Complaints Concerning Interpretation

Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada


June 2006

Interpretation at the IRB

The IRB Interpreter's Unit is dedicated to providing quality interpretation services to people who appear before the Board in the Refugee Protection Division, the Immigration Division and the Immigration Appeal Division. Over 90% of IRB proceedings require interpretation services. The IRB provides accredited interpreters with an orientation to Board processes. Interpreters are employed on a contractual basis and are not employees of the Board.

Our standards are high and defined by the following criteria:

  • Interpretation should be continuous, without breaks and complete.
  • Interpretation should be precise, as close as can be to word-for-word and without summaries or changes in grammar and syntax; it should be in the first person.
  • Interpretation should be impartial; the interpreter is not a witness.
  • Interpretation should be competent; the interpreter must take an oath and should his or her competence be in doubt, an inquiry into competence should be made.
  • Interpretation should be contemporaneous, consecutive, rather than simultaneous.

The IRB provides interpretation in over 260 languages in some 40,00-60,000 procedures a year. Quality interpretation helps assure quality decisions, and the IRB has developed a rigorous testing and accreditation system to ensure interpreters at the Board are well qualified.

Quality control

The Board is committed to ensuring the highest quality of interpretation services. Every interpreter under contract with the IRB is subject to at least one random audit of his or her performance in the hearing room. As well, Regional Interpreters Units welcome and encourage observations from members and IRB personnel on the quality of interpreters' work and issues of comportment. Interpreters are aware of their obligations in connection with conflicts of interest. If any problems are identified via the audits or observations, the regional interpreters unit will take appropriate action - including the termination of an interpreter's contract - where circumstances warrant.

Case-related complaints

Complaints regarding interpreter competency or comportment are rare. Most arise in connection with a case that is being heard, or that has been heard, by one of the IRB's divisions.

Parties must raise concerns with respect to interpretation during the course of the hearing, at the first opportunity, unless there are exceptional circumstances for not doing so. The Member who is hearing the case will decide on the appropriate course of action in accordance with the rules of natural justice.

Where concerns arise regarding interpreter competency based on information that only became available after a matter was decided, it may be possible to apply for reopening as provided for in the Rules of the Division, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) or according to the relevant case law. In such cases applications should be made in writing and should be sufficiently detailed to enable the tribunal to act.

Regional Interpreters Units, responsible for arranging interpretation for the various proceedings that take place, take note of case-based complaints and the decisions of the tribunal or the Courts in that connection and exercise their prerogatives under the contract established with each interpreter as required.

Other complaints

Any person, whether or not within the Board, may have concerns regarding the competency or comportment of an interpreter, accredited to work before the IRB, that is not related to a particular case. Such concerns should be raised in detail in writing with the head of the regional interpreters unit or with the Regional Director, who will consider the matter and take the appropriate action.

To make a complaint, write to:

The Registrar - Western Region
Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Library Square
300 West Georgia Street, Suite 1600
Vancouver, BC  V6B 6C9

The Registrar - Central Region
Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
74 Victoria Street, Suite 400
Toronto, ON  M5C 3C7

The Registrar - Eastern Region
Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
200 René-Lévesque Boulevard West
Guy Favreau Complex, East Tower, Room 102
Montreal, QC  H2Z 1X4