The federal government has signed a contract with the Canadian Red Cross for the monitoring of Canada’s immigration detention centres to ensure they comply with domestic and international standards, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale announced Thursday.
The two-year contract between the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the CRC will include regular visits throughout the year to detention facilities across Canada where immigration detainees are held, the government said.
The aim of the program is to increase the number of detainee visits each year, requiring the CRC to conduct up to 86 site visits annually, primarily focusing on the most vulnerable, including unaccompanied minors and individuals with medical and mental health conditions, Goodale said.
There are about 325 to 425 individuals detained under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act at any given time, according to government statistics.
“The Canadian Red Cross Detention Monitoring Program aims to contribute to an environment in which all people who are detained in Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act are treated humanely and are held in accordance with national and international standards,” Conrad Sauvé, president and CEO of the Canadian Red Cross, said in a statement.
“As a neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian organization, ongoing access to facilities and detainees is essential in carrying out our mandate to monitor conditions of detention.”
‘Not an improvement’
However, Toronto-based immigration lawyer Barbara Jackman slammed the CRC’s past record as “useless.” The CRC has been carrying out monitoring of immigration detention centres since 1999.
“Their monitoring was secret – they never published the results, and the conditions in the jails have been atrocious and the Red Cross did nothing, from what we could see, and did not speak up,” Jackman said.
“I don’t see how this will change anything. It is using the Red Cross, because it is a…