CIM: What government should do to address the processing delays crisis

I'd like to ask the representative from LUSO Community Services this question. You raised, I think similarly to the other witnesses, the significance of the delay in processing and what it means. Oftentimes, the government does not even follow its own processing standards. If you look at the website right now, they don't even give you a time; they only say not to expect your application to be processed expeditiously.
Given that this is the situation, I wonder what you think the government should do or what your recommendation is for the government to address this crisis in processing delays within immigration.

Citizenship and Immigration Committee
Oct. 7th, 2022, 2:20 pm
Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC
NDP

Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

Thank you to all the witnesses as well for their presentations. I apologize for the delay in getting the matter going.

I'd like to ask the representative from LUSO Community Services this question. You raised, I think similarly to the other witnesses, the significance of the delay in processing and what it means. Oftentimes, the government does not even follow its own processing standards. If you look at the website right now, they don't even give you a time; they only say not to expect your application to be processed expeditiously.

Given that this is the situation, I wonder what you think the government should do or what your recommendation is for the government to address this crisis in processing delays within immigration.



Irena Sompaseuth
Settlement Services Manager, LUSO Community Services

Well, I think consistency with processing times.... I think a few of the witnesses mentioned that there is inconsistency, because some applications are processed faster than others, not really for any particular reason, and that communication is not available to applicants.

As I mentioned, we have seen recent applications being processed much faster compared to 2019 and 2020, so just keep that trend going but really focus on the backlog of all those applications that are sitting in the inventory as well. I think allocating staff and resources to specific applications and focusing on getting those processed will help reduce that backlog, as well as training for staff and hiring more staff to be available so applicants will be able to receive information.

Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC
NDP

Of course, when the government says they've hired new staff and set processing standards, it's for new applicants coming in from that day going forward. It's not for the people who are already in the queue who have already been waiting for a year, two years or longer for their application to be processed.

Do you think that's right? If not, how do you think the government should address that, those who have already applied and are waiting?



Irena Sompaseuth
Settlement Services Manager, LUSO Community Services

With all of the new employees who have been hired to focus and work on all the immigration applications with the goal of reducing the backlogs, there should be designated teams, separate teams, to focus on specific issues. That way, the older applications would also be processed and not just left in the inventory without attention.


Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC
NDP

Thank you.

I'd like to ask the same question of Ms. Gagné. I'm sure you're seeing that in the system. What's your response? Should the government be processing new applications and then be able to say, “Oh, look, we're meeting standards”, when all the people who are stuck in the backlog are just waiting and waiting?



Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe
Lac-Saint-Jean, BQ

The government should really set a deadline for dealing with the backlog. For example, it could decide that all backlogs have to be cleared within six months and hire the resources needed to administer the process.

At the moment, resources are assigned to processing new files. However, applications and the backlog are not always being dealt with, and 20% of applications are not being processed within the prescribed time periods. We have no idea what's going on.

There should therefore be very clear direction from the government requiring all backlogs to be processed within something like six months. After that, there should be an accountability requirement if the deadline is not met.

Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC
NDP

Thank you very much for that.

Is my time up, Madam Chair?

The Chair Salma Zahid
Liberal

You have one minute and 10 seconds.

Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC
NDP

Thank you.

One of the issues is the lack of transparency, really. People don't really know why their application has just been rejected. Often the government just cites, “We don't believe you're going to return to your country of origin”, even though there's ample evidence to indicate otherwise.

Ms. Gagné, I wonder what your response is to that and what your recommendation is to address this issue.



Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe
Lac-Saint-Jean, BQ

First of all, I would recommend that the reasons be more detailed. At the moment, generic and highly subjective reasons are given. We don't understand why. When we submit an access to information request, we never get any further details.

Officers' notes should therefore be clearly detailed and the reasons given need to be explained at greater length. It's not enough to say in a short sentence that the officer did not believe the applicants would return to their country owing to their financial status. Details about what precisely is missing from the application are needed to answer questions or address officers' concerns. At the moment, the same application might be submitted twice and receive a different response depending on which officer processed it.

The reasons really need to be spelled out and clear instructions given with respect to what is required. For example, for financial means, a definition of the minimum required has to be identified and communicated clearly. At the moment, it's up to the discretion of the officer, and there are no guidelines.
https://openparliament.ca/committees/immigration/44-1/34/jenny-kwan-10/
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