Federal ministers say Auditor General’s report on processing asylum claims will help them continue improving system

Ahmed Hussen

AHMED Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Bill Blair, Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction, and Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, on Tuesday said they agreed with the recommendations of the Auditor General of Canada’s report on processing asylum claims, “which offer important insights that will allow us to continue improving the asylum system.”

They added: “We have taken measures to ensure the integrity of our borders, while offering protection to the world’s most vulnerable people.

“Since the Second World War, there has never been as many people displaced across the globe. Countries have had to adapt quickly to offer a safe haven to the world’s most vulnerable people. Canada is no exception.

“The government has made significant investments in the asylum system, including in Budget 2018, which provided funding of $74 million over 2 years, starting in 2018 to 2019, for the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) to increase processing capacity, improve governance, and increase efficiencies.

“Further, Budget 2019 proposes to invest up to $1.18 billion over 5 years, starting in 2019 to 2020, and $55 million per year ongoing. This investment will increase the capacity of Canada’s asylum system to process 50,000 claims a year and strengthen processes at the border, including timely removals. This will achieve multiple goals by granting protection faster to people who need it, while maintaining the integrity of our borders and immigration system”

They said that in terms of the report’s recommendations, the Government has already:

· created an Asylum System Management Board, which brings together senior officials from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency, and the Immigration and Refugee Board to set joint priorities, monitor trends and system performance, and ensure better horizontal coordination

· piloted an Integrated Claims Analysis Centre that co-locates employees from all 3 organizations to proactively share information in support of program integrity and provide a single report to the IRB so it can make decisions more quickly, and

· significantly reduced hearing postponements by realigning scheduling practices and investing in the IRB’s capacity to hear claims.

They said that many of these proposals are consistent with the 2018 Independent Review of the Immigration and Refugee Board to examine opportunities to gain efficiencies, and with the Auditor General’s report.

The ministers said: “We are also tackling the root causes of international irregular migration. Canada has led the way on the Global Compact on Migration, which will allow the international community to collaborate in helping resolve some of the underlying issues that force people to leave their home.

“We will continue to ensure that Canada processes asylum claims in a way that is consistent with its international obligations, while also safeguarding the integrity of our immigration system and the safety of our citizens”.