Gender-based Analysis Plus
Institutional GBA Plus 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. IRCC Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA Plus) Unit, which is part of the Strategic Policy and Planning Branch, is the Department’s GBA Plus focal point. The Unit promotes and supports the Department’s application and implementation of GBA Plus.
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, to better support the evidence-based analysis that underpins GBA Plus. In addition, IRCC is working to further incorporate GBA Plus into performance measurement and evaluation processes to ensure that IRCC programs address GBA Plus considerations.
Highlights for 2022–23:
In 2022–23, IRCC is aiming to advance the implementation of GBA Plus governance. Further embedding consideration of gender, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility into policies, programs, and operations will be achieved by:
- Revitalizing and strengthening the GBA Plus Working Group within IRCC. The group will foster closer collaboration within specific functional and enabling areas in IRCC (e.g., data, digital policy, evaluation, communications, and workforce) and contribute to mainstreaming the practice of GBA Plus across the Department.
- Leveraging the GBA Plus Working Group to launch a review of the Department’s GBA Policy (2011). The review will focus on embedding the application of GBA Plus in IRCC’s policy and program development cycles to advance evidence-based analysis of intersectional factors beyond gender (i.e., race, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability, age, income, etc.).
- Promoting ongoing engagement between the GBA Plus Unit and various lens leaders at IRCC, such as departmental focal points for Anti-Racism, LGBTQ2, persons with disabilities, and Indigenous Peoples, to deepen the application of intersectionality.
- Continuing to develop GBA Plus tools and resources, while adapting them to IRCC’s policies, programs, and operations to strengthen departmental capacity in applying GBA Plus and monitoring outcomes. Outreach by the GBA Plus Unit will continue to include workshops and presentations to various groups at IRCC on how to use the tools and resources.
- Continuing to provide guidance on policy, program, operational, and IRCC workforce initiatives, and review key initiatives for GBA Plus considerations in Memoranda to Cabinet, Treasury Board Submissions, and Federal Budget Proposals.
Highlights of GBA Plus Results Reporting Capacity by Program
Core Responsibility 1: Visitors, International Students and Temporary Workers
IRCC’s Visitors Program seeks to achieve a balance between facilitating the travel of foreign nationals while maintaining 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 (GBV), and promoting access to justice.
There are several notable initiatives that will help to improve and expand the Visitors Program’s capacity to report and monitor impacts based on gender and diversity factors. For example, since January 2021, when IRCC’s Sex and Gender Client Identifier Policy was newly established, visitors and visitor applicants who are striving to achieve gender congruence are able to request a non-intrusive change of gender identifier, including Female (“F”), Male (“M”), and Another Gender (“X”), which is then updated in IRCC’s system of record regardless of the sex identifier from their primary identity document (e.g., passport). In this way, the purpose of IRCC’s Sex and Gender Client Identifier Policy is to enhance the privacy of clients by eliminating unnecessary displays of sex or gender information and provide individuals with a non-binary option that better reflects their gender while enabling IRCC’s collection of more inclusive gender data. It also ensures that individuals can obtain identity documents and personal records that align with their gender while supporting the integrity of IRCC programs.
In addition, IRCC is currently updating the Citizenship and Immigration Client Experience Survey to collect data on additional intersectional factors (such as disability and ethnicity) that will support better analysis on client satisfaction, including clients who applied to visit Canada. With respect to the Department’s efforts to modernize the Visitors Program, disaggregated data collection and GBA Plus will be key components for monitoring the Program’s performance and modernization outcomes (e.g., client satisfaction and accessibility of new tools disaggregated based on gender and other key factors).
Furthermore, to improve future monitoring and reporting of impacts based on gender and diversity factors, the Visitors Program is launching an internal review in 2022–23 to examine its Performance Measurement Strategy Framework from a GBA Plus and Anti-Racism perspective. This will ensure the Program continues to build an adequate evidence base to inform policy design and development.
Another important IRCC initiative that will impact the Visitors Program is the development of an analytical methodology to produce risk assessments for racialized populations that identify, assess, and mitigate bias and racism within risk management and operations. This methodology considers quantitative data, socio-economic drivers, cultural awareness, immigration trends, program outcomes, and processing challenges. These elements highlight institutional tendencies that potentially place certain populations at a disadvantage and underscores the necessity to review programs. Ultimately, by implementing this methodology, the Department aims to create a more equitable program delivery strategy in the operations sector, and to further support and strengthen the use of GBA Plus.
This Visitors Program currently collects gender, age, and language data through the annual Citizenship and Immigration Client Experience Survey. Future initiatives will expand the program’s capacity to report on impacts by gender and diversity, by collecting data on accessibility, disability, and ethnicity. New data will be available mid-2022.
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 Plus considerations will be reflected in the analysis. Moreover, GBA Plus considerations will be relevant as IRCC continues to learn lessons from the impacts of COVID‑19 measures on the international student population and program.
IRCC facilitates the entry of foreign nationals who wish to work temporarily in Canada, through two main streams: the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (i.e., employer-specific work permits) and the International Mobility Program (i.e., open work permits). Through IRCC’s Global Case Management System, IRCC collects several 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.
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 GBV 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 TFWs the ability to work for another employer, without compromising their authorization to work in Canada. Overall, the OWP-V program promotes the security of TFWs.
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 will continue to be conducted to better understand program barriers for clients and 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. These 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 continue to include annual review mechanisms in new agreements to provide officials with the opportunity to address issues, including those related to GBA Plus that 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 that 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 2022–23, the Department will continue to review its research, metrics, and data to further expand on its reporting capabilities. The gender distribution of IEC 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.
Core Responsibility 2: Immigrant and Refugee Selection and Integration
Federal Economic Immigration
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, and knowledge of official languages, including other variables to measure impacts by gender and diversity.
Regional Economic Immigration
IRCC facilitates the admission of a targeted number of permanent residents under the provincial/territorial economic category. The Regional Economic Immigration programs 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.
The Atlantic Immigration Pilot—set to transition to a permanent program in January 2022—and the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot look beyond immigrant selection and focus on the settlement of both the principal applicant and their family members in sponsoring regions and communities. For example, a key requirement of the Atlantic Immigration Pilot is for program applicants and their accompanying family members to work with settlement Service Provider Organizations to develop individualized settlement plans that captures the needs of the entire family, not just the principal applicant. Under the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot, community partners match immigrants to established members of the community to build social connections for the principal applicant and their family in their new community. In addition, in these programs, accompanying spouses can access select settlement services as soon as they arrive in the community, even if they are still temporary residents. 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 the social and economic participation of accompanying spouses/partners who historically have been predominantly female.
In both the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot and Atlantic Immigration Pilot, adult dependents have the opportunity to apply for a work permit while they wait to receive permanent residence. When the Atlantic Immigration Pilot becomes a permanent program, it will maintain the spousal open work permit.
With the goal of holistically monitoring results and impacts, IRCC has developed 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 as well as the proportion of women across occupations.
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 (e.g., 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 supports the family’s economic success. As most Family Class immigrants are female, Family Class immigration also supports the economic integration, potential educational development, and well-being of women specifically (i.e., 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, poverty reduction, and 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 GBV.
For the Family Reunification Program as a whole, IRCC collects disaggregated data on the gender of sponsors, co-signers (when applicable), and applicants (i.e., 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 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 collect data on the incidence of family violence within the Canadian immigration system, including data disaggregated by gender, age, and country of origin, more systematically.
In addition, IRCC will finalize a formal evaluation of the Family Reunification Program in 2022. This evaluation will take into account various GBA Plus considerations for the program in accordance with the Treasury Board Secretariat Directive on Results.
Humanitarian/Compassionate and Discretionary Immigration
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.
Humanitarian and compassionate consideration is a tool that provides the ability to address exceptional situations, on a case-by-case basis, where a foreign national does not qualify for other immigration programs, 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 situation, 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.
IRCC funds Service Provider Organizations to provide resettlement services (such as, airport reception, provision of temporary accommodation, etc.) to government-supported refugees in the first few weeks after their arrival to Canada. These services take into account the gender and diversity of refugees by providing female staff and interpreters, ensuring that appropriate accommodations are made for single mothers, and by conducting a targeted needs assessment. Through this assessment, refugee women may be referred to particular services offered in the community or by the settlement provider, which may include women’s support groups and workshops that help refugee women find employment.
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; elimination of 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.
Canada’s most recent commitment to resettle at least 40,000 Afghan refugees includes a focus on LGBTI and women.
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 HoldersFootnote1 (SAHs)—the Canadian Council for Refugees 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 annual reports on resettlement.
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; if so, the claim is referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (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 Plus performance metrics may be included.
The Settlement Program benefits from data collected by the Department on all clients during their immigration process. In 2019, in addition to the sex-at-birth options of identifying as female or male, IRCC provided the option of identifying one’s gender as another. Therefore, the data collected through the Immigration Contribution Agreement Reporting Environment (iCARE) on clients and services can be disaggregated by sex-at-birth, and partially for gender. Data for additional intersecting characteristics such as age, immigration category, education levels, and family status, are available for those clients accessing specific settlement services, including language classes, short-term counselling, or Community Connections.
Based on the Settlement Program’s logic model, outcomes data is collected through the Newcomer Outcomes Survey. As it is linked to immigration information, it allows for disaggregation by client characteristics, and, since 2020, by race. The Department is exploring how to use the available data to its full potential in addition to developing a more robust GBA Plus plan for the Settlement Program to advance gender equality.
The Settlement Program also collects activity and output data on funded activities targeting the needs of specific populations with intersecting characteristics, such as racialized women, members of the LGBTQ2 community, persons with disabilities, and seniors.
Community Connections are services that help to connect clients with the broader community, public institutions, and community organizations. These services also provide opportunities for partners, volunteers, and local community members to be actively engaged in settlement programming. Data on eligible services under Community Connections, such as peer-to-peer support and family matching, informal language learning, and group events and activities, can be disaggregated based on a variety of intersectional characteristics. Information is collected through iCARE, the Newcomer Outcomes Survey, and through the Longitudinal Immigration Database, which links immigration information (client characteristics such as sex, gender, age, etc.) with settlement service and income tax information.
Education and Skills Development
Language training and the development of essential skills are primary settlement services. Data on access to language training can be disaggregated according to immigration characteristics, such as sex-at-birth, gender, age, education, and other intersectional characteristics. Data on learning outcomes can be disaggregated by race. Similarly, data on access to essential skills development activities is also being collected and can be disaggregated by a variety of intersectional characteristics.
Data on 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. This information is collected through iCARE, the Newcomer Outcomes Survey, and the Longitudinal Immigration Database.
Poverty Reduction, Health, and Well-being
While services that address health and well-being fall mainly under provincial jurisdiction, the Settlement Program collects data on the number of individuals receiving short-term counselling, mental health supports, and referrals to health and mental health services. However, given obvious privacy concerns, there are challenges with collecting this data.
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.
IRCC is committed to strengthening the ongoing collection of disaggregated data used to inform policies and programs. This includes, for example:
- Collecting disaggregated race data in the annual Newcomer Outcomes Survey.
- Capturing more robust and complete information on specific populations (e.g., LGBTQ2) by providing improved definitions.
The Settlement Outcomes Highlights Report (2021) (PDF, 4.1 MB) shows that settlement programming design, such as when and where service delivery is provided, can have an impact on the ability of newcomer women to access services. A shortage of available child care services can have gendered effects, as women are typically the primary child care providers.
Data from iCARE show that, among women, a work placement was the most common form of long-term employment intervention (51%), with 72% of these being unpaid, compared to 52% for men. These findings indicate the need to apply a gender lens to the program in order to address gender-specific barriers and ensure equitable outcomes. Research to support women has begun, such as the Racialized Minority Newcomer Women Pilot, which will garner insight on effective approaches for helping this newcomer population gain meaningful employment.
Immigrant and refugee women contribute greatly to Canadian communities, but they often face systemic and institutional barriers to their full participation in Canadian society. Challenges confronting newcomer women can include family and gender-based violence; lower levels of official language proficiency and varying levels of literacy; unequal access to socio-economic opportunities; dependency on family members; family-related responsibilities including caregiving for children and the elderly; social isolation; and health and mental health challenges with less access to mainstream services. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated gender inequalities for women, including racialized newcomer women in Canada. Economic gender disparities were identified as particularly notable for immigrant women prior to the pandemic, irrespective of how long they have been in the country, and immigrant women are often concentrated in labour market sectors that saw significant job loss during the pandemic.
In 2020–21, 57% of Settlement Program clients were women and six individuals identified themselves as another gender. In the future, IRCC will use data collected through the Newcomer Outcomes Survey to explore the outcomes for Settlement Program clients by sex and another gender, including an assessment of any changes resulting from COVID-19.
Sexual and Gender Minority Communities
Members of the LGBTQ2 community have experienced socio-economic inequities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some newcomers experience barriers to successful integration, such as mental health issues and social isolation because of stigmatization within their ethnic community or family; challenges securing affordable housing; and difficulties accessing economic opportunities, health care, and other relevant community resources. This population is also at a higher risk of experiencing loss of employment during the pandemic, such as lay-offs or reduced employment hours.
Currently, IRCC does not have the ability to disaggregate data for the LGBTQ2 population. While it will not be possible to collect this information at the service level, IRCC is exploring the feasibility of collecting this information on the Newcomer Outcomes Survey, pending assessment of privacy-related concerns.
Some senior newcomers face settlement and integration challenges and are often less visible within Canadian society. Although senior newcomers often play key roles within their families, providing care for their grandchildren and allowing one or both parents to work, the support they provide may complicate their settlement trajectories. Seniors over the age of 65 are not generally in the labour market and may have experienced little economic disruption throughout the pandemic. However, they have experienced significant COVID-19 impacts to their health and life expectancy, well-being, and quality of life. Immigrant seniors have reported lower levels of social support than Canadian-born seniors.
A small portion of Settlement Program clients are seniors. For example, in 2020–21, only 5% of clients were aged 65 years and older. IRCC will use the Newcomer Outcomes Survey results to examine the outcomes of newcomers by age, including seniors.
Settlement barriers for youth include lower levels of proficiency in Canada’s official languages, intergenerational and cultural integration challenges, as well as difficulties navigating the school system or finding employment. Immigrant youth in Canada are more susceptible to unemployment, particularly racialized female youth due to persistent gender inequalities. In 2020–21, a third of Settlement Program clients were less than 30 years of age. IRCC will continue disaggregation of data by age at the service level. However, examination of outcomes is limited to those who were age 18 and over when they responded to the survey. This may prevent in-depth analysis of outcomes of services provided to younger populations.
A formal evaluation of the Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS) initiative is currently underway and will be complete by early 2022. SWIS is a cross-stream initiative that is tracked in iCARE under Needs and Assets Assessment and Referral Services, Information and Orientation, Community Connections, and Employment-Related Services. Findings and recommendations from the evaluation will pave the way for improved data collection on priority populations, including youth.
Racialized Newcomer Women Pilot
Racialized 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, IRCC launched the Racialized Newcomer Women Pilot in December 2018 to support the employment and career advancement of racialized newcomer women.
Budget 2021 announced funding of $15 million over two years to extend the Racialized Newcomer Women Pilot. Through the delivery of settlement services, the Pilot will continue to improve economic opportunities and increase the participation of racialized newcomer women in the Canadian labour market so they can contribute their talents to Canada’s economic growth. IRCC will continue to monitor this initiative and the achievement of client outcomes.
This initiative supports the overall objective under Canada’s Gender Results Framework on economic participation and prosperity by increasing labour market opportunities and participation for racialized newcomer women.
Addressing Gender-based Violence
Under Canada’s Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-based Violence (GBV), IRCC received $1.5 million in funding over five years (2017-2022) to further enhance its Settlement Program. This funding is being used to implement a settlement sector strategy on GBV through a coordinated partnership of settlement and anti-violence sector organizations (ngbv.ca). This work includes the establishment of a common base of knowledge on GBV and training for front-line settlement workers to assist with identifying abuse.
Budget 2021 announced additional funding of $2 million to extend the GBV Partnership to continue building the capacity of the sector through training, resources, and strengthening cross-sector collaboration.
This initiative supports the overall objective under Canada’s Gender Results Framework on GBV and access to justice by providing supports and resources to newcomers experiencing violence and abuse.
Core Responsibility 3: Citizenship and Passport
In 2022–23, the Citizenship Program will be working with departmental partners to create foundational citizenship data to support GBA Plus and Anti-Racism research priorities, including an examination of potential barriers that clients may face when applying for citizenship.
In 2022–23, the Citizenship Program will also be working with Statistics Canada to obtain the Longitudinal Immigration Database (IMDB)-Census data to analyze citizenship uptake metrics disaggregated by birth country, home language, age, sex, and visible minority status. This will expand the program’s capacity to report on impacts and outcomes by gender and will support the development of program indicators with an Anti-Racism lens.
The Citizenship Program currently collects gender, age, and language data through IRCC’s annual Client Experience Survey. Future initiatives will expand the program’s capacity to report on impacts by gender and diversity, by collecting data on accessibility/disability and ethnicity.
In 2022–23, the Citizenship Program will work with departmental partners to continue building its data infrastructure in order to support GBA Plus and Anti-Racism research priorities.
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 (GBV) and promoting access to justice. In accordance with the Canadian Passport Order and agreements with enforcement and security agencies and other levels of government, individuals that are convicted of the maltreatment of children (transnational sex offenders, child-related sex offenders, facilitating human smuggling or trafficking) may be subject to sanctions or to provisions under 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 that should enable the Passport Program to better use data it collects.
In addition, 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.
The Passport Program collects several key data elements through the application form such as sex (including the gender “X” identifier), date of birth (age), and place of birth. Additional client demographics are collected through the annual client experience survey. This enables GBA Plus analysis through various stages of client interactions with the Program.
The collected data shows that applicants come from diverse family structures, which highlights the need to carefully consider inclusive data collection methods for example, a recent policy change recognized that requiring data on an applicant’s “mother’s maiden name” is not inclusive terminology, as some families are made up of same-sex male parents. In other analysis, we found that asking for “parents’ surname at birth” better represents a diverse population and uses modern language that is acceptable to more people.
The Program has developed a risk-based operational policy plan with the following GBA Plus related objectives:
- Reducing barriers for disadvantaged groups;
- Improving access for individuals with disabilities;
- Recognizing diverse family structures including custody, foster care, adoption and surrogacy; and
- Eliminating prejudices.
In 2021, IRCC responded to Call to Action 17 (CTA-17) from the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, in an effort to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the reconciliation process in Canada. Our response will enable survivors of residential schools and their family members to replace existing valid IRCC-issued identity documents—including passports—in their reclaimed Indigenous name, free of charge. This client-centric process will waive associated fees for passports, permanent resident cards, and proof of Canadian citizenship certificates, from May 31, 2021, until May 30, 2026. CTA-17 will be monitored to allow ongoing analysis of this initiative.
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 that it collects.
Facial Recognition Solution
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. IRCC will leverage an anticipated upgrade of the algorithm that supports FRS to replicate portions of the GBA Plus research project to assess this new version’s ability to further reduce bias.
IRCC has started the process of building a Research and Development environment that may be used to research industry trends in facial recognition and test continuous FRS enhancements. This will lead to improved integrity, identity management, and client service.
The Department strives to have more control over the scope, research methodology, and testing ability as well as the monitoring of the Passport Program’s FRS algorithm. Key conclusions will then be drawn from data obtained from its own system and clients rather than extrapolating from third-party reports.
Research and development will be integral to providing data-driven, evidence-based answers to inquiries regarding the use and efficacy of facial recognition technology on demographic equity/bias. Evidence-based analysis and the use of facial recognition technology is required to meet the Department’s call to incorporate GBA Plus into daily work to produce better outcomes and help mitigate any unintended potential concerns for IRCC clients.
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 continues 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, 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 Plus 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 Plus analysis and information in the final reports, ideally contributing to program improvements in that area.
GBA Plus considerations are also applied to Performance Information Profiles of IRCC’s programs, including indicators, as applicable.
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 Plus analysis and applications to its policies and programs. IRCC looks to strengthen its culture of diversity, 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.
Within the Department, a GBA Plus lens has been applied in the context of COVID-19 and the Future of Work (FoW). More specifically, striving for more equitable outcomes across the workforce is at the very heart of the FoW initiative and is reflected in the overall design and approach to transitioning the organization to a hybrid workplace.
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