Code of Conduct for Members of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada

Effective Date: April 9, 2019

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Purpose

  1. The Code establishes the standards of conduct and other obligations that govern the professional and ethical responsibilities of members of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) as decision-makers of a quasi-judicial administrative tribunal.
  2. The Code is intended to supplement, and should be read in conjunction with, any applicable conduct and other requirements that are established from time to time for either public servants or Governor in Council (GIC) appointees, and set out in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA or the Act) or other legislation, guidelines, codes, policies or other instrumentsFootnote 1. The Code should also be read in conjunction with any applicable conduct requirements that are established from time to time by professional regulatory bodies.

Application

  1. The Code applies to all full-time and part-time members of the IRB, whether they are public servants appointed under the Public Service Employment Act or GIC appointees.
  2. The Code is effective from April 9, 2019 and replaces all previous versions of the Code of Conduct for Members of the Immigration and Refugee Board.

Scope

  1. The standards of conduct and other obligations set out in the Code are based on and recognize two fundamental principles: (i) that public confidence and trust in the integrity, objectivity and impartiality of the IRB must be conserved and enhanced; and (ii) that independence in decision-making is required.
  2. The Code is based on the IRB's dedication to the following values - honesty, good faith, fairness, accountability, dignity, respect, transparency, openness, discretion, cultural sensitivity and loyalty.
  3. The Code addresses members' responsibilities to the tribunal itself, including colleagues and staff, to the parties who appear before them, and to the public.
  4. Members are expected to comply with the Code. Although the Code cannot anticipate every possible situation, in all cases, members are expected to act honestly and in good faith, in a professional and ethical manner.

Conduct of Members

  1. Members shall conduct hearings in a courteous and respectful manner while ensuring that the proceedings are fair, orderly and efficient.
  2. Members shall exercise their duties without discrimination. Members must take reasonable measures to accommodate all participants in a proceeding so that they may participate effectively. Members are expected to take into account social and cultural differences and to respect human rights.
  3. Members are expected to act honestly and in good faith, in a professional and ethical manner.
  4. Members shall conduct themselves with integrity and avoid impropriety, or the appearance of impropriety.
  5. Members have a responsibility to perform their duties in a manner that fosters collegiality among members and with staff and to treat them with courtesy and respect. Members are expected to assist their colleagues through the respectful exchange of views, information and opinions.
  6. Members shall arrange their private affairs in a manner that will prevent them from being in a conflict of interest, as set out in the applicable legislation, guideline, code, policy or other instrument established for public servants or GIC appointees respectively.
  7. Members shall not accept gifts or other advantages, including hospitality or other benefits, as set out in the applicable legislation, guideline, code, policy or other instrument established for public servants or GIC appointees respectively.

Administration

  1. The Chairperson is responsible for the administration of the Code, including any matters regarding its interpretation. Members are accountable to the Chairperson for their compliance with the Code.
  2. A breach of this Code may result in corrective or disciplinary measures. The nature of any corrective or disciplinary measures would depend on the circumstances and the gravity of the breach. Corrective or disciplinary measures could range from training, a note to the member’s file or a reprimand for less serious breaches; to removal from the hearing room, suspension and up to termination for serious or repeated breaches of the CodeFootnote 2.
  3. Member managers shall promote awareness of and compliance with the Code by members.
  4. Members are encouraged to bring to the Chairperson's attention as soon as practicable the conduct of another member that is not in compliance with the Code, if such conduct may threaten the integrity of the IRB.
  5. Any question regarding the interpretation or application of the Code may be directed by members to the Director, Office of Integrity

Compliance with laws

  1. Members shall comply with the provisions of the Act, all applicable regulations and rules established under the Act, and all other relevant legislation and policy instruments that apply to their work and the work of the IRB.

Consistency

  1. Members, in their decision-making, have a responsibility to support the institutional interest of the IRB in ensuring the consistency of its decisions, while recognizing that no improper influence may be brought to bear upon their adjudicative independence.

Communications

  1. Members shall not disclose or make known any information of a confidential nature that was obtained in their capacity as a member. This means disclosure outside of the IRB to other government departments or agencies or to the general public, as well as disclosure within the IRB to members or staff where such disclosure is not operationally required.
  2. Members shall not communicate with the news media or publicly express any opinion regarding: (i) any matter relating to the work of the IRB; or (ii) any other matter that may create a reasonable apprehension of bias. Inquiries from the media or members of the public shall be referred to the IRB office responsible for communications with external stakeholders.
  3. Subject to the exception noted in section 26, members shall not communicate with other government departments or agencies, or elected officials or their staff, regarding: (i) any matter relating to the work of the IRB; or (ii) any other matter that may create a reasonable apprehension of bias. Inquiries shall be referred to the IRB office responsible for communications with external stakeholders.
  4. Members may communicate with other government departments or agencies regarding a matter relating to the work of the IRB when the communication is carried out in accordance with the member's official duties.
  5. The responsibilities set out in sections 23-25 do not limit any rights or obligations that members may have or are subject to under any applicable legislation, guideline, code, policy or other instrument.

Expertise

  1. Members have a responsibility to maintain a high level of professional competence and expertise required to fulfil their duties and responsibilities. Members are expected to pursue the development of knowledge and skills related to their work, including participation in ongoing training provided by the IRB.

Natural justice

  1. Members shall comply with all procedural fairness and natural justice requirements. Members are expected to approach each case with an open mind and, at all times, must be, and must be seen to be, impartial and objective.
  2. Members shall disqualify themselves from any proceeding where they know or reasonably should know that, in the making of the decision, they would be in a conflict of interest, or that their participation may create a reasonable apprehension of bias. In such a case, they shall immediately inform their manager and provide the reason for their self-disqualification.

Communications with participants in a proceeding

  1. Unless permitted under the Act, members shall not communicate directly or indirectly with any party, counsel, witness, interpreter or other non-IRB participant appearing before them in a proceeding, except in the presence of all parties or their counsel, if such communication may create a reasonable apprehension of bias.
  2. Members shall not, during the course of a proceeding, have any social contact with a party, counsel, witness, interpreter or other non-IRB participant, if such social contact may create a reasonable apprehension of bias.

Decision-making

  1. Members shall make each decision on the merits of the case, based on thorough preparation, the assessment of evidence properly before the member and the application of the relevant law. The relevant law consists of the Act, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, other relevant legislation, regulations, legal principles, including the principles of natural justice, and relevant case law. Decision-making responsibility shall not be delegated.
  2. Members shall not be influenced by extraneous or improper considerations in their decision-making. Members shall make their decisions free from the improper influence of other persons, institutions, interest groups or the political process.
  3. Members are expected to render their reasons in accordance with any standards that may be established by the IRB regarding quality decision-making and timeliness.
  4. Members have a responsibility to consider the privacy interests of individuals in the conduct of proceedings and the writing of decisions, ensuring that decisions contain only the personal information that is necessary to explain the reasoning of the decision.

Bias

  1. Members shall conduct themselves in a manner that will not cast doubt on their ability to perform their duties objectively.

Outside activities

  1. Members may take part in outside activities that are not inconsistent or incompatible with their official duties and responsibilities, or that do not cast doubt on their ability to perform their duties objectively. Outside activities means activities outside of a member's official duties in which they participate in their personal capacity, such as conferences and training seminars, volunteer activities, teaching assignments, fundraising, public speeches and interviews.
  2. Members shall obtain prior written approval for such outside activities by contacting the Director, Office of Integrity.