Evidence of meeting #32 for Citizenship and Immigration in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was countries.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Les Linklater  Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
  • Peter Hill  Director General, Post-Border Programs, Canada Border Services Agency
  • Jennifer Irish  Director, Asylum Policy and Programs, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
  • Michael MacDonald  Director General, National Security Operations Directorate, Public Safety Canada
  • Alexandre Roger  Procedural Clerk, House of Commons
  • Joe Oliver  Director General, Border Integrity, Royal Canadian Mounted Police
  • Marie Estabrooks  Manager, Biometrics Policy (programs and projects), Emerging Border Programs, Canada Border Services Agency
  • Chuck Walker  Director General, Canadian Criminal Real Time Identification Services, Royal Canadian Mounted Police
  • Alain Desruisseaux  Director General, Admissibility Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
  • Sean Rehaag  Assistant Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, and Representative, David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights - University of Toronto
  • Audrey Macklin  Representative, Professor, Faculty of Law and School for Public Policy and Governance, University of Toronto, David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights - University of Toronto
  • Barbara Jackman  Lawyer, As an Individual

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Tilson

Thank you.

Ms. Sims.

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Thank you very much.

I have to stipulate that I'm one of those who is very protective of any invasion of my privacy, so I always have lots of questions around biometrics. It's not that I have anything to hide, but I always worry about where that data is going to go.

My understanding was that in Bill C-31, the biometric limitations that are spelled out there were only going to be used to determine identity. But beyond that I'm gathering there is all kinds of sharing that goes on, so maybe you could further outline for me how the biometric information we are collecting for this purpose under Bill C-31 could be used beyond that.

10:05 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Les Linklater

I'll ask Mr. Desruisseaux to respond.

April 30th, 2012 / 10:05 a.m.

Alain Desruisseaux Director General, Admissibility Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

The biometrics will be collected for immigration and border management purposes. Beyond that fact, the biometrics information will be shared with CIC and the CBSA. As Les Linklater mentioned, it will be stored by the RCMP and the information will be used for law enforcement as well—and there are real benefits to that check if there are any known criminals who would try to enter Canada—and also to facilitate travel.

In some cases, the information can be used to collect additional data with respect to information that has been collected at crime scenes, which may also support the work of law enforcement agents when it comes to victim identification. So there are several possible uses in this area.

There are very strong privacy safeguards that will be developed. CIC has been working very closely with the Privacy Commissioner and her office. Canada has among the most robust rules in this area, and it is certainly the intent to pay a lot of attention to that dimension.

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Have privacy impact assessments been done under clauses 6, 9, 30, 47, and 78? Have they been done already?

10:05 a.m.

Director General, Admissibility Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Alain Desruisseaux

There is one that was done already with regard to the services that will be contracted to the VACs. There will be others coming, which we hope are going to be public.

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

I think it becomes really important for this committee, and for us, to know that those have been done before we start looking at the legislation more. If you want me to, I can repeat the clauses, but I'm hoping that you got them the first time.

This is a huge issue, and this is the kind of thing, as you know, that makes most Canadians nervous, because we really do value our privacy, not that we have anything to hide. Right now there is a limit. It's a photo, and it's going to be fingerprints. Those are the only two biometric data we're talking about.

Has there been any thought given to elements or sub-elements that could be used? Do you have other plans in the works?

10:05 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Les Linklater

No. At this point, the international standards really do rely on fingerprints and face recognition. That is a standard we will move towards. Much like the Americans, under the perimeter strategy announced by the Prime Minister and the President, we're looking to ensure that we have complementary technological approaches.

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Also, I realize that the information is going to be housed with the RCMP, but I want to know which other government institutions and non-government institutions—the private sector and other groups—could have access to that. Who can access the information once the RCMP has it? We really do want to have specificity rather than just generalities.

10:10 a.m.

Director General, Canadian Criminal Real Time Identification Services, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

C/Supt Chuck Walker

Certainly. There are two ways to access the information we keep in the identification data bank at CMP PPU 030, which is described in Info Source. That information is verified through the use of biometrics. However, there is a criminal-name index capability through the CPIC system, the Canadian Police Information Centre, that will enable a user to at least determine whether there appears to be a record in the identification data bank. But it always comes with the caveat that the only way to be certain it's the same person is through the submission of fingerprints.

With respect to the exchange of biometric information, that's achieved through the real time identification system the RCMP has implemented over the last several years. The only agencies that can connect to that system are agencies that are approved through privacy processes, such as the CBSA and the police. For civil screening purposes, following the requirements of privacy, and with the informed consent of the individual, a private fingerprinting company, which has been accredited by the RCMP and has been connected to the system, can also submit prints electronically to RTID to receive a response.

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Thank you. Could you make available to the committee the privacy impact assessment that has been done? That would be good.

How long do we imagine this biometric information will be stored? Once verification happens, do we get rid of it, or does that happen once temporary residency is completed, or once somebody has become a citizen, or indefinitely? Those are the kinds of questions that come up.

10:10 a.m.

Director General, Admissibility Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Alain Desruisseaux

The rules for the retention of biometrics will be determined through the regulations. What is now being considered is retaining the information for a period of 15 years or until citizenship is gained. That is the plan.

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

That will be specified.

10:10 a.m.

Director General, Admissibility Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Alain Desruisseaux

It will be specified through the regulations.

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Okay, thank you very much. We will see those regulations before things proceed. I'm new, so that's why I'm asking.