Migrant domestic workers have been coming to Canada without full immigration status – which means without full rights – since 1955. We have been exploited and excluded for 66 years. But it also means we, and the care workers before us, have been organizing and winning for 66 years!
Today on International Domestic Workers Day, we reflect on the history of migrant care worker organizing:
- Black Caribbean women, along with many other workers, led the fight to create a path to permanent residence (PR) for migrant care workers in the 1980s.
- In the 1990s, workers’ struggles forced the removal of a number of exclusionary requirements, but care workers were forced to live in employer homes.
- In 2010, migrant care workers won the Juana Tejada law, removing the requirement for a second medical exam to get PR.
- In 2014, migrant care workers won an end to the live-in requirement. But a cap of 2,750 per year was put on PR applications, and unfair requirements for English and education were put in place.
- In 2017, migrant care workers led the fight to remove medical inadmissibility rules, which led to them being significantly reduced, though they remain in place.
- In 2019, migrant care workers won an Interim Pathway to allow many workers in Canada to get PR without the exclusionary requirements introduced in 2017.
- And during COVID-19, migrant care workers are organizing across the country for vaccine access, mobility and immigration and labour rights.
WE hold up the Canadian economy – temporary foreign workers like all of us make up 10% of private household workers in Canada. Thousands of undocumented mostly racialized women are doing in-home domestic work, and even more are working in long-term care homes and as personal support workers.
But unfair immigration rules push us into abusive jobs; tie us to our employers for health care and housing; restrict us from being able to study freely; put us at risk of exploitation from recruiters and consultants, and for deportation; and separate us from our families for YEARS!
We know the rules only change if migrant care workers come together and fight for our rights. Join us!