For a better consultation process

  • January 30, 2023

Two letters from the Canadian Bar Association propose improvements to the Immigration Refugee Board’s stakeholder consultations and offer comments on the review of specific principles guiding adjudicating and managing cases.

The first one, from the Immigration Law Section to the Chairperson and CEO of the IRB, proposes specific agenda items for the IRB’s consultative committee meetings and recommends improvements for future stakeholder consultations. The second letter, from the Immigration Law Section and the Child and Youth Law Section to IRB’s Senior Outreach Advisor, shares feedback on the review of Chairperson’s Guidelines 3 (Child Refugee Claimants: Procedural and Evidentiary Issues) and 8 (Procedures with Respect to Vulnerable Persons Appearing Before the IRB).

Improvements to stakeholder consultations

The Immigration Law Section notes that the IRB asked various stakeholders to make a joint submission in advance of consultative committee meetings. In the past stakeholders never had to consult or agree with one another in their submissions and the CBA Section wishes to continue this practice. “Separate submissions allow stakeholder organizations to fully represent the interests of their members which, in turn, generates informed discussions and healthy debate that benefits all in attendance,” the letter says.

As well, the Section notes that IRB imposes very tight deadlines for input, which makes it hard for volunteer organizations, to provide comprehensive and well-researched feedback. It suggests the IRB allow more flexibility in the response format, including a more generous word count, so that members can fully convey their observations.

Guidelines 3 and 8

In the second letter, the CBA Sections welcome the IRB’s review of Guidelines 3 and 8, as they present a great opportunity to better align the IRB’s practices with international human rights standards and best practices.

In particular with regards to Guideline 3, on child refugee claimants, the Sections say a review “has the potential to enhance the ability of young people to participate meaningfully and have their interests protected in administrative processes that impact their lives.”

In that second letter, the CBA Sections also request more suitable deadlines and a more flexible format for members to provide their response and feedback.