Alternatives to Detention
Questions and Answers

What is an “Alternative to Detention” (ATD)?

Alternatives include any condition that may be imposed on an individual to offset a risk that person may represent to the enforcement objectives and the Agency’s mandate. ATDs enable individuals to be released from detention and managed within the community.

CBSA officers determine the appropriate ATD by considering the likelihood, or risk, that individuals may not follow through on immigration proceedings, or the risk they could pose to the community.

What is the ATD Program?

The ATD Program is a collection of intervention options and processes.

The ATD Program, implemented in the summer of 2018, provides Officers with an expanded set of tools and programs that enables them to more effectively release individuals into the community while ensuring that public safety is preserved. It is also protects the integrity of Canada’s immigration detention system ensuring that individuals are treated with dignity and respect, and in a consistent manner across the country, ensuring that any detention or release decision is made commensurate with an individual’s risk profile.

How can individuals gain access to the ATD program?

Everyone who is detained under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) is provided with written information on the ATD program. Individuals can contact a CBSA officer assigned to their case, or the local Community Liaison Officer for more information related to the program. The CBSA or the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) will determine if an individual can be released from detention.

What ATDs are available for consideration?

1. ATD Community Programming

ATD community programming enables individuals to reside in the community supported by family/kin, or supported by a third-party service provider that specializes in community services. The support provided is tailored to individuals’ needs to ensure compliance with program requirements. Program options can be used alone or together. Options include:

  1. Release on a deposit or guarantee to a bondsperson utilizing a person’s ties to the community to ensure compliance with program requirements;
  2. The imposition of conditions, such as a requirement to regularly report to the CBSA; and,
  3. Release to a Community Case Management and Supervision (CCMS) Program.

CCMS is intended for individuals who require support in addition to a bondsperson to mitigate risk upon release into the community. The CBSA has contracted partnerships with the John Howard Society of Canada, the Toronto Bail Program and the Salvation Army. Services delivered may include:

2. Electronic Supervision Tools

Electronic Supervision programs complement community programming by providing additional options to facilitate an individual’s ability to communicate with the CBSA. Further, the technology enables the CBSA to more effectively initiate investigations on individuals who fail to comply, or seek to evade the CBSA. Tools include:

a) Voice Reporting (VR)

The VR system uses biometric voiceprint technology to monitor and track compliance of enrolled individuals through regularly scheduled telephone reporting. It allows for use of cell phones and landlines in remote locations and, includes dynamic features including on demand calling schedules and real time call-in features.

This new technology is less onerous for the individual when compared to in-person reporting as it does not require the individual attend a CBSA office. It is particularly well suited to individuals in remote or distant locations for whom in-person reporting would not be possible, or less practical.

Voice Reporting with Location Based Services (LBS)

VR with LBS adds the ability to capture an individual’s physical location at the time of their reporting through Global Positioning System (GPS) functionality of their phones, and using cell phone tower triangulation. In instances where an individual fails to comply, the LBS is intended to assist the CBSA in initiating an investigation into their whereabouts. VR with LBS may be appropriate for individuals who have a history of non-compliance or pose a heightened risk to complying with immigration program requirements.

b) Electronic Monitoring (EM) (pilot available in Greater Toronto Area Region only)

The EM program is limited to a portion of individuals, selected based on the level of risk they present, who will be monitored through a GPS and/or Radio Frequency (RF) system. The Agency has partnered with the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) to deliver the technology.

When are ATDs appropriate?

Consideration for an ATD can occur before an arrest has taken place, after an arrest has occurred, and while an individual is in detention.

Only those individuals whose risk can be effectively managed in the community through the imposition of ATD would be considered for community release.

Consideration for an ATD is limited to cooperative individuals (individuals must agree to the terms of release) whose risk can be mitigated through enrolment on an ATD.

How is the appropriate ATD determined?

ATDs are chosen by analyzing the specific type of risk posed by the individual, identifying possible intervention options to mitigate that risk, and then determining if the remaining or residual risk warrants release or continued detention.

Intervention options are designed to reduce the likelihood of the risk impacting the enforcement outcome. Intervention options address specific behaviours of the individual, are reasonable and only as intrusive as necessary.

ATD tools may be paired together for maximum risk avoidance.

ATD Pyramid of Mitigation

Who has the authority to impose conditions?

Designated CBSA Officers are authorized to arrest and to detain foreign nationals and permanent residents in circumstances prescribed in section 55 of the IRPA and impose conditions under Section 56(1) when releasing an individual who is detained.

58(3) is used by the IRB and can only be used when the Immigration Division is ordering an individual’s release from detention.

Designated CBSA and IRCC Officers as well as the Immigration Division have authority to impose conditions under section 44(3) of IRPA.

Is the risk assessment outcome of the National Risk Assessment for Detention (NRAD) relevant in the ATD context?

No. The risk assessment conducted through the NRAD is specific to identifying the risk an individual may pose in detention, for the purposes of determining the most appropriate detention placement.

How does the ATD Program impact release on in-person reporting?

The provision of in-person reporting has not changed under the ATD Program. To facilitate the monitoring of individuals in the community, the CBSA and/or the IRB may impose the condition of in-person reporting to the CBSA, as deemed appropriate under their authority.

How does the ATD Program impact release to a bondsperson?

The provision of releasing to a bondsperson has not changed under the ATD Program. This tool utilizes an individual’s ties to the community to facilitate release. The bondsperson is required to ensure the individual meets imposed conditions, including attending the CBSA as required.

What is Community Case Management and Supervision (CCMS)?

CCMS is intended to promote detention avoidance or detention release for persons that lack a bondsperson, or who require support in addition to a bondsperson to mitigate risk upon release into the community. The CBSA has entered into contracted partnerships with the John Howard Society of Canada, the Toronto Bail Program and the Salvation Army. Services delivered may include:

An individual participating in a CCMS program must sign and abide by the terms of their Supervision Agreement.

I have lost all my paperwork but am required by the CBSA/IRB to report to a CCMS service provider (John Howard Society/Salvation Army/Toronto Bail Program), OR am required to report by phone, OR am in the Electronic Monitoring program. What do I do?

Individuals on ATDs are asked to contact the officer assigned to their case, or call the Border Information Services Line (1-800-461-9999) for more information.

What is Voice Reporting (VR)?

The VR system uses biometric voiceprint technology to monitor and track compliance of enrolled individuals through regularly scheduled telephone reporting. It allows for use of cell phones and landlines in remote locations and includes dynamic features including on demand calling schedules and real time call in features.

This new technology is less onerous for the individual when compared to in-person reporting as it does not require the individual attend a CBSA office. It is particularly well suited to individuals in remote or distance locations for whom in-person reporting would not be possible or not practicable.

What happens if an individual has lost Voice Reporting instructions?

Individuals on ATDs are asked to contact the officer assigned to their case, or contact the Border Information Services Line (1-800-461-9999) for more information.

What happens if an individual has lost or damaged his or her phone?

If individuals are able to replace their phone and keep the same phone number and phone service provider, they can use the new phone. If individuals replaced their phone number and phone service provider, they will need to contact the officer assigned to their case, or call the Border Information Services Line (1-800-461-9999).

What happens if an individual tries to report by phone from a new phone number or new service provider and now gets an error message?

To change their phone number, individuals are asked to contact the officer assigned to their case, or call the Border Information Services Line (1-800-461-9999) for more information.

What happens if an individual is required to report by phone and forgets?

They must report immediately and a CBSA officer will contact them if required. If they report by cell phone, they will receive a text message with further instructions.

What is Voice Reporting with location based service?

Voice reporting with Location Based Service (LBS) is built upon the VR system, but it adds the ability to capture the individual’s physical location at the time of their reporting, through Global Positioning System (GPS) functionality of their phones, and the use of cell phone tower triangulation.

Individuals are required to consent to be enrolled under this program. The biometric and LBS data is held with the cell phone service provider and delivered, upon request.

What is Electronic Monitoring (EM)?

EM requires the installation of an ankle monitor and a radio frequency modem in the individual’s place of residence, and involves ongoing real time monitoring of individuals in the community.

The Electronic Monitoring program is offered exclusively in the Greater Toronto Area Region (GTAR) as a pilot project.

Who is providing Community Case Management and Supervision services?

The CBSA selected three preferred vendors for the provision of CCMS services to individuals in order to facilitate detention avoidance and release from detention, where suitable. These vendors include the Salvation Army, the John Howard Society of Canada and the Toronto Bail Program.

CCMS service providers are specifically responsible for the following:

Why is CBSA offering services to foreign nationals that may not be available to Canadians?

None of the services that would be offered through CCMS are above and beyond what is currently available to Canadians or other foreign nationals and permanent residents.

The CCMS program provides individuals with effective community support until their immigration status is conferred or until they are removed from Canada. These services are similar to services available to Canadian citizens and permanent residents, through community, municipal or provincial programs and funding.

What is the role of the Community Liaison Officer (CLO)?

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