Arrests, detentions and removals
National Immigration Detention Framework

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The National Immigration Detention Framework (NIDF) created a better, fairer immigration detention system that supports the humane and dignified treatment of individuals while protecting public safety. The NIDF framework was announced in 2016 with an investment of $138 million over 5 years. The framework continues to lay the foundation for ongoing improvements.

Framework overview

Framework pillars:

Framework results:

A significant result has been more options for alternatives to detention. Alternatives to detention are considered whenever possible. When detention must take place, the agency uses improved risk assessment processes, developed through the framework, to ensure to detainees are placed in the most appropriate facility at the time of detention. The placement decision is reviewed every 60 days.


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.

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:

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:

Review the Summary Report of Consultations with Canadians.

CBSA continues to consult with key stakeholders on other key initiatives under the NIDF.

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