Two hands hold up a sign that reads, "Abolish Immigration Detention in Provincial Jails Now."

Quebec, New Brunswick to end immigration detention in provincial jails

Amnesty International Canada applauds Quebec and New Brunswick for taking steps to end their complicity in a system that harms people seeking safety or a better life: immigration detention.

The two provinces join British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia in ending their immigration detention contracts with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

“We thank Quebec and New Brunswick for championing Canada’s growing consensus on immigration detention in provincial jails,” said Ketty Nivyabandi, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada’s English-speaking section. “Now, seven provinces representing nearly two thirds of the Canadian population have declared they no longer wish to participate in the inhumane, discriminatory practice of jailing migrants and refugees.

“It’s time for the three remaining provinces – including Ontario, whose jails hold more people in immigration detention than any other province’s – and the federal government to finally side with history and justice.” 

“The decisions taken by Quebec and New Brunswick represent an important step towards putting an end to a harmful and discriminatory system of immigration detention,” said France-Isabelle Langlois, Executive Director of Amnistie internationale Canada francophone. “It is unacceptable that people fleeing conflict, disaster or extreme poverty find themselves in prison, in some cases in maximum-security detention. The federal government should take this as a cue to abolish immigration detention and put human rights at the core of its immigration and refugee-protection systems.”

Investments needed in community-based alternatives to detention

In light of the harms and human rights violations that take place within immigration detention, Amnesty International Canada and Human Rights Watch have called on provinces and the federal government to immediately end immigration detention in provincial jails and to commit to a roadmap for the abolishment of all forms of immigration detention. And instead of transferring people across provinces to keep them detained as these immigration detention contracts end, CBSA should rely on localized, rights-respecting, community-based alternatives to detention.

“The federal government should invest in community-based organizations that provide compassionate support, including rights-respecting alternatives to detention,” said Samer Muscati, Associate Director of Disability Rights at Human Rights Watch. “And the government must ultimately end immigration detention across the country.”

Join Amnesty International Canada and Human Rights Watch in calling on Prime Minister Trudeau to immediately end immigration detention in jails across the country. Take action NOW on the #WelcomeToCanada campaign website!

Header photo credit: Samer Muscati/Human Rights Watch