Arrests, detentions and removals
National Immigration Detention Framework

The National Immigration Detention Framework (NIDF) aims to create a better, fairer immigration detention system that supports the humane and dignified treatment of individuals while protecting public safety. The pillars of the framework are:

  • Partnerships
  • Alternatives
  • Mental Health
  • Transparency

The framework is complemented by work to improve Immigration Holding Centres (IHCs). Together, the framework and improvements to IHCs will produce:

  • Safe, secure and humane detention conditions
  • Improved detainee well-being
  • Consistent risk-based national programming
  • A sustainable and affordable system.

The CBSA is also improving risk assessments to ensure that detainees are placed in the most appropriate facility and that alternatives to detention are considered whenever possible, and has implemented a management review of detention cases of over 60 days on a monthly basis.

The NIDF framework includes up to $138 million over 5 years.

Statistics

In support of the pillar of transparency, the CBSA began publishing immigration detention statistics on its website in November 2016. They were updated in May 2017 and will be updated annually.

Infrastructure

The CBSA works to ensure that it is exercising responsibility for detentions to the highest possible standards, with the physical and mental health and well-being of detainees as well as the safety and security of Canadians as primary considerations.

The CBSA is improving its immigration holding centres (IHC) across Canada. CBSA has developed national standards for IHC infrastructure. The standards provide for design principles that improve the well-being of detainees, including minimizing the institutional look of facilities, making availability translation and legal support services, a resource centre and educational facility, and enable movement throughout of detainees without escort where feasible, and more.

  • Laval IHC – An architect has been acquired to finalize the design of the new facility, which is slated to be opened in 2021. The current facility will be closed.
  • British Columbia IHC – The British Columbia IHC will be located at an existing federal government building, formerly occupied by the RCMP, that has been transferred to the CBSA. It will be refitted to meet the needs of immigration detainees and will replace the current IHC at the Vancouver International Airport. It will open in December, 2018.
  • Toronto IHC – A contract was recently awarded to continue operations at the current IHC until 2028. The facility will undergo a significant renovation that will align the infrastructure and design to meet national standards set for all CBSA IHCs moving forward. Renovations are expected to be complete by July 2018, at which point higher risk detainees will be accommodated within the facility, alleviating some reliance on provincial correctional facilities.

Mental and medical health services

Under the NIDF, the CBSA remains committed to improving detainee well-being by ensuring safe, secure and humane detention conditions with improved access to essential medical and mental health services. Specific initiatives include limiting detention of persons living with mental health issues, expanding the availability and use of alternatives to detentions, and improving access to essential medical and mental health services, including 24-hour nursing care at the Toronto IHC. CBSA has implemented national policies and standards to help promote consistency in program delivery across Canada, and has made increased mental health training available to staff at all holding centres. Ongoing consultations with external partners continue to help guide these efforts.

Alternatives to detention

A key pillar of the framework is the identification of alternatives. According to CBSA policy and guidelines, people are only detained when grounds for detention exist, and no alternatives are available that mitigate the risk posed by the individual if released. Several factors must be considered when deciding to detain, including the availability and potential use of alternatives to detention when appropriate; allowing a person to be released under specific terms and conditions, such as deposits and guarantees; and, reporting requirements.

In consultation with stakeholders, the CBSA is currently developing an expanded Alternatives to Detention (ATD) framework to provide risk-based, nationally consistent programming to individuals deemed suitable for release from detention. The CBSA will provide officers with an expanded set of tools and programs that will enable them to more effectively manage individual needs while ensuring public safety. In addition to release on reporting conditions, cash deposit or on the establishment of a bondsperson, the ATD Framework will include:

  • a Community Case Management and Supervision (CCMS) program [link to: ACANs] that will align in-community support services with individuals' needs to mitigate any risk factors;
  • a nationally available voice reporting system that will enable individuals to comply with reporting conditions imposed by the CBSA or the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), by using voice biometrics to report to the CBSA at a prescribed interval; and,
  • expanded electronic supervision tools such as the use of GPS Electronic Monitoring on a pilot basis.

This work contributes to Canada's commitment to the UNHCR's Global Detention Strategy Guidelines to ensure that ATDs are considered in all cases prior to detention.

Reduction in the number of minors, vulnerable persons and long-term detainees in detention

Also in support of the pillar of alternatives, the CBSA is committed to improving and minimizing the use of immigration detention for minors, vulnerable persons and long-terms detainees as much as possible by using ATDs on a case-by-case basis.

A vulnerable person in detention is defined as a person for whom detention may cause a particular hardship. For detention purposes, the following are considered "vulnerable": pregnant women and nursing mothers; minors (under 18 years of age); elderly persons; persons suffering from a severe medical condition or disability; persons suffering from restricted mobility; persons with suspected or known mental illness and victims of human trafficking.

The Agency is exploring community-based alternatives to detention. Children are detained only as a last resort, taking into account the best interests of the child. Officers work with the parent(s) and child welfare authorities to assess the best interests of the child.

Consultations with stakeholders has been ongoing to include key considerations, such as the Best Interests of the Child, in regulations.

Minors

In November, 2017, Minister Goodale issued a Ministerial Direction to the CBSA concerning the treatment of minors in Canada's immigration detention system. The Direction supplements the Minister's previously stated objective of avoiding the housing or detention of children in detention facilities as much as humanly possible.

The CBSA then issued the National Directive for the Detention or Housing of Minors. The directive affirms that CBSA officers must consider all alternatives to housing or detaining minors, and supports CBSA's continued efforts to actively and continuously seek alternatives to detention, and preserve the family unit.

The Agency is exploring community-based alternatives to detention. Children are detained only as a last resort, taking into account the best interests of the child. Officers work with the parent(s) and child welfare authorities to assess the best interests of the child.

Consultations with stakeholders has been ongoing to include key considerations, such as the Best Interests of the Child, in regulations.

Consultations

Supporting the pillar of working in partnership, the CBSA has been actively engaging with various stakeholders to inform the design, development and implementation of key initiatives under the NIDF. Regular consultations with key stakeholders, provincial partners and civil society occur to gather feedback, meaningful input and recommendations to refine program and facility design, and to implement new national standards and policies.

In 2016-17, the CBSA held extensive consultations with over 50 organizations, including members of academia, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), community stakeholders, provincial governments and individual members of provincial immigration bar associations. These consultations helped the CBSA refine program and facility design, and refine and develop new national standards and policies. Feedback provided the CBSA with meaningful input and recommendations to refine program and facility design, and implement new national standards and policies. The salient points of those consultations and of what stakeholders had to stay are captured in the report. Review the Summary Report of the Framework and Stakeholder Roundtable Discussions.

The CBSA then invited Canadians to share their views on the stakeholder report on the Consulting with Canadians website. Input from Canadians is critical to establishing a detention program that reflects Canadian democratic values. Highlights of the report include:

  • The vast majority (88%) agrees that immigration detention is necessary to ensure the integrity of Canada`s immigration system, public safety and security.
  • The majority (63%) agrees that the range of ATDs should be expanded from what is currently available.
  • 74% agreed that minors may be held in detention in an IHC or a youth facility in exceptional circumstances.

Review the Summary Report of Consultations with Canadians.

CBSA continues to consult with key stakeholders on the implementation of ATDs and other key initiatives under the NIDF.

Monitoring

In support of the pillar of transparency, the CBSA provides open access to its IHCs, and to provincial correctional facilities where possible, to non-government organizations. These organizations provide support to detainees and advocate for detainee issues.

Under a service arrangement with the CBSA, the Canadian Red Cross monitors conditions of detention and the treatment of detainees held in CBSA IHCs and provincial correctional facilities across Canada. CRC monitoring services provide for the review of conditions of detention and the treatment of detainees to ensure that the CBSA respects domestic legislation and applicable international obligations. Recommendations for further improvements will result in improvements to the well-being of immigration detainees.

The UNHCR carries out a key global monitoring and advisory role regarding national asylum procedures, including detention practices. It also independently monitors conditions of detention and the treatment of refugee claimants and other persons in need of humanitarian protection who are held in CBSA detention.

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