2020 audit – Findings and IRB implications

​Key messages

  • We are pleased that the OAG did not have any findings or recommendations directed at the IRB in the 2020 Audit of Immigration Removals.
  • The outcome of the report speaks to the robustness of our procedures and that we are able and demonstrated our ability to be rigorous in how we communicate decisions to our portfolio partners.
  • We are committed to working alongside IRCC and CBSA to continuously improve and enhance our processes and further enable efficient and effective sharing of information between our organizations.


  • The audit focused on actions of the CBSA to remove inadmissible persons from the time that a removal order became enforceable
  • There are no findings or recommendations directed at the IRB.
  • The audit did examine the coordination of information shared by the IRB and the IRCC to CBSA for context in order to assess CBSA’s removal process:
    • The audit compared removal orders in the IRB database (NOVA) and CBSA database. The audit team looked at key decision dates, the time files spent in each inventory, and checked the total number of confirmed cases in each inventory.
    • The audit found no errors with the agency’s entry of removal orders issued by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada


Key findings

  • CBSA did not remove foreign nationals from Canada in a timely manner. 50 000 enforceable cases accumulated in the agency’s inventory and the whereabouts of individuals in two thirds of these cases were unknown. Most of these cases had been enforceable for several years.
  • This finding is due to poor data quality resulting in cases missing from the agency’s removal inventories. Because of delays in processing data received from federal partners, CBSA did not have the information it needed to track the status of removal orders. Among cases with enforceable orders, the OAG found that many cases were inactive or stalled because of poor case management, even some that were considered high priority.
  • CBSA did not know the whereabouts of a large number of foreign nationals who were subject to enforceable removal orders. It issued immigration warrants for their arrest but seldom completed the annual investigations to locate those with criminality.

Recommendations and response by responsible departments (as indicated in Audit report)

1.26 The CBSA should continue to refine its strategy to ensure the timely removal of new and accumulated removal orders, particularly for high-priority cases. To support these efforts, the agency should regularly track the timeliness of its removals against performance targets.

  • CBSA response: The CBSA agrees that it should continue to refine its existing strategies to further ensure the timely removal of those found inadmissible to Canada, particularly of those persons found inadmissible on the most serious grounds, the agency’s established highest-priority category for removals…. the agency will complete a removals plan by the second quarter of the 2020–21 fiscal year to both increase the number of removals and better track the timely removal of individuals from Canada, focusing on high-priority cases. This plan will include additional data quality assurance controls.

1.29 The CBSA should continue to explore options to encourage voluntary returns and assist the departure of foreign nationals to their countries of origin in line with Canada’s international commitments to promote safe and orderly migration.

  • CBSA response: Agreed. The Canada Border Services Agency strongly encourages voluntary compliance and has been working over the past year to establish initiatives designed to support this outcome. This includes both a dedicated information line open to the public to allow individuals to seek information on their removal process and a Departure Incentive Program pilot for which the agency has already completed an examination of international voluntary compliance models in order to design a Canadian version. The agency is committed to implementing these initiatives to encourage voluntary compliance with removals. The agency will implement these initiatives by the fourth quarter of the 2020–21 fiscal year.

1.46 The CBSA should improve the integrity of its data and case management practices, so that it can better manage its removals program. Specifically, it should further check the accuracy of its removal inventory database with respect to both the status of individual cases and the makeup of its inventory; establish a clear triage process for assigning and initiating action on removal cases according to current status and expected next steps and ensure that cases progress toward removal as soon as possible; improve its data interface with partners, so that it knows when decisions have been made that affect the status of removal orders in conjunction with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, establish a process to ensure that any new information entering the database is accurate and timely.

  • CBSA response: Agreed. In conjunction with increased funding provided for the program in Budget 2019, the agency has established a multi-year removals strategy. This strategy will lead to the implementation of an enhanced triage method to improve case identification and to ensure cases are processed in a timely and efficient manner on the basis of removal priorities. In 2019, the agency developed the ability to report more accurately on the length of time cases are in its removal system and will further refine this capacity to ensure the length of time is reflected in processes used to assign cases to agency officers. The agency will also conduct reviews of multiple removal inventories in order to identify and correct data integrity challenges. The agency will also work with its partners to ensure the timely and accurate input of information in support of removals, whether through system upgrades or additional training measures during the 2020–21 fiscal year.
  • IRCC response: Agreed. Where Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is implicated, it is committed to working with the Canada Border Services Agency to ensure accurate and timely data entry, including by the Department of Justice Canada, to assist the agency in managing its removal program as well as to deliver on the department’s program integrity and quality assurance objectives.

We are doing this by building on the monitoring, oversight, and compliance regime that was developed and implemented in response to the 2019 spring report of the Auditor General of Canada, Report 2— Processing of Asylum Claims, which focused on asylum and related enforcement processes. This monitoring regime was launched in September 2019 and has been identifying delayed or improper data entry to department and agency field operations managers for corrective action on a monthly basis. Since November 2019, the related monthly asylum monitoring report also includes a section on incomplete removal orders to ensure that any issues, including the one identified in this report, are addressed by the appropriate organization. In addition, we are committed to developing and implementing an oversight mechanism to monitor litigation data entry, including by the Department of Justice Canada. This will ensure that data entry is timely and that accurate information is available in the removal inventory.

  • Note that the IRB was not asked to respond to this recommendation; however if asked, the IRB will work with CBSA and IRCC to improve CBSA’s data interface.
  • See 1.36 Poor data quality: "We found no errors with the agency’s entry of removal orders issued by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada." 
  • See 1.47 “Conclusions”: “We did not find issues with the information shared by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada."