Evaluation of the Reviews and Interventions Pilot Project

1. Introduction

1.1 Purpose of Evaluation

This report presents the results of the evaluation of Citizenship and Immigration Canada's (CIC) Reviews and Interventions (R&I) Pilot Project. The evaluation was conducted from February to October, 2014, in fulfilment of the requirements of the 2009 Treasury Board Policy on Evaluation and a commitment to evaluate the Pilot three years following implementation.

The evaluation was designed to examine the implementation of the Pilot to assess the extent to which CIC was successful in implementing a function to conduct reviews and interventions, whether any operational challenges or efficiencies resulted, and the added-value that was gained by creating the function. As this was an assessment of a pilot in its first year of operation, common challenges associated with roll-out (such as staffing, intra- and inter-departmental coordination) were expected. This evaluation provides findings and information to assist with decision-making with respect to the future of the R&I Pilot. Results will feed into the horizontal evaluation of the reforms made to the in-Canada asylum system (ICAS), which will be completed by the end of December, 2015. This evaluation report is organized in four main sections:

  • Section 1 presents background information on the R&I Pilot;
  • Section 2 presents the methodology for the evaluation and discusses limitations;
  • Section 3 presents the findings, organized by evaluation issue; and
  • Section 4 presents the conclusions and recommendations.

Supporting materials for the evaluation report (e.g., list of documents reviewed, interview guides) are included under separate cover in the Technical Appendices.

1.2 Background

1.2.1 Changes to the In-Canada Asylum System

The in-Canada asylum system offers safe haven to those who have a well-founded fear of persecution, or those who face a danger of torture or a risk to life, or who face a risk of cruel or unusual treatment / punishment. Over time, increasing volumes of in-Canada claims challenged the system's ability to process them in a timely, efficient, and effective manner. In response, the Balanced Refugee Reform Act (June 29, 2010) was introduced to ensure faster decisions that result in offering refugee protection to those who merit it and faster removal of those whose claims are rejected, while protecting and maintaining the integrity of the system against those who may abuse it Footnote 3.

The legislative reforms also introduced three pilot projects: Enhanced Screening, Ministerial Reviews and Interventions, and Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration.Footnote 4 The Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act (June 28, 2012) subsequently expanded upon some of the measures originally introduced in 2010; however, the pilots remained unchanged.

1.2.2 Reviews and Interventions Pilot Project

The R&I Pilot Project (the Pilot) was launched in October, 2012. The objectives of the Pilot were to:

  1. ensure that persons representing serious criminality or security threats do not benefit from Canada's protection;
  2. maintain the integrity of the in-Canada asylum system; and
  3. ensure that the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) has comprehensive information for refugee determination.

The Pilot provided funding for CIC to conduct reviews and interventions of in-Canada claims being heard by the IRBFootnote 5 where concerns of credibility and program integrity are identified by CIC and the CBSA.Footnote 6 Previously, interventions were only performed by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA); however, it focused mainly on issues of serious criminality or security concerns. With the introduction of the Pilot, the CBSA continued to focus on criminality and security grounds, while CIC focussed on cases involving program integrity and credibility issues. Conducting a review provides the opportunity for CIC to identify issues of concern that may not already be apparent in the claimant's application and by filing an intervention, CIC is ensuring that comprehensive information for a claim is brought forward for the IRB decision-makers.

Review and Interventions Process

Once an in-Canada claim has been received, a triage assessment is conducted using a list of established criteria to determine whether there are any triggers that may warrant further review and if so, it is referred to the appropriate organization.

Footnote 7

CIC and the CBSA have developed a joint triage process to ensure that claims made within one region are only triaged once.

Footnote 8

Within CIC, Review and Intervention Agents (RIAs) review cases that have been referred, to determine whether there are any potential issues related program integrity or credibility that would warrant an intervention and if so, they are referred to a Senior Immigration Officer (SIO). SIOs determine whether an intervention is warranted and whether to file a notice of intervention with the IRB, detailing the basis of and describing the evidentiary grounds for intervention. Interventions can be conducted either on paper or in-person at the refugee hearing.

Delivery of the Pilot

The Pilot is delivered from an office in Toronto, with two satellite offices in Vancouver and Montreal. The Refugee Operations Division (ROD), within the Operational Management and Coordination Branch (OMC), CIC, provides direction and functional guidance for the Pilot, including coordination with the CBSA. Two Divisions within Refugee Affairs Branch (RAB), CIC, also provide support for the Pilot. The Monitoring, Analysis, and Country Assessment Division (MACAD) is responsible for the ongoing monitoring and analysis of the Pilot and produces quarterly and annual reports on indicators that were defined in the Metrics of Success.Footnote 9 The Asylum Policy and Programs Division is responsible for providing policy advice to the R&I offices and ensuring that the Pilot is well-functioning across multiple federal delivery partners.

Resources for Reviews and Interventions

The total planned budget for the Pilot was $23.9 million over a 5-year period (Table 1.1). Due to delays in the coming-into-force of the Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act, the Pilot was not in place until October, 2012 and the first interventions were not filed until January, 2013. Due to this delay, and to allow for the results of the evaluation to be available to support decisions regarding the future of the Pilot, the end date was extended to March, 2016.Footnote 10 Between January, 2013 and June, 2014, CIC conducted 10,775 reviews and 2,465 interventions of in-Canada claims (additional information on CIC reviews and interventions conducted is provided in Section 3.1.2).

Table 1.1: 2010/11-2014/15 Budget Allocation for the Reviews and Interventions Pilot Project
Budget Item 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 Total
Total FTEs 6.5 43.6 55.1 58.1 62.7 --
Salary $ 496,768 $ 3,012,520 $ 4,255,055 $ 4,606,216 $ 4,978,071 $ 17,348,630
Operations & maintenance $ 207,564 $ 201,944 $ 216,707 $ 117,122 $ 79,897 $ 823,234
Employee benefit plan $ 99,354 $ 602,504 $ 851,011 $ 921,243 $ 995,614 $ 3,469,726
Sub-total $ 803,686 $ 3,816,968 $ 5,322,773 $ 5,644,581 $ 6,053,582 $ 21,641,590
Accommodation reserve $ 64,580 $ 391,628 $ 553,157 $ 598,808 $ 647,149 $ 2,255,322
Total $ 868,265 $ 4,208,596 $ 5,875,930 $ 6,243,389 $ 6,700,731 $ 23,896,912

Source: CIC Financial Management Branch.

Current Context

At the time of this report (July, 2015), options for the future of the R&I Pilot were being considered. The findings from this evaluation have been used to inform the discussion of the options.

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