NO ASYLUM FROM CHAOS
The government agencies tasked with speedily processing the tens of thousands of people who have crossed illegally into Canada to make asylum claims are dropping the ball big time, a new Auditor General of Canada report reveals.
The three agencies — Canada Border Services Agency; Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada; and the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada — “did not process asylum claims in an efficient and timely manner,” the report released this week concludes.
Back in December 2012, the Conservative government said most asylum claimants — whether they were regular or illegal crossers — had to have hearings within 60 days. Now, applicants typically won't receive answers for two years.
As if that isn't bad enough, it's only set to get worse. “We project that if the number of new asylum claimants remains steady at around 50,000 per year, the wait time for protection decisions will increase to five years by 2024 — more than double the current wait time,” the report states.
The feds have done little to discourage people from crossing illegally into the country in the first place. Recently, they announced new measures to make it easier to turn away immediately those who have previously made a claim in the United States. It's not yet known what effect, if any, this has had on the influx.
The number of people crossing illegally into Canada skyrocketed in 2017 and 2018, with approximately 20,000 people each year being intercepted by the RCMP. The 2019 numbers to date show the monthly totals are decreasing, sitting at about half that of the previous year.
The AG report also draws attention for the first time to major inefficiencies within these agencies. For example, the agencies continue to share information by paper as opposed to quicker, less expensive digital options.
The report also notes about 400 asylum claimants did not receive biometric security checks, mostly because fingerprints weren't properly taken or “system errors occurred when information was transmitted.”
One of the biggest problems contributing to long waiting periods is about 65 per cent of hearings get postponed at least once. The top reason for postponement was an immigration and refugee board member was not available to attend the hearing.
These inefficiencies aren't good for anyone. Not for the government, the taxpayer or the asylum claimants. And it seems much of it can be chalked up to shoddy management.