Section 1: Institutional Gender-based Analysis Plus Capacity
The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB, or the Board) is an independent administrative tribunal responsible for making well‑reasoned decisions on immigration and refugee matters, efficiently, fairly and in accordance with the law.
The IRB is not responsible for developing public policy or for delivering programs, initiatives or services relating to refugee and immigration matters, as this falls under the mandates of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency. When consulted by government on the impact that proposed government policies may have on the IRB's work, the IRB includes Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA Plus) considerations in its input as appropriate.
The IRB can establish operational policy instruments to fill gaps in guidance provided by the Board's enabling legislation, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, that are intended for use internally by the IRB's decision‑makers and support personnel. This includes documents such as the Chairperson's Guideline 9: Proceedings Before the IRB Involving Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (Guideline 9) and the Chairperson's Guideline 4: Women Refugee Claimants Fearing Gender-Related Persecution (Guideline 4). GBA Plus is used during the development, monitoring and review of these internal policy instruments.
In 2020–21, further to a review of its Guideline 9, the IRB began to implement the recommendations to ensure that it remains current and is applied consistently by all IRB divisions, and to further enhance the sensitive treatment of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression individuals. Recommendations from the review addressed a variety of issues, including: strengthening elements of the Guideline itself; enhancing training offered to IRB registry personnel, interpreters and designated representatives; ensuring more effective internal data capture; and, implementing additional safeguards to ensure adherence to principles of natural justice in the hearings process.
An extensive, in-depth review of Guideline 4 began in 2020–21. The objective was to develop recommendations to modernize the Guideline by incorporating developments in jurisprudence, and knowledge and understanding of gender considerations to ensure high-quality adjudicative decision-making for gender-related issues by members of all of IRB's divisions. Prior to beginning work on revising the Guideline, a comprehensive case law review, an environmental scan and a wide-ranging internal and external consultation were conducted to identify gaps and outdated guidance. A key innovative element of the update is the inclusion of a trauma‑informed approach to adjudication.
Separately, in fall 2020, the Refugee Protection Division established a Gender-Related Task Force dedicated to reviewing gender‑related refugee protection claims, with particular emphasis on taking an intersectional and trauma-informed approach to adjudicating gender-related cases. As well, mandatory training was completed for all Refugee Protection Division and Refugee Appeal Division decision‑makers on issues related to gender‑related violence.
The review of the Designated Representative Program, which aims to provide competent representatives for unaccompanied minors and those who are unable to appreciate the nature of the proceedings at the IRB, continued throughout the fiscal year. The Designated Representative Program will be examined, in 2021–22, as the Board continues its work to identify any gaps in applying a GBA Plus lens to its programs and policies.
While the timeline related to the renewal of the Immigration Appeal Division Rules to make them more accessible and to incorporate GBA Plus was slightly delayed in 2020–21, work has progressed significantly and continues into the fourth quarter of 2021–22.
Section 2: Gender and Diversity Impacts, by Program
Core responsibility: Adjudication of immigration and refugee cases
- Admissibility and Detention Decisions
- Immigration Appeal Decisions
- Internal Services
- Refugee Appeal Decisions
- Refugee Protection Decisions
- Admissibility and Detention Decisions: foreign nationals and permanent residents
- Immigration Appeal Decisions: immigration appellants
- Internal Services: Board members and IRB personnel
- Refugee Appeal Decisions: refugee appellants
- Refugee Protection Decisions: refugee claimants
GBA Plus data collection plan:
The IRB continues to develop a more systematic approach to implementing GBA Plus and relevant data collection for the Board as a whole. Progress on completing a GBA Plus policy statement and conducting a needs assessment was hindered in 2020–21 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the IRB's policy statement will be published in 2021–22 followed by a needs assessment, which is expected to be completed over the course of the year, prior to developing a GBA Plus framework for the Board.