The Canadian government is committing millions to upgrade immigration detention centres across Canada. Immigration detention facilities in Vancouver and Laval, Que., are also set to be replaced.
Canada’s Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale made the $138-million announcement Monday morning at the Laval Immigration Holding Centre.
The government will soon begin consultations with stakeholders with the aim of finding alternatives and ways to minimize the number of minors in detention.
According to the Canada Border Services Agency, there are, on average, 450 to 500 people who are detained at any given time under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
A Red Cross investigation in 2014 found numerous shortcomings at facilities for immigrant detainees, including overcrowding and inadequate mental health care.
Newcomers are often held in provincial jails or police facilities alongside suspected gang members and violent offenders.
The government’s reform objectives include:
- Increasing the availability of alternatives to detention.
- Reducing the use of provincial jails for immigration detention to prevent the interaction of immigration and criminal detainees.
- Avoiding the detention of minors in the facilities as much as possible.
- Improving physical and mental health care offered to those detained.
- Maintaining ready access to facilities for agencies such as the Red Cross, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as well as legal and spiritual advisers.
- Increasing transparency.