Decoding DPM: Everything we know about Canada’s Digital Platform Modernization

Julia Hornstein
Published: November 21, 2023

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and the Government of Canada announced in their immigration strategy, An Immigration System for Canada’s Future, that they are working to deliver an efficient and user-friendly experience for service users in Canada and abroad.

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In order to compete for global talent and be modern and proficient, IRCC plans to launch a new state-of-the-art operating platform, called Digital Platform Modernization (DPM).

DPM will maximize efficiency and allow IRCC to better meet the unprecedented level of demand to work, study, visit and live in Canada. It will also bring new capabilities – such as an online single window for immigration programs, enhanced automation, and digital self-service.

The strategy states that DPM will transform the way IRCC does business by speeding up processing and improving program integrity, while making the immigration journey clearer and more human focused.

How will Digital Platform Modernization (DPM) be implemented?

According to the Canadian government website, IRCC’s DPM will be a multi-year, multi-phase initiative. Since DPM will deliver a new operating model that will redesign and optimize business processes with modern capabilities, it will take a few years to be fully implemented.

The DPM will gradually replace IRCC’s aging IT platform, the Global Case Management System (GCMS). GCMS is IRCC’s current electronic data management system that is used to process applications overseas and in Canada.

The DPM program will achieve its goals by delivering three consecutive and overlapping phases:

  • Phase 1: designed to avoid risks and stabilize GCMS, with a focus on reducing the technical debt that has accumulated over the years in the system
  • Phase 2: continues to standardize IT operations and reduce technical debt to prepare the Department for digital transformation
  • Phase 3: transform the way that IRCC works and delivers its services to clients and Canadians around the world through the delivery of a new digital platform and the processes and policies that support it

The third phase of the DPM initiative is the most complex, but already underway, running until December 2026.

According to IRCC, DPM will be nimble, flexible, and responsive enough to support growing volumes, actively helping IRCC:

  • Reduce application processing times
  • Improve tools for officers
  • Meet the Government’s immigration and diversity priorities
  • Critically respond to the changing needs and expectations of clients as Canada seeks to out-compete other countries for talent

DPM as part of IRCC’s goal to “create a more welcoming experience for newcomers”

The DPM initiative is just one of many actions IRCC is taking to create an efficient, predictable, and timely experience for newcomers to Canada.

As part of this effort, IRCC strategy has outlined “actions” it will take. These include:

  • Reducing wait times and improving service standards
  • Help remove barriers to welcoming in the people Canada needs for the future
  • Strengthening partnerships with employers and institutions that rely on immigration, while addressing fraud and strengthening student and worker protections
  • Improve communications and ensure a human-centric approach
  • Make applications more user-friendly, using digital and virtual technologies
  • Continue to advance reconciliation as Canada welcomes newcomers

In order to do reduce wait times and backlogs, IRCC has made several key investments to boost operational processing capacity and address backlogs, including technological improvements and hiring over 1,200 officers during 2022-2023. In addition, IRCC plans to embrace digital tools that allow officers to process requests from different parts of the world more effectively and align application intake with available admission spaces to prevent year long waiting times.

In order to protect students and workers, IRCC will launch Letter of Acceptance (LOA) verification and implement a Recognized Institutions Framework to promote the integrity of the international student programs and avoid fraud. IRCC has also launched the Recognized Employer Pilot, which provides benefits to repeat employers who meet compliance standards in occupations with labour shortages.

IRCC also plans to build an advisory body that has lived experience in immigration to guide policy development and service delivery in order to ensure a more human-centric approach.

Finally, IRRCC will launch a new Citizenship guide that better reflects the history of systemic racism and discrimination faced by Indigenous Peoples in order to continue to advance reconciliation as IRCC welcomes newcomers to the country.

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