Canada detention levels

Immigration detention levels in Canada

Canada’s immigration law permits Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers to detain permanent residents and foreign nationals under certain conditions. Of course, officers must consider all reasonable alternatives before making this decision. In this article, we’ll explore when an officer detains an individual, and how many detentions there have been in the last year.

When an officer detains an individual?

According to the CBSA, officers can detain a foreign national or permanent resident at a port of entry if:

  • it is necessary to complete an examination
  • there are reasons to believe that the person is inadmissible on grounds of security, violating human or international rights, serious criminality, criminality or organized criminality.

In addition, CBSA officers can detain a foreign national if:

  1. they have reasonable grounds to believe the person is:
    • unlikely to appear for an immigration proceeding (for example, examination, hearing, removal)
    • a danger to the public
    • unable to satisfy the officer of their identity
  2. they are designated as part of an irregular arrival by the Minister of Public Safety.

Here you can find more info about detentions. Also, you may find reasons for continuing detention in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.

Detention statistics

The CBSA provided a report of the quarterly detention statistics for the fiscal year 2021 to 2022. According to that report, the number of entries by foreign nationals to Canada in Q2 was nearly three times higher than in Q1. However, the number of detentions increased by only 6%.

The report also showed that Ontario and British Columbia continued to have the largest number of detainees. Nevertheless, the province with the highest increase in the number of detainees between Q1 to Q2 was Quebec. This province had an 8% increase (98 in Q1 and 106 in Q2 of 2021 to 2022).

Immigration detention - CBSA
Image: CBSA

In addition, over the last two quarters, the grounds for detention that were most used were “unlikely to appear” and “unlikely to appear (and) a danger to the public.” Officers can detain a person if they believe a person is unlikely to appear for:

  • examination,
  • an admissibility hearing,
  • removal from Canada, or
  • at a proceeding that could lead to the making of a removal order.
Immigration detention CBSA
Image: CBSA

According to recent data obtained by Reuters, Canada held 206 people in immigration detention as of March 1, 2022. It is a 28% increase compared with March 1 of the previous year. A CBSA spokesperson told Reuters that “when the number of entries (to Canada) goes up, an increase in detention is to be expected.” CBSA also said in the past it uses detention as a last resort.

<<Also Read: Canada welcomed over one million travellers in a week>>

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