Chairperson's message on the upcoming consultations on quality initiatives

​​​​​​​​Below is a message sent on September 10, 2020, from Richard Wex, Chairperson of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB), to the ​IRB's consultative committee, on the IRB’s upcoming consultations on quality initiatives​.

Dear colleagues,

Following my message of August 26, 2020 on business resumption, I am now writing to provide you with an update on related matters of interest.

First, I am pleased to share that the Government recently announced, in its July Economic and Fiscal Snapshot, the extension of funding for the IRB for an additional two years in addition to funds identified in Budget 2019. With this extension, the IRB will be funded to finalize 50,000 refugee claims and 13,500 refugee appeals annually, until April 2023. This additional funding provides the Board with important stability over the medium term. Especially during these exceptional times, this funding extension reflects confidence in our collective efforts to improve the functioning of our refugee determination system. We will continue to work with the Government with a view to regularizing this funding over the longer term.

Further, as you will recall, in early May, we met by way of an ad hoc IRBCC to talk about the impact the pandemic was having on our operations, and the strategic directions the Board would pursue in response. We agreed that Deputy Chairs (DCs) would hold a number of operationally-based specific consultations over the summer with you or your representatives in order to benefit from your views and that we would reconvene in the fall to take stock on the Board’s business resumption plan as well as other priorities. Since then, you have engaged with DCs in separate sessions on remote hearings, in-person hearings, the Refugee Protection Division (RPD)’s file-review process for less complex claims, and Divisional practice notices. I want to thank you for your time and the sharing of your perspectives, which have helped shape our operational response to our resumption plans, consistent with the broad directions we set out at our May IRBCC.

As we enter the fall, and consistent with the approach we discussed at our May IRBCC, I remain committed to advancing with you the priorities identified in my letter of January 31, 2020, which centred on strengthening the quality of decision-making at the Board, with a focus on genderrelated claims. With respect to sustaining and improving the quality of decision-making at the IRB, a key pillar of our ongoing Growth and Transformation Agenda, I am pleased to report that we have enhanced our member training programs around gender-related issues. We recently completed mandatory refresher training to all members across the country at both the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) and the Refugee Appeal Division on a range of gender-related issues, including appropriate questioning and credibility assessments as well as trauma-informed adjudication.

Going forward, and consistent with my commitment in January, we have begun scheduling consultations to seek your input on several initiatives in support of quality decision-making, including:

  • Establishing a dedicated team to adjudicate gender-related claims: To promote consistent and high-quality adjudication of gender-related claims, the IRB will be establishing a dedicated team of adjudicators at the RPD with specialized training relating to gender-based claims. We have begun seeking your input on a range of issues, including the scope of claim types and key elements of training for members of this task force.

  • Reviewing and updating Guideline 4 – Women Refugee Claimants Fearing Gender-Related Persecution and Guideline 9 – Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression: In order for these policy instruments to continue to embody the leading-edge of gender-related considerations in refugee and immigration adjudication, we will be seeking your input on both initiatives. Your feedback will contribute to our efforts to update Guideline 4, as well as to implementing the recommendations resulting from last year’s review of Guideline 9.
  • Evaluation of the formal complaint mechanisms about members: The IRB has commissioned a third-party research firm to evaluate its process for making a complaint about the conduct of a member. We have recently reached out to solicit your participation in the third-party evaluation.

These topic-specific consultations will continue over the coming months, leading to our fall IRBCC meeting. Our IRBCC fall meeting will centre around business resumption, and the various initiatives we are undertaking at the Board in support of strengthened quality decision making. We will have an opportunity to take stock, and ensure we have the benefit of your views before setting our future direction.

You play a vital role in the Board’s important work and I look forward to continuing to receive your considered advice.

Thank you again for your ongoing collaboration.


Richard Wex