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Council joins call to end indefinite detention of migrants in Lindsay jail

The Council of Canadians, the Public Service Alliance of Canada – Ontario, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, the CUPE Ontario International Solidarity Committee and more than 50 other leading labour, civil society, grassroots groups and individuals have joined with migrant detainees in Lindsay, Ontario to demand an end to the indefinite detention of migrants, a stop to their incarceration in a maximum security jail, and an overhaul to the adjudication process.


On September 20, the Toronto Star reported, “Greater Toronto Area immigration detainees recently transferred to a jail in Lindsay, held a protest and staged a hunger strike this week over what they describe as unfair treatment. About 200 inmates being held in Greater Toronto have been relocated to the Central East Correctional Centre since August because of a coming closure of the Toronto West Detention Centre, a move critics say isolates the detainees and keeps them from receiving help and support.”

By October 1, the Globe and Mail had noted, “They were upset about being moved to the jail, which for many is considerably farther from their friends and family (and their legal counsel) in the Toronto area… Detainees awaiting deportation, typically those who have been deemed a danger to the public or unlikely to attend their own hearings, can be jailed indefinitely, subject to regular 30-day review hearings before the Immigration and Refugee Board. Detainees who can’t be deported, either because their home countries won’t accept them or won’t issue travel documents (in some cases because the country is experiencing war), can end up in jail for months and years as they await a resolution to their case.”

On October 8, the Canadian Press added, “The group End Immigration Detention says 191 detainees ordered deported are being kept locked in cells for up to 22 hours a day… It says some of the migrants have been held for years in what it calls ‘arbitrary’ detention because they can’t be sent back to their home countries. …It says migrants should never be held in maximum-security detention. It`s also calling for a 90-day limit to hold migrants pending deportation, and full legal aid access for detention reviews.”

And on November 3, Global News reported, “According to the advocacy group End Immigration Detention some of the detainees have been held for as long as seven years… Members of End Immigration Detention say these migrants don’t have charges against them, or have been found guilty and already served their sentences. …EID is petitioning the federal Minister of Public Safety, Steven Blaney, to limit immigration detention to 90 days (which is considered the international standard).”

In today’s media release, I’m quoted saying, “Harper’s laws are ‘tough on crime’ but soft on facts. Canada lags shamefully behind other countries that limit detentions pending deportations, resulting in the jailing of migrants indefinitely. This is unjust and must stop. Immigrants shouldn’t be held in maximum security prisons and they surely shouldn’t be held indefinitely.”