eligibility criteria, they usually target a group of foreign nationals in similar circumstances.

Public policy has been used, and continues to be used to address multiple situations, such as: facilitating administrative processes during the COVID-19 pandemic; addressing a short-term disaster or crisis situations; facilitating immigration for at-risk populations with protection needs; and helping to support family reunification goals by providing access to the Family Class program to out-of-status spouses or partners.

Gender and diversity perspectives will continue to be considered in IRCC’s discretionary program as part of the development of these tools and monitoring their results, including the use of disaggregated data such as gender, age, and country of origin.

Refugee Resettlement Program

In accordance with Canada’s Immigration Levels Plan, IRCC facilitates the admission of a targeted number of permanent residents under the refugee resettlement category. Refugees are individuals residing outside of their home country and who are unable to return for fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular group.

Refugee resettlement impacts every pillar in the Gender Results Framework: education and skills development; economic participation and prosperity; leadership and democratic participation; eliminating gender-based violence and promoting access to justice; and poverty reduction, health and well-being. It does so by protecting those refugees who are most in need, such as persons who are disproportionately facing difficulty related to their gender, race, ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation or gender identity, and mental or physical disability. By resettling these persons to Canada, where the rights of refugees are protected by law, the indicators under these pillars of the Gender Results Framework are ameliorated.

Refugees resettled to Canada land as permanent residents. They have access to educational opportunities, may freely participate in economic life, have access to avenues that allow for full participation in Canadian democracy, benefit from the full protection of Canadian law from gender-based violence and its assistance in access to justice, and gain access to health services. The act of resettlement in itself, by moving persons from places where they may face persecution to a society where they are protected from it by law, is significant; the growth of the Refugee Resettlement Program over the past five years allows these positive and wide-ranging impacts to reach a greater number of beneficiaries.

In addition to the effects of the resettlement program writ large, several of its specific aspects also carry benefits to diverse groups facing persecution.

Within Canada’s Government-Assisted Refugee stream, the Assistance to Women at Risk Program recognizes that women and girls are often particularly vulnerable in refugee situations, and prioritizes their resettlement to Canada. The program seeks to give women who may be in precarious situations the opportunity to access resettlement recognizing that they face particular risks if they are not part of a conventional family unit. Persecution on the basis of gender is a ground upon which a person may be granted Canada’s refugee protection. Also in recognition of their particular circumstances, refugees resettled under the Assistance to Women at Risk Program are exempt from the normal requirement to demonstrate an ability to establish themselves in Canada in the short-to-medium term. They may also be provided with additional settlement support services once in Canada through the Joint Assistance Sponsorship Program or through gender-specific settlement services and supports.

Canada’s Urgent Protection Program provides protection to persecuted persons who are facing immediate threats to their life, liberty, or physical safety. The expedited processing provided under the Urgent Protection Program helps refugees find safety when they would otherwise be likely to be killed, subjected to violence, sexual assault or arbitrary imprisonment, or returned to their country of nationality or former habitual residence.

Canada also continues to assist survivors of Daesh, many of whom are of the Yazidi minority, through resettlement. Canada is continuing efforts to reunite children and spouses with their family members already in Canada and to prioritize the private sponsorship of refugees such as Yazidi women and children.

Gender is tracked for each arrival, and some sponsoring groups in Canada focus exclusively on resettling vulnerable LGBTI refugees. The Department will work with internal research and evaluation partners to ensure relevant data is collected in regular performance monitoring and evaluation cycles.

In addition, program data is collected from commissioned survey data obtained from Sponsorship Agreement HoldersFootnote 1 (SAHs)—the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) position papers and surveys, as well as international sources such as the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) issue papers and UNHCR and International Organization for Migration (IOM) annual reports on resettlement.

Asylum Program

IRCC is accountable for the overall delivery of the in-Canada asylum system by which foreign nationals may seek protection from within Canada. An individual can make a claim for protection to either the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) at a port of entry, or to IRCC or CBSA at an inland office. Officers assess whether a claimant is eligible to make a claim and, if so, the claim is referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), which is an independent administrative tribunal that determines the validity of every claim.

The Asylum Program contributes to the Gender Results Framework’s pillar of poverty reduction, health and well-being. By providing fair and fast decisions on asylum claims, the impacts of the program may indirectly contribute to fewer vulnerable individuals living in poverty, fewer women and children living in food-insecure households, fewer vulnerable individuals lacking stable, safe and permanent housing, more years in good health, and improved mental health.

The Asylum Program provides protection to persons fleeing persecution and risk of torture, risk to life, or risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment. The in-Canada asylum system provides gender-specific protection to in-Canada refugee claimants who have fled conflicts or fragile states, supported by the IRB’s Chairperson Guidelines on women refugee claimants fearing gender-related persecution, and on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. Moreover, IRCC has developed specific program delivery instructions with respect to processing in-Canada claims for refugee protection of minors and other vulnerable persons.

While IRCC collects data that is disaggregated by sex, country of origin, and other key indicators, it will look into ways in which additional GBA+ performance metrics may be included.

Settlement Program

Eligible permanent residents have access to free settlement services, funded by IRCC, once in Canada and prior to arrival, to help them overcome barriers specific to the immigrant and refugee experience, such as insufficient official language skills and limited knowledge of Canada. These services enable immigrants and refugees to participate in social, cultural, civic and economic life in Canada.

Settlement Program activities support the Gender Results Framework for pillars on: education and skills development; economic participation and prosperity; eliminating gender-based violence and promoting access to justice; and poverty reduction, health, and well-being.

Disaggregated data by gender, and other characteristics such as age and immigration stream, is collected on the number of individuals accessing specific settlement supports. This includes supports such as language classes, short-term counselling, or community connections, and on the outputs and outcomes in the program’s logic model. The Settlement Program also collects data on whether funded activities are addressing the needs of specific populations such as women, LGBTQ2, persons with disabilities, as well as seniors. This allows for better clarity on how various intersectional factors impact the usability of the program and mitigate potential barriers that are unintentionally created. Outcome information is collected through the Newcomer Outcomes Survey, which allows for disaggregation by gender, economic characteristics, and age. In addition to the options of identifying one’s gender as female or male, IRCC added another as an option for identifying one’s gender in 2019. This allows for more inclusive data collection for individuals who do not identify as either male nor female. The 2020 version of the annual Newcomer Outcomes Survey introduced a question intended to collect disaggregated data on race of respondents. This will provide IRCC with the ability to better consider race as a factor when the data is assessed in 2021.

Gender Results Framework: Education and skills development

Settlement services provide language training and development of essential skills. Data on access to language training and learning outcomes are collected and can be disaggregated and analyzed by gender and other intersectional factors. Similarly, data on access to essential skills development is also being collected.

Gender Results Framework: Economic participation

Data on participation in employment-related services as well as data to enable analysis of employment outcomes (working, looking for work, income sources and amount, social assistance rates) can be disaggregated by demographic characteristics of clients and other factors (e.g., immigration stream). This information is collected through IRCC Immigration Contribution Agreement Reporting Environment (iCARE), the Newcomer Outcomes Survey and through the Longitudinal Immigration Database which links immigration information, settlement service information and income tax information.

Gender Results Framework: Poverty reduction, health, and well being

While health and well-being services are mainly under provincial jurisdiction, the Settlement Program collects data such as the number of individuals receiving short-term counselling and mental health supports and referrals to health and mental health services. Due to privacy reasons, collection of information on results of such interventions is a challenge. In terms of poverty reduction, IRCC has the ability to track the use and duration of social assistance. This information is available through the Longitudinal Immigration Database which links immigration information, settlement service information and income tax information.

Gender Results Framework: Gender-based violence and access to justice

Under Canada’s Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-based Violence (GBV Strategy), IRCC received $1.5 million in funding over five years (2017-2022) to further enhance its Settlement Program. This funding is being used to develop a settlement sector strategy on GBV through a coordinated partnership of settlement and anti-violence sector organizations, which will include the establishment of a common foundational knowledge on GBV and training for front-line settlement workers to assist with identifying abuse. The Gender-Based Violence (GBV) partnership is developing a performance measurement and evaluation framework to collect data on the capacity building efforts with service providers.

However, it is difficult to collect data on gender-based violence and access to justice directly from the individuals accessing Settlement Program supports, given the sensitive nature of the information. While IRCC collect data on services addressing interpersonal challenges, GBV is not explicitly identified.


In 2019–20, IRCC supported the settlement needs of more than 547,000 clients who accessed at least one Settlement Program service, of which 55% were women.

Summary data by service line:

Newcomer and refugee women contribute greatly to Canadian communities but often face systemic and institutional barriers to their full participation in Canadian society. Challenges confronting newcomer women can include: increased vulnerability to abuse and gender-based violence; lower levels of official language proficiency and varying levels of literacy; unequal access to opportunities; dependency on family members; family-related responsibilities, including caregiving for children and the elderly; social exclusion and isolation; and health and mental health challenges, with less access to mainstream services.

The gendered nature of work/care for family continues to be a consideration in the Settlement Program. The 2018 Evaluation of the Settlement Program found a higher incidence of employment for men, and may reflect that women are not working to take care of their families while men are working to support the family. Also, the evaluation highlighted that support services (child-minding, transportation, etc.) are necessary for clients in regard to reducing some of the barriers they face in accessing Settlement Program services. Many newcomers, especially women, would not have been able to take language classes, attend appointments, workshops, or understand information being provided to them without support services. Women are most adversely affected in terms of accessing settlement services when care for newcomer children is unavailable, as in most cases, women will stay home to take care of children while men either access settlement services or seek employment opportunities.

LGBTQ2 Community

Some LGBTQ2 newcomers experience barriers to successful integration. These barriers include mental health issues and social isolation as a result of community or family stigmatization; challenges in finding LGBTQ2 friendly neighbourhoods or housing; and a lack of resources and information provided in their native languages that relates to sexual orientation, gender identity or expression (SOGIE).Footnote 2 They may also fear disclosing matters of SOGIE to healthcare professionals, and fear encountering SOGIE-based stigmatization in their search for settlement support.Footnote 3


Some senior newcomers face settlement and integration challenges and are often less visible within Canadian society. Senior newcomers often play key roles within their families, such as providing care for their grandchildren thus allowing one or both parents to work, however, the support they provide may complicate their settlement and integration outcomes due to potentially less connections with their communities or less access to settlement supports for themselves.


Settlement barriers for youth include lack of fluency in English or French, culture shock (differences between the newcomer’s and Canadian culture and values), intergenerational conflict, and poor school integration.Footnote 4

Visible Minority Newcomer Women Pilot

Visible minority newcomer women can face multiple barriers when entering the Canadian labour market, including: gender and race-based discrimination; precarious or low-income employment; a lack of affordable childcare; and weak social supports. To address these challenges, Budget 2018 announced a three-year, $31.9 million pilot that was launched in December 2018 to support the employment and career advancement of visible minority newcomer women.

The pilot program aims to improve economic opportunities and to increase the participation of visible minority newcomer women in the Canadian labour market so that they can contribute their talents to Canada’s economic growth.

In 2019–20, over 2,500 clients participated in the Pilot which included employment-related settlement activities (e.g., work placements, mentorships and employment counselling); this Pilot was designed to support visible minority newcomer women in acquiring the necessary knowledge, skills, and connections to prepare for the Canadian labour market. In addition, IRCC provided support services such as transportation, interpretation services and childcare service for 1,550 pilot participants.

This initiative supports the Gender Results Framework pillar on economic participation and prosperity, by increasing labour market opportunities and participation for visible minority newcomer women.

Citizenship Program

The Citizenship Program provides access to essential citizenship services, such as processing of citizenship grant (naturalization) and proof applications, and raising awareness of the pathways and process of citizenship acquisition, as well as the rights and responsibilities of citizenship for all Canadians, through promotion and events.

This program helps to facilitate equitable access and full social participation in Canadian society, including the economy, for newcomers and provides individuals with the right to vote, access to a Canadian passport and the ability to run for office in Canadian elections. Being a Canadian citizen also opens employment opportunities in the federal public service as dictated through the Public Service Employee Act.

With respect to proofs and grants, the Citizenship Program collects disaggregated data to enable it to monitor and report on program impacts, including: gender, date of birth (age), place of birth, official language results, citizenship test results, tax filing history (income) and linkages with permanent residence admissions data. These data points allow IRCC to undertake GBA+ analysis for program performance and to ensure better policy outcomes for vulnerable groups.

The program continuously seeks to offer equal access to citizenship through policy and program changes and enhancements. Under subsection 5(3) of the Citizenship Act the Minister has the authority to waive certain requirements for citizenship applicants on compassionate grounds which can intersect and alleviate some barriers associated with key GBA+ indicators. Program information is currently collected regarding the granting of waivers, though the capture of more detailed and disaggregated information is being sought through changes to the application form and associated guidance for officers.

An independent and internal primary qualitative study on pathways and barriers to citizenship took place in 2019–20 and the report is currently being finalized and prepared for internal and external dissemination. This was the first time primary research was collected by IRCC to better inform its understanding as to why individuals do not apply for citizenship when eligible, and the impact that gender, immigration stream and diversity (among a suite of other factors) have on naturalization capabilities. This is a positive first step in data collection for monitoring and reporting program impacts; however, additional work needs to be done in order to better understand barriers to citizenship and the impact GBA+ factors have on successful naturalization, as well as awareness and outreach results by gender and diversity.

IRCC continues to put in place additional policies to alleviate barriers and promote citizenship acquisition for those eligible. The Citizenship Program provides applicants with the option of choosing “X” as a gender identifier in all citizenship related application forms where sex/gender information is requested to ensure non-binary gender inclusivity of newcomers and all Canadians. Also, a recent change in the interpretation of “parent” under the Citizenship Act allows non-biological Canadian parents who are their child’s legal parent at birth to pass down Canadian citizenship to their children born abroad in the first generation. This helps Canadian parents who have relied on assisted human reproduction methods to start a family, including members of the LGBTQ2+ community. Furthermore, the affordability of citizenship has been identified as a Ministerial mandate letter commitment and work continues to be done in order to increase the affordability of citizenship for all.

Passport Program

IRCC collaborates with Service Canada and Global Affairs Canada to facilitate travel for Canadians and contribute to a safe and secure travel regime by issuing Canadian travel documents that are internationally recognized and respected.

The Passport Program contributes to the Gender Results Framework pillar on eliminating gender-based violence and promoting access to justice. In accordance to the Canadian Passport Order and agreements with enforcement and security agencies and other levels of government, administrative sanctions can be placed on individuals that are convicted of the maltreatment of children (transnational sex offenders, child-related sex offenders, facilitating human smuggling or trafficking); or subject to the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act.

The Passport Program collects disaggregated data on gender, age, etc., as well as data on the number of refusals/revocations/cancellations related to cases where individuals engage in childhood maltreatment (i.e., transnational sex offenders, child-related sex offenders) and the number of travel documents where the status is changed to suspended and where the passport issuance is refused pursuant to the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act. Actions to enable monitoring, reporting and capacity to assess impacts of policies are currently underway, which include modernization initiatives to change to a new passport issuance platform which should enable the Passport Program to better use data which it collects.

Additionally, the Passport Program developed operational policies that support gender diversity, equality and inclusiveness. Examples include: operational policies and guidance that support the issuance of passports or other travel documents printed with an ‘X’ gender identifier. Since June 2019, the Program has offered ‘X’ (another gender) as an identifier option to better accommodate those who do not identify exclusively as female or male. Another policy change recognized that the term mother’s maiden name was not inclusive of the diverse genders in family units. Therefore, the program removed this terminology from the application form and replaced it with parents’ surname at birth, supporting inclusiveness.

Facial Recognition Solution (FRS)

IRCC uses the photo provided by travel document applicants to conduct facial biometric comparisons using its Facial Recognition Solution (FRS), which helps to screen and validate their identity as part of the Passport Program’s identity management framework.

The program has always mitigated against risks stemming from algorithmic bias by having a human operator review the system’s finding for further analysis. Only designated employees of IRCC, formally trained to conduct facial comparison analysis, can make a determination on whether a potential match from FRS consists of two identities bearing the same photo.

In conducting comparisons between pairs of photos, the system currently only retains information related to instances where the application needs to be reviewed by an official – the system does not keep the comparison results from applications that were not flagged for review. This limits the program’s ability to assess whether potential bias may exist related to gender and age.

Changes to the FRS will be made in the fiscal year 2021–22 to better capture the results of facial comparisons that do not require further review so that they may be compared with those that require review. This will improve the program’s ability to assess the extent of bias in the system’s facial comparison capabilities.

In 2019, IRCC participated in a GBA+ research project, led by Defence Research and Development Canada, to review data from different federal departments to determine whether biometrics (facial recognition and fingerprints) may discriminate against specific groups. The final report has yet to be released, but IRCC is aware of some level of algorithmic bias, consistent with the general consensus in the facial recognition community. It is common practice for algorithms used in any context to be subject to ongoing improvements to reduce the system’s bias. IRCC will leverage an anticipated upgrade of the algorithm that supports FRS to replicate portions of the GBA+ research project to assess this new version’s ability to further reduce bias.

Internal Services

Engagement in international fora

IRCC continues to engage with international partners to advance Canada’s international protection obligations, which includes the protection of refugees, particularly vulnerable women and children. This includes advocating for the implementation of the gender-sensitive Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) that better protects and empowers vulnerable refugees, affirms international legal obligations, and increases international cooperation to better enable comprehensive refugee responses.

At the first ministerial-level Global Refugee Forum held under the GCR in December 2019, Canada pledged to continue providing protection responses for refugees with specific needs, with a focus on highly vulnerable women, children and LGBTI persons who are victims of persecution or have been affected by violence in their home countries. IRCC is to work with the UNHCR to provide protection under its Refugee Resettlement Program for vulnerable individuals in Central America, including highly vulnerable women, children and LGBTQ+ persons, who are victims of persecution or have been affected by violence in their home countries.

IRCC also continues to support the gender-responsive approach to the implementation the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), including integrating and highlighting gender considerations in bilateral, regional, and multilateral discussions.

Evaluation and performance measurement

IRCC has developed an Evaluation and Performance Measurement GBA+ Protocol. It contains a series of considerations, key questions and guiding principles to apply to the planning, conduct and reporting phases of program evaluations and in support of performance monitoring.

The protocol is already being applied to current evaluations, which will bolster the GBA+ analysis and information in the final reports, ideally contributing to program improvements in that area.

GBA+ considerations are also applied to Performance Information Profiles (PIPs) of IRCC’s programs, including indicators, as applicable.

IRCC workforce

As an organization, inclusion, diversity and official languages are important aspects of the Department’s workforce – a workforce that, in turn, conducts the Department’s GBA+ analysis and applications to its policies and programs. IRCC looks to strengthen its culture of diversity and inclusion and linguistic duality. To further IRCC’s commitment to providing a barrier-free and inclusive workplace, IRCC is exploring the ability to use disaggregated data as much as possible, while respecting the Code of Confidentiality, in an effort to identify inequalities between different sub-categories within the IRCC workforce, which aggregated data cannot capture.

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