This Thanksgiving, remember migrant farmworkers

This Thanksgiving, remember migrant farmworkers

As you sit down with your family and friends for a Thanksgiving meal this weekend, take a moment to think about who grew your food, who caught the turkey, who picked the grapes.

The migrant farmworkers who did have a message for you. They too want to be with their families. And they are asking you to help spread their story on Facebook and Twitter.

Featured in these photos are three of the over 40,000 migrant agricultural workers that come to Canada year after year, working in fields, greenhouses and factories. These jobs are dangerous, low-waged and necessary. Without them, our food system would simply not work. Yet, the law excludes them from basic protections, or the ability to reunite with their families. While they are afraid of reprisals from bosses if they show their faces, they are organizing and resisting. This Thanksgiving, they are asking people across Canada to remember them.

Share their story on Facebook and Twitter this weekend and urge your friends and family to sign this petition:

Read their stories below. Their names have been changed to protect workers against employer reprisals.

This is Mario. He is 29. His sign reads, “Agricultural workers give our hands and our years of youth to the Canadian economy.” He also says,  “I gave my hands and labour to this country. And I have suffered injuries while working here. And because I’m not a permanent resident,  I will be one more number that will be replaced when my contract ends! We do the heavy work Canadians won’t do, but we don’t have the same rights as permanent residents. That’s not fair.”




This is Chris. His sign reads, “If you drink wine this Thanksgiving, thank a migrant worker.” 41 year old Chris is a Caribbean father of two and has been coming to Canada for 10 years to grow and harvest peaches, pears, and grapes. He works up to 13 hours a day, 7 days a week. The income he earns here provides food, clothing, and school expenses for his children back home. Chris adds, “One day I want to bring my family to Canada so we can all be together.”




This is Mario. He is 29. His sign reads, “Agricultural workers give our hands and our years of youth to the Canadian economy.” He also says,  “I gave my hands and labour to this country. And I have suffered injuries while working here. And because I’m not a permanent resident,  I will be one more number that will be replaced when my contract ends! We do the heavy work Canadians won’t do, but we don’t have the same rights as permanent residents. That’s not fair.”

Free Legal Information Session for International Students

Free Legal Information Session for International Students

Are you on a study permit? Do you have questions about your study permit or other immigration matters? Is your boss not paying you enough? Do you have problems with school administration?

Then this session is for you. Come for free legal advice, to meet others in your situation and to ask questions


Employment and Immigration Rights Session
May 3, 6pm – 9pm,
Suite 202, 720 Spadina Avenue

Organized by the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC). MWAC is Canada’s largest migrant worker rights coalition. We focus on service provision, advocacy and legal reform. Find us at



Join the Migrant Worker Contingent at IWD 2017, Toronto

Join the Migrant Worker Contingent at IWD 2017, Toronto

IWD 2017: Migrant Workers Part of the Resistance! Part of the Fight!
Join migrant workers and allies in the 2017 International Women’s Day March in Toronto 

Meet at 12:45pm
Saturday March 11, 2017
155 College Street (corner of McCaul and College)
Look for the Migrant Worker IWD poster!

RSVP on Facebook and share on Twitter!

For decades, migrant workers have had to work under the most precarious, dangerous and exploitative sectors in Canada. For women migrants, they face even greater levels of exploitation and harm as they are denied basic human and labour rights afforded to those with status in Canada. This International Women’s Day in Toronto is themed – Stop the hate. Unite the fight. Build the resistance. Unity is power. We are here to say Migrant Workers Are Part of the Resistance! Part of the Fight. Unity is Power!

We will also be participating in the 1 Billion Rising campaign, led by GABRIELA. The Toronto presence will represent the global movement to end violence against women and fight exploitation. More information can be found here.

The Ontario government is currently reviewing labour laws. Ontario’s laws exclude many migrant workers from minimum wage, housing regulations, protection from recruiters, access to health and safety and employment standards and injured workers compensation. If laws exclude one group of Ontarians, everyone’s affected. Migrant workers live and work in Ontario, they should have the same rights. That means:
(1) There should be no special rules and exemptions by occupation.
(2) Labour laws must be proactively enforced and community members must be able to complain about bad bosses.
(3) Migrant workers need special anti-reprisal protections including the ability to stay in the country while their complaints are being processed.
(4) Agriculture workers and Caregivers must be able to unionize and bargain collectively and sectorally.
(5) There should be no fees for work. Recruiters need to be licenced and migrant worker employers registered.

For more information, go to or email

Toronto Rally for Migrant Worker Rights #StatusNow

Toronto Rally for Migrant Worker Rights #StatusNow

Toronto-FB Banner
1pm, May 30, 2016
South-East corner of Bloor and Spadina, march to MP Chrystia Freeland’s office

For decades migrant workers in Canada have been denied the most basic freedoms. The freedom to change their job, the freedom to visit with their family, the freedom to stay with their loved ones. Now, the Federal Government is carrying a historic review of the program and we need to ensure that migrant workers don’t get shut out.

The chair of the committee reviewing the program, MP Bryan May told the Calgary Herald that ‘Eighty to 90 per cent of meetings he has had in his capacity as chair have been with industry representatives’.

It will take phenomenal effort on all our part to ensure that migrant worker concerns aren’t stomped over by these same lobbyists in the weeks ahead. We need to ensure that this review does not treat migrant workers like commodities – to be increased or decreased at whim. On May 30th, join us to insist that migrant workers are here, that they are our friends and family members and their labour and human rights matter.

Together, we will call for:

* Mobility: Migrant workers should not be forced to work for a single employer
* Voice: Migrant workers should get a say. It’s time to undo the harm done by the previous government.
* Equality: Let’s build a robust permanent immigration system where migrant workers gets equal treatment

Talking Immigration

* Are you a strong community advocate or service provider that hosts regular meetings?
* Have you had a hard time understanding what exactly is happening in immigration policy?
* Do you have opinions about what new immigrants need in Canada?

Then this opportunity is for you!

The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change is inviting applications from immigrants with strong community connections for a two-day Train-the-Trainer session on immigration and refugee policy. We will give you the tools and support you to facilitate discussion on immigration in your community. At this training you will learn:

* The real facts about immigration, and refugee policy;
* How immigration policy is made, and how you can influence it;
* Tools to support and refer newcomers and migrants; and
* Facilitation skills

If this is of interest to you, then apply right now! This opportunity is especially for immigrant community leaders, and does not require any prior qualifications. You do not need to speak English as your first language.

Migrants and allies seed justice

Migrants and allies seed justice

Toronto – Over a 100 migrant workers and supporters in Toronto planted seedlings and food at Immigration Canada headquarters to insist that migrant workers are rooted in our communities. The “plant-in”, part of actions taking place in 8 cities across the country, calls for an end to the so-called “4 and 4 rule”, and for permanent immigration status for migrant workers. A live band accompanied the planting on Sunday afternoon.


Building Bridges, Breaking Barriers: Migrant Worker Speaking Tour

Building Bridges, Breaking Barriers: Migrant Worker Speaking Tour

You’ve heard a lot about Temporary Foreign Workers, now come hear from them!

Join 3 migrant workers – a Live-In Caregiver, a Farmworker, and a Restaurant worker – to learn about their struggles, their rights, and the laws that impact them. Join our fight to build strong, healthy communities for all of us.

The tour will be visiting the following cities. Spread the word to friends and colleagues who are at these stops. Scroll below to RSVP. Join the facebook events.

Windsor: Mon / Nov 10 – 6PM – Unifor Local 2001855 Turner Road
London: Tue / Nov 11 – 7PM – Vitali Lounge at King’s University College
Peterborough: Wed / Nov 12 – 730PM – Market Hall, 140 Charlotte Street
Hamilton: Thu / Nov 13 – 6PM – Volunteer Hamilton267 King Street East,
Guelph: Sat / Nov 15 – 1PM – UC 103 at University of Guelph University Centre
Toronto: Sun / Nov 16 – 3PM – Beit Zatoun, 712 Markham Street

We all have questions, let’s come together for answers:

+ What is the Temporary Foreign Workers Program?
+ What’s happening to Canada’s immigration and refugee system?
+ Are foreigners really stealing Canadian jobs?
+ Who is really responsible for this mess?
+ How are services being impacted?
+ What can Unions, community organizations, service providers and students do?

Local hosting organizations: Windsor Workers’ Education Centre, United Workers of Diversity Caucus, Jamaican Self Help, Hamilton Legal, Hamilton Sanctuary Coalition, Fuerza Puwersa (more to be updated, get in touch with Syed Hussan at coordinator@migrantworkersalliance to endorse and support)

Coordinated by Migrant Workers Alliance for Change / @MWACCanada


‘Immigration Not Deportation’ – Migrant Worker Solidarity Picket

'Immigration Not Deportation' – Migrant Worker Solidarity Picket

banner image immig not deporOn Thursday, June 19th, join us at 12pm at 316 Bloor West (Bloor and Spadina) at the headquarters of the Canada Food and Restaurants Association, an employer lobby group, to demand immigration not deportation for migrant workers. Actions are taking place at government and employer offices in Alberta, British Columbia, Quebec and across Ontario.

Over the past few months, we have seen migrant workers increasingly vilified and painted as job stealers. Organizations from all stripes speak of migrant workers as a ‘short-term labour solution’ thus dehumanizing our friends and family members. Migrants and unemployed citizens are pitted against each other. The federal government, employers and their lobby associations work as one to keep workers’ lives difficult and dangerous. At the same time, the entire immigration system lurches towards temporariness.

An unjust ban has been placed on food sector workers, further taking away workers’ abilities to change jobs when faced with a bad employer. Migrants at the end of their contract, or those attempting to come to Canada and may have paid thousands of dollars to recruiters, are excluded.

We offer an alternate vision. Of permanent status, not temporary and dangerous work. Of higher wages, and equal rights and protections for all workers. We oppose federal panic policy making by press release. We oppose exploitative employer lobbies who paint themselves as defending the rights of migrant workers. The CFRA has been advocating against an increase in the minimum wage, and has been silent on increased provincial and federal protections for migrant workers.

As migrants and allies, we insist on the following three part solution:

* Short-term: The federal and provincial governments must ensure that migrant workers can exert their rights at work and have equal access to services. This means: open work permits, TFW specific anti-reprisal protections, no exclusion to social entitlements on the basis of citizenship and stronger labour legislation for all workers.
* Mid-term: Regularization of immigration status for all migrants in Canada.
* Long-term: Access to permanent residency for all migrants coming in to Canada, including workers in low-skilled occupations and the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program.

This national day of action is coordinated by migrant justice groups across the country and organized in Toronto by the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC).

Invitation to Report Launch from Metcalf Foundation

There are over 338,000 migrant workers in Canada. This number has more than doubled since 2006. In Toronto, the number of migrant workers increased 237% between 2006 to 2012. As Canada increasingly relies on a work force of transnational migrant workers with temporary status, an industry of third-party for-profit recruiters has emerged to match workers with jobs in Canada.

The Metcalf Foundation is pleased to announce the publication of a new report — written by Innovation Fellow Fay Faraday — which examines migrant workers’ experience of recruitment and analyses whether the existing legal model can adequately protect low-wage migrant workers against recruitment abuse.

Profiting from the Precarious: How Recruitment Practices Exploit Migrant Workers draws on in-depth interviews with low-wage migrant workers in the Greater Toronto Area and southern Ontario, and community organizers in Canada and abroad. Faraday maps out migrant workers’ experiences of recruitment and analyses how abusive recruitment practices resonate throughout a worker’s labour migration cycle. She demonstrates how our complaint-based laws fail to provide effective protection or enable workers to enforce their rights.

As the Ontario government has recently introduced two bills that address worker recruitment, there is both urgency and opportunity to examine legal models that could, in fact, provide effective, meaningful, and accessible protection for low-wage migrant workers.

Please join us on Tuesday, April 8, at 2pm, at the Toronto Reference Library, for the launch of Profiting from the Precarious. Fay Faraday will present her findings along with recommendations for how we can close the vast and disturbing gap between the current law’s promise of protection, and the reality of ongoing exploitation. Panelists from the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change will share their lived experience and provide insight regarding policy recommendations. There will also be an opportunity for a Q&A.

This is a free event, but as space is limited please RSVP at

If you require additional information please contact:
 Inclusive Local Economies Program Director, Adriana Beemans, or 416-926-0366 x 224

Feast for Fairness

Join the event on facebook

Join us on Saturday October 12th at 1030, as the Campaign to Raise the Minimum Wage, in collaboration with the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, hosts a Feast for Fairness at Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market (Meet at the corner of Front St. E and Jarvis. (1 block south of King St. E) Toronto), calling for an increase in minimum wage and the inclusion of migrant workers into minimum wage laws.

Look who’s putting food on our table
This Thanksgiving weekend, many low-wage workers are resorting to food banks in order to get by; and restaurant workers continue to see their wages stagnate. Many migrant workers are excluded from minimum wage laws altogether.

Join us as we demand an immediate increase to the minimum wage to $14 and ending minimum wage exemptions for all workers!