Information Commissioner’s Update: Access to Immigration-Related Information

Gatineau, May 7, 2024 - Today, the Information Commissioner of Canada tabled a special report to Parliament entitled Access at Issue: The Unsustainable Status Quo, marking the second systemic investigation into ongoing challenges concerning access to immigration-related information.

In the report tabled today, Commissioner Maynard revisits the issue she first explored three years ago in her systemic investigation into Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and finds that requesters continue to use the access to information system to obtain information related to their immigration applications. Her latest systemic investigation shows that such requests now extend beyond IRCC and are also being directed to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), which has access to the same data through shared tools. This state of affairs stems from IRCC’s lack of progress in developing a digital client service solution that would provide a more efficient alternative to the access to information system, as recommended by the Commissioner in her 2021 special report entitled Access at Issue: Challenging the Status Quo.

‘’The Access to Information Act was never meant as a substitute for providing individuals with timely access to information through modern digital service delivery methods” said Commissioner Maynard. “This is what they need and expect from the government in order to make well-informed potentially life-changing decisions”.

The results of this investigation confirm the conclusion the Commissioner had reached in her previous investigation into IRCC: The access to information system is an inadequate substitute for purpose-built tools and mechanisms. The ever-increasing volume of access-to-information requests within both IRCC and CBSA --and the delays that follow --demonstrate that the status quo is simply untenable.

Keeping in mind that investing in a dedicated portal represents a more strategic allocation of resources than relying solely on the Access to Information Act, Commissioner Maynard once again calls upon on the government to take the necessary measures to make the long-awaited technological solution that immigration clients require in reality. 


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