Illustration of various breakfast ingredients to make a "deluxe breakfast sandwich" Text reads "Avocado & Egg Toast"

A Small Collection of The Peak Collective’s Favourite Meals.

By: The Peak Collective

“Deluxe Breakfast sandwich” Illustration by SoySuki

Ciana’s Spanish Style Rice and Beans 

Easy. Vegetarian. Budget-Friendly.

What you need:
-  1 ½ cups of rice (long grain works best)
- 2 cups of water
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced 
- Half an onion, chopped
- Half a jar of salsa, about 1 cups (mild, medium or spicy whatever you like!)
- 1 can of black beans (rinsed and drained)
- 1 Tbsp Oil (olive oil is best, but use whatever you have)
- 1 tsp of salt, pepper and cumin* (optional)
- Add oil to saucepan over medium heat.  Add your chopped onion and saute for 5 mins until translucent.
- Add rice. Stir. You want your rice to be nice and covered with the oil and onion. 
- Add garlic.
- Add water, beans, salsa and spices. Bring to a boil then simmer for 25 minutes covered.
- Serve! Eat plain or with toppings like cheese, avocado or protein of your choice. You can also add to a tortilla and make it burrito style.

Mina’s Pico de Gallo aka homemade salsa 

Easy, Vegan, Budget Friendly

What you need: 
- Two large tomatoes
- One white onion
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro
- One jalapeno 
- 1 teaspoon salt 
- One lemon

- Dice the tomatoes
- Mince the onion - if it is a small onion use whole, if it is a big onion use half 
- Add the salt and juice from the lemon and crush up the mixture with your hands until the juice is released from the tomatoes 
- Mince the jalapeno and add it to the mixture 
- Mince the cilantro and at it 
- Stir together and eat with nacho chips or on top of rice!

Hauwa’s Deluxe Breakfast Sandwich 

Easy, interchangeable ingredients, budget-friendly!

What you need:
Herb & garlic cream cheese 
Hot Sauce
Salt & Pepper

Toast bagel
Slice tomato into 2 thin slices 
Cut avocado and scoop out half 
Slice onion thinly and saute 
Fry 2 eggs in the same pan as onion for taste!
Cook bacon (or meat alternative)
Spread cream cheese on bagel, add avocado, tomato and onion slices
Add eggs and bacon on top 
Add hot sauce and salt & pepper to taste


Add or remove ingredients to your preference or dietary restrictions.
Some alternatives I enjoy are: smoked salmon, melted cheese,
spinach, hot peppers etc.
And you can make it vegetarian, vegan or gluten free! Yum!

Temi’s Amazing Spaghetti

Easy. Interchangeable Ingredients. Budget-Friendly

What you need:
Spaghetti as much as you need 
1 of each: red, yellow, green and orange bell peppers.
Add other veggies you like, I love the flavour of celery in this!
Half an onion
1 scotch bonnet, 2 if you tryna feel the heat
1 large clove of garlic
1 jar of spaghetti sauce
Seasoning and herbs: salt, cayenne pepper, thyme, basil,
curry powder and 1 knorr (bouillon) cube. 
Protein of your choice or none. I usually use shrimp or stewing beef.
For this recipe we’re using stewing beef. 
Cooking oil

Chop onions, garlic and bell peppers and beef into your preferred size.
Throw that spaghetti in some boiling water
You can use a different pan for this step but if you’re too lazy to do dishes
like me then just wait till your spaghetti is ready. Drain your spaghetti and
keep it aside. Then put some oil in the pot and wait till it’s hot. 
Put the beef in and when it’s sizzling throw in the garlic,
onions and scotch bonnets. Stir for about 2 minutes, add bell peppers and
let simmer with the lid for 5 minutes.
Add the pasta sauce and seasoning to your liking.
Make sure you taste it so it’s not bland when you’re done.
When it tastes right add in the spaghetti and a lil bit off water
so it doesn’t dry out and turn the heat just below medium.
Mix it all together and let it be till the water dries out and
the spaghetti is the level of softness you like. If it is not then add some more water bro. 
That is all, enjoy your meal!

Bonus! Roasted Curried Cauliflower

Easy. Vegan. Budget-Friendly 

What you need:
1 large cauliflower 
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 tbsp of curry powder 
1 tsp of cumin
1 tsp of salt and black pepper 
Optional:1 tsp chili flakes or cayenne pepper 

Set oven to bake at 350
Cut the cauliflower into small or medium size florets 
Add to florets to large mixing bowl
Add oil, curry powder, salt, pepper, cumin and chili flakes (if using) to the bowl.
Mix the cauliflower well so all pieces are covered with spices and oil
Spread cauliflower evenly onto a baking sheet 
Put in oven and roast for 25 minutes or until cauliflower has crispy brown edges 
If you like spicy, drizzle some sriracha on top once it’s cooled down!

OHIP For All

Pink and orange graphic that reads "health care for all!"

Access to Healthcare

By: Chelsia Watson

Gaining access to safe and reliable healthcare can be one of the biggest hurdles new migrants face in Ontario and across Canada. Depending on your immigration status, having access to Provincial healthcare can be straightforward or it can pose a challenge; either way it is important to know your rights and know where you stand. OHIP For All, a group that advocates for equal healthcare in Ontario, spoke to The Peak about how someone with precarious status can safely access healthcare. Please note that although this article is specific to Ontario, many of these services are available across Canada. If you need assistance finding healthcare resources, we recommend searching community health centre’s in your city or going to City Hall for a list of accessible services.

How does my immigration status affect my ability to access healthcare in Canada?

Many people across Canada do not have access to healthcare. In Ontario alone, there are over 500,000 migrants who do not have health coverage because of their immigration status. Access to healthcare varies based on immigration category and status, time spent living in Ontario (typically, Ontarians must be physically present in Ontario for at least 153 days in a 12-month period in order to qualify for healthcare), type of work contract (e.g., most temporary migrant workers have private health insurance). Other profiles include visitors, students, military, and other protected persons. Depending on the permit, most full-time workers may have access to coverage while part-time workers do not. Gaining access to healthcare can be complicated; here are some numbers to consider: there are 250,000 people living in Ontario without status and 80,000 new migrants in the 3 month waiting period. The rest of the 500,000 people without healthcare in Ontario are international students and those with temporary status.

There are various ways that someone can live in Ontario but not have health insurance. The first group includes those who do not have coverage now but will eventually become insured. This is typically made up of Ontarians who have been approved for permanent residency but must wait 3 months after arrival to qualify for health coverage. It encompasses various groups including new immigrants, temporary foreign workers,  migrants newly approved for permanent residency and Canadian citizens who were living abroad. Following the three month period, these individuals are able to access the same OHIP coverage as other Ontarians.

The next group of uninsured people will never be eligible for OHIP throughout the entirety of their time in Ontario. This includes visitors and those without status. Individuals without status include people who may have overstayed their visitor’s visa, who are waiting for a decision regarding their immigration case, or who evaded a deportation order. These individuals are among the most vulnerable residents in Ontario and are often forced to choose between their health, safety, and basic necessities.

The last category includes those who were eligible but have lost eligibility. This includes individuals who may have violated a work permit, overstayed their work permit, are in between contracts, or have had a sponsorship breakdown.

My city is considered a Sanctuary City. Does This mean I am able to access health services anywhere in the city?

The Sanctuary City movement is a commitment to ensuring that city services are accessible to all residents of a city, regardless of immigration status. For example, Toronto became a sanctuary city in 2013. This means that all residents of Toronto have access to healthcare services provided by Toronto Public Health. This includes sexual health clinics, vaccinations for students from kindergarten to grade 12 and breastfeeding clinics. Dental services are also available but are intended for low-income patients and consequently eligibility is determined by income. The sanctuary city model does not assist patients in accessing provincially-funded healthcare, including visits to a family doctor, the emergency department, or a specialist. If your city is designated as a Sanctuary City, you may also have access to municipal healthcare services.

Are there specific doctors and/or clinics in that are considered safe for a person with precarious status?

There are a number of resources individuals can consider when determining which clinic is a safe space for them. In Toronto, Access Alliance has put together a list of clinics available for episodic care – that is, medical concerns that do not require significant follow-up. It’s important to note, the Canadian Centre for Refugee and Immigrant Health Care has specialized clinics for children. For patients requiring longer-term access to health services, community health centres are a good option. In order to be eligible to receive services from a community health centre, you must live within the centre’s catchment area.  Below is a list of clinics in Toronto that accept uninsured patients. If you reside outside of Toronto, we encourage you to find the nearest Community Health Centre and call to find out what health services are offered.  

East End

  • East End Community Health Centre
  • South Riverdale Community Health Centre
  • Sherbourne Health Centre
  • Flemingdon Health Centre

West End

  • Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services
  • Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood and Community Health Centre
  • Unison Health and Community Services
  • LAMP Community Health Centre, Black Creek Community Health Centre
  • Stonegate Community Health Centre
  • Rexdale Community Health Centre
  • Regent Park Community Health Centre

For Patients who Identify as Indigenous

  • Anishnawbe Health Centre (no catchment area)

Are doctors required (by law) to report a person they suspect is without status?

Doctors are not required by law to report individuals solely due to their immigration status. However, doctors are required to report all patients (name, contact information, and relevant medical conditions), regardless of immigration status, to public health if: 

  1. The patient has certain infections such as HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia, tuberculosis
  2. The patient has a license and is considered to be unsafe to drive
  3. Child abuse or neglect is suspected

Am I able to get a health card? How do I get one?

You can get a health card if you meet the place of residence and immigration status requirements.  In Ontario, you can get a health card by going to a Service Ontario Centre. If you are outside of Ontario, the process to obtain a health card will be similar. It is suggested that you can call ahead of time to ensure you bring the correct documents. If you require other documents or would like assistance getting your health card, you can visit an ID clinic. In Toronto, ID clinics are offered through various organizations.

Place of residence requirements include: 

  • being physically in Ontario for 153 days in any 12‑month period
  • being physically in Ontario for at least 153 days of the first 183 days immediately after you began living in the province
  • make Ontario your primary home

Immigration status requirements (you must meet at least one) include:

  • are a Canadian citizen
  • are an Indigenous person (registered under the federal Indian Act)
  • are a permanent resident (formerly called a “landed immigrant”)
  • have applied for permanent residence, 
  • are in Ontario on a valid work permit and are working full-time in Ontario, for an Ontario employer, for at least six months
  • are in Ontario on a valid work permit under the federal Live-in Caregiver Program
  • are a convention refugee or other protected person (as defined by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada)
  • have a Temporary Resident Permit (only certain case types, e.g. 86 through 95)
  • are a clergy member who can legally stay in Canada and is ministering full time in Ontario for at least six months
  • your spouse and any dependents also qualify if you do

Toronto ID Clinics:

  • Street Health
  • Unison Health and Community Services
  • Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre
  • Regent Park Community Health Centre

If I do not have a health card, do I need to pay upfront for doctor visits?

This may vary depending on the hospital or clinic that you visit. Research same-day clinics in your city, many cities have community clinics that you can access for free. Some of these health centres are able to provide primary care depending on where you live. If you access health care outside of these options, including most clinics and hospitals, you will most likely be billed after you use the service. The clinic or hospital will establish a payment plan if necessary. 

What if I need urgent medical attention? Can I go to my nearest hospital’s ER?

If there is an emergency, it is encouraged that you go to the nearest hospital. However, it is important to note that you may be asked to pay for the cost of your hospital visit and that you may be asked for payment in cash upfront before receiving treatment.

What are my rights once I am receiving medical care?

As a patient, you have a right to:

  • Receive safe and proper care.
  • Give or refuse consent for any procedure, and for any reason.
  • Have a medical professional clearly explain health problems and treatments to you.
  • Participate in health care decisions.
  • Ask questions and express concerns.
  • Request a second opinion; within reason.
  • Be assured that personal information is confidential.
  • Request to access your health information records.
  • Request the transfer of your health records to another medical professional; you may be charged a fee.

What kind of work is ‘OHIP For All’ doing to advocate for healthcare rights for all people regardless of immigration status?

OHIP For All is a campaign that spreads awareness on health-related issues in Ontario. There are many groups similar to OHIP For All across Canada. This platform unites healthcare professionals, students, and other advocacy groups to come together and organize rallies and events that ultimately mobilize groups of people. We have spread awareness in mainstream media engagement, strong social media platforms, migrant community engagement, and direct lobbying with the various provincial political parties

Accessing Education for Precarious Migrant Students

black and white Abstract drawing of various shapes and

By: The S4 Collective

“The value of education and school was instilled in me from an early age. As a result, I have a deep-rooted passion for learning and the acquisition of knowledge. These ideals accompanied me on my migration journey to Canada – a land of opportunity. I was not prepared for the hurdles that I encountered in the realization of that goal.”

S4 Collective member

In the fall of 2018, the Sanctuary Students Solidarity and Support Collective (S4 Collective) was formed in Toronto. The group emerged in response to several challenges identified by a group of students with precarious immigration status at the threshold of post-secondary education. The realization of this group was supported by practitioners who had been working with newcomer youth in varying capacity for several years. Although early in its evolution, the group has two main objectives: 1) to support students with precarious immigration status in navigating various levels of education in Ontario; and 2) to support the capacity building of programs and institutions to increase equitable access for these populations. Several members of this collective have contributed to the development of this article, reflecting our own experiences in identifying and overcoming challenges with accessing education in Ontario. We would like to caution readers that our individual experiences may not directly reflect those of other precarious migrant students (particularly students outside of Toronto); however, we hope that this can provide a general roadmap for those in similar situations. If you would like additional information or support, please contact us at 

Overview of the Issue and Existing Responses 

In Ontario, every child under 18 has the right to attend school regardless of their or their parents’ immigration status. This right, ensured by Section 49.1 of the Ontario Education Act (OEA), however, is not extended to everyone. Most Canadians don’t worry about being turned away when they walk in to register for school. Non-status youth, on the other hand, continually face barriers and exclusion when trying to get an education in Ontario. Children as young as 4 or 5 have been sent away from schools, with the inaccurate and harmful message that they are not eligible to join their peers. 

Over the past two decades, targeted and community-driven advocacy campaigns led by Social Planning Toronto, No One Is Illegal, non-status youth and allies have significantly increased access to schooling in Ontario. These efforts have resulted in the greater implementation of section 49.1; the development of a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy at the Toronto District School Board. This policy assures that student’s immigration status will not be shared with immigration authorities, and the creation of a ground-breaking new program at York University, which allows non-status (as well as students with precarious immigration status) to pursue undergraduate degrees at domestic fee rates. 

Despite this progress, barriers remain for non-status youth trying to exercise their right to education in Ontario. For instance, policies and directives are often misread or misinterpreted by administrators within primary, secondary and post-secondary institutions. These administrators, who stand between the students and the classroom for registration purposes, continue to turn youth away. Other youth and their families may be unaware of their right to education and/or unable to advocate for this right as they may be isolated or disconnected from community resources that could help them. These experiences of social exclusion are unfolding within the context of the growing anti-immigrant rhetoric in the global north, which further increases the likelihood of youth experiencing the harmful impacts of xenophobia and racism while striving for meaningful access to education. 

The Regulations and How they Work 

At the primary and secondary level, children and their parents face specific challenges enrolling in school if they do not have immigration documents to prove their status in Canada, which, in fact, directly contradicts section 49.1 of the OEA. They will also be turned away if they have been in the country for less than six months, indicating that they are still visitors/tourists. This temporary status is, therefore, a barrier for families that intend to stay and eventually submit an immigration application. Moreover, the absence of a proof of address, which many undocumented families do not have for a variety of reasons, may cause significant challenges for school registration. Finally, minors that travel to Canada alone to escape violence or persecution may also face challenges if they don’t have a guardian in Canada. Conversely, those who are over 18 years old are not covered under the OEA and may also be excluded. For those who do manage to get past the initial threshold of registration and thereafter attend classes, other experiences of discrimination often await them, barring them from having an equitable school experience comparable to that of their Canadian-born counterparts. 

Focusing on the progress that has been made over the years, we will outline some of the advocacy strategies that have enabled non-status youth to gain access to education. As mentioned above, it is important to caution readers that many pitfalls continue to exist, and not all strategies will work for everyone. Notably, there is a sweeping lack of consistency around how policies are understood and implemented by different gatekeepers in different settings. Much of the information we will provide is Toronto-centric, reflecting the larger concentration of non-status youth in this city. It is our experience that non-status youth outside of Toronto often feel more invisibilized, and are in turn more excluded or misunderstood as a result. If you know a young person who is trying to access some form of education with precarious immigration status, we would therefore strongly encourage them to seek community support (resources will be listed at the end of this article). 

High School 

Detailed information around the experiences of non-status youth at the high school level across Ontario can be found in the Uprooted Education Report. Although this report reflects experiences from 2015/2016, sadly little progress has been made since then. Youth reported continually having to disclose their status at multiple points, depending on the area, (at the school board, at an assessment center, at the school itself), which lead to significant anxiety about their status being disclosed to others, including immigration authorities. However, if they are able to get through these psychological and bureaucratic barriers, they have the right to study in Ontario – well, to a point. 

Section 49.1 of the Ontario Education Act states: “A person who is otherwise entitled to be admitted to a school and who is less than eighteen years of age shall not be refused admission because the person or the person’s parent or guardian is unlawfully in Canada. (1993, c. 11, s. 21).” This should mean that anyone is entitled to free primary and secondary education in Ontario IF they are under the age of 18, and IF they aren’t entitled to a study permit (excluding international students and visitors). However, within some school boards, youth who have been in Canada less than six months may be eligible to register for school so long as ONE of their parents has been present in Canada for more than six months or holds a valid work permit. However, this important information needs to be known and understood by school administrators and other key actors for it to be implemented effectively. 

In Toronto, non-status youth who meet the eligibility outlined in Section 49.1 have two options: the public school board (TDSB) or the Catholic school board (TCDSB). The registration processes differ quite significantly between the two. For the TDSB, youth first have to go to the school board offices at 5050 Yonge Street to request a letter of eligibility to move forward with their registration process. 5050 Yonge Street can be an intimidating place, as the austere building has an authoritarian feel, and families are asked about their status in a hallway of strangers. Youth must prove that they have been in the country for more than 6 months, reside in Toronto, and in some cases even prove parentage (as administrators have, at times, challenged family members with different last names). Once they have cleared these challenges and received the eligibility letter, the youth must go to a Newcomer Reception Centre to determine their competence with a math and English test. Here, they again need to disclose their status and resubmit some of the proof (but with arguably more sensitivity). Finally, these young people are given their assessment package and instructed to go to the school closest to their residence, fill out more paperwork, and finally start class. This process could take anywhere from a day or two, to a few weeks or even months. 

At the TCDSB, families need to show the same documentation (proof of being in the country more than six months, residence in the city of Toronto, parentage) but have a more “one-stop-shopping” experience. Youth can make an appointment with the TCDSB Orientation Centre, where they disclose their status, fill out some paperwork and take the assessment test all at once. They can sometimes even start school the next day. Another important difference lies at the primary level, where families can register their students directly at a school, as long as they can prove they’ve been in the country for more than six months, and the child has been baptized. 

As mentioned earlier, these issues are frequently less understood, with even less defined procedures outside of Toronto. The lack of visibility of non-status residents and subsequent lack of understanding of their situation in smaller municipalities may lead to greater confusion – and with harmful consequences. According to the Uprooted Education Report, there is no consistency between school boards, and even between schools across Ontario around registration procedures for precarious status students. The report mentions several factors that may influence the experience, including the personality and mood of the administrator that students first encounter, having an advocate with them, awareness of how the systems work and their rights within these systems. 

When advocating for access to schooling for non-status youth outside Toronto, some have tried referring school administrators to section 49.1 of the OEA, though certain administrators dismiss these efforts. For the safety and security of non-status families, people may prefer to seek appropriate assistance while navigating these systems. Advocates can begin by inquiring anonymously for families at particular schools/school boards to assess the barriers that exist. If this doesn’t work, advocates may attempt to strategically argue for access, leveraging existing legislation– including OEA and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. If responses remain negative, next steps may include advocating with sympathetic school board trustees or MPPs. This can also develop into larger advocacy efforts to change local policies and practices. 

Graduation and Moving Forward 

At the end of grade 12, despite the significant accomplishment and all the excitement around graduation, members of our group faced some really difficult decisions and insurmountable barriers. Applying to college and/or university often led to disappointment when members realized that they would be asked for a study permit and obliged to pay international fees. Without a SIN, many then faced the reality of having to take on precarious, often low-paid and exploitative work. There are currently no provincial provisions to facilitate access for non-status students at the post-secondary level. However, advocacy efforts and community-university collaboration at York University has led to a ground-breaking program which facilitates admission for non-status and precarious status students. This program has enabled many of our members to start undergraduate degrees and follow their passions. While the initiative at York University reduces many of the significant barriers faced by non-status students, additional obstacles often present themselves. Being ineligible for OSAP, as well as most scholarships and bursaries means that tuition fees must be entirely covered by the student, which is a big financial undertaking. Nonetheless, as the obstacles are increasingly being identified and efforts are made to address them, the opportunity for other post-secondary institutions to increase access is significant. While many of our members are excited to be studying at York, some have identified other universities or colleges as their first choice, which drives our efforts to continue to work for expanded access. 

Final Thoughts 

Access to equitable education is widely understood to represent an important social determinant of health. For people residing in Canada with precarious immigration status, navigating the school system continues to be a complex and fraught process. Far from a homogenous process, one’s experience can be shaped by the region they live in: access to advocacy support and community resources, the biases of administrators and other gatekeepers at a particular school, age, length of time in Canada, and other social markers of identity likely to contribute to ease of access. The Bridging Program at York University – established in 2017, currently represents the only avenue by which precarious status students can feasibly access undergraduate studies in Canada. The S4 Collective has therefore emerged as a community-based group of precarious status students and allies to offer support to individuals, families, and communities striving to meet their educational goals, and to advocate for policy shifts in support of equitable access regardless of immigration status.

Know Your Rights

Block letter text reads "Migrants Know Your Rights!"

A Guide to Immigration Arrest, Detention and Deportation & Your Rights At Home, On The Streets And At Work

By: The Immigration Legal Committee


You may be at risk of immigration arrest, detention and deportation if any of the following situations apply to you:

  • Your visitor, worker, student or live-in caregiver visa has expired
  • You haven’t followed all of the terms and conditions on your visa
  • You made a refugee claim that was denied and your Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) was also denied
  • You received a date for your deportation but didn’t leave Canada
  • You entered Canada without showing any papers to Canadian immigration officers
  • You haven’t followed the terms and conditions of a release order from detention or terms and conditions you signed with an immigration officer
  • There is an immigration warrant for your arrest

There may also be other situations that put you at risk of immigration arrest. If you think you might be at risk, contact a lawyer or immigration consultant.

If you’re already in detention see the last section of this guide, GETTING LEGAL HELP WHILE IN DETENTION, for more information.


This guide aims to provide basic legal information to people without immigration status so that they will be able to better protect themselves from the risks of immigration arrest and detention.

When does an immigration warrant get issued?

If you miss an appointment with Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) a Canada-wide warrant will be issued for your arrest. Appointments include regular reporting; a special “call in notice” to receive a decision; or even an actual date at the airport for your deportation. People may not know that they’ve missed an appointment if CBSA has sent a letter to an old address. That’s why it’s important to make sure that CBSA and CIC have your current address.

CBSA can also issue warrants if they believe you should not be in Canada and are a danger to the public.

Submitting either an application for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds (an “H&C application”) or an application for spousal sponsorship will not necessarily prevent your deportation. If you have submitted one of these applications, make sure to discuss with your lawyer or immigration consultant how it affects your immigration status.

The Limits of this Guide

Legal rights only go so far. The Canadian government is making it harder for people to obtain permanent resident status in Canada. This means that many people live here with precarious immigration status or without any status at all, often working and living in exploitative conditions. Despite the rights set out in this guide, people without status are at risk of arrest, detention and deportation.

The Importance of Collective Action

While it’s useful to be aware of your legal rights, laws are designed to remove people without immigration status from Canada. We have to continue to organize, mobilize and fight back against immigration detention and deportation that tears apart families and communities. Political victories are possible. Communities working together have stopped deportations and have successfully campaigned governments to grant immigration status to large groups of undocumented people.

Two Things You Can Do Right Now If You Don’t Have Immigration Status

  1. Develop a strategy of what you will do if confronted by an immigration or police officer at home, in the street or at work.The rest of this guide will help you plan a strategy that best fits your situation.
  2. Make a safety plan in case of arrest. This plan may help you get out of detention faster and may reduce the stress of being arrested. You can use the following checklist to make sure your safety plan is as complete as possible.

Safety Plan Checklist:

  • I have the number of a trusted lawyer or immigration consultant
  • I have given a spare set of house keys to someone I trust and who can access my important paper tell others living at my house what has happened
  • I have found someone who can contact my lawyer, take care of my children or other family members, tell my work about my absence, be a bondsperson for me
  • I have found support from religious or community organizations, neighbours, and other allies who can rally together to help me get out of detention
  • I have given my immigration client ID to trusted friends and family so that they can give it to the lawyer to locate me if I’m detained
  • I have read the rest of this guide and know what strategy I will use if confronted by immigration or police officers

1. Bondsperson A bondsperson is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident who is 18 years or older and who can help guarantee my presence at an immigration hearing by putting down a deposit and/or promising that they have enough income to pay a certain amount of money if I don’t show up

2. Community Action Plan. Communities continue to organize everyday to protect themselves and their members from immigration raids. This US resource may be a good resource to help prepare for a large-scale raid in Canada: www.nilc. org/ce/nonnilc/raids_ checklist firm_2007-04. pdf

Where will they take me?  

If you’re arrested in Toronto and you don’t have criminal charges or a criminal record, then you will most likely be taken to the Immigration Holding Centre at 385 Rexdale Blvd.

If you do have criminal charges or a criminal record, then you will most likely be taken
to a provincial jail. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to know for certain which one you will be taken to.

What will happen to my children when I’m in detention?
If you’re in immigration detention but have children who are Canadian citizens, your children have a right to remain in Canada. However, their immigration status will NOT prevent your own deportation.

If you have no one to care for your children, they may be able to stay with you at the Immigration Holding Centre, but this is not possible if you’re detained in a provincial jail. Once your children are in the detention centre with you, you can ask to have them released at any time if there’s someone who will care for them. If your children also don’t have status in Canada they will likely be detained with you.

What should I do if an officer comes to my home?
Strategy 1: Exercising your RIGHT TO PRIVACY at home

The RIGHT TO PRIVACY means that, in general, officers aren’t allowed to enter your home. But they can legally enter your home if you invite them in, or if the officers have the TWO necessary warrants.

How you can exercise your RIGHT TO PRIVACY at home:

  • When officers knock on your door and identify themselves you can ask them what they want through the door. If you open the door the officers may force their way in
  • They are likely to say they have come to make an immigration arrest.
  • You can then exercise your RIGHT TO PRIVACY in this way:
  • Do NOT open the door
  • Ask (through the door) to see the TWO
  • warrants they must have with them to make an arrest inside a home: (1) the immigration arrest warrant and (2) a special warrant that lets them enter a home to make an arrest (it’s called a “special entry” warrant or “Feeney” warrant)
  • Ask them to slip the warrants through the mailbox or under the door
  • If the warrants don’t fit, open the door a little in order to take them and then close the door again
  • Make sure that there are TWO separate warrants, and that they are dated and signed
  • Ensure that the person named on the warrants is in the house. If they only have one warrant, or there’s a mistake on the warrants, you have the right to tell them they need a second warrant or that the information on one or both warrants is incorrect
  • Then ask them to leave (without opening the door)

3. Immigration enforcement is carried out by officers from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) or by police officers. The following is not legal advice but information based on your rights under the law, but note that officers don’t always obey the law!

What happens if officers come to my shelter?
For a brief period of time there was a policy in Toronto that directed officers not to enter shelters that served survivors of domestic violence. In February 2011, that policy was removed.

So it’s a good idea to ask staff at your shelter to find out how they deal with immigration and police officers. If you think your shelter might report you to CBSA if you ask these questions, then have a friend who has immigration status ask for you.

What if the officers have the TWO necessary warrants and ALL the information is correct?

  • If this is the case, the person named on the warrant may choose to leave the house and get arrested
  • This may protect others inside the house who may also be at risk of immigration arrest
  • Or, you may choose to continue to exercise your RIGHT TO PRIVACY and wait until the officers force their way inside your home

Advantages of continuing to exercise your RIGHT TO PRIVACY at home:

  • It may take some time before the officers decide to force their way in. This may give you time to contact a lawyer and make any necessary arrangements

Disadvantages of continuing to exercise your RIGHT TO PRIVACY at home:

  • Once the officers are in your house, they may arrest others who also don’t have valid immigration status
  • If they eventually do arrest you in your house, the officers could prepare a report that says that you didn’t cooperate at the time of arrest. This may be relied on at a “detention review” hearing to say that you shouldn’t be released

Strategy 2: Exercising your RIGHT TO SILENCE at home

The RIGHT TO SILENCE means that you do NOT have to speak to an officer in any situation, unless you’ve already been arrested or detained. How you can exercise your RIGHT TO SILENCE at home:

  • When officers knock on your door, you can simply stay silent
  • If the officers don’t have the TWO necessary warrants that they need to enter your home, they may go away
  • If the officers do have the necessary TWO warrants, they can force their way into your home

Advantages of exercising your RIGHT TO SILENCE at home: If the officers don’t have the TWO necessary warrants, or don’t think you’re there, they may leave

  • If the officers don’t have the TWO necessary warrants, or don’t think you’re there, they may leave
  • This may give you time to contact a lawyer about your legal options and to make any necessary arrangements

Disadvantages of exercising your RIGHT TO SILENCE at home:

  • If the officers have the TWO necessary warrants they can force their way in, and then arrest others in your house who also don’t have valid immigration status
  • If they eventually do arrest you in your house, the officers could prepare a report that says that you didn’t cooperate at the time of arrest. This may be relied on at a “detention review” hearing to say that you shouldn’t be released
  • Even if the officers do NOT have the
  • necessary warrants, BE AWARE that physically preventing the officers from entering your home may lead to criminal charges. If you decide to inspect the war- rants, you should be aware that anything you say may be used against you at a detention review hearing.

What can I do if an officer stops me while I’m walking in the street, in a shopping mall, in the park, or in any other public place?

If you don’t have immigration status, an officer can arrest you with or without a warrant. Be aware that resisting arrest could make your immigration situation worse and could lead to criminal charges.

What can I do when an officer tries to arrest me WITH a warrant?

  • If an officer claims to have a warrant for your arrest, you have the right to ask to see it
  • Make sure that you’re the person named on it, and that it is dated and signed
  • If there is a mistake on the warrant or any information is missing, point that out to the officer
  • If the officer still arrests you, make sure that you tell your lawyer about the incor- rect warrant

What can I do when an officer tries to arrest me WITHOUT a warrant?

  • If you get stopped by officers who don’t have a warrant for your arrest, it may be because they have illegally targeted you due to your race, background, or because the language you’re speaking is not English or French
  • The officers will then start to ask you questions about your immigration status
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  • Even though you have a right to silence if you’re not driving a car or riding a bike, you may choose to identify yourself with your name, address, and date of birth, as officers can arrest someone without immigration status if they don’t believe that you’ve identified yourself correctly
  • The officers may ask you lots of other questions—like how long you’ve been in Canada and how you got here. They want to
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  • find out whether you’re here with valid immigration status or not. If they determine, based on your answers, that you’re here without status, then they can arrest you without a warrant
  • If you’ve already identified yourself to the officers, and they keep asking you questions, you do NOT need to answer them. You could ask the officers, “Am I being detained or am I free to go?”
  • Eventually they will either arrest you or they’ll let you go
  • Walking or running away while they’re questioning you may lead to criminal charges

3. If there is already an outstanding warrant for you the officers will find it if they do a computer check as immigration warrants are also registered in a – police database called the Canada Police Information Centre (CPIC) – in which case the officer will detain you at this time.

Developing your own strategy

The current immigration laws make it easy for an officer to arrest a non-status person without a warrant. That’s why it’s a good idea to talk to family, friends, community organizations, and especially other people who don’t have immigration status about the best ways to avoid arrest in public places.

Sample dialogue: What you may choose to do when an officer tries to arrest you without a warrant

Officer: You, there. Stop for a minute please, I’d like to ask you some questions. 
You: I’m in a bit of a hurry. Do I have to stop and talk to you?
Officer: I’d like you to. Listen, where are you from?
You: I know that I have a right to silence, but I’m going to give you my name, address and date of birth to help you do your job.
Officer: Sure. But I’m actually wondering where you’re from?
You: My name is John Doe. I live at 35 Riverdale Ave. My date of birth is June 29, 1982.
Officer: Thanks. When did you arrive here? You (as politely as possible): I’ve identified myself to you. If you’re not detaining me, I’d like to leave.
Officer: Just a minute. Where did you say you were from again?
You: Am I being detained?
Officer: Did you come here on a work visa or a visitor visa?
You: Am I being detained?
Officer: You’re not being detained. You’re free to go.

There are a few different ways that an officer may not be “satisfied” with your identification:

  • If you refuse to answer any questions about your identity
  • If you’re carrying false identification documents
  • If you’ve already identified yourself to the officers, and they keep asking you questions, you do NOT need to answer them. You could ask the officers, “Am I being detained or am I free to go?” Eventually they will either arrest you or they’ll let you go
  • If the officer suspects that you aren’t telling 4the truth about your identity

What can I do if an officer stops me while I’m in a car or on a bike?

  • If you’re driving a car (or you’re on a bike) you must show your identification to the officer
  • If you’re a passenger and not the driver, you have the same rights as if you’re stopped in a public place (see the previous page)
  • If you don’t have immigration status, driving puts you at high risk of being detained as a result of traffic stops by police
  • For example, if the police pull you
  • over for speeding or if the police are illegally profiling you based on your race, they may learn of an immigration warrant when they run a check on your driver’s license or name and date of birth through their database
  • Also, if they can’t find any record of you on any database, they may hand you over to CBSA

What if an officer comes to my work?

  • You may be at risk of immigration arrest if you’re working somewhere without a valid work permit, or if the place you’re working is not the same place named on your work permit. Both situations are illegal under Canadian immigration law (despite what your recruiter may tell you)
  • Whether the officers enter your work- place or wait for you outside, they will be able to question you in the same way that they can in a public place, and this may lead to your arrest
  • In general, don’t rely on your recruiter for legal advice as they profit from immigrant workers. Recruiters often advise people to contact representatives from their countries (at consulates or embassies) if they run into immigration problems, but contacting representatives from your country may actually speed up your deportation
  • If you have a trusted co-worker you may wish to give them contact information for family members or a lawyer in case you’re arrested at work

What rights do I have at my job as a migrant worker?

Various laws in Ontario are meant to protect workers, such as how much you should be paid, how you can be fired, how much vacation pay you should get, and how you can get money if you’ve been injured on the job.

These laws apply to anyone working in Ontario, including all migrant workers— whether they’re working with a valid work permit or not. But if you try to enforce your rights, and you’re not working under a valid work permit, your boss may report to you to the CBSA for not having a valid work permit.

Legal help for migrant workers If you’re a migrant worker living in Toronto without immigration status who is owed money by your boss, you should contact the Workers’ Action Centre (www. or 416-531-0778).

They are an amazing organization that fights to improve the working conditions of people in low-wage and unstable employment.

If you live in Ontario (but outside of Toronto), you may contact a local Legal Aid Ontario community legal clinic to see if they can assist you with your work-related legal problems (visit for a list of community legal clinics.

Please note that most community legal clinics do not practice workers’ rights or immigration law. But they may still be able to provide you with referrals to lawyers who do practice in these areas.


Toronto Refugee Affairs Council (TRAC) :If you’re being held in Toronto at the Immigration Holding Centre (which is usually referred to as “Rexdale”) you can request the assistance of TRAC for legal information. TRAC operates an office at the Immigration Holding Centre Mondays to Thursdays. Their telephone number is 416- 401-8537.

Refugee Law Office (RLO) :An RLO staff member goes to the Immigration Holding Centre (385 Rexdale Blvd) in Toronto on Tuesdays and Wednesdays as part of TRAC. You can call them at 1-800-668-8258 or 416-977-8111.

The RLO also provides people with legal advice and representation to persons detained at the Immigration Holding Centre, Toronto West Detention Centre, Vanier Centre for Women and Central East Correctional Centre (known as “Lindsay”). Staff members also give summary legal advice by telephone to immigration detainees calling from other detention centres in Ontario.


  • Do not sign any papers without first speaking to a lawyer because you may be giving up your rights to pursue an application to stay in Canada, such as a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA)
  • However you should note that CBSA has argued that refusing to sign papers (even if it’s to speak to a lawyer first) shows that the person is uncooperative and therefore should not be released from detention
  • As a result, it is useful to have a lawyer pre-arranged in case you’re arrested and to speak to them quickly
  • Do not rely on CBSA Officers to pro- vide you with accurate legal advice
  • Ask for an interpreter if you don’t under- stand what’s being said to you
  • You have a right to contact your embassy or consulate, but you may not want to if you fear the government of your home country
  • For more information on immigration detention, refer to the fact sheet “Being arrested and detained for immigration reasons”:

This guide is for informational purposes. It is NOT legal advice.

About the Authors:
The Immigration Legal Committee (ILC) is a Toronto-based group of law students and legal workers. We support community organizations and grassroots campaigns that advocate for immigrant and refugee rights by providing legal education workshops and by creating community resources such as this guide. We don’t provide legal advice or representation.
The Immigration Legal Committee (ILC) is a sub-committee of the Law Union of Ontario ( and No One is Illegal- Toronto (

For more information about us or to book a workshop, contact:

For an online printable version of this document, visit:

The authors thank all individuals and organizations that assisted in the production of this document.