The Auditor General released their spring report, which involved a chapter on whether the Liberal government efficiently processed asylum claims. The Auditor General was clear: the government, “did not process asylum claims in an efficient and timely manner.”
The audit revealed the Liberals did not adequately respond to the influx of border crossers from the United States and he uncovered serious inefficiencies, which are contributing to significant delays. Due to these delays on processing claims, there has been an increase in the total costs for all levels of government for such things as housing, social assistance and healthcare.
As the Conservative Deputy Shadow Minister for Immigration, I feel that this report confirmed the Liberals were incredibly slow to react. They should have responded immediately rather than delay for two years.
The Auditor General conducted this review due to the rising number of asylum claims that is testing the ability of Canada’s refugee determination system to process claims in a timely manner. In 2017, there were 50,400 asylum claims, which is double the number from the previous year. Another 55,000 claims were made in 2018.
According to the report, if the Liberals do not improve the system, the backlog and wait times will continue to grow. They are projecting that if the number of new asylum claimants remains steady at around 50,000 per year, the wait time for a decision will increase to five years by 2024, which is more than double the current wait time.
It goes without saying, these delays are costing taxpayers millions and putting tremendous strain on the resources of our provinces and municipalities.
In the report, it was determined that roughly 65% of all asylum hearings are being postponed at least once before a decision is made. This means individuals seeking a decision from the Immigration and Refugee Board are facing increasing wait times to determine if their claim is valid or they will be issued a deportation order.
The Liberals have only themselves to blame. The Auditor General was clear when he stated the postponements were due to administrative issues within the Liberal government’s control.
Earlier in the year, I requested a financial analysis from the Parliamentary Budget Officer on the total costs due to those walking across Canada’s southern border to make an asylum claim. By the end of the next fiscal year, the influx of border crossers is projected to cost at least $1.1 billion. These numbers are just the federal government’s expenses and they exclude the hundreds of millions of dollars being borne by provincial governments for housing and welfare payments.
The Auditor General also brought to light that while the government records the identity documents of those seeking asylum claims, some were indecipherable and could not be read. Moreover, the Auditor General took a sample of the asylum claims, and reported the government failed to check for criminality or determine the identity of 400 individuals. He concluded that neither CBSA nor the Immigration Department tracked whether criminal record checks were always completed.
Our Conservative team is continuing to call for the government to close the loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement, which allows individuals to walk across the border at non-official ports of entry.
There is a vacuum of leadership at the very top that is now permeating throughout the entire government. If the Liberals cannot properly manage our immigration and refugee system, it’s time for a new government.