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2004-03

MINISTER SGRO ANNOUNCES REFORM OF THE APPOINTMENT PROCESS FOR IMMIGRATION AND REFUGEE BOARD MEMBERS

OTTAWA, March 16, 2004 — Judy Sgro, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, today announced changes to the appointment process for the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) to eliminate political patronage, strengthen the criteria for the Board and increase parliamentary review.

“We are professionalizing the process by which IRB appointments are made. The result will be a more transparent and effective IRB, one in which Canadians can have even greater confidence,” said Minister Sgro. “The Prime Minister spoke of a reformed IRB appointment process last December and the government is now delivering on its commitment. The changes will be effective within 90 days.”

Changes to the process include:

  • Candidates will be screened against strengthened merit-based criteria.
  • Candidates’ applications will be screened by an advisory panel of lawyers, academics, members of organizations that assist newcomers to Canada and human resources experts. Selected candidates will be interviewed by a selection board, chaired by the IRB chairperson and made up of experts with an in-depth understanding of the IRB and its decision-making processes.
  • The final selection of appointees by the Minister will be based on the recommendations of the IRB chairperson.
  • The selection and appointment of future IRB chairpersons will be based on a public competition process and the recommendation of the Minister, and reviewed by the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.

“Refugee determination is one of the most difficult forms of decision making,” said IRB Chairperson Jean-Guy Fleury. “These decisions are made in an increasingly complex and changing global environment. As IRB Chairperson, I will ensure that the Board, on behalf of Canadians, pursues its commitment to making well-reasoned decisions that are both efficient and fair to individuals who appear before our tribunal.”

Created in 1989, the IRB is an independent administrative tribunal that reports to Parliament through the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. The Board has three divisions—the Refugee Protection Division, the Immigration Appeal Division and the Immigration Division. The IRB hears refugee protection claims made in Canada, considers immigration appeals, holds admissibility hearings and conducts detention reviews.

The appointment process will be reviewed by the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration within the next year to ensure that the goals of this reform are being met.

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For more information:

Simone Mac Andrew
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister
(613) 957-8129

Jean-Pierre Morin
Media Relations
Communications Branch
(613) 941-7712

Dominique Forget
Manager, External Communications
Immigration and Refugee Board
(613) 947-0803

Visit IRB Internet site: http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/

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BACKGROUNDER

Reform of the Immigration and
Refugee Board’s Governor in
Council Appointment Process

 
The intent of this reform is to create an independent selection process to ensure the quality and effectiveness of the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB). This will be achieved through transparent and independent merit-based selection to ensure that only highly qualified candidates are considered for appointment. The qualifications of candidates will be measured against a new standard of competence to ensure that they have the necessary skills, abilities and personal suitability.

In 1995, the Minister established a Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) to assist in the selection of members. In 1997, the Auditor General expressed concern that the screening tools did not adequately ensure the appointment of qualified candidates. In response to these concerns, the MAC developed a more comprehensive process to improve the quality of candidates recommended for appointment.

Under the process announced today, the Chairperson of the IRB will ensure the quality of IRB decision makers. The current MAC will be replaced by an advisory panel and a selection board. The selection process will include five elements—initial screening, a written test, advisory panel prescreening, selection board interview and reference checks—based on redefined competency standards, which will identify target levels of competence and raise the measurement bar to ensure high quality candidates for appointment.

The advisory panel will be independent and representative of Canadians. Nominated by the IRB Chairperson and the Minister, the panel will, for example, include membership from the legal community, academia, non-governmental organizations and human resources experts. The panel will assess the application form, curriculum vitae and written test results of each candidate to determine whether further consideration is warranted.

The selection board will be chaired by the IRB Chairperson, who will choose the remaining selection board members—experts with an in-depth understanding of the IRB and its decision-making processes. These experts will be primarily senior level IRB officials and may also include external experts, including chairpersons of other tribunals. The selection board will interview candidates identified by the advisory panel to make a further assessment of the skills, abilities and personal suitability of each candidate to sit on the IRB.

All members of the advisory panel and the selection board will be required to affirm their impartiality at all stages of the member-selection process.

Based on the assessment of the advisory panel and the selection board, the IRB Chairperson will provide the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration with a list of highly qualified candidates. The Minister will exercise her discretion in the appointment process when making recommendations to the Governor in Council, taking IRB operational requirements, gender, diversity and linguistic requirements into consideration.

The reappointment process for IRB members will also be revised to reflect a performance evaluation consistent with the new merit-based criteria, which will also be used to evaluate all current IRB members in the coming year. The Minister will recommend the reappointment of members to the Governor in Council after taking note of the IRB Chairperson’s recommendations concerning performance.

A further change will concern the appointment of future IRB chairpersons. The candidate for this position will be selected following a public competition. The successful candidate will be appointed to the position of IRB Chair following the recommendation of the Minister and review by the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.

The appointment process will be reviewed by the Standing Committee within the next year to ensure that the goals of this reform are being met.