Thank you for the honour and privilege of appearing here today.
I have only seven minutes.
I'll speak on two topics. The first is modernization of the way people get to understand how to use the immigration system, and the second is the modernization of the way of processing immigration cases.
I'd like to share excerpts of a very high-level senior management memo, obtained under access to information. CIC, now IRCC, is now implementing the next wave of tools to facilitate case processing and improve program integrity.
This is what the memo says about the scope of the project:
Create a smart front-end application interface...for all major lines of business which will not only guide clients towards the right program but will move them seamlessly into the application process itself, resulting in fully electronic application submissions;
Automate defined steps in the processing of an application...and moving towards the automation of simple, straightforward decision;
Automate the triage and distribution of workload based on the complexity and impact of the applications, taking into consideration authority levels and operational capacity both in Canada and abroad.
Putting this simply, it would not only be handling application intake but also making initial identity and eligibility checks, as well as pulling information for admissibility. The expectation is that the status of the application will be available electronically and instantaneously, similar to what is available through the tools used by Amazon and other major online retailers.
That was back in August 2015. Here's something more recent:
Key accomplishments to date: in just over 18 months, [IRCC] has built the capabilities for predictive analytics from scratch.
Business lines include temporary resident visas, study permits, extensions, eTAs, and the international experience Canada program, among others.
The memo adds:
[IRCC] has established strong relationships with other federal departments (including CBSA, CRA, and PCO) and countries (including in the U.S., the U.K. and Australia).
The 18 months would have been up in March 2016.
Is this the first you're hearing about the modernization? This is the heart and soul of IRCC's modernization of client service. Here's why perhaps it has not come to light, and I quote:
It is only legislation and public perception that will limit what decisions could be automated in future.
To paraphrase from the memo, artificial intelligence and automated decision making could pose a significant public confidence challenge.
I would recommend requesting IRCC to appear and explain its artificial intelligence decision-making system, because that's the very heart of our modernization system.
Second, IRCC should table that website design. This is the core of the new, modernized intake system that explains to the world at large how to get into the Canadian immigration system for either temporary status, permanent residency status, or information that they require no document whatsoever. If we were to build a bridge across the Rideau, when is the design disclosed? Is it at the ribbon-cutting ceremony after the money is spent, or a little earlier?
Those are my seven minutes, Madam Chair.