Alternatives to Detention Program


The CBSA has begun the implementation of national programming under the expanded Alternatives to Detention (ATD) Program that will help reduce the number of individuals held in detention. When an officer assesses an individual’s suitability for an ATD, public safety continues to remain one of the most important considerations, along with the ability of the CBSA to carry out further steps in the immigration process. Risks associated with an individual’s behavior or case specific circumstances must be able to be mitigated in the community to be considered suitable for release.

Expanded ATD Program

The expanded ATD Program is a collection of release conditions that extend beyond those previously offered across the country, which were limited to the imposition of a deposit or guarantee, and reporting conditions.

The CBSA’s expanded ATD Program complements these existing release conditions by introducing the following:

ATD Community Programs

ATD community programming enables individuals to reside in the community supported by family/kin, or supported by a third party service provider that specializes in community services. The support provided is tailored to individuals’ needs to ensure compliance with program requirements. New options announced today include:

Community Case Management and Supervision

CCMS is intended for persons who require support in addition to a bondsperson to mitigate risk upon release into the community. Services delivered may include:

  • Reporting requirements;

  • Referrals to health and mental health support;

  • Referrals to addiction support;

  • Referrals to employment and housing support;

  • Referrals to support for families and children; and

  • Mandatory residency, as required

    The CBSA has entered into contracts with three vendors (the Salvation Army, the John Howard Society of Canada, and the Toronto Bail Program) who will provide services to individuals released from detention and referred for enrollment to a CCMS program. Together these providers will support the national delivery of programming for individuals who may require increased supervision or specific programming to reduce their risk and help ensure compliance with immigration requirements.

    Electronic Supervision Programs

    Electronic Supervision programs complement community programming by providing additional options to facilitate an individual’s ability to communicate with the CBSA. Further, the technology enables the CBSA to more effectively initiate investigations on individuals who fail to comply, or seek to evade the CBSA. Electronic Supervision programming includes:

    Voice Reporting (VR)

    The VR program uses biometric voiceprint technology to enable individuals to report to the CBSA through a cellular telephone or by using a landline telephone, at agreed upon intervals. This new technology is less onerous for the individual when compared to in-person reporting as it does not require the individual attend a CBSA office, and allows individuals in remote or distant locations, for whom in-person reporting may not be possible, to report to the CBSA. The VR system includes dynamic features including on demand calling schedules and real time call-in features to increase the efficacy of the technology.

    Electronic Monitoring (EM) (available in GTAR only)

    The EM program is being introduced in the Greater Toronto Area as a pilot program. It will support the possible release of individuals who may require higher level of intervention to ensure their risk can be mitigated upon release. Generally this program may be coupled with other support programs such as CCMS. The program is being delivered under an agreement with the Correctional Service of Canada, who will provide all GPS and Radio Frequency technology for the CBSA’s use.  The EM pilot may be appropriate for individuals who pose a heightened level of risk if released into the community. 

    Using the ATD Program

    ATDs can be considered throughout the enforcement and detention continuum.

    ATDs are available for use at a CBSA officer’s discretion within the first 48 hours of detention. Officers will consult with colleagues, such as the Community Liaison Officer, as necessary, to ensure effective decision making while continually balancing the needs of the Agency in meeting its mandate. Officers across Canada have received formal training on the use of ATDs.

    A CBSA officer’s decision to detain a person under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act beyond the 48 hour mark is subject to a review by the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), an independent quasi-judicial tribunal. At a detention review, the IRB may release the person, identify conditions for release or determine that the detention should continue.  If the IRB determines that detention should be continued, the individual must appear for a subsequent detention review in the next seven (7) days and every 30 days thereafter.

    The roll-out of this program represents a meaningful step forward in advancing the National Immigration Detention Framework (NIDF). ATD maximum enrollment capacity will be 800 for CCMS, 10,000 for VR and 20 for electronic monitoring. Individuals gain access to the program on an ongoing basis. Further information about the NIDF:

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