Tuesday, February 7, 2023
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Alberta to end practice of holding immigrants in jail while detained

Federal immigration detainees are held in jails in Alberta while going through immigration matters, but on Wednesday, the provincial government announced that it would be moving to change that practice.

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has an agreement with Alberta that allows them to use provincial jails to house people being detained on immigration matters.

“The change comes in response to concerns about using correctional facilities to hold people who haven’t been charged with a criminal offence, nor convicted of one,” a press release from the province said.


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The province first told the federal government it would be severing that agreement in September 2020, but the federal government has asked to extend the agreement twice, until March 31, 2023.

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A letter from Alberta’s public safety minister Mike Ellis added another three months so the federal government and CBSA can have time to transition out of their current practices and find a new place to house the detainees.

“People who come to Canada for a fresh start and a new life deserve a better welcome than a jail cell while paperwork is sorted out,” said Ellis.


Click to play video: 'CBSA struggles to keep up with asylum seeker influx'


CBSA struggles to keep up with asylum seeker influx


The letter said the feds have until June 30 to find new arrangements in provincial facilities for CBSA detainees.

The province said the current agreement to keep immigration detainees in jail was signed in 2006. An average of 22 people per day were detained in this way in 2021-22, up from an average of 17 people per day in 2020-21, according to the province.

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The province of B.C. severed a similar deal with CBSA in July.

Read more:

B.C. ending immigration detention deal with federal border agency

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