GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO THE 25th
REPORT OF THE STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS
Chapter 5 (Citizenship and Immigration Canada Control and Enforcement) of the April 2003 Report of the Auditor General of Canada
Mr. John Williams
Chair, Standing Committee on Public Accounts
House of Commons
180 Wellington street
Ottawa ON KIA OA6
Dear Mr. Williams:
Pursuant to Standing Order, 109 of the House of Commons, we are enclosing the
Government Response to the Twenty-Fifth Report of the Standing Committee on Public
Accounts concerning Chapter 5 of the April 2003 Report of the Auditor General of
Canada (Citizenship and Immigration Canada - Control and Enforcement), tabled in the
House of Commons on November 6,2003. We know that the members of the
Committee put a great deal of effort into producing recommendations that would be of
value to the Government in responding to the recommendations of the Auditor General.
The Government is able to provide a very positive response to the recommendations
made by the Committee. All recommendations are being given serious consideration
and many changes have already been implemented.
Thank you for your valuable report.
The Honourable, Judy Sgro
Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada
The Honourable, Anne McLellan
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Government of Canada's Response
The Committee recommends that the Department of Citizenship and Immigration continue to pursue initiatives that will prevent the entry of inadmissible individuals from entering Canada and report the outcomes and costs of these preventative measures in its annual performance reports.
The Government agrees with the recommendation and refers the Committee to the newly formed Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), within the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness of Canada (PSEPC). The mandate of the CBSA, along with CIC, includes preventing inadmissible foreign nationals from entering Canada. The uniting of border inspection services into one agency will create opportunities for greater synergy in implementing border security initiatives.
CIC and the CBSA oversee a multiple borders strategy that uses a risk management approach to intercept security threats and inadmissible persons as far in advance of entering Canada as possible. Interception points in the multiple borders concept include visa offices, carrier check-in, point of embarkation, transit points along the route, the point of last embarkation and Canadian ports of entry. Each of these points is a “border transition” where a traveller’s identity, documents and admissibility can be verified. The strategy includes initiatives that build on international co-operation, domestic partnerships and sharing of information in order to control movement and entry to Canada as well as to establish controls once inside Canada.
The CBSA will report the outcomes and costs of border security initiatives in annual performance reports.
The Committee recommends that the Department of Citizenship and Immigration develop a detailed action plan outlining how and when it will implement the recommendations contained in Chapter 5 of the April 2003 report of the Auditor General of Canada. The plan should include target implementation dates and performance indicators, and be provided to the Committee no later than 31 December 2003.
The Government agrees with the recommendation but respectfully regrets that it was not able to submit the plan by December 31, 2003 due to the December 12, 2003 creation of PSEP, the CBSA and its resulting impact on CIC. The mandate for implementing Office of the Auditor General recommendations now rests with both CIC and the CBSA.
CIC and the CBSA have submitted an action plan to address the concerns raised in Chapter 5 of the April 2003 Report to the Auditor General on Citizenship and Immigration Canada with respect to Control and Enforcement is attached.
The Committee recommends that the Department of Citizenship and Immigration and the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency draw up an evaluation schedule for the primary and secondary inspection lines at ports of entry, and correct shortcomings that are detected in a timely manner. Both the Department and the Agency should make references to these activities in their annual performance reports.
The Government agrees with the recommendation and has implemented an action plan to complete both an evaluation of the primary inspection line (PIL), with respect to immigration-related duties, and the immigration secondary examination process. Consulting and Audit Canada has been contracted to prepare an Evaluation Framework that will provide CIC and the CBSA with options for the actual evaluations. The evaluations of both the PIL and the immigration secondary examination lines are expected to take place by the end of 2005.
The Committee recommends that the Department of Citizenship and Immigration ensure that all files relating to temporary resident permits contain correct information for the reason of inadmissibility and the justification for issuing the permit. The Department must describe the steps it has taken and the results achieved in this regard in its Performance Report for the period ending 31 March 2004.
The Government accepts this recommendation. CIC began an analysis of quality assurance (QA) requirements in the summer of 2003 of permits issued in 2002 to persons who were inadmissible on grounds of security, human rights violations, organized crime and serious criminality. In these instances, CIC sought confirmation of inadmissibility reasons and justifications for entry. For serious criminality, a random verification of inadmissibility reasons entered in the electronic file was performed. A survey of offices across Canada was also undertaken to ensure that a proper analysis of factors was considered before issuing a permit and that the justification for granting permits was documented. Random QA checks of temporary resident permit data is continuing in 2004. Updates to training modules relating to the issuance of temporary resident permits have also been made.
The Committee recommends that the Department restore resourcing for the Greater Toronto Removals Centre project and the British Columbia and Yukon project, and monitor their performance closely to determine whether a similar approach should be adopted in other regions of Canada.
Cases involving security, organized crime and human rights violations are the highest priority for removals, followed by criminals and failed refugee claimants and other immigration violations. This risk management approach focuses on the safety and security threat to Canadians and due to limited resources reduces the departmental capability to remove lower-priority cases such as failed refugee claimants.
The CBSA will continue to explore alternative means of delivering on its mandate including initiatives such as the failed refugee projects and will look for every opportunity to increase its resource base to undertake these types of activities.
The Committee recommends that, because of tardy and incomplete departmental response to previous audits, the Office of the Auditor General of Canada conduct a follow-up audit focused on the issues covered in Chapter 5 of the April 2003 Report for inclusion in the Status Report to Parliament.
The Departments and the OAG support this recommendation. The OAG advises that it has committed to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Accounts to conduct a follow-up audit. However, due to the current re-organizations taking place at both CIC and the CBSA, the OAG expects that an audit will not take place until 2006.