By: Vivian Balkaron

A recent investigation highlights that Canada often places it’s difficult-to-deport migrants in maximum security jails indefinitely as a result of their lack of policy for maximum detention length.

The Canadian government, despite advice to the contrary given by the United Nations Human Rights Committee, have been disinclined to alter the policy for fear of a lack of cooperation from detainees who see the end in sight. The Canadian Border Services Agency are also somewhat secretive with the data they release, and have been repeatedly reluctant to release updated figures of migrant and asylum-seeking detainees, often due to them not keeping track of the information. This leads to inconsistent and incomplete public reports, and presumably people occasionally becoming ‘lost in the system’. There are also instances of non-migrant bias; a recent case, ‘Chung v. MCI 2017 FCA 68’, saw an immigrant who was convicted of a drug trafficking offense denied an appeal against his deportation on the grounds that his plea of not guilty lacked demonstration of remorse. This ruling contrasts the law prohibiting a court from settling a sentence dispute based on the plea of the accused. In this instance, being a non-national placed Chung at a disadvantage at his court ruling compared to any other Canadian.

In an effort to improve conditions for immigrant detainees, the CBSA has just released its ‘New national Immigration Detention Framework’ intended to shorten migrant detention and release non-violent immigrants from maximum-security facilities. The plan (or more accurately set of intentions) is part of an ongoing investment in Canadian federal detention facilities, with $138 million being invested in the Laval and Vancouver detention centres and Toronto’s Immigration Holding Centre. The framework is unspecific with regards to policy, but does suggest that the government is committed to detaining fewer migrants who “do not pose a danger to Canadian society and who collaborate with the government” during their deportation process.

An online questionnaire on the detention of immigrants has been provided by the Canadian Government, encouraging the contribution of ideas from Canadian citizens.