Annual detention, fiscal year 2019 to 2020

The CBSA may detain permanent residents or foreign nationals, including minors, under certain conditions, or release them using alternatives to detention. This page provides statistics and analysis on those detained, including where, for how long and under what grounds.

Background and methodology

In fiscal year 2019 to 2020, the CBSA started counting minors in detention differently. Some minors in detention facilities are simply housed in the facility in keeping with their parent or legal guardian’s wishes, while others are in fact detained. In our reporting for previous fiscal years, there was no distinction made between those housed and those being formally detained.

For more information, consult these resources:

Grounds for detention

These grounds for detention may apply to a permanent resident or foreign national who may be inadmissible to Canada. Refer to section 55 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. For more, consult Arrests, detentions and removals.

General detentions

Table 1.1 Detentions as a percentage of entries, by length of detention and by facility
Fiscal year Entries by foreign nationals to Canada Persons detained (total) Persons in detention / daily average) Detainees as a percentage of entries by foreign nationals to Canada Detention days Average length of detention (days) Median length of detention (days) Detentions in IHCs
(number and percentage)
Detentions in non-IHCs
Detentions in provincial facilities
(number and percentage)
Detentions in other facilities
(number and percentage)
2012 to 2013 27,412,327 8,742 539 0.031% 194,249 22.2 3 6,128 / 61% 3,070 / 31% 781 / 8%
2013 to 2014 28,371,259 7,720 538 0.027% 194,017 25.1 3 5,369 / 61% 2,738 / 31% 725 / 8%
2014 to 2015 29,938,646 6,786 497 0.022% 178,498 26.3 4 4,486 / 57% 2,510 / 32% 828 / 11%
2015 to 2016 31,940,610 6,602 451 0.020% 164,449 24.9 3 4,385 / 57% 2,361 / 31% 955 / 12%
2016 to 2017 33,873,180 6,268 364 0.018% 130,538 20.8 3 4,248 / 59% 2,041 / 28% 971 / 13%
2017 to 2018 35,668,185 8,355 333 0.023% 119,712 14.3 2 6,609 / 71% 1,831 / 20% 831 / 9%
2018 to 2019 36,145,370 8,781 342 0.024% 121,709 13.8 1 7,212 / 69% 1,679 / 16% 1,622 / 15%
2019 to 2020 33,083,807 8,825 326 0.027% 115,559 13.9 1 7,064 / 68% 1,932 / 19% 1,359 / 13%
Source: CIC DWS - Business Reporting IHDA Datamart

Notes:

Table 1.2 Persons detained by length of detention
Fiscal year 24 hours or less
(number and percentage)
25 to 48 hours
(number and percentage)
3 to 9 days
(number and percentage)
10 to 39 days
(number and percentage)
40 to 99 days
(number and percentage)
Over 99 days
(number and percentage)
2012 to 2013 2,631 / 28% 1,159 / 12.3% 2,081 / 22.1% 2,138 / 22.8% 767 / 8.2% 620 / 6.6%
2013 to 2014 2,425 / 29.5% 918 / 11.2% 1,711 / 20.8% 1,759 / 21.4% 769 / 9.4% 631 / 7.7%
2014 to 2015 1,994 / 27.8% 685 / 9.6% 1,632 / 22.8% 1,543 / 21.5% 688 / 9.6% 629 / 8.8%
2015 to 2016 1,825 / 26.2% 844 / 12.1% 1,587 / 22.8% 1,498 / 21.5% 674 / 9.7% 547 / 7.8%
2016 to 2017 2,042 / 30.9% 891 / 13.5% 1,376 / 20.8% 1,278 / 19.3% 594 / 9% 427 / 6.5%
2017 to 2018 4,085 / 47.2% 1,138 / 13.1% 1,239 / 14.3% 1,233 / 14.2% 637 / 7.4% 326 / 3.8%
2018 to 2019 4,279 / 47% 1,128 / 12% 1,421 / 16% 1,379 / 15% 621 / 7% 286 / 3%
2019 to 2020 4,050 / 46% 1,101 / 12% 1,562 / 18% 1,600 / 18% 621 / 7% 241 / 3%
Table 1.3 Persons sorted detained by province
Province 2012 to 2013 2013 to 2014 2014 to 2015 2015 to 2016 2016 to 2017 2017 to 2018 2018 to 2019 2019 to 2020
Alberta 259 292 270 234 160 170 187 226
British Columbia 1,663 1,399 1,282 1,482 1,801 2,215 1,818 1,470
Manitoba 133 127 165 62 70 104 61 72
New Brunswick 14 11 11 19 18 10 15 28
Newfoundland and Labrador 10 4 5 2 1 10 5 10
Northwest Territories 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Nova Scotia 11 14 10 9 14 12 10 14
Ontario 5,380 4,578 3,881 3,533 3,159 4,040 4,755 5,265
Prince Edward Island 0 0 2 2 1 4 0 2
Quebec 1,270 1,287 1,161 1,246 1,034 1,803 1,949 1,755
Saskatchewan 50 41 35 38 30 14 15 26
Yukon 7 5 3 4 3 2 2 0
Note: The sum of the provincial data is greater than the total number of detainees due to transfers between provinces.
Table 1.4 Persons detained by grounds for detention
Grounds for detention 2012 to 2013 2013 to 2014 2014 to 2015 2015 to 2016 2016 to 2017 2017 to 2018 2018 to 2019 2019 to 2020
Danger to the public 45 31 36 47 47 67 70 65
Examination 240 287 214 276 194 777 394 266
Identity 488 354 302 334 290 392 439 564
Security certificate 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Suspected inadmissibility on grounds of human/international rights violation 4 0 2 1 0 2 4 4
Suspected Inadmissibility on grounds of security 10 6 5 5 2 1 8 7
Suspected inadmissibility on grounds of serious criminality/ criminality/organized criminality 61 238 187 167 139 122 47 50
Unlikely to appear/danger to the public 831 831 512 394 318 368 493 525
Unlikely to appear 7,287 6,187 5,668 5,514 5,402 6,737 7,476 7,509

Analysis: Detention of adults — Fiscal year 2019 to 2020

In fiscal year 2018 to 2019 the number of persons detained increased by 5.1% compared to the previous fiscal year. The increase is largely attributable to the constant surge of Mexican travellers since the visa requirement was lifted in , as well as to the persistent influx of irregular arrivals. Of those 8,781 persons detained, 47.2% were Mexican nationals and 6.1% had entered Canada between ports of entry. Consistent with the previous year, the largest proportion of persons detained (47%) were held for 24 hours or less. The proportion of persons detained vis-à-vis the number of entries by foreign nationals also remains consistent, representing 0.2%.

The vast majority (85.1%) of persons detained were deemed to be unlikely to appear for either an examination, admissibility hearing, removal from Canada or a proceeding that could lead to the making of a removal order by the Minister. The largest drop (49.3%) in 2018 to 2019 was observed for the number of persons detained for examination (394)—when compared to 2017 to 2018 (777) — representing 4.5% of all grounds for detention compared to 9.3% in 2017 to 2018.

In fiscal year 2018 to 2019, the total number of detention days increased by 1.7% compared to fiscal year 2017 to 2018 (from 119,712 days to 121,709 days), closely aligned with the increase of 1.3% of entries by foreign nationals to Canada (35.6M in 2017 to 2018 to 36.1M in 2018 to 2019). Over the past five years — since 2014 to 2015 when total detention days numbered 178,498 — the number of detention days has decreased by 31.8%.

There has been drop in the average length of detention from 14.3 days in 2017 to 2018 to 13.8 days in 2018 to 2019. Furthermore, the CBSA has seen a continuous decline in the average length of detention over the past five years. When compared to fiscal year 2014 to 2015 (26.3 days), the average length of detention has dropped by 47.5%. The median length of detention fell from 2 days in fiscal year 2017 to 2018 to 1 day in fiscal year 2018 to 2019.

The number of persons in detention for over 99 days has dropped by 12.3% in fiscal year 2018 to 2019 compared to the previous year, representing 3% of all detentions. The number of persons in detention for over 99 days has declined consistently over the past five years and more sharply since when a number of operational practices were put in place by the CBSA to ensure that all actions toward removal are being pursued and that potential release options continue to be explored.

Between fiscal year 2017 to 2018 and fiscal year 2018 to 2019, the use of provincial correctional facilities for immigration-related detentions decreased, falling from representing 20% of all detentions in 2017 to 2018 to 16% in 2018 to 2019, consistent with the steady drop observed over the past five years. This aligns with the CBSA’s National Immigration Detention Framework which recognizes the need to reduce the reliance on provincial correctional facilities for immigration detention.

Minors

Context

Best interests of the child:
an international principle to ensure children enjoy the full and effective benefit of all their rights recognized in Canadian law and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It is also a rule of procedure that includes an assessment of the possible impact (positive or negative) of a decision on the child or children concerned.
Minor:
A person under the age of 18.
Accompanied minor:
A foreign national or permanent resident who arrives to Canada accompanied by a responsible adult (parent, guardian).
Detained minor:
A foreign national or permanent resident who is deemed to be inadmissible and is subject to an Order for Detention under section 55 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
Housed minor:
A foreign national, permanent resident or Canadian citizen who, after the completion of a best interest of the child assessment, is kept with their detained parent/legal guardian at an IHC at the latter's request. A housed minor is not subject to an Order for Detention and is free to remain and re to enter the CBSA IHC subject to the parent/legal guardian's consent.
Unaccompanied minor:
A foreign national or permanent resident who arrives to Canada unaccompanied by a responsible adult (parent, guardian) and is not effectively taken into the care of such a person.

Note: In fiscal year 2019 to 2020, CBSA started counting minors housed in detention separately from those detained. For this reason, the 2019 to 2020 data appears different than previous years.

Table 2.1: National overview of housed minors
Fiscal year Minors accompanied by parent/guardian Average length of time in a facility (days) Median length of time in a facility (days)
2018 to 2019 103 20.7 10
2019 to 2020 136 16.9 12

Notes:

  • For more information on the detention of minors see sections 6.11 and 6.12 of the Detention Manual
  • The total number of minors in a facility accounts for all minors (foreign national, permanent residents and Canadian citizens).
  • A Canadian citizen cannot be detained but in rare and exceptional circumstances may be housed with a parent/guardian in a facility if it is in the best interests of the child.
Table 2.2: Housed minors by age, gender and status
Fiscal year Status Gender Age
Foreign national Canadian Male Female 0 to 5 years 6 to 11 years 12 to 17 years
2018 to 2019 94 9 46 57 53 35 15
2019 to 2020 135 1 63 73 73 41 25
Table 2.3: Housed minors by length of housing and facility type
Fiscal year Length of housing Facility type
Under 48 hours 3 to 9 days 10 to 39 days 40 to 90 days 91 to 180 days Over 181 days IHC Youth centre Other*
2018 to 2019 21 28 40 10 4 0 102 1 0
2019 to 2020 17 32 78 9 0 0 136 0 0
Note: *Other could be CBSA inland or POE offices.
Table 2.4: Housed minors by detention grounds (of parent/guardian) and region
Year Region Parent/guardian grounds Total
Exam Suspected of serious criminality, criminality, organized crime Unlikely to appear Identity
2018 to 2019 Quebec 1 1 33 68 97
GTA 0 0 0 0 0
Pacific 0 0 3 3 6
Summary 1 1 33 68 103
2019 to 2020 Quebec 1 2 24 103 130
GTA 0 0 0 0 0
Pacific 0 0 5 1 6
Summary 1 2 29 104 136
Table 2.5: National overview of detained minors
Fiscal year Total number of minors detained in a facility Accompanied minors (by parent/guardian Unaccompanied minors Average length of time in a facility (days) Median length of time in a facility (days)
2018 to 2019 15 11 4 3.9 3
2019 to 2020 2 0 2 2.5 2.5

Notes:

  • For more information on the detention of minors see section 5.10 of the Detention Manual
  • The total number of minors in a facility accounts for all minors (foreign national, permanent residents and Canadian citizens).
  • A Canadian citizen cannot be detained but in rare and exceptional circumstances may be housed with a parent/guardian in a facility if it is in the best interests of the child.
Table 2.6: Detained minors by status, gender and age
Fiscal year Status Gender Age
Foreign national Canadian Male Female 0 to 5 years 6 to 11 years 12 to 17 years
2018 to 2019 15 0 10 5 3 2 10
2019 to 2020 2 0 2 0 0 0 2
Table 2.7: Detained minors by length of detention and facility type
Fiscal year Length of detention Facility type
Under 48 hours 3 to 9 days 10 to 39 days 40 to 90 days 91 to 180 days Over 181 days IHC Youth centre Other*
2018 to 2019 6 8 1 0 0   13 0 2
2019 to 2020 1 1 0 0 0   1 1 1
Note: *Other includes CBSA inland or POE offices, hospital, etc. The total by facility type may be higher than the total number of minors detained due to facility transfers.
Table 2.8: Detained minors by detention grounds
Year Region Parent/guardian grounds Total
Exam Suspected of serious criminality, criminality, organized crime Unlikely to appear Identity
2018 to 2019 Quebec 0 0 5 5 10
GTA 0 0 3 0 3
Pacific 0 0 0 0 0
PRA 1 0 0 0 1
SOR 0 0 1 0 1
Summary 1 0 9 5 15
2019 to 2020 Quebec 0 0 0 0 0
GTA 0 0 0 0 0
Pacific 0 0 2 0 2
Summary 0 0 2 0 2

Analysis: Minors housed or detained 2019 to 2020

In year 2019 to 2020, there was an overall increase of 17% in the number of minors housed or detained when compared to the previous fiscal year (118 minors in 2018 to 2019 and 138 in 2019 to 2020). The CBSA noted a reduction in the number of minors detained of 87% (15 minors detained last year and only 2 this year).

The CBSA also noted an increase of 32% in the number of housed minors (103 minors housed in fiscal year 2018 to 2019 compared to 136 in 2019 to 2020). This increase is attributable to an increased number of travellers, with families of 3 or more children, who entered Canada irregularly between ports of entry. Most of these minors (75%) were accompanying a parent/guardian detained on grounds of identity.

The average length of time a minor housed spent in a facility decreased by nearly 4 days compared to fiscal year 2018 to 2019. This reduction in the average number of days a minor spent in a facility is largely attributable to the to the various measures put in place to ensure that the best interest of the child is always a primary consideration when officers make decisions to detain an adult accompanied by a minor. The CBSA is actively and continuously seeking alternatives to detention for the parents detained when unconditional release of the parent is inappropriate. In addition, other arrangements for the unaccompanied minors are sought, such as their placement under the care and protection of child welfare authorities or family members. These efforts could help reduce the length of time minors may spend in a detention facility but does not eliminate it.

Quebec Region held the majority of minors in fiscal year 2019 to 2020 (130 minors housed/94%). The Pacific Region housed 6 minors (4%) and detained 2 unaccompanied minors (1.4%). Seventy-eight percent (78%) of all minors housed or detained arrived irregularly between ports of entry in Quebec Region. Quebec continues to see a large number of irregular arrivals: in 2019 to 2020 94% of all entries (adults and minors) between POEs occurred in the Quebec Region.

Annual and previous quarterly statistics

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