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IRB Plan of Action for Efficient Refugee Determination

IRB Plan of Action for Efficient Refugee Determination

http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/Eng/BoaCom/references/procedures/Pages/IRB-plan_action.aspx

Contents

Disclaimer

This Plan is an evergreen document that may develop further with the input and insight of employees and stakeholders and as additional opportunities emerge for further efficiencies. Information regarding any additions or changes to the Plan will be communicated in a timely manner.

Context

The Refugee Protection Division (RPD) and the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD) are situated at the core of Canada`s refugee determination system. Both are mandated to make well-reasoned decisions on refugee claims fairly, efficiently, and in accordance with the law. The work of these divisions reflects the values of Canada, which, in 1969, committed to offering refuge to those in need of protection when it signed the United Nations Convention Related to the Status of Refugees and related Protocol and, subsequently in 1984, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. In 1989, Parliament positioned refugee determination decision-making in an administrative tribunal, deliberately structured with a high degree of institutional and adjudicative independence, but with the expectation of quick and informal decision-making.

Refugee decision making is complex, involving the life, liberty and security of the individuals concerned. Refugee status determination has been noted as “…among the most difficult forms of adjudication, involving as it does fact-finding in regard to foreign conditions, cross cultural and interpreted examination of witnesses, ever present evidentiary voids and a duty to prognosticate potential risks rather than simply declare the more plausible account of past events.”Footnote1 Although a high degree of procedural fairness is demanded by the law and the courts given the rights at stake, both the RAD and the RPD are expected to provide timely administrative justice across a high volume of cases.

Today both the RPD and the RAD struggle to provide timely administrative justice. This challenge is compounded by the fact that the world is witnessing the unprecedented movement of people. With more and more claimants coming to Canada to claim protection in recent years, divisional output cannot keep pace and the RPD’s pending inventory continues to grow. Refugee claimants currently face uncertainty regarding when their claim will be scheduled and heard, despite regulated hearing time limits. More than 3,500 claimants have been waiting to have their claim heard for more than 18 months and June 2017 concluded with 25,350 claims pending before the RPD.. For its part, the RAD faces a high vacancy rate amongst its decision-making cadre which, when combined with increased intake at the RPD, has also resulted in a growing inventory of pending appeals. June 2017 ended with 2,400 appeals pending before the RADand 31 of 57 decision making positions vacant, waiting appointments or reappointments by the Governor in Council. The situation in both divisions is increasingly unsustainable.

The IRB Plan of Action for Efficient Refugee Determination: Guiding Vision

The IRB Plan of Action for Efficient Refugee Determination (“the Plan”) presents a series of measures designed to improve processing efficiencies at the RPD and the RAD. In the short term, the Plan will focus on making immediate and significant improvements to scheduling and case management, supporting members more effectively and addressing long-standing operational impediments to efficiency. Medium term objectives focus on recruitment and training, performance management, and registry performance and efficiency. Longer term objectives include the implementation of an electronic-file and automated case management system which will open the door to efficient caseload management, and overall system productivity.

The overarching vision is a refugee determination system which is client-centric, IT-enabled and rooted in an innovative mind-set. The RPD and RAD will come to better understand and own their identity as divisions situated within an administrative tribunal rather than a court, mandated to deliver fair and timely justice. Finally, without considerations of employee well-being, and ensuring employees are supported and engaged in this transformation, the Plan will not succeed.

  • Being Client-centric means that we question and reflect on how clients—be they internal or external—experience our processes. How do claimants or appellants interact with the divisions? Are their experiences taken into account when developing new approaches? How are members served by the registry and supportive structures? A client-centric approach will result in efficiencies as those who interact with us are able to better access our services and are more efficient in doing so.
  • Being IT-enabled means that we are taking full advantage of the efficiencies and innovations that technology has to offer.
  • An innovative mind-set is a mind-set which recognizes that to achieve greater efficiencies in claim and appeal processing, the IRB will have to do things differently. This way of thinking promotes the principle that there is always a better and more efficient way to deliver quality decisions.
  • Owning our identity as an Administrative Tribunal: The RPD and the RAD are not courts yet divisional processes are demonstratively “court-like”; this culture is expressed in unnecessary formality, unnecessary procedure, inaccessible language in forms and decisions, etc. All aspects of the Plan must promote the principle that as an administrative tribunal, the RPD and RADshould function as informally and quickly as considerations of fairness and natural justice permit.

Focus on the First Level: Achieving increased processing efficiencies at the RPD

Initiatives to achieve more efficient processing at the RPD focus on improving case management and scheduling, supporting members more effectively, and establishing a coherent people management strategy with a focus on all divisional employees.

Theme 1: Strengthen case management and scheduling

Establish a national streaming (triage) and scheduling framework

Description
  • Introduce a case management process that is designed to triage cases by proportionately matching resources to cases prior to file assignment resulting in scheduling efficiencies and increased transparency for users.
  • Various elements of the strategy to be monitored by an Adjudicative Strategy Committee (short hearings and expedited process designations, etc.).
  • Implement through streaming and scheduling procedures.
  • Deliver training on all aspects of framework.
Activities and Deliverables
  • Establish transparent statement re. principled approach to scheduling and age of file [i.e. First in First Out (FIFO)]
  • Establish Streaming Framework which includes criteria for streaming based on complexity and other factors
  • Establish a case management process for triage
  • Establish approach to Federal Court (FC) Returns and RADreturns – scheduling approach and paper-based finalizations
  • Adjudicative Strategy Committee established and meeting quarterly or as needed
  • Develop Short Hearings policy statement
  • Amend Expedited Policy (TBD)
  • Amend Front End Security Screening (FESS) instructions (TBD)

IT-Enabled Scheduling

Description
  • Implement the Scheduling Management Tool (SMT) within NOVAFootnote2 to provide smart scheduling (i.e. scheduling informed by member availability, preferences, caseload, specializations, etc.).
Activities and Deliverables
  • Release the SMT
  • Bridge the SMT to Hearing Booking Tool so scheduling at intake is “smart” with a live link to NOVA

Maximize geographic (or issue) specialization among members

Description
  • Assign files to maximize efficient case management, expertise and member productivity.
Activities and Deliverables
  • Explore regional geographic specializations
  • Long term: SMTHBT member profiles will include countries of specialization

Innovation Pilots

Description
  • Sustain team structure focused on testing various case processing ideas quickly, such as triage models, file ownership and registry service models; achieve quick fails and quick wins.
  • Through the pilot initiatives, the Central Region is building a culture of continuous improvement. We also have an Innovation Committee planned to assist in these efforts.
Activities and Deliverables
  • Working Group on pilots meeting twice a month to exchange information

Digitalization of Case Management Process

Description
  • In keeping with NOVA Continuous Improvement Plan, digitalize various aspects of case management.
  • Submission of various documents in electronic format.
Activities and Deliverables
  • Support registry personnel and members to realign skills and adapt to an electronic file
  • ePost Connect interim solution
  • Email Scheduling Pilot
  • E-portal development and implementation

Redefine and implement optimal registry support

Description
  • Building on the Central Region pilot and other regional experience, registry roles may be refined to ensure effective member and case file support.
Activities and Deliverables
  • Part of pilot assessment
  • Review work descriptions
  • Develop and document new roles

Theme 2: Support for Members and Tools for Efficient Adjudication

Knowledge and Information Management Tool

Description
  • Introduce a Knowledge and Information Management tool which provides members with “one stop” access to all the threads of information they require to prepare, preside and decide in an efficient manner.
Activities and Products
  • Develop frameworks of analysis for high volume claim types and countries – to guide preparation and presiding
  • Develop decision frameworks – to guide decision structure and decision writing
  • Gather business requirements/content from members
  • Additional activities associated with tool development (TBD)

 Basis of Claim content review (BOC)

Description
  • Enable a more logical organization of information for the member to aid in file preparation.
Activities and Products
  • Renew BOC Content
  • Portfolio Liaison

Theme 3: User-centric Approaches to Facilitate the Claimants’ Experience

Access to Justice

Description
  • Review communication and outreach material and various processes from the perspective of an unrepresented claimant to enhance accessibility.
Activities and Products
  • This project will review our external website, documents and or procedures, including those from Canada Border Service Agent (CBSA) and Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) used in the refugee claim, to identify barriers to accessibility for claimants whose access to justice is at risk.
  • The project will be launched in mid-September in Vancouver with an initial brain-storming session with broad participation from governmental and non-governmental organizations including CBSAIRCC, Immigration lawyers, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and settlement agencies.  This will be followed by similar sessions in all 3 regions and in the provinces of Alberta and Manitoba.

Revise documents & forms

Description
  • Review and revise documents and forms to improve efficiency of internal process, and improve the quality of submissions (eliminate poorly completed forms).
Activities and Products
  • New or revised forms and documents

Electronic Basis of Claim (BOC)

Description
  • Build an IT-Enabled Basis of Claim (BOC) which allows claimants to provide their information in a more efficient manner, reduces frontend processing duplication
Activities and Products
  • Translate to electronic environment
  • Portfolio Liaison

Theme 4: People Management

Recruitment and training

Description
  • Identify more human resources (HR) support to assist the RPD in maintaining an inventory of qualified candidates for member community and across registry employment groups.
Activities and Products
  • Define and establish permanent HR support
Description
  • New Member Training
Activities and Products
  • Build national new member training program based on Central Region Training initiative; translate for national implementation
  • Establish national approach to onboarding new members
Description
  • Provide ongoing professional development which aligns with overall strategic objective of Division.
Activities and Products
  • Review of current practices and plan professional development approach

Proactive and effective performance management

Description
  • National performance management framework
Activities and Products
  • Develop performance management framework which articulates divisional approach to performance management of members and other employees
  • Reflect framework in individual agreements for all RPDemployees
  • Establish consistent approach to dealing with probation performance (members and registry personnel)
Description
  • Increase capacity for effective performance management in RPD manager and supervisor cadre.
Activities and Products
  • Develop a series of learning events or workshops which focus on skills required to manage performance effectively; introduce mentoring program for managers

Focus on the Appeal: Achieving increased processing efficiencies at the RAD

Initiatives to achieve more efficient processing at the RAD focus on strengthening case management, establishing tools for more efficient adjudication at the RPD and within the RAD, and increasing member productivity through the implementation of various information technology, training and professional development supports.

Theme 1: Strengthen case management

Establish a national streaming (triage) framework

Description
  • Introduce a case management process that is designed to triage cases by proportionately matching resources to cases prior to file assignment.
Activities and Products
  • Design & implementation of national case management system to include: file completeness, identify key issues such as claim type, natural justice or other issues and alleged error in the RPD decision.

Focus on file readiness/ systematic file assignment

Description
  • Define criteria for assignment of files and interlocutory decisions
Activities and Products
  • Triaging and quick disposition of applications of no jurisdiction and other interlocutory issues within 15 days of being decision-ready.

Realign analyst role to strengthen adjudicative support

Description
  • RAD analyst work description to be reviewed, revised and classified.
Activities and Products
  • Identify/assign/dispose simple/straightforward cases and complex ones accordingly.

Maximize geographic (or issue) specialization among members

Description
  • Assign files to maximise efficient case management, expertise and member productivity.
Activities and Products
  • File allocation on the basis of country of origin between regions and members

Revise documents & forms

Description
  • Review and revise documents and forms to improve efficiency of internal process, and improve the quality of submissions (eliminate poorly completed forms)
Activities and Products
  • New or revised forms and documents e.g. RAD Disposition Record

Use business process improvements (BPI) methods in registry

Description
  • Align registry process and roles with best practices/tools to eliminate impediments. e.g. Reduce paper content of the record
Activities and Products
  • Continue with BPI process as impediments are encountered

Theme 2: Tools for more efficient adjudication

Identify & issue Jurisprudential Guides

Description
  • Adjudicative Strategy Committee to continue to review and identify decisions and issues.
Deliverables / Products
  • Jurisprudential Guides to be issued to enable the RPD to conduct more focused hearings and the RAD to issue more focused reasons by adopting the analysis in a JG.

Designate three-member panels

Deliverables / Products
  • Three-member panel decision(s).

Establish frameworks of analysis & decision templates to aid reason writing

Description
  • Equip members with templates to frame their explanation for their decision will allow for members to write clear, transparent and intelligible reasons within acceptable time frames.
Deliverables / Products
  • Suite of frameworks of analysis and established, legally sound articulations of key recurring issues.

Harness persuasive value of single panel RAD decisions

Description
  • Create the conditions for members to collaborate on issues of mutual concern and be informed of relevant decisions.
Deliverables / Products
  • Promote Consolidated BathurstFootnote3 discussions & RADmember collaborative work space.
  • Improved access to electronic repositories of RAD & RPDreasons for decisions and FC summaries.

Theme 3: Member Productivity

Member Recruitment

Description
  • Timely appointment and re-appointment of qualified decision makers.
Deliverables / Products
  • Qualified list of candidates exists.
  • Assessment of second recruitment round begun.

Revamp member training

Description
  • Focused training that is reflective of new members learning needs will be developed, taking into consideration previous experience in refugee determination.
Deliverables / Products
  • New training modules designed to enable new members to reach a higher level of productivity faster.
  • Develop and deliver a reasons writing curriculum for all RAD members that focuses on understanding the fundamentals of sufficiency of reasons in the context of the RAD.

Establish mentoring program

Description
  • New members will be paired with an individual mentor, for example an experienced former member.
Deliverables / Products
  • Recruit new mentors.

National performance management framework

Description
  • Develop a national performance management framework that connects member productivity and adjudicative support expectations (e.g. service standards).
Deliverables / Products
  • Review and update, where warranted, existing RADperformance management framework.

Footnotes

Footnote 1
Professor James C Hathaway, Rebuilding Trust – Report of the Review of Fundamental Justice in Information Gathering and Dissemination at the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (December 1993) p. 6.

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Footnote 2
IRB case management program.

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Footnote 3
IWA v. Consolidated-Bathurst Packaging Ltd., [1990] 1 S.C.R. 282.

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