Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
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Robert Orr
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Robert Orr
2017-03-20 17:14
We're making real efforts so that we're not rejecting applications for minor issues of that nature. We're also getting better at communicating with our clients, be it by email, by phone, or face-to-face interviews, indeed.
We're also using technology more effectively. For many applications that are not electronically lodged, we now have a mechanism where people can register, and then they can submit supplementary material very rapidly. This is making the turnaround for applications much faster. It's growing, but we're seeing very positive results from that.
Robert Orr
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Robert Orr
2016-12-08 15:30
Thank you, Mr. Chair, for this opportunity to address this committee.
I can say right from the start that the subject of this study is something that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada takes very seriously. Indeed, it is one where the minister is determined to make considerable headway.
Over the last number of years, the department has made significant strides in laying the groundwork for a modernized client experience that maintains the integrity of our immigration system.
To this end, we have implemented a global case management system for almost all of our major lines of business. Building on this system capacity, we've improved the flexibility of our processing network. We can now shift less complex client applications from temporarily overloaded offices to those with the available capacity to help out. Among other things, this approach has helped us deal with an enormous increase of more than 40% in applications for temporary residence over the past few years.
We have also put in place across the world a visa application centre network—132 centres in 94 countries—to support those clients who want personalized help in filling out their forms. As an example of the results, today a client in Beijing who wants to visit Canada can go to a local visa application centre and get help in Mandarin, have their information sent electronically to the operations support centre in Ottawa overnight for uploading into the global case management system, and then have their file ready for a decision-maker back in Beijing by the time the visa office opens for business the next day.
At the same time, today a client who needs an electronic travel authorization to come to Canada can quickly apply from their smart phone and, for the vast majority of applicants, get a decision right back to their phone within three minutes.
These types of client interactions are possible because of our sustained focus on and investment in a modernized processing infrastructure that supports our ability to be vigilant with respect to the integrity of our programs, which is in fact the foundation of good client service.
We recognize that while we've made significant progress in certain lines of business, there remain considerable opportunities for further improvement. IRCC offers clients over 75 services, but while temporary and economic permanent resident clients can apply online, not all of our clients currently have access to these service delivery channels, and we don't have processing times down to where we want them to be. Further rollout of online applications and reduction of processing times remain a key priority for us.
But we also know that the client experience is not just about online applications and reduced processing times. And so we are committed to listening to and learning from the clients who use our services. We do this in a number of different ways.
For example, we conduct a client satisfaction survey every two years, which gives us information about what clients like and what they want more of. In our last survey, clients told us that overall 85% of them were satisfied with their immigration and citizenship experience. But they also told us that they would like to get more information about their case status.
We also have a client service feedback web form online, and receive approximately 150 emails a week from people telling us about their service experience. These messages not only help to give us instant feedback when things aren't working, but also have helped us to identify parts of our instructions which are not clear.
We are trying new methods of gathering client insights as well. For example, this year the department experimented with using human-centred design techniques to better understand the client experience. We went out and talked directly to clients, NGOs, immigration consultants, academics, and others to better understand the whole experience from the client's perspective. This initiative was hugely worthwhile and has helped us to refocus much of our work on client service.
All of this information from surveys, direct client feedback, and design challenges has led us to establish three new client experience priorities for the department: first, innovating our processes so that they make better sense to clients; second, finding new ways to provide clients greater assurance that their cases are moving forward; and third, making sure that we are listening when clients need to talk to us.
While our work in gathering client insights remains important and continues, we've already launched a number of initiatives in these three areas. For example, just yesterday our minister announced changes to the processing of family class applications, which will go a long way in improving the ease of the process for those clients. We're also making improvements to how easy it is to upload documents and pay fees online.
To provide clients with greater assurance as to the status of their applications, IRCC rolled out “link my application” functionality earlier this year. It's an online tool that lets many clients who submitted paper applications get access to the same online account information as those who applied electronically.
We'll also be adding more case status information into the online account to give clients who are waiting more frequent and meaningful updates. In addition, we're also looking at new ways to reduce the amount of time it takes to let clients know we've received their application, and we will be experimenting with sending text messages to clients when their applications reach our mailroom. This will help to close the gap that exists for clients between mailing an application and getting an official acknowledgement of receipt letter.
Listening to clients and building trust is also a priority. We have piloted a new approach at the IRCC national call centre, enabling agents to provide clients with detailed case information even if regular processing times have not elapsed. We also log all calls right in the case management system so that if a client calls back we know right away what their concern was the last time and can follow up as necessary.
While this approach is taking more time upfront, it is significantly reducing same day repeat callers, and demonstrating that an upfront investment can reduce client anxiety without necessarily reducing productivity. In other words, good client service also adds business value.
Mr. Chair, I can assure this committee once again that innovating and improving service is at the very top of IRCC's agenda. Through incremental innovation and risk-based analysis, IRCC can achieve service excellence and meet client needs while continuing to uphold confidence in the integrity of the immigration, settlement, citizenship, and passport programs.
Thank you for the invitation to be here today.
Robert Orr
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Robert Orr
2016-12-08 15:39
Mr. Chair, there's a whole variety of different initiatives that have already been undertaken, and a large number of them are continuing. We realize that client service has to be multi-faceted and that our strategy to attack client service has to be multi-faceted, not only in the clarity of the information that is provided up front, but also very much in giving assurance to our clients that their cases are moving and so on. It's within those parameters, which I've already outlined, that we've done a number of things.
First of all, there is the centralized intake of applications, which is a fairer process. All applications are coming into one area. We've increased our use of risk triage. What this essentially means is that we are distinguishing between those cases that are complex or non-complex and are trying to get the non-complex cases through as quickly as we can so that we can focus our efforts and time on the more complex cases. We get the straightforward cases out of the system as fast as we can, which is better client service for everyone and so on.
A number of other different things have gone on to provide better service to our clients. I could mention the open work permits for spousal cases; the intake cap for parents and grandparents, which has gone up; and the ministerial instructions, which have helped us control the intake of applications and how we manage those applications in a wide variety of areas.
Some of the things we're doing right now are very important. I think the work at the call centre is critically important, and we've made major efforts in that area since the summer. We are doing more and more to allow people to get information electronically about the status of their application so that they're aware of what's happening on that side of things. We are ending upfront medicals. We will require medicals only at the time when we're actually able to progress with the application. Also, more and more applications are online, and that includes all our temporary lines of business. Of course, express entry is entirely online. Likewise, eTA is all online.
All of this is moving in the right direction. There is a lot more to be done; we have no qualms about that. On the other hand, I think very major progress has been made in a variety of different areas.
Robert Orr
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Robert Orr
2016-12-08 15:41
We have a very robust list of service standards and a very long list of them for the various lines of business. For some we do not have service standards for a variety of reasons, but for the vast majority we do have them. We take those very seriously indeed. Overall we are meeting those service standards. We report on that on a regular basis. It's available on our website, how we're doing, and we also report to Treasury Board on our service standards.
We take these very seriously. We try to meet them whenever we can. If we're not meeting them, I can assure you that we are very prudent and very conscious of that. We make real efforts to understand both why we're not able to meet those service standards and what we can do to improve the situation.
Robert Orr
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Robert Orr
2016-12-08 15:42
Perhaps I can start off, and my colleague Ms. Lattimore might be able to carry on with some of this.
We get information in a variety of ways. One of them is the survey we do every two years. That shows an 85% satisfaction rate, which is reasonably good news but by no means grounds for complacency. We also get an awful lot of information back through emails on a regular basis. On a weekly basis, as mentioned, we get about 150 emails, which bring issues to our attention—we can talk about that—and that's helpful to us.
Perhaps Ms. Lattimore could explain that a little bit more. It's particularly valuable at the call centre, for which she is responsible.
Robert Orr
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Robert Orr
2016-12-08 15:45
The website is something that we're very conscious we really need to address. We're doing an awful lot of work on that. It's an evergreen thing. We revisited and then redid the website a couple of years ago. That was a major step in the right direction, but it's time we looked at it. We continue to do that. We also did a few things. We launched the “come to Canada” wizard and an online help centre, which has been useful. We implemented the Google search capability, which has been helpful. We launched an interactive “pay your fees” tool. We also launched a processing times calculator, which has been valuable.
There have been some very positive things on that site. We also are conscious, though, that certain parts of the website are hit more than others. We're really focusing our efforts on those areas that we know are hit the most so that we get the most bang for our media buck.
Robert Orr
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Robert Orr
2016-12-08 15:47
Indeed, Mr. Chair, that is absolutely correct. What was Passport Canada at the time became the passport program of IRCC in July 2013. One of the reasons for that was to modernize the program and to make the passport program more accessible to Canadians and so on.
In general, the success of the passport program is quite remarkable. We are meeting service standards well over 99% of the time, and the satisfaction rate with the passport program from Canadians is at over 96%. There are very strong and positive views of how the passport program is operating at the moment.
We do need to make changes to ensure that the program is modernized, that it stays up to date and so on. Indeed, one of the things we want to do is to migrate the computer system from the existing IRIS system into GCMS. We're doing that very deliberately and slowly. It's a major business transformation piece, and thus we want to do it very prudently.
I cannot give you an exact date for when that is going to happen, because we do want to be very cautious on how we do it, but there is very active work going on within IRCC and with our service department, Service Canada, which actually delivers the passport program at the moment, to ensure that service to Canadians is not impacted negatively in any way.
Robert Orr
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Robert Orr
2016-12-08 15:52
It was always intended that the express entry would start off slowly and build. That's what we're seeing.
We had cases that were residual cases from the old program. Increasingly, those are being finished, and they will be finished pretty much entirely by the end of 2016, so we will see entirely from express entry for the federal skilled worker program...and, yes, we are maintaining the six-month processing time.
Robert Orr
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Robert Orr
2016-12-08 15:59
Mr. Chair, certainly it's an issue that we continually try to address, to give the best information we can and to give clarity about our decision-making. There's nothing automatic about it. We look at a variety of different factors in an application to decide what will be there or not.
In terms of the ticked box, one of the issues—just because we have no time—is the resource requirement. Because of the resources that would be required to give detailed responses to each and every person, it just makes it impossible, given the volumes we have. We're trying to get a balance between what's appropriate. We may not have the balance quite right, and we continue to look at that, but we have to consider a variety of different factors in that.
Robert Orr
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Robert Orr
2016-12-08 16:02
I might just add that when we did do the family class design challenge, in looking at that, we did look at the language that's available for the spousal application. That's one of the reasons we completely redid all of the spousal application, the guides and so on, which will be available on our website next week. We found it was at about a grade 11 status, which was too high. We have tried to ensure that the new forms and guides are at a more appropriate level.
We'll have to do this across various lines of business, but we're starting off and very much trying to make that effort, and likewise on the website, to try to see that the language is appropriate.
Robert Orr
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Robert Orr
2016-12-08 16:03
You're absolutely right. Some of the work that has been done abroad is very valuable. We have contracted out some of this work. There are cultural orientation sessions, particularly for refugees, but also for others who are coming. They're not available everywhere, but they are available in an increasing number of places around the world.
These are part of our settlement program. Providing this information in advance helps people to prepare themselves for the move so that when they arrive, they are in a better position to start seeking employment and get settled very rapidly.
There's real value in these sessions. We are investing more in them, but they certainly have real payoff.
Robert Orr
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Robert Orr
2016-12-08 16:04
It's a resource issue, and I think they're something we're growing gradually as well.
Robert Orr
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Robert Orr
2016-12-08 16:05
If there are matters of security and those sorts of issues, they will involve dealing with our partner at CBSA. It is a matter of working with them, and generally they certainly respond very well within service standards.
There are certain cases that are outliers, which is certainly unfortunate for those individuals, but overwhelmingly they do meet service standards.
Robert Orr
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Robert Orr
2016-12-08 16:06
Certainly we're looking very carefully at anything we can learn from outside partners or outside sources. We've looked at something like that with regard to tracing it. The immigration process is not quite as straightforward, of course. A number of different factors are involved, which makes it a little more complicated than just mapping out where a parcel is. We're dealing with people, not things, and so what goes on is rather more complicated. Nevertheless, we are trying to work on that area.
I think what's really important is the information people can get if they can log on to MyCIC and get that electronic link. They can now monitor much more rapidly and easily the status of their application, what has been done, and what remains to be done.
We continue to try to improve that facility, so we're giving more and more information and clearer information to applicants. I think we've made major strides forward in that area already.
Robert Orr
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Robert Orr
2016-12-08 16:08
The electronic travel authorization program has been a huge initiative for the department and for our partner, CBSA. It's a joint piece with CBSA. We're responsible for the eTA application process, and there are over 2.5 million people around the world who have obtained an eTA since it went live. The IAPI process, which is the actual interface with the airlines, is managed by CBSA. It went fully live on November 10. Since that time, overwhelmingly, I think it has gone very well.
In terms of publicity, we did a vast amount of publicity prior to its going live, and I think, to wit, we have seen 2.5 million people who have indeed obtained an eTA. The vast majority of people who are showing up for flights now do have them.
What we're trying to do at the moment is diagnose exactly where the pockets are where perhaps the message has not gotten across. We're trying to target those areas the best we can, whether it's certain countries or certain groups within countries, and so on, so that we can really target our efforts in that respect. There's been a huge amount of publicity already, but we continue to try to respond to where we see there are gaps.
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