1976 : Under the 1976 Immigration Act, in force April 10, 1978, refugee determination was the prerogative of the Minister of Employment and Immigration Canada (EIC), acting upon the advice of an advisory body, the Refugee Status Advisory Committee (RSAC).
1985: The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in the landmark Singh decision that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Bill of Rights entitled refugee claimants to an oral hearing where credibility was an issue.
In the Plaut Report, made to the Minister of EIC, Rabbi W. Gunther Plaut proposed to reshape the refugee determination process and advocated the creation of an independent board that would determine refugee status after an oral hearing.
1986: The UN awarded The Nansen Medal to the people of Canada in “recognition of their major and sustained contribution to the cause of refugees.”
1989: On January 1, 1989, a new refugee determination process was put in place in Canada. Bill C-55 amended the 1976 Immigration Act and established the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), composed of two divisions: the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD) and the Convention Refugee Determination Division (CRDD). The Immigration Appeal Board (IAB) and the RSAC ceased to exist.
At the same time, a Special Backlog Clearance Program was established to expedite the processing of approximately 115,000 refugee claims that had not been determined prior to January 1989.
1993: Bill C-86 transferred the Adjudication Branch from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to the IRB and established a third division, the Adjudication Division, which conducted inquiries and detention reviews.
1993: Chairperson’s Guidelines on Women Fearing Gender-Related Persecution recognized that gender-related persecution is a form of persecution which can and should be assessed by the Refugee Division panel hearing the claim. The Guidelines on Child Refugee Claimants, respond to the special needs of children appearing before the Board. This made Canada the first country operating a refugee determination system to adopt such guidelines.
1993: With the use of international legal instruments and interpretive guides, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in Ward to establish a framework for the meaning of “particular social group” in the refugee definition. Furthermore, the decision reiterated that a claimant must establish that he or she is unable or unwilling to avail him- or herself of the protection offered by all of his or her countries of nationality.
1994: Videoconferencing was introduced to conduct Adjudication Division inquiries.
1995: Bill C-44, which came into force on July 10, 1995, dealt mostly with serious criminality. Amendments to the Immigration Act were made to speed up the removal of criminals and to prevent persons convicted of serious crimes from having their claims referred to the CRDD if the Minister was of the opinion that they constituted a danger to the public.
1997: The Auditor General released a report on the treatment of refugee claims. The report concluded that a major review of the refugee determination process was needed, as the current process did not provide protection quickly to those who needed it, and did not dissuade those who did not merit or need the protection from making a claim.
1998: In January 1998, the Immigration Legislative Review Advisory Group (ILRAG) released a report that recommended the creation of a “protection agency” to replace the existing IRB.
Following public consultations across Canada, the Minister of CIC responded to the ILRAG report in a document entitled Building on a Strong Foundation for the 21st Century. Most of the ILRAG’s recommendations, as they related to the new refugee system, were not accepted.
2000: Bill C-31, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), received first reading in the House of Commons on April 6, 2000, and then died on the order paper when an election was called later that year.
2002: The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) was re-introduced in the House of Commons on February 21, 2001, as Bill C-11 and came into force on June 28, 2002, replacing the Immigration Act. The new Act maintained the IRB, but this time included four divisions. The CRDD was renamed the Refugee Protection Division (RPD), the Adjudication Division became the Immigration Division (ID), and the IAD maintained the same name. The IRPA also called for the establishment of a new division, the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD). In March 2002, before the new Act came into force, it was announced that proclamation of the sections of IRPA related to the RAD would be delayed.
2003: The Chairperson's Action Plan was a three-year initiative that represented a return to the vision of what an administrative tribunal should be - "simple, quick and fair". It involved: standardizing and simplifying processes, providing greater institutional guidance for decision-makers, and improving the efficiency of refugee protection hearings.
2005: The IRB launched a case management strategy to give priority processing to simple refugee protection claims; this is commonly referred to as the Fast-Track Policy.006: Guideline 8 on Procedures with Respect to Vulnerable Persons was introduced to provide procedural accommodation for individuals who are identified as vulnerable persons and assist members in carrying out their duties in these cases.006: IAD Innovation was undertaken to transform the IAD into a less court-like, more responsive tribunal that is able to render decisions more quickly and efficiently, with the same high standard of justice.
2006: Private Member’s Bill C-280 was introduced to implement some outstanding provisions of the IRPA, specifically those related to the RAD. The Bill was referred to the Senate after third reading in the House of Commons on May 30, 2007, and reintroduced in the Senate on October 16, 2007, when Parliament started its new session. An election call in the fall of 2008 cleared the order paper again. The RAD-related provisions have not yet been proclaimed and therefore the RAD has not been implemented.