Skip to content

QUESTION PERIOD — Public Safety

National Immigration Detention Framework

June 14, 2023


My question is for the Government Representative.

Canada has used provincial jails to incarcerate thousands of refugee claimants and migrants in immigration detention based solely on administrative grounds.

In 2021, the #WelcomeToCanada campaign called on Canada to end the practice of using provincial jails for immigration detention. Dozens of social justice, expert and grassroots organizations, as well as individuals with lived experience in immigration detention and hundreds of lawyers, academic scholars, health care providers and religious leaders across Canada have joined the call for provinces and the federal government to end this practice.

This year, the coroner’s inquest into the death of Abdurahman Hassan, a refugee from Somalia, brought to light shocking details about Canada’s immigration detention system and abusive conditions in provincial jails. The jury’s first recommendation called on Ontario to end the use of provincial jails for immigration detention. This Monday, the Toronto Star editorial board amplified this call.

To date, five provinces — Alberta, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba — have cancelled their respective immigration detention contracts with the Canada Border Services Agency.

When will the Government of Canada put an end to the practice of detaining migrants and asylum seekers on solely administrative immigration grounds in provincial jails across the rest of the country?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate) [ - ]

Thank you for the question, senator. Colleagues, administration detention is a matter of last resort. The government knows well that much more needs to be done. It’s for that reason I’m advised that, through the National Immigration Detention Framework, the government is doing several things to address this important issue: One, it is introducing a ministerial directive to stop the housing of minors; two, importantly, it is expanding health services and overall conditions in immigration holding centres and, also importantly, reducing reliance on provincial facilities.

Thank you for that response, Senator Gold.

What timeline do you see for the end of the use of the provincial jails for immigration detention?

Senator Gold [ - ]

Thank you for that question.

I don’t have an answer to that. I’ll certainly make inquiries in an effort to determine how things are progressing.

Back to top