Canada Border Services Agency

Canada Border Services Agency

August 15, 2016 10:40 ET

Minister Goodale Introduces New Initiatives for a Better, Fairer Immigration Detention System

New funding will transform Canada's immigration detention system

LAVAL, QUEBEC--(Marketwired - Aug. 15, 2016) - Canada Border Services Agency

The Government of Canada is committed to creating a better, fairer immigration detention system for the humane and dignified treatment of individuals while upholding public safety.

Today, the Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, announced an investment of up to $138 million to transform the immigration detention system in Canada. The new National Immigration Detention Framework will enhance alternatives to detention and include key investments in federal detention infrastructure.

In keeping with the objective to ensure that detention is truly a last resort, the Government of Canada is expanding the availability of alternatives to detention. A community supervision program will also be developed, in partnership with stakeholders, to provide tailored risk management for released detainees.

Beginning this summer and continuing into fall 2016, a series of stakeholder engagement consultations will be held to expand the range of available alternatives to detention and reduce the number of minors in detention to the greatest extent possible.

In addition, new infrastructure projects will replace the immigration holding centres in British Columbia and Quebec to dramatically reduce the need for the use of provincial correctional facilities for immigration detention. The funding will also be used to enhance mental and medical health services and support for individuals in immigration holding centres.

Quotes

"The Government of Canada is committed to exercising its responsibility for detentions to the highest possible standards, with physical and mental health and well-being of detainees, as well as the safety and security of Canadians as the primary considerations"

- Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Quick Facts

There is an average of 450 to 500 individuals detained under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act at any given time. These make up less than 0.02% of travellers to Canada per year.

Related Products

Arrests, detentions and removals - Detentions

Associated Links

Statement by the Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, on Immigration Detention

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BACKGROUNDER

Federal Immigration Detention Infrastructure

People detained under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) may be detained in immigration holding centres or in provincial facilities. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) administers three Immigration Holding Centres (IHC) located in Toronto, Laval and a short term facility in Vancouver.

While the current national immigration detention infrastructure requires significant upgrades, here are some key facts:

In Ontario, the Immigration Holding Centre in Toronto was built in 2004 and then occupied by the CBSA. It is operated by a private sector service-provider but is not designed or serviced to address persons who present a higher risk profile.

The Toronto Immigration Holding Centre offers:

  • Capacity of 195 persons,
  • On-site access to Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) Hearings,
  • Chaplaincy and multi-faith services,
  • Counselling,
  • Health care providers on site,
  • Recreation facilities, and
  • Educational programming

In Quebec, the CBSA, has an arrangement through a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) with Correctional Service Canada to occupy a facility, in Laval. The facility was built in the mid 1950's and adapted for use as a CBSA-run IHC in 1996. Due to limitations with provincial jail space in Quebec, all detainees, except the highest public safety risk, are managed in this facility.

The Laval IHC offers:

  • Capacity of 144 persons,
  • Chaplaincy and multi-faith services,
  • Counselling,
  • Health care providers on-site,
  • Recreation facilities, and
  • Educational programming.

This site does not have on-site access to the IRB.

In British Columbia, the Vancouver IHC, a short-term facility, is located at the Vancouver International Airport. The facility was reconstructed and occupied by the CBSA in 1999. People are held at this IHC for a maximum of 48 hours. All detainees in the region, including low and medium-risk, held beyond 48 hours are detained in a provincial facility due to the limitations of the holding centre. In addition, because people are held for a maximum of 48 hours, there is no on-site access to the IRB and, no access to educational programming, nor health care providers on-site.

The IHC offers:

  • Maximum capacity of 24 persons for a maximum of 48 hours,
  • Chaplaincy and multi-faith services, and
  • Limited recreation facilities

Moving forward, the Government of Canada will improve infrastructure and expand the availability of alternatives to detention.

These key investments will significantly improve conditions at CBSA IHCs, to better align with international and domestic standards for immigration detention and reduce the reliance on provincial correctional facilities.

BACKGROUNDER

Federal Arrangements with Partners and Stakeholders for Immigration Detention

Detainees who are required to be held under Canada's Immigration laws will have safer, more secure and humane detention conditions that take into consideration their overall well-being under a consistent national program that is both sustainable and affordable.

By reducing the use of provincial facilities, improving infrastructure at current Immigration Holding Centres, expanding the availability and use of alternatives to detention and working closely with trusted partners, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will greatly improve its national immigration detention program and better meet both national and international standards for immigration detention.

New partnerships, strengthened engagement and the collective expertise of trusted organizations, will assist the CBSA in reaching the objectives of the new National Immigration Detention Framework.

The CBSA will build new partnerships and strengthen existing relationships with key partners and stakeholders, such as the Canadian Red Cross, the United Nations Human Rights Commission, the Canadian Council for Refugees, mental health organizations, immigration representatives, the academic sector and provinces.

The CBSA will engage with partners and stakeholders to expand, develop and implement alternatives to detention, including:

  • community supervision and effective monitoring;
  • improve national policies;
  • provide greater program transparency;
  • improve mental health support; and
  • strengthen arrangements with provinces.

These alternatives to detention will minimize the housing of children in detention facilities to the greatest extent possible and ensure national availability of alternatives to detention to the fullest degree possible. Where detention is necessary, the alternatives will meet international and national standards for immigration detention.

Currently, people detained under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act may be detained in immigration holding centres (IHC) or in provincial facilities. The CBSA administers three IHCs located in Toronto, Laval and a short term facility in Vancouver.

In provinces where there are no IHCs and/or the person presents a higher risk profile, the CBSA relies on the use of provincial facilities. With the new facilities, the CBSA will have the capacity to transfer a significant number of detainees currently held in provincial facilities. Only highest risk detainees will remain in provincial facilities.

The federal government has arrangements with provinces for the housing of immigration detainees. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Province of Ontario sets out the obligations for detention under this arrangement with the CBSA. The conditions of detention, including the treatment and privileges of persons detained, are generally governed by the provincial Ministry of Correctional Services Act and the policy and procedures of the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Service. Where possible, immigration detainees housed in provincial facilities do not co-mingle with individuals detained for criminal reasons.

Pursuant to a MOU with the CBSA, the Canadian Red Cross carries out an independent monitoring program of the arrangements and conditions of immigration detainees in IHCs and in provincial jails, and makes recommendations for improvements to the CBSA.

The CBSA is currently in negotiations with the provinces of Quebec and British Columbia to establish similar MOUs to improve services in their respective provincial facilities for immigration detainees.

Contact Information

  • Canada Border Services Agency
    Media Line
    613-957-6500