Citizenship Program: Results Highlights

A quick look at the IRCC citizenship program results posted on the TBS site indicates the following:

  • 95 percent satisfied with the service received;
  • Only 65 percent of applications processed within the 12 month service standard (target is 80 percent). Don’t believe IRCC has ever met this standard, reflecting perennial structural and financial issues with the program.
    • Departmental explanation: “In 2019–20, a total of 65% of citizenship grant applications were processed within the 12-month service standard. The absolute volumes of citizenship applications continue to increase year after year. The number of citizenship applicants who became Canadian citizens has increased by 118%, from 112,969 in 2017–18 to 247,139 in 2019–20. Growing application volumes have strained the operational processing model causing increased processing times. The citizenship applications process is heavily paper-based and relies on manual data entry. The program is also facing a large increase in demand and the current funding levels are outpaced by application volumes. The program is exploring ways to transform the processing model to increase speed and efficiency and develop digital tools for improved client service.”
  • 86 percent of eligible permanent residents have become Canadian citizens. As I have mentioned repeatedly, the performance measure is based upon the total number of immigrants who became citizens, whether they arrive 5 or 50 years ago, and hence is meaningless as a performance indicator. A real performance indicator would use the percentage of recent immigrants who have become citizens, those who immigrated to Canada in the past Census period (5 to 9 years):
    • “Rationale: Canada’s immigration model encourages newcomers to naturalize (become citizens) so that they can benefit from all the rights of citizenship and fully assume their responsibilities, thereby advancing their integration. Take-up rates are considered a proxy that illustrates to what extent permanent residents value Canadian citizenship. Calculation / formula: Numerator: Permanent residents in Canada who are eligible to acquire Canadian citizenship and self-report on the Census that they have acquired Canadian citizenship. Denominator: Permanent residents in Canada who are eligible to acquire Canadian citizenship. Data Source: Statistics Canada’s Census Baseline: 2016: 85.8% Definitions: Naturalization: The Census instructs individuals who have applied for, and have been granted, Canadian citizenship (i.e., persons who have been issued a Canadian citizenship certificate) to self-report their citizenship as “Canada, by naturalization”. Notes: In the performance narrative, IRCC administrative data could be used to tell the story of citizenship from an operational and policy perspective. Information on age, gender, immigration stream, and country of origin of new citizens would be considered in order to explain changing trends. It is also important to note that calculations using IRCC’s administrative data will be based on the number of people admitted as permanent residents who took up citizenship. Figures from Statistics Canada indicate that in 2011, about 6,042,200 foreign-born people in Canada were eligible to acquire citizenship. Of these, just over 5,175,100, or 85.6%, reported that they had acquired Canadian citizenship. This naturalization rate in Canada was higher than in other major immigrant-receiving countries. In telling the story of the naturalization rate, it will be important to explain the reasons why some people choose not to naturalize.”


About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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