Privacy Impact Assessment Summary - Information Collection Arrangement with the Canada Revenue Agency – Citizenship Grants

On June 19, 2014, Bill C-24: the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act (SCCA) received Royal Assent. The Act introduced a range of legislative amendments to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of Canada’s citizenship program. The primary objectives of the SCCA were to strengthen eligibility requirements for Canadian citizenship, and to improve program integrity, fraud prevention and the efficiency of the citizenship application process. In order to achieve these goals, the SCCA amended the Citizenship Act to allow for increased information sharing between Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and key program partners, including the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Changes introduced by the SCCA included a requirement that adults applying for a grant of Canadian citizenship must file Canadian income taxes, if required under the Income Tax Act, in order to be eligible for Canadian citizenship. In addition, adult applicants seeking a grant of citizenship are also required to meet physical presence requirements.

The collection of taxpayer information from the CRA enables IRCC to verify whether an applicant has filed his/her tax return(s), if required as well as to determine whether the applicant’s taxpayer information is consistent with other information submitted to demonstrate that physical presence/residence obligations have been met. While these elements of the SCCA came into force as of June 11, 2015, most of the regulations related to information sharing required updated or new agreements or arrangements with partner departments. This includes updates to the information sharing arrangements between CRA and IRCC to facilitate the new requirement for citizenship applicants to file income taxes for those required to do so under the Income Tax Act; and strengthened information sharing authorities, which is the subject of this Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA).

Following Royal Assent of the SCCA, an overarching PIA was developed regarding the changes to the citizenship program resulting from the SCCA and submitted to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.

IRCC and CRA have now concluded a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to clarify the process for information sharing associated with the SCCA. The MOU serves as a written record of understanding between the two parties with respect to authorized information activities, and outlines all terms and conditions under which personal information can be disclosed by IRCC.The purpose of this PIA is to serve as an annex to the original overarching PIA and to assess the privacy risks associated with the information sharing MOU concluded between IRCC and CRA for the purpose of sharing income tax and residency information, in particular those risks affecting the collection, use, disclosure and retention of personal information.

As part of the SCCA PIA, the privacy risks attached to the information sharing arrangement between IRCC and CRA were considered to be moderate to low. The previously identified privacy issues, noted below, have been addressed. The privacy risks are now lower and are at an acceptable level.

  1. IRCC should review and update relevant program delivery instructions and/or guidelines in conjunction with the implementation of the information sharing arrangement, to ensure that it is not collecting more personal information than is necessary for purposes of processing and assessing citizenship applications.
  2. Notifications describing the collection, use, disclosure and retention of personal information by IRCC under the citizenship program should be reviewed and updated.

IRCC has since addressed each of the above items, namely as a result of updated program delivery instructions and guidelines. Notifications have also been put in place by way of consent mechanisms built into the citizenship application forms.

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