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Message from the Chairperson

Brian Goodman, Chairperson

I am pleased to present the 2009-10 Performance Report for the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). This report is a balanced and comprehensive review of the IRB's performance and accomplishments as set against stated plans and priorities for 2009-10.

The IRB is an independent tribunal established by Parliament to resolve immigration and refugee cases efficiently, fairly and in accordance with the law. Through the work of its three divisions, namely the Refugee Protection Division (RPD), the Immigration Division (ID) and the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD), the Board contributes directly to Canada's humanitarian traditions, the security of Canada and the quality of life of Canadians.

Thanks to the continued commitment of the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism to address the shortfall in IRB Governor in Council (GIC) decision-makers, the Board ended the reporting period with a nearly full complement of decision-makers in both the RPD and IAD. I am grateful for the Minister and Government's support in this regard, and am proud of the rigorous, merit-based selection process which ensured that a pool of highly qualified candidates was available for the GIC's consideration for appointment.

As a result of the large number of new GIC decision-makers who joined the Board in 2009-10, the IRB turned its focus and devoted significant resources to training. The Board enjoys a strong reputation both in Canada and around the world for the quality of its decision-maker training program, which encompasses classroom and practical learning activities, individual coaching and mentoring, and ongoing monitoring and feedback. Given the life-changing nature of the decisions rendered by the IRB, it is critical that decision-makers have the personal attributes, knowledge, skills and experience necessary to exercise their important functions.

A complex environment

The Board operates in a complex environment in which it has no control over the number, type or timing of cases brought before it. In the RPD, new refugee claim referrals decreased in 2009-10 following several years of sustained growth. This decline, which is attributable to Government policy measures among other factors, contributed to the IRB's success in stopping the growth of its inventory of unresolved refugee protection claims. However, the size of the pending inventory, which stood at 59,000 on March 31, 2010, is such that significant new resources will be required to eliminate or substantially reduce it. In this regard, the Board has worked with the Minister's office, the Department of Citizenship and Immigration, the Treasury Board Secretariat and the Privy Council Office on funding options to address the inventory.

Intake remained high for the IAD and the ID throughout the reporting period, placing significant demands on decision-makers and adjudicative support personnel in both divisions. The ID in particular faced workload challenges in relation to the detention reviews arising from an influx of marine arrivals from Sri Lanka in British Columbia in October 2009. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of ID decision-makers and other Board personnel, the IRB responded quickly and effectively to this unexpected spike in intake.

Sustained results for Canadians

The Board has a long history of innovation in how it carries out its work, and in 2009-10 the IRB continued to enhance the efficiency of its processes without compromising fairness. Through increased reliance on expedited case processing and pre-hearing conferences to narrow issues and improve case readiness, among other initiatives, the Board enhanced productivity at both the individual decision-maker and organizational levels. In addition, performance measurement and monitoring was reinforced during the reporting period. Activities in this area include the launch of a pilot project to assess the quality of proceedings and decisions, which holds particular promise as a management tool to monitor the quality of adjudicative processes far more comprehensively than is currently possible.

The challenges ahead

The year ahead promises to be challenging for the IRB. With the passage of the Balanced Refugee Reform Act in June 2010, the Board will need to mobilize all its resources and personnel to ensure the successful implementation by the coming into force date of the new system, while doing its utmost to maintain productivity during the transition period.

I am proud that the IRB can count on a dedicated staff composed of both public servants and GIC appointees. I thank them for the innovative practices, their dedication and the hard work accomplished this past year, and I know I can count on them for the coming challenges.

The original version was signed by
Brian Goodman

Section I – Overview

Raison d’tre and Responsibilities

The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) is an independent administrative tribunal that was created on January 1, 1989, by an amendment to the Immigration Act.

Our mission, on behalf of Canadians, is to resolve immigration and refugee cases efficiently, fairly and in accordance with the law

In 2002, the Immigration Act was replaced by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) from which each IRB division gets its mandate.

IRB Division Mandates
Refugee Protection Division (RPD)
  • Decides claims for refugee protection
  • Decides applications for vacation of refugee protection
  • Decides applications for cessation of refugee protection
Immigration Division (ID)
  • Conducts admissibility hearings for foreign nationals or permanent residents who seek entry into Canada, or who are already in Canada and are alleged to be inadmissible
  • Conducts detention reviews for foreign nationals or permanent residents who are detained for immigration reasons
Immigration Appeal Division (IAD)
  • Hears appeals of family sponsorship applications refused by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC)
  • Hears appeals from certain removal orders made against permanent residents, Convention refugees and other protected persons, and holders of permanent resident visas
  • Hears appeals by permanent residents against whom a CIC officer outside Canada has decided that they have not fulfilled their residency obligation
  • Hears appeals by the Minister of Public Safety of ID decisions at admissibility hearings

An overview of the IRB is available at

Regional Operations

The IRB carries out its work in three regional offices in Toronto, Montral and Vancouver: the Central Region is responsible for Ontario, except for the Ottawa area; the Eastern Region is responsible for Quebec, the Ottawa area and the Atlantic provinces; and the Western Region is responsible for the Western provinces. All three divisions hold hearings in these regions, supported by adjudicative and corporate support. The IRB also has offices in Calgary and Ottawa in which hearings are held. Internal and support services are managed at IRB Headquarters, located in Ottawa.

Administrative Justice

Through each division, the IRB strives to deliver a simpler, more accessible and expeditious form of justice than that provided by the courts, but with no less attentiveness to procedural fairness, the rigour of the law and its application to the particular facts of each case. The IRB applies the principles of administrative law, including those of natural justice, in its proceedings and resolutions, and decisions are rendered in accordance with the law, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The IRB is committed to fairness in all aspects of its work. The Board respects the dignity and diversity of individuals who appear before it, some of whom have experienced very difficult circumstances.

Benefits for Canadians

Immigrants and refugees have always contributed significantly to Canada's growth and development. The IRB ensures continued benefits to Canadians in three important ways:

  • In the hearing of refugee protection claims, it ensures that Canada accepts those in need of protection in accordance with international obligations and Canadian law;
  • Through admissibility hearings and detention reviews, it contributes to the integrity of our immigration system, ensures the maintenance of the balance between individual rights and the safety and security of Canadians, and it upholds Canada's reputation for justice and fairness to individuals;
  • As an independent tribunal responsible for resolving sponsorship, removal order and residency obligation appeals, it helps to promote family reunification, helps to ensure Canadians' safety and security, and safeguards the integrity of Canada's immigration system.

The IRB also contributes more broadly to the quality of life of Canada's communities by strengthening our country's social fabric and by reflecting and reinforcing core values that are important to Canadians. These include respect for human rights, peace, security and the rule of law.

Strategic Outcome and Program Activity Architecture (PAA)

Based on its legislated mandate and its approved PAA, the IRB has a single strategic outcome and three program activities that include responsibility for all tribunal decisions and resolutions. The fourth program activity, Internal Services, supports the first three as illustrated in the diagram below.

Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada's Program Activity Architecture


Performance Summary

Financial Resources ($ Millions)
Planned Spending Total Authorities Actual Spending
113.4 123.7 114.1

Human Resources (FTEs)
Planned Actual Difference
1,025 973 (52)

Total Authorities increased by $10.3 million from Planned Spending due to supplementary funding received, of which $4.5 million related to the carry forward from 2008-09, $3.5 million in compensation for collective agreements and $2 million for the reimbursement of eligible pay list expenditures. Actual Spending was $9.6 million less than Total Authorities and was mainly attributable to a lower volume of translations of decisions ($4.3 million) and to delays in appointments of decision-makers and staffing of public service positions ($5.3 million).

Performance Summary Table
Strategic Outcome
Resolve immigration and refugee cases before the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada efficiently, fairly and in accordance with the law
Performance Indicators
- Percentage of IRB decisions overturned by the Federal Court (This quality indicator is used in addition to the indicators described in the program activities; see Section II for more details).
- Less than 1%
2009-10 Performance
- The IRB met its performance target with only 0.4% of decisions overturned by the Federal Court. This is an indication of the high level of fairness and quality of the decisions rendered by the Board.
Program Activity 2008-09 Actual Spending ($ Millions) 2009-101 ($ Millions)
Main Estimates Planned Spending Total Authorities Actual Spending Alignment to GOC Outcomes2
Refugee Protection 82.5 60.3 60.3 62.8 58.2 A safe and secure world through international engagement
Admissibility Hearings and Detention Reviews 13.7 11.4 11.4 12.6 9.0 A safe and secure Canada
Immigration Appeal 18.5 13.2 13.2 16.5 15.6 A vibrant Canadian culture and heritage3
Internal Services See Note 1 28.5 28.5 31.8 31.3  
TOTAL 114.7 113.4 113.4 123.7 114.1  

1: Commencing in the 2009-10 Estimates cycle, the resources for the Internal Services program activity are displayed separately from other program activities; they are no longer distributed among the remaining program activities, as was the case in previous Main Estimates. This has affected the comparability of spending and FTE information by program activity between fiscal years.
2: Alignment to Government of Canada (GOC) outcomes and benefits for Canadians are further discussed in Section II under each of the program activities.
3: Through its removal order appeal work, the Immigration Appeal program activity also contributes to the Safe and Secure Canada outcome area.

IRB Strategic Priorities

In its 2009-10 Report on Plans and Priorities (RPP), the IRB identified three strategic priorities. Their contribution to the achievement of the IRB's strategic outcome is described in the table below.

Contribution of Priorities to Strategic Outcome
Strategic Outcome
Resolve immigration and refugee cases before the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada efficiently, fairly and in accordance with the law
Priorities Type Performance Status and Link to Strategic Outcome
Further increase capacity to resolve cases and manage the case inventory Operational
Met All.
The IRB continued its efforts to assess and recommend qualified candidates to the Minister for appointment as decision-makers. The number of appointments and reappointments by the Governor in Council (GIC) has meant that, by the end of the 2009-10 reporting period, the IRB had a nearly full complement of decision-makers. The IRB depends on this critical capability in order to resolve immigration and refugee cases on behalf of Canadians.
The IRB ensured that the resources entrusted to it were allocated to best support its decision-makers. It further improved the management of its inventory through innovative case management and adjudicative strategies. An increase in productivity resulted in more efficient case resolutions. These factors all contributed to stemming the growth of the case inventory, while maintaining quality and fairness in decisions.
Strengthen relationships with partners and stakeholders Operational
Met All.
The Board enhanced its outreach efforts and worked with key partners and stakeholders. Through national meetings of the Consultative Committee on Practices and Procedures (CCPP) and regional stakeholder meetings, IRB personnel and stakeholders discussed key policy and procedural issues. This resulted in improved mutual understanding and cooperation.
Continue to build an integrated, flexible and effective organization Management
Met All.
The Board continued to ensure the consistent delivery of high-quality administrative justice within a changing environment. The transformation process remained a priority in 2009-10, as the Board further integrated its three divisions and developed new quality standards in decision-making and adjudicative support to enhance accountability and transparency.
During 2009-10, the IRB had to be flexible to adapt to two major government initiatives: the Strategic Review which will result in activity and funding adjustments for the next three years, and the tabling of Bill C-11, the Balanced Refugee Reform Act. Both activities required planning during 2009-10 and will influence the strategic outcome in future years.


Risk Analysis

Operating Environment

The IRB carries out its mandate within a complex and ever-changing environment that is influenced by international and domestic factors. Conflicts and country conditions abroad can result in refugee movements, which affect the number of refugee protection claims made in Canada. Similarly, shifts in international migration patterns and changes to domestic policies by other receiving countries impact the number of people seeking admission to Canada.

Refugee populations. The report Asylum Levels and Trends in Industrialized Countries 2009, published by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR1), shows that 377,200 asylum claim applications were submitted in the 44 main industrialized countries during the 2009 calendar year. This is roughly the same number as in 2008, when 377,100 asylum claim applications were submitted

Following the United States and France, Canada was the third largest recipient of applications among the 44 countries with 33,300 new asylum claims registered during the 2009 calendar year. This is a 10 percent decrease compared to 2008 (36,900 claims).

The large number of claims referred to the IRB declined following the Government's imposition of a visa requirement for Mexican and Czech citizens wishing to travel to Canada. This policy measure came into effect in mid-July 2009, and immediately reduced the number of protection claim referrals from these two high-volume source countries.

Family sponsorships. Canada's immigrant population is expected to reach between 7.0 and 9.3 million by 20172. It is within this context, and consistent with the Government's objective of promoting family reunification, that family class sponsorship applications have either increased or maintained high levels every year since 2001. Accordingly, the IRB continued to receive a high number of family sponsorship appeals during 2009-10.

Reform to the refugee protection framework. The Government announced its intent to reform the refugee protection system in the last few days of the 2009-10 reporting period. Legislative changes will influence the IRB's operating environment and have an impact on the IRB's processes and internal resource allocations in subsequent years. However, since the legislation (Bill C-11) was tabled in Parliament on March 30, 2010, and received Royal Assent in June 2010, all related IRB activities will be reported in subsequent reports.


Appointment of decision-makers. In order to resolve the refugee protection claims and immigration appeals referred to it, the IRB depends on decision-makers appointed by the GIC following a rigorous, merit-based selection process. As noted in the 2009 Status Report of the Auditor General of Canada, during a series of transitions in government between 2004 and 2008, appointments and reappointments of GIC decision makers to the Board did not keep pace with vacancies resulting from expired mandates and resignations. This had a significant impact on the Board's capacity to process cases in past years. This situation was largely corrected by the Government this year. During 2009-10, there were 35 GIC decision-maker appointments and 25 reappointments. The RPD and the IAD were nearly at full complement by the end of the reporting period. Although new decision-makers require approximately six months to complete training and to acquire experience before becoming fully productive, these new appointments contributed to increasing the case resolution capacity of the Board during 2009-10.

Pending case inventory. There were approximately 57,600 refugee protection claims and 10,500 immigration appeals pending at the beginning of the reporting period. This inventory accumulated over the previous three years and resulted primarily from two external factors outside the IRB's control: an increased number of refugee protection claims referred and immigration appeals filed; and a shortfall in the IRB's GIC decision-maker complement. During 2009-10, the combination of increased GIC decision-maker appointments and reduced intake has allowed the IRB to curb the growth of the inventory. The IRB's performance in this regard is further detailed in the second part of the current report. At the end of the 2009-10 reporting period there were 59,000 refugee protection claims and 11,000 immigration appeals pending. As explained in the IRB 2010-11 RPP, a case inventory of this size cannot be significantly reduced within the Board's current resource allocation. An increase in resource levels is required in order to substantially reduce the accumulated inventory or return it to normal operating levels.

System for tracking appellants and refugees (STAR). The IRB relies on a legacy case management system known as STAR, which has inherent risks related to the integrity of the system's data and security controls. Although the system has never suffered a serious breach or breakdown, the IRB has taken proactive steps to mitigate these risks and modernize the system to adapt to future business needs in a sustainable and secure manner. During 2009-10, a robust governance structure, including a steering committee and independent third-party consultations was established to supervise these efforts.

Expenditure Profile

Spending trend 2006-2007 to 2009-10

Expenditure Profile - Spending Trend Graph


In recent years, there has not been any significant difference between Main Estimates and Planned Spending with the exception of 2006-07, which included sunset funding for administrative measures related to refugee determination and reduction in the inventory of parent and grandparent sponsorship appeals.

The difference between Planned Spending and Total Authorities is primarily due to compensation for collective agreements and funding carried forward from the previous year.

For Actual Spending, lower expenditures since 2007-08 were primarily due to lower volumes of translation of decisions, delays in the appointment and reappointment of GIC decision-makers and vacant public service positions.

Voted and Statutory Items ($ Millions)
Vote # or Statutory Items (S) Truncated Vote or Statutory Wording 2007-08
10 Program expenditures 92.1 102.7 100.8 101.1
(S) Contributions to employee benefit plans 11.2 12.0 12.6 13.0
Total 103.3 114.7 113.4 114.1