Investing in Canada’s asylum system


The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that Canada is a place for those who genuinely need protection, while also safeguarding the integrity of our asylum system to make sure Canadians and newcomers continue to benefit from a world-class immigration system.

Changing patterns in global migration suggest that higher numbers of asylum seekers are likely to continue, which highlights the need to take steps to ensure our borders and our asylum system are well managed.

To address pressures arising from higher numbers of asylum seekers in Canada since 2017, the Government has made a number of significant investments that have increased efficiency without compromising fairness:

  • An independent review of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) was commissioned in 2017 to look at how asylum claims are processed, with a focus on increasing productivity at the IRB. Many of these recommendations have since been implemented.
  • An Asylum System Management Board (ASMB) was created to bring together senior officials from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the IRB. The ASMB is helping to improve coordination and management among the partners to maximize efficiencies and align planning, resourcing and reporting among the 3 organizations.
  • Innovative new measures are being tested to triage and prioritize asylum cases through an Integrated Claims Analysis Centre pilot project. This pilot is being expanded to Toronto where IRCC and CBSA employees can work together in the same office to increase efficiencies and ensure that decision makers at the IRB have hearing-ready files that contain all the available information.
  • The IRB streamlined its processes for less complex claims. New guidelines set out how the Board, relying on its knowledge of country conditions and claim types as well as its experience in deciding claims in this manner, determines which claims are suitable for a short hearing and which can be decided without a hearing.
  • Budget 2018 invested $174 million over 2 years toward managing irregular migration by ensuring security at the border and faster processing of asylum claims. These funds helped support intake of new asylum claims, front-end security screening procedures, eligibility processing, removal of unsuccessful claimants, and detention and removal of those who pose a risk to the safety and security of Canadians. This funding included $74 million over 2 years for the IRB, to enable faster decision-making on asylum claims, including money to hire 64 decision makers plus 185 support staff.
  • The IRB finalized 30% more refugee claims, and over 60% more refugee appeals in fiscal year 2018 to 2019 than in the previous year. This is the greatest number of decisions finalized since the asylum system was reformed in 2012.

Budget 2019 proposes to invest $1.18 billion over 5 years, starting in 2019 to 2020, and $55 million per year ongoing to enhance the integrity of Canada’s borders, and to process an increased number of asylum claims in a timely manner. This includes enabling the IRB to make decisions on up to 50,000 asylum claims and 13,500 appeals by fiscal year 2020 to 2021.

These investments will increase the asylum system’s capacity in order to provide timely protection to refugees and ensure failed asylum claimants are removed, and also support the Government’s Border Enforcement Strategy.

Canada has already made strides to improve the asylum system and we will build on those efforts to make the asylum system more efficient, while continuing to meet our international obligations to maintain a refugee protection system that is based on principles of fairness, compassion and the rule of law.

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