Jenny Kwan, MP

Member of Parliament, Vancouver East

A Study on the Immigration and Refugee Board’s Appointment, Training, and Complaint Processes

As displacement and forced migration increases, the willingness to share in the responsibility to provide vulnerable people a safe haven to rebuild their lives is decreasing, especially amongst the wealthiest nations in the world. Canada has thus far gone against that trend, remaining a welcoming nation with a humanitarian spirit. However, the trust Canadians have in the system is at risk of being lost if the situation with irregular migrants is not managed properly.

In June, the committee undertook a study seeking to improve and strengthen the integrity of the IRB.

Chronic underfunding of the IRB has reduced the capacity for the IRB to hear claims in a timely fashion, resulting in a backlog of 53,000 that is growing at the rate of over 2,000 per month. Given this situation, the NDP would have liked this study to include an examination of IRB funding. Unfortunately, this was not part of the mandate.

Throughout the study it was clear that the IRB must remain independent and adequately funded to ensure it can fulfill its mandate timely and efficiently. While I agree with the general direction of the report’s recommendations, key recommendations brought forward by witnesses pertaining to the call for a truly independent complaint and disciplinary oversight mechanism were ignored as the committee adopted a ‘wait and see’ approach. A number of other valuable insights were also overlooked; hence the NDP has put forward 10 additional recommendations in a supplementary report. These would strengthen the IRB, provide its members with better training, and increase the transparency and accountability of the IRB to the public.

Recommendation 1:

That the government of Canada provide stable, adequate, long-term funding to the IRB to ensure that highly competent Board Members can be attracted and retained.

Recommendation 2:

That all Board Member vacancies be filled expeditiously.

Recommendation 3:

That the government of Canada work with the IRB to institute an equity hiring program to increase Board Member diversity so as to ensure the IRB is more reflective of the people appearing before it.

Recommendation 4:

That the government of Canada further de-politicize the IRB appointment process by replacing the current GIC appointment model with that of the U.K.’s Judicial Appointments Commission.

Recommendation 5:

That the government of Canada work with the IRB to institute periodic training reviews as part of the ongoing professional development of members to ensure that the training is being absorbed, and if not, follow-up training can be provided in a timely manner.

Recommendation 6:

That the government of Canada work with the IRB to implement a fully-independent complaints investigation mechanism.

Recommendation 7:

That the independent complaint body report its findings within 90 days of a complaint being lodged. Should the body require additional time for an investigation, the individuals involved should be notified of this, and made aware of the status of the investigation.

Recommendation 8:

That the government of Canada work with the IRB to put in place a mechanism to examine the effectiveness any given sanction has had on the sanctioned IRB member prior to fully reinstating them to ensure the issue has been adequately addressed.

Recommendation 9:

That the government of Canada work with the IRB to review and implement an updated list of sanctions and the guidelines describing when each sanction is appropriate; and that possible sanctions escalate up to and including termination, including for GIC appointees.

Recommendation 10:

That the government of Canada work with the IRB to produce an annual public reporting of any and all founded complaints and their corresponding sanctions against IRB members.

The IRB holds a vital role in Canada’s immigration system and the system as a whole provides a model that many nations in the world can look to, hence the importance of ongoing examination of the IRB so that we can do right by vulnerable people in search of safety in Canada.