Thank you for the invitation to speak today specifically about part 3, division 15 of the bill, related to legislative amendments that CIC is proposing to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, or IRPA, concerning automated processing and decision making.
Mr. Chair, these provisions will allow the ministers of CIC and Public Safety to administer and enforce the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act by using electronic means, including to enable automated decisions.
Economic action plan 2013 announced investments to improve processing, allowing CIC to lay the groundwork for an electronic and automated business model. In January 2015, the department launched express entry, a new electronic system to manage applications for permanent residents under certain economic immigration programs. Also later in 2015, CIC will begin implementing the electronic travel authorization initiative, or eTA. Under this initiative, applicants will be able to apply online for their eTA, and an automated system will significantly facilitate the movement of legitimate travellers, due to robust pre-boarding screening.
Building on this foundation, CIC is proposing legislative amendments to allow the department to further leverage technology for greater efficiency. These legislative changes, together with subsequent regulatory amendments, would permit CIC to electronically administer certain processing activities related to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, such as handling straightforward decisions.
Through technology, routine and straightforward tasks could be performed by the system, freeing up officer time for more value-added, complex activities. This should significantly enhance the timelines and efficiency of decision making and processing, while ensuring appropriate program integrity measures are in place.
More specifically, the amendments would enable automated positive and negative decisions on applications and give CIC authority to mandate electronic submissions of applications with some exceptions, such as for persons with disabilities, which would be central to CIC's electronic global processing network. The amendments would provide regulation-making authority to govern the details of the technologies to be used and other key supports. Subject to regulations, the amendments would allow foreign nationals to make applications from within Canada, as long as they have maintained appropriate status in the country.
Given the general application of the above provisions, other sections of IRPA that already relate to electronic service delivery, such as Express Entry and eTA, will be amended to avoid repetition within the act. These amendments do not diminish or change the nature of the authorities already granted by IRPA.
To maximize efficiency across CIC's processing network, these legislative amendments would apply across the act, both to temporary and permanent resident streams. CIC already uses electronic applications in both streams and has introduced automated ranking of submissions in the express entry system. Expanded use of electronic processing in the temporary and resident streams will allow CIC to move work across its entire delivery network and make the best use of existing resources. Automating steps in processing will also free up officers from simple and repetitive work and allow CIC to focus resources where they matter most, on the higher risk and more complex applications that require close scrutiny and that automated systems are unable to fully process.
These amendments will help CIC improve client experience. Overall, clients will receive improved service through faster processing times and will benefit from a framework that allows leveraging of new technologies that are responsive to the expectations of modern service delivery.
As CIC increases the use of electronic processing, the department, working with Shared Services Canada, will continue to ensure that privacy protections and robust system security measures remain a cornerstone of the department's approach. These amendments will allow CIC to improve the way it does business without altering the nature of that business.
Making greater use of technology along the processing continuum is aligned with the direction of immigration receiving countries around the world including Australia, New Zealand and the United States, which have all, to some degree, incorporated electronic processing into their immigration systems.
In conclusion, Mr. Chair, these amendments will help CIC make better use of technology to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its processes, provide clients with faster and more efficient services, and improve the department's ability to focus its resources on those cases that need it most.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
My colleagues and I look forward to any questions you may have.