Death of woman, 50, detained by Canada border agency in Milton, renews calls for more oversight

Posted
November 3, 2017

A 50-year-old woman detained by Canadian immigration officials in a maximum-security prison in Milton, Ont., died on Monday, prompting more calls from critics for reform of the system. 

She was detained at the Vanier Centre for Women by Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) — which has the power to arrest and jail foreign nationals under current immigration law.

She was "found in medical distress" at the facility and was "immediately taken to hospital," according to a CBSA news release.

She died "shortly thereafter," but the agency would not clarify if she died at, or on her way to, the hospital.

Derek Lawrence, communication adviser for the CBSA in the Greater Toronto Area Region, would not disclose the woman's identity, country of origin or her cause of death because an investigation has been launched.

The woman is the 10th person to die in immigration detention in Canada in the last five years and at least the 16th to die in the custody of the CBSA and its predecessor since 2000. 

Ensuring accountability

Canada's immigration detention system has fallen under increased scrutiny this year, as a landmark legal challenge was launched to try to end the contentious practice of indefinitely jailing detainees. 

Under current immigration law, detainees are not criminally charged, but can be detained indefinitely, either because they have been deemed a danger to the public, are unlikely to show up for their deportation or because their identity is in doubt.

Read more: Death of woman, 50, detained by Canada border agency in Milton, renews calls for more oversight