- CBSA Management Response and Action Plan to the Canadian Red Cross Society 2017/2018 Annual Report
- CRC Annual Report 2017-2018
- Minister Goodale issues new direction on keeping children out of Canada's immigration detention system and keeping families together
- Ministerial Direction to the Canada Border Services Agency: Minors in Canada's Immigration Detention System
- National Directive for the Detention or Housing of Minors
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:
- Alternatives to Detention
- Mental Health
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 agency has increased transparency in detention policies, protocols and statistics, including improved risk assessment processes to ensure that detainees are placed in the most appropriate facility, and that alternatives to detention are considered whenever possible. A robust governance structure is in place that includes a mandatory management review of all detention decisions, and an ongoing monthly management review of detention cases over 60 days.
The CBSA has already made significant progress in implementing the core elements of the NDIF. These include:
- improved risk assessment processes to ensure that detainees are placed in the most appropriate facility and that alternatives to detention are considered whenever possible
- introduction of a robust governance structure that includes a mandatory management review of all detention decisions that lead to the transfer of an individual to an admitting facility, and ongoing management review of detention cases of over 60 days on a monthly basis
- introduction of a National Directive on the Detention and Housing of Minors
- expansion of alternatives to detention across Canada
- expanded health services in the GTA IHC
- implementation of a detention monitoring program by the Canadian Red Cross
- augmented transparency in detention policies, protocols and statistics
The NIDF frameworkincludes an investment of up to $138 million over 5 years.
In support of the pillar of transparency, the CBSA began publishes immigration detention statistics on its website.
In the context of detention, the CBSA works to ensure its primary considerations are detainees’ physical and mental health and well-being, as well as Canadians’ safety and security.
The CBSA has improved its risk assessment processes to make sure that detainees are placed in the most appropriate detention facility once alternatives to detention have been considered and determined not viable. When detention is used, the CBSA’s detention system adheres to national and international obligations for the treatment of detained persons.
The CBSA has developed national standards for detention infrastructure to improve conditions for those in its care. The standards provide for design principles that improve the well-being of detainees, including minimizing the institutional look of facilities, making available translation and legal support services, introducing NGO space on-site, facilitating greater mobility of detainees within the facility without escort where feasible, providing better access to families and friends through visits, providing additional recreational space indoors and outdoors, and providing on-site capacity for immigration hearings.
- Laval, Quebec IHC – The new Laval IHC is slated to be opened in 2021. The current facility will be closed.
- Surrey, British Columbia IHC – A new facility located in Surrey British Columbia, became operational on . The old BC IHC located at the Vancouver International Airport was decommissioned and closed.
- Toronto, Ontario IHC – The facility has undergone significant retrofits to bring it in line with national detention standards. Retrofits were completed in .
Investments in new and upgraded facilities directly reflect the CBSA’s commitment to reduce its use of provincial facilities for immigration detention and improve detention conditions for detainees. The CBSA relies on provincial correctional facilities to detain high risk detainees whose risk cannot be managed within an IHC environment, or for all detainees in areas not served by an immigration holding centre.
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 psychiatric and psychological care. The 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 immigration 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 the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, people are only detained when grounds for detention exist, and after all alternatives to detention have been considered. Several factors must be considered when deciding to detain, including the availability and potential use of alternatives to detention; allowing a person to be released under specific terms and conditions, such as deposits and guarantees; and, reporting requirements.
On the CBSA started roll-out of an expanded Alternatives to Detention (ATD) program to provide risk-based, nationally consistent programming to individuals deemed suitable for release from detention. Officers have access to an expanded set of tools and programs that will enable them to more effectively manage individual needs while ensuring public safety and program integrity. In addition to release on reporting conditions (cash deposit or the establishment of a bondsperson), the ATD Program includes:
- a Community Case Management and Supervision (CCMS) program that will align in-community support services with individuals' needs to mitigate any risk factors;
- A national Voice Reporting program 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,
- An Electronic Monitoring program in the Greater Toronto Area region that uses GPS and Radio Frequency to monitor an individual’s whereabouts. The EM program is a pilot for two years.
This work contributes to Canada's commitment to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Global Detention Strategy to ensure that ATDs are considered in all cases prior to detention.
Find out more about Alternatives to Detention
Reduction in the number of minors, vulnerable persons and long-term detainees in detention
In support of the pillar of alternatives to detention, the CBSA is committed to improving and minimizing the use of immigration detention for minors, vulnerable persons and long-term detainees as much as possible.
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); 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.
Through the implementation of Alternatives to Detention, the CBSA will be better positioned to manage individuals with identified vulnerabilities in a nationally consistent manner, while balancing the requirement to ensure public safety.
Further work on supporting minors and individuals with mental or medical health needs are ongoing.
In , the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness 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.
In alignment with the Ministerial Direction, the CBSA issued a National Directive for the Detention or Housing of Minors to all CBSA officers. The directive affirms that CBSA officers must consider all alternatives to housing or detaining minors, and supports CBSA's continued efforts to stop the detention or housing of minor children and preserve the family unit.
Children are detained or housed only as a measure of last resort, taking into account the best interests of the child. The decisions on whether a minor may be housed with their detained parent is largely based on the parent’s request, and the minor’s level of dependency and physical, mental and emotional needs.
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 other key initiatives under the NIDF.
In support of the pillar of transparency, where possible and feasible the CBSA provides access to detention facilities where immigration detainees may be held, to non-governmental organizations. These organizations provide support to detainees. Under a contract with the CBSA, the Canadian Red Cross (CRC) monitors conditions of detention and the treatment of detainees held in immigration detention within CBSA IHCs, provincial correctional and other detention facilities across Canada. The CBSA values the CRC's feedback and attempts to address all concerns raised by the CRC in a timely manner. In response to the CRC's 2017-2018 annual report, the CBSA has developed a management response and action plan.
In its report, the CRC made recommendations associated with the minimization of co-mingling in provincial correctional facilities, ensuring legal guarantees and safeguards for detainees are protected, ensuring appropriate and consistent access to family and friends is offered, timely access to medical services and programs is provided as well as ensuring augmented training for officers dealing with immigration detainees is made available. To address these recommendations, the CBSA has developed a multi-phased response as follows:
- With respect to a CRC recommendation to minimize co-mingling in provincial correctional facilities, the CBSA is committed to action on new and retrofitted facilities; on transfers between regions as necessary to maximize the use of IHCs, and more.
- With respect to a CRC recommendation to ensure legal guarantees and safeguards, and access to verbal and written information, the CBSA will work with the legal community to ensure access, and will develop and implement national service standards, procedures and tools to ensure officers consistently and in a timely manner deliver information to detainees.
- With respect to a CRC recommendation to ensure access to family and friends, the CBSA will help facilitate calls to family and friends when calls or funds are limited.
- With respect to a CRC recommendation to ensure access to medical and mental health services, and educational and recreational programs, the CBSA is committed to expanding and improving medical and mental health services as IHCs and to hiring a Medical Officer to support the administration of an immigration detention medical program. CBSA will also provide access to expanded recreational programming in the new and retrofitted facilities.
- With respect to a CRC recommendation on training, the CBSA will deliver additional required training and awareness sessions for officers and staff working in an IHC or provincial correctional facility.
In a separate process, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) also 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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