We stopped mass deportations!

55,000 migrant student workers WILL NOT be deported! Why? Because organizing works! Last year when tens of thousands of us were facing deportation for a crisis not in our making, we came together to take action for change. AND WE WON. In direct response to migrant student workers speaking up, the federal government has made post graduate work permits (PGWPs) renewable!

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The fight is not over. Many migrant student workers are in essential jobs, but our work is not valued or counted towards permanent immigration status because it is low-waged and deemed “low-skilled.” We know that it is the work we do — delivery, warehousing, construction, retail, care — which sustains society. We will continue to take action so that all our work is valued.  

This isn’t just a victory for migrant student workers. It’s a victory for all migrant and undocumented people because it shows that together we can organize to win the changes we deserve. Now, more than ever, we must all unite for full and permanent immigration status for all and build the world we want to live in. 

How we fought and won:

In mid-March 2020, as COVID-19 was hitting our communities hard, Migrant Student United (MSU) organized online information sessions for migrant students. Over 2,300 migrant student workers joined in with our concerns. Based on these meetings, MSU sent a letter to the government in April and launched a petition calling for healthcare, income support, and immigration changes. Over 12,000 people signed on. 

Between May and July, MSU held weekly online meetings with hundreds of student workers to share up-to-date information, and identify priorities. MSU supported student workers to establish local Migrant Students United chapters. If you want to start a chapter on your campus or in your city, email us msu@migrantworkersalliance.org. On July 4th, migrant students joined actions for status for all across the country. 

In August, thousands of us met and discussed being unable to complete the work experience required for permanent residency status because of unfair immigration rules. Many of us had lost our jobs because of COVID-19 or couldn’t find work. MSU launched a petition calling on the government to #RenewPGWP. Over 5,000 students signed. On August 23, migrant students joined a full and permanent immigration status for all action in Toronto. 

On September 12, migrant student workers organized a mass rally outside Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland’s office. On September 13, we rallied in Peel. On September 20th, we joined rallies in Toronto. We were featured in CBC National, Global News, the Toronto Star, and our story was shared across multiple major media outlets across Canada. 

On October 25th we rallied in Toronto and installed a giant work permit at immigration headquarters in downtown Toronto.

On November 24, we delivered 16,000 petitions to Immigration Minister Mendicino’s office in Toronto while dozens of student workers and allies took action online. In November, we also postered the offices and the riding of Immigration Minister letting him know that he must stop mass deportations. MSU met with bureaucrats at Immigration Canada.

Faced with our ongoing organizing, the Immigration Minister committed to taking action in Parliament on December 1st. But we didn’t stop. In December, we took our voice to the federal cabinet. We postered the offices of MP Carolyn Bennett, MP Navdeep Bains and MP Maryam Monsef. Hundreds of migrants and allies called and left messages for the Immigration Minister. 

On January 8th, the federal government responded to our demands and made post-graduate work permits renewable. In the past several months, we strengthened our movement – and we will not stop. Migrant student workers will continue to organize alongside all migrant and undocumented people for full and permanent immigration status for all.

What’s happening with the Caregiver Program?

Download this flyer, and share with other Caregivers.

The current “Pathways” Caregiver Program was created in November 2014 for five years. It is is set to expire on November 29, 2019. Unless the program changes – no applications for permanent residency will be received after November 29, 2019. 

This is a crisis AND and an opportunity.

The government has promised to review the Caregiver program and make changes before November 29, 2019. If we do nothing – then the Caregiver program could disappear. But if we work together – we may be able to create a better program.

Caregivers: Don’t be afraid. You deserve to be treated with dignity! You deserve permanent resident status!

Right now we need to bring together issues of low-wages, employer abuse, tied work permits, permanent residency backlog and family reunification. We want a new program with permanent status for all migrant workers.

We need to tell the government that we want a new program that gives us permanent status, the ability to move between jobs, and to be reunited with our families. Caregiving is real work, it’s useful, it’s important and Caregivers deserve real worker rights.

Educate yourself on what the government is planning, and get in touch with your local Caregiver organizations to talk about what a new Caregiver program should look like.

Download this flyer, and share with other Caregivers.

Policy Submissions: Open Work Permit Program for Migrant Workers Facing Risk

Migrant workers and their support organizations across Canada call on the Federal Government to ensure permanent resident status upon arrival for all migrant workers. The current system of temporary, employer specific work permits leaves labour and human rights beyond the reach of migrant workers in Canada. As an interim step to permanent resident status, we are calling on the Federal Government to create open work permits for all workers.

The Federal Government, however, has begun discussions about creating an open work permit program for workers facing abuse only. Here are submissions on how to make this program effective and responsive.

Click to download: Open Work Permit Program for Migrant Workers Facing Risk

Policy Submission: Repeal Section 38(1)(c) of IRPA

Migrant Workers Alliance for Change and Caregivers Action Centre made the following policy submission to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. DOWNLOAD HERE

Our key recommendations on Medical Inadmissibility:

  • Immediately repeal Section 38(1)(c) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
  • Immediately grant permanent residency to everyone who was denied permanent residency on the basis of Section 38(1)(c)  in the last 10 years.


We also urge the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration to develop legislation that:

1) Ensures permanent immigration status for all migrant workers

Status for All, Status on Arrival: All migrant workers must be able to immigrate to Canada as permanent residents immediately, independently and permanently without depending or relying on the sponsorship or good will of their employers or third party agencies. This program should include migrant workers already in Canada, those that have worked here and left and those arriving in the future. Migrant workers who have been granted permanent residency should get comprehensive settlement services that will ensure their success.

  • This recommendation is distinctly separate from a provision of ‘pathway to permanent residency’. A ‘pathway’ is a two-step process that Caregivers had until November 2014 — the current two-streamed program contains a more restrictive pathway — and even then was shown to have the same forms of abuse and vulnerability that are found in other parts of the program.
  • Permanent residency ensures services: Many labour rights and basic services in Canada like healthcare and post-secondary education are tied to permanent immigration status. Migrant workers pay for all these services through taxes and deserve access to them.
  • Permanent residency is the norm: Most immigrants – refugees, spouses, high-waged immigrants – arrive to Canada with permanent resident immigration status, which gives them peace of mind, the ability to re-unite with their families and the tools they need to lay deeper roots and build our society further as soon as they arrive.
  • Permanent residency re-unites families: Landed status on arrival would also allow caregivers to enter Canada with their families, thus eradicating family separation (which averages 6-8 years) while caregivers complete the program and wait for their permanent residence applications to be processed.

2) Ensures access to all social services and benefits

Ensure access to Canada Pension Plan, Employment Insurance and other federal entitlements to migrant workers already in Canada and portable benefits to migrant workers who are no longer here.

Migrant workers left behind in 2017 Federal Budget

Joint Release from Migrant Workers Alliance for Change and Coalition for Migrant Workers


Contact:     Sharmeen Khan – Migrant Workers Alliance for Change – 1-647-881-0440

Natalie Drolet – Executive Director, West Coast Domestic Workers’ Association – 1-604-669-6452 or 1-604-445-0661

March 24, 2017, Toronto — Migrant workers and advocates are angered that the 2017 Federal Budget failed to deliver promised details on reforms to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.  The Liberals delayed their response to a Parliamentary Committee review of the TFWP in January by promising that details would be announced in the Budget.  But the Budget offers only a handful of paragraphs that ignore migrant workers’ critical demands for open work permits, permanent residency and robust rights enforcement.  Instead, the Budget re-announces policy positions that were originally announced in December or in the Liberals’ 2015 election platform.

“The Liberals are continuing to delay while migrant workers continue to face exploitation,” says Sharmeen Khan, Coordinator of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change. “The Budget acknowledges that migrant workers need protection for their rights to decent work and that migrant workers need access to permanent residency.  But the Budget doesn’t actually deliver any policy response to address these long-standing demands or dedicate resources to meaningful proactive rights enforcement,” says Khan.  “Migrant workers raised many important concerns in the TFWP review and the Liberals need to address them in a real way that delivers real change.”

Under the new budget, workers in the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program and the Caregiver and Temporary Foreign Worker Programs will continue to have their work permits tied to one employer. Furthermore, the exemption to “caps” in low-wage seasonal industries means further exploitation and precarity for migrant workers in sectors such as fisheries where an unlimited number of migrant workers are only hired for 6 months on a non-renewable permit.

The Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development (HUMA) recommended in its 2016 review of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program that the government develop open work permits and pathways to permanent residency  for temporary foreign workers. Yet despite these clear recommendations, the Liberal government has refused to overhaul this deeply unjust and exploitative condition on Canada’s most marginalized workforce. While the government claims to continue investigating ways to developing pathways to permanent residency, no details or resources were given in the budget regarding how this work would be done.

“The vulnerability and violence we experience is a result of tied work permits,” says Gabriel Alahuda, a member of Justice for Migrant Workers. “I should be able to complain about my employer, or if needed leave and find other work without the fear of deportation. Without open work permits and permanent status, we are forced to stay in abusive working conditions.”

The Canadian government had an opportunity to rectify decades of abuse and mistreatment by ensuring that migrant workers have the same labour rights afforded to other workers. However, the failure of the government to protect this workforce reveals that the government’s priority is to maintain an exploitative and racist policy that provides a cheap, exploitable workforce for employers and disproportionately exploits workers of colour and women.
If the government is committed to building a “better future for temporary foreign workers” they must meet with migrant workers to develop direct paths to permanent residency, eliminate work permits tied to one employer and develop stronger enforcement to protect migrant workers from abuse. But so far, migrant workers and advocates have been waiting for over a year with no real commitment from the current Liberal government  to better the lives and working conditions for migrant workers.

For more information on our demands, please check go to our petition here.

Policy Brief: Submission from CMWRC & MWAC to HUMA

Submission to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities


These submissions are being jointly made by Coalition for Migrant Worker Rights Canada (CMWRC) and the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC). CMWRC is the representative body of migrant workers in the country. Our members include Cooper Institute in Prince Edward Island, Caregiver Connections Education and Support Organization (CCESO), Migrant Worker Solidarity Network in Manitoba, Migrante Canada, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change in Ontario, Radical Action with Migrants in Agriculture in Okanagan Valley, Temporary Foreign Workers Association in Quebec, Temporary Foreign Workers Coalition in Alberta, Vancouver Committee for Domestic Workers and Caregiver Rights in Vancouver and West Coast Domestic Workers Association in Vancouver.

The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC) includes Alliance of South Asian Aid Prevention, Asian Community Aids Services, Caregivers Action Centre, Fuerza Puwersa, Industrial Accident Victims’ Group of Ontario, Justicia for Migrant Workers, Legal Assistance of Windsor, Migrante Ontario, No One Is Illegal – Toronto, Parkdale Community Legal Services, Social Planning Toronto, South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario, Unifor, United Food and Commercial Workers, Workers’ Action Centre and Workers United.

These recommendations have been endorsed by AIDS Committee of Durham Region, Jesuit Refugee Service, Retail Action Network BC, Refugees Welcome Fredericton, SAME Brock Chapter, MigrantWorkersRights Canada, BC Employment Standards Coalition, Migrante BC, PINAY Quebec, People’s Health Movement Canada/Mouvement populaire pour la santé au Canada, Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network, Migrant Worker Health Project (International Migration Research Centre), Gabriella Ontario, AAFQ (association des aides familiales du Québec/Caregivers Association of Quebec) and Inter Pares.

Re: Caregivers Program – Federal and provincial regulated companies

Letter regarding possible changes to the Caregivers Program by

  • Caregivers Action Centre (Toronto)
  • Caregiver Connections Education and Support Organization CCESO (Toronto)
  • Coalition for Migrant Worker Rights Canada (Cross-Canada)
  • Committee for Domestic Workers and Caregivers Rights
  • Gabriela (Ontario)
  • Migrant Mothers Project
  • Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (Cross-Canada)
  • Migrante (British Columbia)
  • OCASI – Ontario Coalition of Agencies Serving Immigrants (Ontario)
  • PINAY (Quebec)
  • Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office (Toronto)
  • West Coast Domestic Workers Association (British Columbia)

Now is the time to act for migrant worker rights

This Wednesday, May 11th, the Federal government will begin a review of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program. Now is the time to act for migrant worker rights

As you know, over the last few years we saw a massive increase in racisms and xenophobia with migrant workers being blamed for job loss, low wages, precarious work, and everything else in between. Multiple terrible laws were passed – which forced thousands of people to either unwillingly leave the country or become undocumented. We need comprehensive reforms and for that we need you:

1) Join an event or organize your own during ‪#‎StatusNow‬ Week of Action for‪#‎MigrantWorker‬ rights.
From May 28 to June 5th, we will be organizing actions across the country. Full listings here.

(2) Help spread the word
Sign an e-petition, share facebook memes, distribute flyers, get petition signatures, distribute our backgrounder and FAQs. Lots of materials for you to use and share here.

(3) Meet your MP: The Coalition for Migrant Worker Rights Canada has created all the tools that will make it super easy even if you’ve never done this before. Check it out here.

More information at www.migrantrights.ca

Migrant Workers Decorate MP Arif Virani’s Office


Late on December 16th, Migrant workers and their allies from Caregivers Action Centre, Justicia for Migrant Workers and other member organizations of Migrant Workers Alliance for Change decorated the offices of MP Arif Virani, Parliamentary Assistant to Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

See full text of the letter they delivered below.

Migrant workers are calling on their allies to contact Arif Virani ad ask him to o think about their families. Tell him migrant workers need the same rights as everyone else.

• Migrant workers deserve to switch jobs and untied work permits.
• Migrant workers should be able to come to Canada with permanent residency and their families, like other immigrants.

Call: 416 769 5072
Email: Arif.Virani@parl.gc.ca
Tweet: www.twitter.com/viraniarif
Message him: facebook.com/Arif.ViraniParkdaleHighPark

For more pictures and a copy of the letter, click here.

Canada-wide migrant worker coalition calls on Trudeau to MoVE for Real Change

Newly launched Coalition for Migrant Worker Rights – Canada calls for end to discrimination against migrant workers. Press conferences in:

·         Charlottetown – 200 Richmond Street, 11am, Oct 28, 2015.

·         Edmonton – 14931 107 Avenue, 3:30pm, Oct 28, 2015.

·         Montreal – I.W.C, 4755 Van Horne, 10am, Oct 28, 2015.

·         Toronto – Suite 223, 720 Spadina, 11am, Oct 28, 2015.

·         Vancouver – 550 W 6th Avenue #100, 9am, Oct 28, 2015.

Online petition at www.migrantrights.ca

October 28, 2015, Canada – Migrant worker groups from across Canada are launching a historic coalition today to call on Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government to end the discriminatory practice of tying migrant workers to specific employers and transition towards permanent immigration status upon arrival for migrant workers. The Coalition for Migrant Workers Rights – Canada  (CMWRC) is launching MoVE – a campaign for Mobility, Voice and Equality for Migrant Workers to call on Prime Minister Trudeau to keep his campaign promises to undo the harm done by the Harper government and to move towards a single-tier immigration system based on permanency and family reunification to ensure decent work for all.

Low-waged migrant workers are restricted to only working for the specific employer listed on their work permit. Changing employers is extremely difficult. This allows bad bosses to lower salaries and hold workers hostage to poor working conditions and threaten deportation when workers speak out. These practices lower standards for everyone in the labour market. A first step to ending this downward cycle is to untie work permits so workers have the ‘mobility’ to leave employers who exploit them. The next step must be to reorient the system towards secure, permanent immigration that protects ‘voice’ and ‘equality’.

“If we are still under the closed work permit, we feel so small, we are scared. We can’t raise our voice louder,” says Mariyah Fitriyanti, a Live-In Caregiver who recently transitioned from a closed permit to an open permit. “I have an open work permit now. Open work permit is good for us. We can change the employer without them abusing us further. With the open work permit, we feel free.”

“Mr. Trudeau has promised real change, and an immigration system that welcomes and values all of us and that means untied work permits and permanent immigration status upon landing,” adds Senthil Thevar, who was a Temporary Foreign Worker in Ontario.

“Over the past decade, deep changes were made to Canada’s immigration system that bring migrant workers into the country with temporary status under conditions that predictably leave them vulnerable to exploitation by employers and recruiters,” says labour and human rights lawyer Fay Faraday. “Tied work permits, mandatory removal after four years and lack of pathways to permanent status drive real precariousness for migrant workers.  There is an opportunity now for a fresh start to rebuild the system on principles of security, decent work and permanence.”

“Workers across Canada are facing precarious, low-wage jobs and tough economic times,” says Naveen Mehta, UFCW Canada’s general counsel, and director of human rights. “Too often we have blamed immigrants for unemployment in these times of economic downturn. Justin Trudeau can put forward a positive decent job agenda that raises standards for all workers, and end the arbitrary exclusion of migrant workers.”

MoVE Demands

·      Regulatory changes to make it easier for migrant workers to move between jobs thereby improving working and living conditions for Canadian born and migrant workers. Specifically:

o   Transition from tied work permits to open work permits

o   Remove limits on work permits and restrictions on Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIA) including a 4-year time limit on workers ability to stay.

·      Permanent resident immigration status upon arrival for migrant workers.

WHO: Founding members of CMWRC:

●  Cooper Institute (PEI)

●  Migrant Workers Alliance for Change*

●  Migrante Canada

●  Radical Action with Migrants in Agriculture (Okanagan Valley)

●  Temporary Foreign Workers Association in Quebec

●  Temporary Foreign Workers Coalition in Alberta

●  Vancouver Committee for Domestic Workers and Caregiver Rights

Media Contacts:

Toronto – Syed Hussan, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, 416 453 3632, Karen Cocq, 416-531-0778 ext. 221 (pour les français)

Charlottetown – Josie Baker, Cooper Institute, 902-894-4573

Edmonton – Dhon Mojica, Migrante Canada, 780-716-3809

Montreal – ATTET Quebec <attetquebec@gmail.com>Vancouver – Jane Ordinario, MIGRANTE-BC, 604-961-7794; Julie Diesta, Vancouver Committee for Domestic Workers & Caregivers Rights, 778-881-8345; Natalie Drolet, West Coast Domestic Workers’ Association, 604-445-0661