Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada 2020-2023 Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy

September 2020

Executive Summary

Sustainable development is defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, and is a key priority of the Government of Canada. Sustainable development in Canada cannot be achieved without robust engagement at all stages of policy and practice and at various levels of government—federal, provincial/territorial and municipal. At the federal level, effective sustainable development is facilitated by the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS), which serves as the Government’s primary vehicle for sustainable development planning and reporting. The FSDS fulfils the requirement of the Federal Sustainable Development Act (FSDA) to develop and table every three years a federal strategy that makes environmental decision making more transparent and accountable to Parliament. The 2019–2022 FSDS articulates renewed sustainable development, aspirational goals, medium-term targets and short-term milestones to support the achievement of strategic objectives and realize the country’s vision for sustainable development in which Canada is “one of the greenest countries in the world and our quality of life continues to improve”

To support the core principle that effective sustainable development results from a coordinated approach across several government institutions, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is committed to contributing to the FSDS and doing its part to support Canada’s vision for sustainable development. As required by the FSDA, every three years IRCC prepares its own Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy (DSDS) which describes the Department’s contributions to the FSDS, including a sustainable development vision for IRCC, departmental decision-making, sustainable development practices and implementation strategies as prescribed in the FSDS.

IRCC is responsible for the design and delivery of a range of programs and services that include temporary residence, permanent residence, refugee protection and settlement, citizenship, and passport. These programs and services support every step of new immigrants’ journeys to Canada and efforts to build a new life here. Through its mandated responsibilities, the Department continues to work towards meaningful results by refining and modernizing its internal services and client service delivery for its lines of business in order to find efficiencies and improve services. IRCC’s modernization agenda along with several other departmental initiatives are closely related to the foundational principles of sustainable development (economy, society and environment) and strategically position the Department to play an active part in advancing sustainable development while striving to meet government-wide expectations to reduce its environmental footprint.

Section 1: Introduction to the Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy

The 2019–2022 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS) (PDF, 8.39 MB), tabled on June 19, 2019, presents the Government of Canada’s sustainable development goals and targets, as required by the Federal Sustainable Development Act (FSDA). It is the fourth strategy under the Act which provides the legal framework for developing and implementing a federal sustainable development strategy that will make environmental, social and economic decision-making more transparent and accountable to Parliament. The 2019–2022 FSDS also supports Canada’s international sustainability commitments and its goals are aligned with the environmentally-focused Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The FSDS is evergreen, meaning it will allow new policy decisions to be integrated as they are adopted. The Strategy will also serve as a means for the public to join in the conversation and share innovative ideas on what can be done to protect the environment and contribute to sustainable development and thus achieve Canada’s sustainable development vision and aspirational goals.

In keeping with the objectives of the Act to integrate environmental, social and economic considerations into decision-making, and make such decisions more transparent and accountable to Parliament, IRCC supports reaching aspirational goals laid out in the FSDS through the activities described in this Departmental Strategy.

Section 2: Sustainable Development Vision and Context in Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

IRCC’s Approach to Sustainable Development

As per the FSDA, IRCC’s DSDS is tabled every three years and represents an element of the Government of Canada’s coordinated approach to sustainable development. The DSDS explains how the Department will align its sustainable development activities with the 2019–2022 FSDS and how it will integrate the basic principles of sustainable development into its plans, policies, program proposals and daily operations so that these can be executed and implemented in an environmentally responsible manner. Since its last strategy, IRCC is adopting an evergreen approach that allows the Department to foster engagement and shares expertise and ideas about how its contribution to environmental sustainability and protection can help achieve Canada’s sustainable development vision and aspirational goals. IRCC contributes to the 2019–2022 FSDS Goal 2—Greening Government. However, given the broadened scope of the FSDS, IRCC is committed to exploring how the Greening Government goal is linked to other FSDS areas. Over the next three years, the Department will work to identify and implement additional innovative departmental sustainable development activities such as disposing of waste in an environmentally sound and secure manner by working with Public Services and Procurement Canada’s (PSPC) Real Property Division and building landlords. In addition, the Department will aim to reduce the unnecessary use of single-use plastics in government operations, events and meetings by actively communicating and promoting best practices to employees as well as work with Procurement in the acquisition of sustainable plastic products and the reduction of associated plastic packaging waste when acquiring catering/hospitality requirements. These activities will increase the alignment between the Department’s and the Government’s as well as UN 2030 Agenda on SDGs’ respective visions for sustainable development.

IRCC’s Vision for Sustainable Development

IRCC contributes to achieving, through immigration, a stronger Canada that is economically, socially and culturally prosperous. Traditionally, the Department’s programs and policies have affected Canada’s economy and social fabric more directly than its ecosystems; this is why IRCC is not responsible for contributing to any FSDS areas beyond the Greening Government goal.

By encompassing all three pillars of sustainable development (Social, Environmental and Economic), IRCC’s sustainable development vision aims to systematically incorporate economic, social and environmental considerations into departmental decision-making. IRCC’s 2020–2023 DSDS provides a framework for the promotion of responsible management of natural resources, economic practices and healthy communities. The Department’s sustainable development vision is aligned with the overarching departmental vision for a stronger Canada—a safe and secure country with a shared bond of citizenship and values; a country that continues to support humanitarian tradition and draws the best from the world to help build a nation that is economically, socially and culturally prosperous.

The figure below outlines IRCC’s sustainable development vision along with key areas where departmental sustainable development initiatives and activities are implemented to support that vision. These activities are described in greater detail in sections 3 and 4.

Sustainable Development Vision
Text version: Sustainable Development Vision

Sustainable Development Vision

In contributing to Canada’s economic, social and cultural development through migration and its global humanitarian efforts, IRCC embraces an approach to sustainable development that:

  • Promotes the responsible management of natural resources, sustainable economic practices and healthy communities through education and awareness building;
  • Fosters individual participation in corporate initiatives through the promotion of best practices; and
  • Is concrete, focused and results based

Key areas where departmental sustainable development initiatives and activities are implemented to support that vision:

  • IRCC integrated sustainable development management framework
  • Governance and decision making
  • Greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction
  • Sustainable workplace practices
  • Green procurement practices

Section 3: Commitments for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)

Greening Government: The Government of Canada will transition to low-carbon, climate resilient, and green operations

Responsible Minister: All ministers

This goal captures commitments from the Greening Government Strategy, as well as reporting requirements under the Policy on Green Procurement.
Greening Government Communities
FSDS target(s)
FSDS contributing action(s) Corresponding departmental action(s) Contribution by each departmental action to the FSDS goal and target Starting point(s)
Performance indicator(s)
Target(s)
Program(s) in which the departmental actions will occur
Reduce GHG emissions from federal government facilities and fleets by 40% below 2005 levels by 2030 (with an aspiration to achieve this target by 2025) and 80% below 2005 levels by 2050 (with an aspiration to be carbon neutral) Fleet management will be optimized by applying telematics to collect and analyze vehicle usage data on vehicles scheduled to be replaced. Develop a fleet reduction plan within IRCC inventory to reduce fleet GHG emissions. Plan will include the below:
  1. Installing telematics on all fleet vehicles to collect and analyze vehicle usage data;
  2. Recycle within or eliminate old or underutilized (needless) vehicles;
  3. Replace current inefficient fuel consuming vehicles with more fuel efficient ones including use of Hybrid and/or all electric models

FSDS:
Annual fleet plan will identify how to manage inventory including the installation of telematics devices in vehicles that will provide analysis for guidance on fleet optimization. This analysis will direct actions for fleet right-sizing, decommissioning of under-utilized vehicles and flagging needs to green vehicles where operationally suitable.

UN-SDG:
SDG13.2: Climate action. Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning

Starting point:
GHG emissions from fleet in fiscal year 2005–06 (base year): = [0.094] ktCO2e;
GHG emissions from fleet in FY 2018-19: 0.060 ktCO2e

Target:
Reduce GHG by 40% in 2030 relative to 2005 and fleet is 80% ZEV by 2030

Performance indicator:
Number and percentage of GHG emission change from FY 2005-2006

Internal Services
  1. Train fleet managers on vehicle fleet best practices.

FSDS:
The communication plan will include anti-idling messages to fleet managers and drivers of light duty and executive vehicles to encourage reduction in GHG emissions. The plan will also include fleet manager training sessions on vehicle fleet best practices.

UN-SDG:
SDG13.3 Climate action. Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning.

Starting point:
In baseline year 2018–2019 the number and percentage of fleet managers who received training on vehicle fleet best practices is 5 out of 8, (63%).

Target:
By 2023, 100% of fleet managers will receive fleet training.

Performance indicator:
Number and percentage of fleet managers who receive training on vehicle fleet best practices.

Administrative fleet will be comprised of at least 80% zero-emission vehicles by 2030 Fleet management will be optimized by applying telematics to collect and analyze vehicle usage data on vehicles scheduled to be replaced.
  1. All new executive vehicle purchases will be ZEVs or hybrids
  2. 75% of new light-duty unmodified administrative fleet vehicle purchases will be zero-emission vehicles or hybrids

FSDS:
Purchasing of vehicles that are fuel efficient or hybrids will contribute to reducing GHG emissions. In addition, all electric vehicles will be considered where appropriate.

UN-SDG:
SDG: 12 Responsible consumption and production.

Starting point:
In baseline year 2018–2019 the number of vehicles in IRCC inventory was:

  • 0 equipped with telematics;
  • 0 Electric vehicles;
  • 12 Conventional internal combustion vehicles (57%);
  • 9 Hybrid vehicles (43%)

Performance indicator:

  • # and % of vehicles equipped with telematics;
  • # and % of Electric vehicles;
  • # and % of Conventional vehicles; and
  • # and % of Hybrid vehicles
Internal Services
By 2022, departments have developed measures to reduce climate change risks to assets, services and operations Increase training and support on assessing climate change impacts, undertaking climate change risk assessments and developing adaptation actions to public service employees, and facilitate sharing of best practices and lessons learned By 2022, IRCC will work on understanding and evaluating the risks of climate change impacts that might affect IRCC assets, services and operations on a national level and set measures to reduce those climate change risks where necessary.

FSDS:
Introducing climate variability and change into policy, programs, and operations is important to adjust to a changing climate and is consistent with the government’s risk management approach of enhancing the protection of assets and resources and strengthening planning and decision-making.

UN-SDG:

SDG13.2: Climate action. Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning

Starting point:
Work will be on-going to complete the IRCC climate risk assessment.

Target:
By 2022, complete a departmental climate risk assessment and develop measures to reduce identified risks, as required.

Performance Indicators:
Completion of climate risk assessment for IRCC and development of measures to reduce climate change risks to assets, services and operations, as required.

Internal Services
Actions supporting the Goal: Greening Government
[This section is for actions that support the Greening Government Goal but do not directly support a FSDS target]
Departments will use environmental criteria to reduce the environmental impact and ensure best value in government procurement decisions Purchase of copy paper, commercial printing that contains a minimum of 30% recycled content.

FSDS:
IRCC will meet its greening goal by ensuring practices are in place to procure green items which will be achieved by integrating environmental considerations in procurement practices, development of policies and training of procurement specialists. These actions will support the reduction of IRCC’s ecological footprint.

UN-SDG:
SDG: 12.7 Responsible consumption and production.
Promote public procurement practices that are sustainable, in accordance with national policies and priorities

Starting point:
In baseline year 2018-2019, 100% of IRCC paper purchases contains a minimum of 30% recycled content.

Target:
100% of paper purchases contained 30% recycled content or better via the National Master Standing Offer for Office
Supplies.

Performance indicator:
Percentage of copy paper; Commercial printing purchases that contain a minimum of 30% recycled content and are certified to a recognized environmental standard to reduce the environmental impact of its manufacturing.

Internal Services
Promote Sustainable workplace Operations by reducing printing devices to achieve a target of 8 employees to 1 printing device.

FSDS:
Reduce printing devices via projects such as Print Services Modernization which will help reduce IRCC’s GHG emissions generated from eliminating unnecessary devices.

UN-SDG:
SDG: 12 Responsible consumption and production.

Starting point:
Ratio of employees to printing devices in fiscal year 2015-2016 (base year) = 3.86 employees to 1 printing device (3.86:1)

Ratio of employees per printing device in fiscal year 2018-2019 = 8.86 employees per printing device (8.86:1)

Target:
8 employees per printing device achieved as of March 2019.

IRCC will aim to exceed this target by attaining a ratio of 15 employees to 1 Printing device.

Performance indicator:
Ratio of employees per printing device

Promote Sustainable workplace Operations by meeting or exceeding paper consumption reduction of 20%

FSDS:
IRCC will aim to continue reducing its paper consumption which will lead to the reduction of GHG emissions produced during manufacturing and transportation of paper.

UN-SDG:
SDG: 12 Responsible consumption and production.

Starting point:
Number of sheets of paper per employee in FY 2010–2011 (base year) = 5,996 sheets/ employee. Number of sheets of paper per employee in fiscal year 2018-2019 = 1,251 sheets/ employee

Target:
20% reduction

Performance indicator:
Percentage (%) change in paper consumption from FY 2010–11;
Percentage (%) change in paper consumption from fiscal year 2010-2011 to fiscal year 2018-2019 = 79% decrease from baseline.

Support for green procurement will be strengthened, including guidance, tools and training for public service employees Ensure all procurement officers and decision-makers have the necessary training and awareness to support green procurement

FSDS:
Departments will use environmental criteria to reduce environmental impacts and ensure best value in government procurement decisions by providing the necessary training and skills to procurement officers

UN-SDG:
SDG: 12.7 Responsible consumption and production. Promote public procurement practices that are sustainable, in accordance with national policies and priorities

Starting Point:
In base line year 2018-2019, 100% of Procurement Specialists and 100% of Materiel Management Specialists received training on Green Procurement.

Performance indicator:
Percentage of procurement specialists and materiel management specialist who have completed training on Green Procurement

Internal Services
 

Ensure key officials include contribution to and support for the Government of Canada Policy on Green Procurement objectives in their Performance Management Agreements (PMA)

Starting Point:
In base line year 2018-2019, 100% of key officials have included contribution to and support for the Government of Canada Policy on Green Procurement objectives in their PMA - 6 out of 6 (100%). This includes:

  • 1 Director General;
  • 1 Director;
  • 2 Assistant Directors ;
  • 2 Managers

Performance indicator:
Percentage of functional heads and managers of procurement and materiel management whose performance evaluation includes support and contribution towards green procurement in the current fiscal year.

Section 4: Integrating sustainable development

Sustainable Development Management Framework

IRCC’s framework for managing sustainable development facilitates the integration of sustainable development into its daily activities based on three main pillars below:

  • Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is a process that promotes environmental sustainability in decision making by ensuring environment is considered when developing policy, plan and program proposals. SEAs are a requirement of the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals. The purpose of an SEA is to optimize positive environmental effects and minimize or mitigate negative environmental effects, consider potential cumulative environmental effects, implement the FSDS, save time and money by drawing attention to potential liabilities for environmental clean-up and other unforeseen concerns, streamline project-level environmental assessment by eliminating the need to address some issues at the project stage, promote accountability and credibility among the general public and stakeholders and contribute to broader governmental policy commitments and obligations.
  • DSDS: The DSDS identifies and communicates departmental commitments expressed in terms of goals, medium-term targets, short-term milestones and implementation strategies which determine the sustainable development direction for a three-year cycle.
  • Policy, Guide and Directive on Greener Operations: The Policy, Guide and Directive on Greener Operations is comprised of the following documents:
    • IRCC Vehicle Fleet Management Policy
    • Green Meeting Guide
    • Directive on printing devices
    • Paper Reduction
    • Printer Reduction
    • Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Roles and Responsibilities and Governance/Accountability

To complement its sustainable development management framework, IRCC’s sustainable development Policy Framework and SEAs serve as mechanisms to support an integrated governance structure that oversees the implementation of the Department’s sustainable development commitments. This structure engages all levels within the Department and identifies the accountabilities, roles and responsibilities for sustainable development.

  • IRCC’s Minister requires the Department to prepare a sustainable development strategy encompassing objectives and plans that comply with and contribute to the FSDS, is appropriate to IRCC’s mandate and ensures that the strategy is tabled in Parliament every three years following within one year of the newly tabled FSDS (June 19, 2020 – FSDS 2019-2022).
  • The Executive Committee (ExCom) approves the DSDS and Director General (DG) level reviews and approves SEAs and other internal policy instruments as required.
  • IRCC’s Corporate and Finance Committee is responsible for providing oversight for integrated sustainable development approach and its implementation. The Committee’s approval is required for changes to internal sustainable development policy instruments including the DSDS.
  • The Chief Financial Officer/Comptrollership, is the functional lead at IRCC for sustainable development, validating that IRCC respects the basic principles of sustainable development and reports annually on plans and progress of the DSDS via Departmental Plans and Departmental Results Reports.
  • The DG, Administration, Security and Accommodations, oversees compliance with central agency policy direction for green operations as well as ensures that SEA requirements are clearly communicated and a compliance regime is in effect with developed support mechanisms.
  • The Director of Supply Chain Management Support Services plays an important lead role in demonstrating leadership and guidance on sustainable development, increasing employee awareness of IRCC’s sustainable development commitments, developing and implementing the modernization of internal policies and instruments relating to green operations. In addition, the team is responsible for reviewing Memoranda to Cabinet (MCs) and Treasury Board (TB) submissions ensure the SEA and/or the preliminary scan document is completed accurately. Lastly, coordinate all communication activities with Communications, Policy, Cabinet Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs related to SEAs and other greening operations.
  • IRCC Assistant Deputy Ministers are responsible for the application of the SD approach within their respective sectors.
  • IRCC DGs are responsible for including the results of SEAs in their MCs and TB submissions.
  • All IRCC employees are responsible for maintaining awareness of the principles of sustainable development and for taking steps to implement green initiatives as appropriate. They may be asked to contribute to the commitments and actions towards sustainable development in their own work areas.

To monitor and keep its sustainable development commitments on track, IRCC reports to senior management on its progress every review period and reports publicly on its sustainable development targets through annual planning and reporting documents tabled in Parliament.

Decision-making

The Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals requires departments and agencies to conduct an SEA for policy plan or program proposals submitted to an individual minister or to Cabinet for approval. Departments must also consider the impacts, whether positive or negative, of their Proposals on the achievement of FSDS goals and targets. Once the 2020–2023 DSDS has tabled, IRCC will update its internal SD website to ensure compliance and alignment.

Under IRCC’s SD Policy, a requirement for SEAs was introduced. This requirement aims to provide a holistic assessment balancing economic and social considerations, intergenerational equity and environmental impacts. It primarily deals with integrated decision-making that maximizes the effectiveness of departmental policies and programs. This translates into a level of analysis above the SEA requirements under the Cabinet Directive. IRCC’s SD Policy was commended by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development as being a “good practice” following the Department’s 2014 audit.

To strengthen the application of the SEA within the Department, IRCC uses a risk-based triage, the SD Preliminary Scan Tool. Through a quick assessment based on “yes” or “no” questions, this tool streamlines the process to determine whether significant environmental effects—positive or negative—would result from the implementation of the Proposal.

Currently, IRCC’s SEA process applies to Proposals contained in MCs and TB submissions. IRCC uses two tools to support the application of the Cabinet Directive:

  • The SD Preliminary Scan Tool, as discussed above, assists analysts in completing a scan of the Proposal for potential environmental effects. If the tool finds that there are potential environmental effects—positive or negative—the next step is to complete a detailed SEA.
  • The IRCC SEA Tool sets out the four main criteria to be analyzed: financial/economic, environmental, social, and general/equity considerations. It then provides questions to guide the analysis. Each criterion is assessed on five elements (negative impact, positive impact, no impact, don’t now and not applicable) followed by which any potential environmental effects and mitigation strategies must be identified. Once complete, the SEA Report is submitted to Supply Chain Management Support Services Division for review and must be approved by the lead DG and the DG of Administration, Security and Accommodations.

To ensure these tools are being implemented, IRCC’s Supply Chain Management Support Services monitors lists of MCs and TB submissions and proactively reaches out to IRCC employees to initiate the SEA process in the early drafting stages. IRCC also has a tracking mechanism to follow up on outstanding Proposals and to monitor new Proposals as they are being developed.

In order to ensure policy compliance, the SEA tools and templates are periodically reviewed and updated in order to improve usability, accuracy of information and allow clients to complete the information based on better defined terminology.

IRCC will continue to ensure that its decision-making process includes consideration of FSDS goals and targets through its SEA process. As such, SEAs will continue to include an analysis of the impacts of the given proposal on the environment, including on FSDS goals and targets.

Statements on the results of IRCC’s assessments are made public when an initiative that has undergone a detailed SEA and significant environmental effects are determined (available here). The purpose of the public statement is to demonstrate that the environmental effects, including the impacts on achieving the FSDS goals and targets, of the approved policy, plan or program have been considered during proposal development and decision-making.

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