Migrant workers prepare for more fees, shorter stays, no permanent status

Ottawa — Migrant workers and supporters are calling today’s announced changes to the Temporary Foreign Workers Program a ‘mass deportation order’ which will forcibly remove and cut-short thousands of workers’ stay in the country. These changes will also lock-in workers with bad employers, and fail to ensure expanded protections or permanent immigration status.

Quotes

“Today’s announcements are bad news for migrant workers. Migrant workers are still employed under an indentured system where they work without voice, without rights and without protections. In fact, today that system has been further entrenched. Genuine reforms would be permanent immigration status, anti reprisal measures and equal access to social entitlements. Instead, we are reinforcing a revolving door system where we are creating a permanent group of temporary workers that are denied rights that Canadians enjoy.”

— Chris Ramsaroop, Justicia for Migrant Workers, Member of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change

“Today’s announcements underscore a two-tiered system. Low-waged and racialized people are being removed from the Immigration Ministry entirely, and with that many hopes for permanency are dashed. It’s a knee-jerk reaction that adds fuel to anti-immigrant fire. These changes also don’t deal with Canada’s jobless economic recovery since 2009. Not only will there be more abuse, more suffering, and fewer rights for migrant workers, there are no mechanisms for higher wages or decent working conditions for any worker in the country.

— Syed Hussan, Coordinator, Member of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change

“Kenney confirmed today that migrants make up a small proportion of the labour force. The issue isn’t migrants taking jobs from citizen workers, its migrant workers being exploited and abused. That’s what migrant workers and their allies have raised for over a decade. Its obvious that the Federal government refused to listen to the voices of migrant workers.”

— Winston Morrison – Migrant Worker and Member of Justicia for Migrant Workers, Member of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change

Preliminary Analysis: Impact of today’s changes on migrant workers

On more temporariness for migrant workers

  • Entrenching temporariness by reducing the length of time LMIAs will be issued and the cumulative period during which general low-wage temporary foreign workers will be allowed to remain in Canada will set an expiry limit on migrants’ lives, sever relationships and force thousands of workers to either leave the country or live here without rights as undocumented workers.
  • A further reduction in the number of years a migrant workers can stay in Canada will reinforce our current ‘revolving door’ immigration system where employers simply bring in a new group of more exploitable workers every few years.
  • A limit on the number of migrant workers that an employer can hire (10% for employers with more than 10 workers) will further reduce the ability of workers to switch jobs in sectors that are ‘at capacity’, forcing them to stay with abusive employers.
  • Higher LMO (now LMIA) fees (from $250 to $1,000) will be downloaded to workers as there is no national recruiter regulation framework.
  • Replacing the NOC system with wage levels does not account for the fact that many migrant workers do not actually receive the wages they are promised in their employment contracts.
  • None of these changes speak to the government’s general push to temporary, precarious, and conditional status across all immigrant and refugee programs, with huge discretion given to employers under both federal programs and provincial nominee programs.

On enforcement

  • A crackdown on employers abusing the program is not possible in the context of a complaints-driven enforcement system, which requires migrant workers to speak out against employers they are tied to. There are no systems to ensure that migrant workers will actually assert their rights, as complaining to MoL can lead to deportation and is therefore simply not an option.
  • The increased number, scope and reviewable federal program requirements of inspections will not affect the temporariness of the program, the lack of worker voice, or the lack of permanent resident status. Reducing worker mobility and length of maximum stay in the country will only increase the likelihood that complaints will not be made.
  • The expanded and improved Tip Line also risks failing to respond to situations where workers are experiencing violations in working conditions or housing in situations of debt bondage.
  • If increased inspections, tips, complaints, and public blacklisting of employers are successful, the government has made no indication what the impact will be on migrant workers.  Will they be free to stay, to change employers, to pay off recruitment fees and placement debts, and support and sponsor their families?
  • The additional funding for CBSA criminal investigations risks further criminalizing migrant workers, or painting them ultimately as victims without a say in whether they can go or stay here.
  • Apart from promised information-sharing that’s been demanded for a decade, there are no investments in partnering with provinces for proactive enforcement of labour and employment standards.
  • If the government were interested in genuine reforms to the program, it would not ignore the long-standing abuse of migrant farm workers and live-in caregivers. These sectors have been exempted from protections without reason.

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Media Contacts: Syed Hussan (416 453 3632, coordinator@migrantworkersalliance.org)

Suggested questions for Minister Jason Kenney & Chris Alexander’s announcement on TFWP today.

Ottawa — The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC), Canada’s largest migrant worker rights coalition, is gravely concerned by leaked reports of changes to the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP) that seem to continue to punish migrant workers’ for employer abuse and government failure. The decision to limit the time migrant workers can stay in Canada, increased LMO fees, and limits on migrant worker hiring by employer will result in making migrant workers’ more precarious, and less able to assert their rights. This continues the trend of laws that construct and determine migrant worker insecurity. MWAC suggests the following questions be raised at the press briefing on reforms to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program today. A full statement will be issued following the formal announcement and MWAC members will be available for comment.  
 
On raising LMO fees
 
There is no national framework to regulate recruiters and no national ban on charging migrant workers fees for work. In such a climate, how will you ensure that higher LMO fees aren’t simply downloaded to migrant workers themselves?
 
On caps on workers that employers can hire
 
There were 65,125 new LMOs issued for low-skilled workers just in the first half of 2013 (the 31,000 figure floated by ESDC does not include LMOs issued for workers already in Canada). It is already extremely difficult for migrant workers in Canada to change jobs. A limit on the number of available jobs would mean (as it already does in the food sector following the recent moratorium) that workers and their employers would know that switching jobs within the sector is harder if not impossible. How will you ensure that cap on workers an employer can hire does not simply result in further migrant worker abuse by employers and less willingness to complain by migrant workers? 
 
On time-limits that migrant workers can stay in Canada
 
Isn’t a time-limit just a revolving door where the same employer can just bring a new set of workers with less awareness of their rights and who are easier to abuse? Many migrant workers and advocates have argued that limiting the number of years that a worker can stay in Canada to four as of April 2015 will result in mass detentions and deportations, and many workers will be forced to become undocumented. Would further reducing the number of years that migrant workers live here not exacerbate that? Why is there no program to grandfather the workers already in the country in to full immigration status? Does the existence of various temporary foreign workers program since the late 60s not prove that there is a need for immigrants in such jobs? Didn’t all of the groups that ESDC consulted with support access to permanent residency for migrant workers? 
 
On targeting employers who break the rules
 
Labour law enforcement is the mandate of provinces. Under current federal laws, a migrant worker’s ability to stay in Canada is tied to their employer. The only way for workers to complain about employers that break the rules is by complaining to the provincial Ministry of Labour (MoL). How will you ensure that migrant workers will actually assert their rights, as complaining to MoL can lead to deportation and is therefore simply not an option? Will Ottawa actually be giving money for proactive labour law enforcement to the different provinces? 
 
On consultations that led to these decisions
 
Though there was one meeting with advocacy and labour organizations, was there any consultation with migrant worker groups on these reforms? How do you think migrant workers will respond to these announcements? 
 
On exemptions for ‘seasonal’ workers and live-in caregivers
 
Some of the worst allegations of abuses, including deaths, have taken place in seasonal industries like agriculture and hospitality. Why do the specific reforms aimed at curbing employer abuse exempt those migrant workers from protections?
 
On access to benefits


Closed work permits exclude migrant workers from equal access to social entitlements such as healthcare. Many sick and injured migrants lose access to healthcare once their work permits expires thus denying them access to desperately needed medical help. How will the changes announced today ensure that migrant workers do not fall through the cracks? 

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Migrant Workers Alliance for Change is Canada’s largest migrant worker rights coalition. It includes Alliance of South Asian Aid Prevention, Asian Community Aids Services, Caregivers Action Centre, Industrial Accident Victims’ Group of Ontario, Justicia for Migrant Workers,KAIROS, Legal Aid Windsor, Migrante Ontario, No One Is Illegal – Toronto, Parkdale Community Legal Services, Social Planning Toronto,UNIFOR, United Food and Commercial Workers and the Workers’ Action Centre. www.migrantworkersalliance.org

 

Migrant worker supporters pre-empt TFWP announcement calling for ‘Immigration Not Deportation’

Migrant Workers Alliance for Change
Media Release
June 19, 2014

Toronto – 75 migrant worker supporters gathered outside the offices of employer lobby group Restaurant Canada today calling for permanent status for low-skilled migrant workers in the country. Employment Minister Jason Kenney is expected to announce changes to the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP) this week. Actions also took place in Montreal, Ottawa and Calgary at ESDC and Jason Kenney’s office.

“The feds continue to make knee-jerk policies by press release that do not include migrant worker voices or concerns,” says Syed Hussan, coordinator of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC), Canada’s largest migrant worker coalition, which organized today’s protest. “We need full immigration status for migrant workers in the low-skilled and agriculture streams immediately.”

Migrant worker supporters held signs that read ‘Immigration Not Deportation’, and chanted for over an hour. Changes proposed by Kenney in closed door meetings have included raising fees for Labour Market Opinions which advocates warn will be simply downloaded to migrant workers in the absence of comprehensive recruiter regulations. No announcements from the provinces are expected.

“Provincial and federal laws together that work to make migrants a second-class category of workers who are then pitted against unemployed citizens and permanent residents,” explained Tzazna Miranda Leal, organizer with Justice for Migrant Workers, member organization of MWAC.

“The solution is to give migrant workers access to permanent immigration status and remove those exclusions from labour protections for all workers. That’s what will make migrant workers and unemployed citizens allies in the fight for better jobs and stronger communities,” Leal adds. Advocates are also concerned about the changes to TFWP are exacerbating an anti-immigrant backlash where migrant workers are being blamed for joblessness.Two members of anti-immigrant group Immigrant Watch Canada responsible for racist anti-Sikh flyers in Brampton stood a block away holding anti-migrant worker signs. 

“Workers across Canada are facing precarious, low-wage jobs and tough economic times,” insisted Deena Ladd from the Workers Action Centre. “Let’s not repeat history’s mistakes of blaming immigrants for unemployment in times of economic downturn. We need a decent job agenda that raises standards for all workers, not an arbitrary exclusion of migrant workers.”

The protest also made connections between TFWP, and creation of temporary immigration streams for parents, grandparents and spouses as well as the drop in refugee acceptance numbers. 

“We need to understand the expansion of TFWP as one part of a dangerous shift in Canadian immigration policy towards temporariness and exclusion,” explains Perry Sorio, member of Migrante Canada, an MWAC member. “Permanency and stability are necessary to build healthy communities. We need to overhaul the entire immigration system and re-institute access to permanent status for immigrants in low-skilled occupations.”

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Migrant Workers Alliance for Change is Canada’s largest migrant worker rights coalition. It includes Alliance of South Asian Aid Prevention, Asian Community Aids Services, Caregivers Action Centre, Industrial Accident Victims’ Group of Ontario, Justicia for Migrant Workers,KAIROS, Legal Aid Windsor, Migrante Ontario, No One Is Illegal – Toronto, Parkdale Community Legal Services, Social Planning Toronto,UNIFOR, United Food and Commercial Workers and the Workers’ Action Centre. www.migrantworkersalliance.org

Ontario Leaders Debate: Time to take a stand on migrant workers

Media Contacts: Syed Hussan (416 453 3632, coordinator@migrantworkersalliance.org)

Toronto — The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC), Canada’s largest migrant worker advocacy coalition, is calling on Andrea Horwath, Tim Hudak, Mike Schreiner and Kathleen Wynne on the eve of the leaders’ debate to outline their vision for migrant worker rights in Ontario. Though Ontario has the largest number of migrant workers in Canada, there has been no mention of them in the political campaigns of the three leading parties despite national attention in the last few weeks. MWAC has sent questions to the leaders of the parties and is awaiting their response.

“Migrant workers are not inherently vulnerable, its provincial laws that exclude us from basic protections that make us so,” insists Liza  Draman, a migrant worker in Toronto. “Many migrant workers are women and racialized people who are being denied immigration status by the Federal Government. Ontario must step up. Ontario’s future government must commit to sitting down with migrant workers and update labour laws and other legislation.” (more…)

Liberal TFWP plan not a solution to Tory mess

Toronto – The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC), Canada’s largest migrant worker coalition, believes that the 5-point demands issued by the Liberal Party of Canada on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) fail to respond to the needs of migrant workers or the Canadian labour market. Discussions on the TFWP must include the voices of migrant workers. MWAC calls for the following short, medium and long-term steps:

  • Short term: The Federal and provincial governments must ensure that migrant workers can exert their rights at work. This means: open work permits, TFW specific anti reprisal protections, equal access to social entitlements and strengthening labour legislation for all workers
  • Medium term: Full immigration status for migrant workers in Canada as we justly transition to a long term solution;
  • Long term: Permanent immigration status for all migrants coming into Canada, including workers in low-skilled occupations and the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program.

“The Liberal plan fails to recognize that it is provincial and federal laws together that work to make migrants a second-class category of workers that are then pitted against unemployed citizens and permanent residents,” explains Tzazna Miranda Leal, organizer with Justice for Migrant Workers, member organization of MWAC. “The solution is to simply remove those exclusions from labour protections for all workers, thus making migrant workers and unemployed citizens allies in the fight for better jobs and stronger communities.”

Vinay Sharma, Human Rights Director for UNIFOR, Canada’s largest private sector union and MWAC member adds, “Once the provinces and the feds have cleaned up their act, we need to account for migrants already here. We can’t just get rid of them. Migrant workers in Canada need full immigration status. That’s the next step.”

“The Liberal demands today fail to recognize the expansion of TFWP as part of a dangerous shift in Canadian immigration policy towards temporariness and exclusion,” explains Perry Sorio, member of Migrante Canada, an MWAC member. “Permanency and stability are necessary to build healthy communities. We need to overhaul the entire immigration system and re-institute access to permanent status for immigrants in low-skilled occupations.”

Syed Hussan, MWAC Coordinator agrees. “Our members are a fundamental part of the labour market and economy. To treat them as a separate entity as the Liberals do makes no economic sense, and continues the divisiveness drummed up over the last month. Migrants are our friends and family, not just a market-input brought in when needed. Workers need to be at the table, making joint decisions.”

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Media Contact: Syed Hussan, Coordinator, 416 453 3632coordinator@migrantworkersalliance.org

Migrant Workers Alliance for Change includes Asian Community AIDS Services, Caregivers Action Centre, 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, and Workers Action Centre. www.migrantworkersalliance.org

 

Food Sector Ban Punishes Migrant Workers for Employer Abuse and Government Failure

Food Sector Ban Punishes Migrant Workers for Employer Abuse and Government Failure

mwac-logo-blueToronto – The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC), Canada’s largest coalition of migrant worker groups and allies, is calling for immediate changes to the moratorium imposed on temporary foreign workers (TFW) in the food industry. A moratorium is not the solution. Migrant workers need a just transition to a permanent immigration system in ‘low-skilled’ industries rather than being blamed for government mistakes. MWAC calls on the Federal government to:

  • Process pending and in-country Labour Market Opinions and Work Permit applications for migrant workers; and
  • Develop a just transition mechanism into permanent residency for migrants already in Canada, along with future immigrants in the low-wage, ‘low-skilled’ sectors

“The media is full of stories of migrant worker exploitation, but this moratorium won’t end the abuse it will just make workers more precarious,” insists Senthil Thevar, who came to Canada as a Temporary Foreign Worker in the food sector and was forced to switch jobs because of workers rights violations.

“A moratorium on TFWs is the wrong way to go. Migrant workers in Canada awaiting a decision on their LMOs and work permits will suffer immensely. Those trying to leave abusive employers will be locked in,” says migrant worker advocate Chris Ramsaroop from Justicia for Migrant Workers. “Those who have paid thousands of dollars to recruiters abroad to apply for jobs here risk losing their life savings.  They should not have to pay the price of long-standing flaws in the immigration system. That’s basic fairness.”

Vinay Sharma, Human Rights Director for UNIFOR, Canada’s largest private sector labour union adds, “We can’t just get rid of workers that are already here. Migrant workers in Canada need full immigration status. That’s the critical step. Right now the moratorium should exclude in-country and pending applications.”

“Recent reports expose how provincial and federal laws exclude migrants from basic workplace protections. The solution is to change those two-tiered laws that create conditions of lowered wages and working conditions and that pit migrant workers against unemployed or under-employed citizens,” adds Syed Hussan of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change. “In the long-run, we need to return to an immigration system that gives access to permanent status to migrants in low-skilled industries.”

“Workers across Canada are facing precarious, low-wage jobs and tough economic times,” added Deena Ladd from the Workers Action Centre. “Let’s not repeat history’s mistakes of blaming immigrants for unemployment in times of economic downturn. We need a decent job agenda that raises standards for all workers, not an arbitrary exclusion of migrant workers.”

Media Contact: Syed Hussan, Coordinator, 416 453 3632, coordinator@migrantworkersalliance.org

Key facts

  • 44,000 migrant workers entered Canada in the food and accommodation sector in 2012.
  • The actual number of migrant workers in Canada in the food sector is not currently known – but all of those workers are now unable to switch jobs within the sector leaving them vulnerable to employer abuse.
  • Canada has no pathway for low-skilled immigrants to come here permanently. A moratorium on the TFWP should only happen after such a pathway has been developed – otherwise it will result in mass deportation.
  • There is no inter-provincial or Canada wide ban on charging migrant workers recruitment fees. Thus recruiters charge migrant workers upwards of two-years’ of salaries in home countries to find jobs in Canada. See http://metcalffoundation.com/publications-resources/view/profiting-from-the-precarious-how-recruitment-practices-exploit-migrant-workers/ for more.

Migrant Workers Alliance for Change includes Asian Community AIDS Services, Caregivers Action Centre, 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, and Workers Action Centre. www.migrantworkersalliance.org

 

Recruitment Fees Banned for All Migrant Workers; Comprehensive Changes Still Needed

TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwired – Dec. 4, 2013) – Banning recruitment fees for all migrant workers; removing the arbitrary monetary cap on reclaiming unpaid wages and tougher penalties for employment standards violations means that migrant workers gain a few more protections today, but comprehensive changes are still needed says the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC), Canada’s largest migrant worker advocacy coalition.

“After migrant workers exposed abuses by recruiters in 2009, we won protections for live-in caregivers but other migrant workers were unnecessarily excluded,” explains Liza Draman, spokesperson for the Caregivers Action Centre, member organization of MWAC. “Today after four years of migrant workers speaking out about their experiences, recruitment fees have finally been banned for all migrant workers.”

“Unfortunately over two-thirds of the caregivers we surveyed after the law came into effect in 2009 still paid fees,” adds Draman. “That’s because these protections rely on complaints and not proactive enforcement. For there to be meaningful protections, Ontario must follow provinces like Manitoba and implement employer and recruiter registration, licensing and regulation including joint and several financial liability.”

“I paid $1500 in Honduras to come work here in Canada. Here I worked in an unsafe job at a mushroom farm for a year to be able to pay back that debt,” stated Juan Miguel, a temporary foreign worker leader with Justicia for Migrant Workers, member organization of the MWAC. “On top of that, my employer regularly stole my wages and I couldn’t file a claim with the Ministry or I would have been fired and sent back home. I had to wait until I finished my contract, went home and came back with another employer but by then I had exceeded the current 6 month limit on claims. Today’s changes are an important step, but migrant workers need much stronger protections to ensure we have equal rights on the job.”

“Getting rid of the unfair $10,000 limit for employment standards claims and giving workers 2 years to file claims is a significant victory for Ontario workers, especially migrant workers” says Senthil Thevar, a former migrant worker and a spokesperson of MWAC member organization Workers Action Centre who is owed thousands of dollars in unpaid wages. “If these laws had existed a few years ago, I could have claimed the thousands of dollars of my unpaid wages immediately rather than being forced to go to court.”

“Migrant workers are not inherently vulnerable, its provincial laws that exclude us from basic protections that make us so,” insists Draman. “Many migrant workers are women and racialized people who are being denied immigration status by the Federal Government. Ontario must step up. We are urging Ontario’s government to sit down with migrant workers and update labour laws and other legislation. It is high time that migrant worker achieve the same protections and benefits as other Ontarians.”

Kyla Hernandez, a Filipino migrant worker who paid $5,000 to work in a vegetable packaging company in Windsor, ON, and spoke out against recruitment fees in 2008 adds, “Today’s labour reforms are a result of the advocacy efforts of migrant workers who took to the streets and held politicians accountable for the 19th century working and living conditions that we face in 21st century Ontario. However this victory is bittersweet. Many of our friends who fought for this have been terminated or deported for standing up for their rights. They will not enjoy the fruits of their labour. We owe it to them to continue the struggle and ensure that we are no longer treated as second class citizens.”

Source: www.migrantworkersalliance.org

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

Media Liaison
Migrant Workers Alliance for Change
Syed Hussan, Coordinator
416 453 3632
coordinator@migrantworkersalliance.org

Federal Immigration policy changes lack enough protection for migrants

MEDIA ADVISORY

29 April, 2013 

Media Liaison: Syed Hussan, coordinator@migrantworkersalliance.org416 453 3632

Federal Immigration policy changes lack enough protection for migrants
Consultations with migrant workers necessary for meaningful change

The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC), a coalition of migrant worker groups and community, faith, and labour allies who have worked directly with migrant workers for decades believes that the minor changes introduced today do not respond to the key concerns migrant workers have identified in the program and are mostly cosmetic.

“We are not stealing jobs, but filling the ones that Canadians do not want due to the long hours, low pay, and live-in requirement,” insists Kay Manuel, a live-in caregiver and member of the Caregivers Action Centre. “The biggest problem with the migrant worker program is that we don’t have the same rights as citizens, the only solution is full immigration status for all workers.”

“We are tired of hearing about laws about how we migrant workers live and work without our voices and concerns ever being heard,” Manuel added.

“Either the Tories want to launch the largest deportation campaign in the history of Canada by shutting out 300,000 migrant workers or they are just posturing in response to public outcry over the failings of the program they created,” adds Chris Ramsaroop, who has worked with agricultural workers in Ontario for the last ten years. “While incremental steps have been taken to eliminate the 15% and 5% rule, and the elimination of the Accelerated LMO process, the core structures of the TFW programs that deny migrant workers the ability to exert their rights have remained intact. Migrant workers will now face greater hardships because of the downloading of LMO costs on to employers which really just means downloading it on to the workers. This adds to the huge sums of money migrant workers already have to pay to get work in Canada.”

“The entire argument about migrant workers taking jobs that unemployed Canadians would otherwise take is about exceptions not the rule,” says Syed Hussan, Coordinator of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change. “In the past these low-paying jobs were held by new immigrants not young unemployed Canadians, except they had full status and could bring their families. Now it’s the same demographic working the same jobs, except they have lesser rights. It’s not workers stealing jobs from Canadians, it’s the Conservative government stealing status from immigrants, and separating families.”

Short-term reforms to the Temporary Foreign Workers Program

Here are some immediate steps the Conservative government can take to correct the mistaken policies of past years:

  • Eliminate the 4 and 4 rule under which workers can work in Canada for four years and are banned for the next four
  • End the downloading of costs through LMO user fees on to employers and/or migrant workers.
  • Restore the EI special benefits for TFWP, and ensure full access to employment insurance to all workers that have been employed in Canada.
  • Work with provinces to develop a pan-Canadian framework to register and regulate recruiters and employers to ensure that workers rights are protected, and that recruiter fees are eliminated.

Any further reforms to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program must prioritize consultation and decision making by migrant workers themselves.

Sources:
www.migrantworkersalliance.org

 

Ministry of Labour employees charged fees to work

Ministry of Labour employees charged fees to work

MEDIA ADVISORY
March 20, 2013

Media Contact: Syed Hussan, Coordinator, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, 416 453 3632,coordinator@migrantworkersalliance.org

Ministry of Labour employees charged fees to work

Toronto — Pretend recruiters will be outside Ontario’s Ministry of Labour on Friday (March 22nd) charging employees up to 2 years’ salary or CAD$100,000 to go into their own workplace drawing attention to Ontario labour laws that allow migrant workers to be charged fees to work.

WHAT: Wannabe recruiters charging fees from Ontario Ministry of Labour employees
WHEN: 7: 45am. March 22, 2013, three-year anniversary of Employment Protections for Foreign National Act, EPFNA
WHERE: Ministry of Labour, 400 University Avenue
VISUALS: Recruiters in suits and top hats charging fees from Ministry of Labour employees.

“If recruiters can make a quick buck off migrant workers, we can make a quick buck off the people who allow it,” the organizers of the fee-charging drive said in an email call-out earlier this week.”Recruiters aren’t licensed in Ontario, so anyone can do it! What’s even better is that recruiters can’t be held liable for what happens at work, so if their bosses mistreat them, its no skin off our back.”

Though it’s been three years since EPFNA was implemented, Caregivers continue to be charged fees to work. In a survey by Caregivers Action Centre, two-thirds of live-in caregivers arriving after EPFNA was implemented, paid fees averaging $3725. EPFNA does not include protections for agricultural workers or temporary foreign workers.

“By our guessestimation (its pretty hard to get the facts) at least half off Ontario’s 120,000 migrant workers are paying between $3,000 and $10,000 to recruiters or about two years of their annual salary in their home countries. That could be as high as 600 million dollars a year. Imagine how much more money could be made by the rich if we started charging non-migrant workers too. Its an untapped opportunity and we need to take matters in to our own hands,” the email announcement calling for recruiters continued.

The organizers insisted that they weren’t exploiting the Ministry of Labour employees.”With few real ways to get into Canada permanently, migrants are forced to pay recruiters to come to Canada on a temporary basis. To do so, entire families get into debt. Here, they pay in to E.I., and CPP, but face insurmountable barriers into accessing these benefits. Health and safety protections are non-existent. Documents are seized and bosses are often abusive. All of this is allowed by provincial and federal laws. We won’t be treating the Ministry of Labour employees that badly.”

 

Source
www.migrantworkersalliance.org

Migrant Workers Alliance for Change responds to new immigration levels and mix numbers announcement

TORONTO, Oct. 31, 2012 /CNW/ – Syed Hussan, Coordinator, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change:

“Minister Kenney is giving 10,000 immigrants the chance for permanency residency through the Canadian Experience Class, the problem is there are 300,000 temporary migrant workers coming to Canada each year.  What happens to the other 290,000 immigrants?”

“These new levels of immigration and mix came out of closed door consultations and an unethical online survey process that most organizations were not invited to and most people in Canada did not participate in. We have a government in Ottawa that speaks of family values but is setting up immigrants to be scammed by recruiters, exploited by bad bosses, separated from their loved ones and then sent back just as they’ve begun to lay roots.”

“Most people in Canada believe that the point of immigration is to build a safe, secure community, not bring in temp workers who will be charged high fees, work in dangerous conditions, and be forced to leave when their arbitrary term in Canada is up.”

The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change comprises Alliance for South Asian Aids Prevention, Asian Community Aids Services, Canadian Auto Workers, Caregivers Action Centre, IAVGO, Justicia for Migrant Workers, KAIROS, Migrante Ontario, No One Is Illegal – Toronto, Parkdale Community Legal Services, Social  Planning Toronto, United Food and Commercial Workers and the Workers’ Action Centre.

SOURCE: The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change

For further information:

Syed Hussan
coordinator@migrantworkersalliance.org
(416) 453-3632

720 Spadina Avenue, Suite 223, Toronto, ON  M5S 2T9
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