Last Updated on November 22, 2011 by Steven Meurrens

The Auditor General of Canada has released its fall report, which contains a section on the process for determining inadmissibility to Canada.

The CBC provided a rather bleak summary of the Auditor General’s findings when it reported:

The audit identified a number of problems: it found that many of the criteria used by visa officers to identify high-risk applicants are outdated; CBSA analysts who provide security advice to visa officers have not received the necessary training; their work is rarely reviewed; and there was no evidence that mandatory checks were completed.

Wiersema said many of these problems have been identified by previous audits and the department has committed to fixing them, but they haven’t followed through on those promises.

“I find it disturbing that fundamental weaknesses still exist,” he said.”It’s time that CIC and CBSA work together to resolve them.”

Wiersema said the security manuals used by visa officers when making their decisions haven’t been updated since 1999. The audit also pointed out that medical screening for danger to the public has focused on syphilis and tuberculosis for the past 50 years, even though health professionals are required to monitor and report on 56 diseases.

Citizenship and Immigration has not reviewed whether visa applicants should undergo mandatory testing for some of those diseases and it also doesn’t review its decisions to grant visas later to ensure the right decisions were made.

“This means that CIC and CBSA don’t know if a visa was issued to someone who was in fact inadmissible,” Wiersema said.

The interim auditor general was asked at his news conference whether the flaws in the system means there are people who were granted entry to Canada who should have been kept out.

“The department is not able to provide us with assurance that that’s not happening,” he responded.

The complete list of recommendations, and CIC and CBSA’s responses, were:

CBSA and CIC should ensure that operational manuals, risk indicators, and relevant country-specific information are complete, up to date, and made available to visa officers in a timely manner to help them identify foreign nationals who may be inadmissible. A review of current risk indicators has begun in consultation with security partners. Also in consultation with security partners, a strategy will be developed to ensure that necessary country-specific information is available in a timely manner to support admissibility decision making. In addition, a review and update of policy manuals will be undertaken to ensure that accurate operational guidance is in place for all staff and management involved in the admissibility screening process. These measures will be completed by June 2012.
CBSA should ensure that all information that can be obtained from security partners and is relevant to security screening is used to provide advice to CIC. A comprehensive approach will be developed to ensure that all relevant information is available and shared with CIC. An assessment of information needs will take place in consultation with security partners, identifying any gaps and resulting in an information management strategy to ensure that necessary information can be accessed to support admissibility decision making. In addition, existing information-sharing arrangements between CIC, the CBSA, the RCMP, and CSIS will be reviewed to ensure that they are complete and serve the needs of the security screening program. These measures will be completed by March 2013.
CBSA should

  • implement a quality assurance process to ensure the consistency and quality of information and advice provided by analysts to CIC;
  • ensure that analysts have adequate training, support, and tools to perform their duties;
  • establish service standards for the timeliness of security screening based on the needs of CIC and its own capacity and that of its security partners; and
  • measure the effectiveness of its security screening to ensure that it meets the needs of CIC in a timely manner.
CBSA has restructured its security screening program to provide more focus on quality assurance and performance management. A review of training requirements for screening officers is under way and a high-level plan has been adopted to provide screening officers with a competency-based training program and supporting tools, to be implemented incrementally. In consultation with CIC and security partners, the CBSA will review service standards and make necessary program adjustments to ensure that the needs of all partners are met. These measures will be completed by December 2012.
In order to meet the objectives of IRPA to protect the health and safety of Canadians, CIC should

  • develop a strategy based on risks to better identify applicants who present a danger to public health or a danger to public safety, and
  • examine the methodology and process for assessing excessive demand on health and social services and take corrective measures as necessary.
CIC has initiated and continues to develop a risk assessment and management strategy to better address danger to public health and danger to public safety in the immigration context. Among the activities conducted are the completion of a discussion paper on defining danger to public health, and the completion of an HIV policy review. CIC will implement a strategy that will result in consistent admissibility criteria, standardized processes, and improved monitoring of its programs. These measures will be completed by September 2013.

CIC has started examining the excessive demand processes and will pursue its collaboration with the provinces and territories to review factors generating limitations and inconsistencies in the evaluation of excessive demands and will address the identified deficiencies. This measure will be completed by June 2013.

CIC should implement a standard quality assurance process to protect the integrity of the medical examination system and to ensure consistency and quality in the assessment of medical admissibility. CIC has already completed the development of a Quality Assurance Framework for its immigration medical examination and assessment programs. This framework will be integrated into the departmental Program Integrity Framework, providing the tool required to monitor and evaluate the quality of its immigration health program, worldwide, including the designated medical practitioners, other examiners, and CIC employees involved in the health assessment process. CIC is also in the process of implementing eMedical (an electronic medical system), enabling standardization and centralization of the medical examination process. These measures will be completed by March 2013.
CIC and the CBSA should fully implement their joint risk management and performance measurement strategies and monitor the results. CIC and the CBSA will implement and monitor their joint risk management and performance strategies for the shared delivery of the immigration and refugee program, including visa issuance. In this context, CIC and the CBSA will complete a review of Canada’s admissibility policy, in collaboration with security partners, in order to assess whether it is continuing to meet the needs of Canada and Canadians; to identify any gaps; and to recommend amendments to relevant legislation, regulations, or administrative guidelines.

CIC and the CBSA will complete a joint priority-setting exercise based on key risks with respect to the intelligence program (including visa issuance) and resulting enforcement priorities. CIC and the CBSA will also complete work on key performance indicators with respect to visa issuance, which will be used to monitor the effectiveness of shared programs and to track the implementation of joint priorities.

These measures will be completed by December 2012.