Evaluation of the Global Assistance for Irregular Migrants Program

1 Introduction

1.1 Purpose of Evaluation

The evaluation of the Global Assistance for Irregular Migrants (GAIM) program was conducted in fulfillment of a departmental commitment to complete an evaluation to assess the impact of this program. The evaluation also fulfills requirements under Section 42.1 of the Financial Administration Act which mandates that all federal departments review the relevance and performance of grants and contribution programs once every five years. As the GAIM program was transferred to CIC in 2013, and was activated just twice, the evaluation relies on information from the one main incident to assess the results of the program. The evaluation was undertaken by Citizenship and Immigration Canada's (CIC) Research and Evaluation Branch between June 2014 and February 2015.

This report presents the results of the evaluation and is organized into four main sections:Footnote 1

  • Section 1 presents a profile of the program;
  • Section 2 presents the methodology for the evaluation and related limitations;
  • Section 3 presents the findings of the evaluation; and
  • Section 4 presents the conclusions and recommendations.

1.2 GAIM Program Profile


Human smuggling involves the facilitation, transportation or procurement of the illegal entry of a person or persons across an international border.Footnote 2 In October 2010, in response to concerns that human smugglers were targeting Canada, the Prime Minister appointed a Special Advisor on Human Smuggling and Illegal Migration within the Privy Council Office (PCO), with a mandate to coordinate a whole-of-government response to human smuggling.Footnote 3

In December 2011, a large group of Sri Lankan migrants bound for Canada were intercepted in Togo and held in a stadium by Togolese authorities. The migrants lacked appropriate food, water and shelter. In response to this urgent situation, in January 2012, the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD)Footnote 4established a temporary program to provide assisted voluntary return and reintegration (AVRR) to Sri Lankan migrants identified in West Africa.

The Government of Canada's response in 2012 highlighted the need for a more permanent approach to managing the consequences of disrupting the smuggling of irregular migrants believed to be destined for Canada. This approach was integrated into the whole-of-government strategy to human smuggling, within the framework of Canada's Migrant Smuggling Prevention Strategy headed by the PCO. Partners involved in Canada's Migrant Smuggling Prevention Strategy include PCO, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and DFATD, among others.

As a result, one of the aspects of the whole-of-government approach to human smuggling was the creation of the GAIM program in 2013.Footnote 5 Through this development, the roles of DFATD's AVRR program were transferred to CIC as the GAIM program.

Program profile

GAIM program activities are activated when the PCO Special Advisor informs CIC, through a trigger letter, of a planned human smuggling event and requests CIC's Deputy Minister to implement the program. The trigger letter allows those departments with responsibility for, and knowledge of, smuggling activities to alert CIC to the need for action, providing lead time to prepare for the implementation of the program.

The GAIM program provides funding (in the form of contributions), to an international organizationFootnote 6 to support irregular migrants believed to be destined for Canada and stranded following the disruption of a human-smuggling venture.

As indicated in the GAIM program Terms and Conditions,Footnote 7 the program includes the following components:

  • Migrant services and needs (e.g. fulfilling basic needs such as food, water, shelter);
  • Identity, assessment and referral (e.g. supporting national or international organizations by enabling them to conduct refugee status determinations);
  • Efforts to foster collaboration and cooperation (e.g. partnerships with intercepting countries and stakeholders within the context of managing the consequences of an irregular migration); and
  • Return information and reintegration services (e.g. providing return, arrival and reintegration assistance in the country of origin).

As shown in the program logic model,Footnote 8 the expected outcomes of the GAIM program are that:

  • Migrants' basic needs are met and they are assisted to return to their countries of origin;
  • Migrants are screened, registered, assessed and referred, where necessary, for refugee status determination;
  • Capacity-building, outreach and awareness activities are undertaken;
  • Migrants who are determined not to be refugees reintegrate in their countries of origin; and
  • CIC contributes to the detection, disruption and deterrence of human smuggling and illegal migration activities.


Stakeholders are defined as trusted third-party delivery partners and other government departments (OGD) that support the GAIM program. The main government departments involved in the GAIM program are PCO and DFATD, while the third-party is the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

PCO's Office of the Special Advisor on Human Smuggling and Illegal Migration is responsible for coordinating the whole-of-government strategy on combating human smuggling activities and advising CIC of any human smuggling events that can trigger GAIM program activities. The Office of the Special Advisor on Human Smuggling and Illegal Migration role is to oversee the implementation of Canada's Migrant Smuggling Prevention Strategy.Footnote 9

Within DFATD, the Heads of Mission at Canadian diplomatic missions abroad bear overall leadership for bilateral relations with the country or countries of responsibility. The Heads of Mission can be key in convincing local authorities to cooperate in disrupting migrant smuggling ventures destined to Canada and allowing implementing agencies under the GAIM program access to the intercepted migrants. In addition to its diplomatic role, DFATD launched an Anti-Crime Capacity-Building Program (ACCBP) to manage their role in Canada's Migrant Smuggling Prevention Strategy. This program is intended to "prevent and respond to migrant smuggling activities and enhance cooperation with source and transit countries".Footnote 10

In terms of delivering the GAIM program, the IOM is the third-party delivery partner. While the GAIM program allows for other organizations, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, to be engaged depending on the circumstances and geographic location of an event or events, to date, the IOM has been the only funded partner for the delivery of the GAIM program.


The GAIM program is a contribution program, whose Terms and Conditions and funding were approved by the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) in 2013 for two fiscal years (FY).

Table 1: GAIM Program expenditures
  FY 2013/14 Actual FY 2014/15 Planned
Expenditures $3,085,575 $3,147,220

Note: Fluctuations in expenditures are due to exchange rates.

Source: Actual - Canada, CIC (2014) Departmental Performance Report 2013-2014; Planned - Canada, CIC (2014) Report on Plans and Priorities 2014-2015.

While the GAIM program relies on Contribution Agreements with international organizations, CIC assigns staff members to directly support the program; however, full-time equivalent (FTE) for program management are dependent upon program uptake. As the GAIM program responds to irregular migration events,Footnote 11 the number of FTEs allocated to the GAIM program would increase if there was an identified incident of illegal migration.

Table 2:  GAIM planned FTEs (FY 2013/14 - FY 2015/16)
  FY 2013/14 FY 2014/15 FY 2015/16
CIC FTEs N/A 1 0.4

Sources: Canada, CIC (2015) Report on Plans and Priorities; Internal program documents.

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