Petition: International Students Need Support! #FixPGWP

Petition: International Students Need Support! #FixPGWP

Many migrant students are not able to find employment necessary to meet Permanent Residency requirements because of the economic downturn and COVID-19. Students need more time, but their work permits are non-renewable. Fill in your information below to send an email to Prime Minister Trudeau and Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino to make international student work permits renewable, and make it easier to get permanent residency.

Report: Unheeded Warnings – COVID-19 & Migrant Workers in Canada

Report: Unheeded Warnings - COVID-19 & Migrant Workers in Canada

We are releasing a report of complaints on behalf over a thousand migrant workers and their organizations that were unheeded by federal and provincial authorities and consulates in advance of the recent COVID-19 outbreaks, which have led to two worker deaths and at least two in Intensive Care. This shocking report provides a snapshot of the abuses faced by migrant farmworkers, including stolen wages during quarantine, being forced to work while awaiting COVID-19 test results, racist threats, decrepit housing and inhumane treatment. The report situates these abuses in a long history of prior warnings made by migrant workers about Canada’s temporary immigration and labour laws. The report includes a comprehensive set of recommendations made by migrant workers, including permanent resident status for all. 

CLICK HERE TO READ | Press Release here

Migrant Workers / Trabajadores Migrantes: Information about Permanent Residency / Información acerca de la residencia permanente

Funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario

Release: Migrant Students United & Canadian Federation of Students call on Canada to expand income supports to International Students

MEDIA RELEASE

Media Contact: Sarom Rho, 647-858-2854, Migrant Students United; Geneviève Charest, g.charest@cfs-fcee.ca, Canadian Federation of Students 

Ottawa & Toronto, April 30, 2020 – Migrant Students United, a cross-Canada organization of international students, and the Canadian Federation of Students, Canada’s largest and oldest national student organization, are calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to expand income supports, including the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) to all students, regardless of immigration status or active Social Insurance Number (SIN). Migrant students have taken to social media today calling for emergency supports, using #MigrantStudentsUnited. Follow students speaking out online by clicking here

“Approximately 1 in 5 postsecondary students in Canada are migrants and excluding them from the CESB is unfair and puts many of these students at risk of hunger and homelessness. We urge the federal government to extend the CESB and CERB to all migrant students, including those without valid SIN or stuck outside the country, and ensure $500 per week in income supports,” says Sarom Rho, Coordinator of Migrant Students United. 

“Welcoming students into Canada must be paired with the necessary support mechanisms to ensure that their health, safety, and income security are being prioritized; that is the responsible thing to do. Most importantly, migrant students are people, just like anyone else, who feel scared at a time of uncertainty and who are being overlooked by the government,” said Sofia Descalzi, National Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students. 

BACKGROUND

  • On average migrant students pay triple in fees over their domestic counterparts with a national average of $29,714 in tuition fees in 2019. The additional barrier on work restrictions, has placed students in a financial situation where many are struggling to pay for their cost of education, rent, groceries, and other bills. 
  • Migrant students contributed $15.5 billion to the Canadian economy in 2016, making them vital contributors to Canadian society. 
  • Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has lifted the limitation on working hours for international students in essential industries – but this does not resolve problems. Migrant students in public post-secondary institutions start their summer breaks in April, when the limitation on hours of work already does not apply. Many students are engaged in academic research, which has not been deemed essential. Giving the option to work does not comprehensively address the need of migrant students for income support now, and does not take into account migrant students who are immunocompromised or immunosuppressed or are living with people with these conditions. In a decimated job market, it is incredibly hard to find work considering migrant students are not included in the Canada Summer Jobs program. 
  • In a global pandemic and economic downturn, many students have families back home that are struggling to make ends meet and financial support they would normally have is no longer available. 

Release: A million students potentially excluded from emergency income support

MEDIA RELEASE
MIGRANT STUDENTS UNITED

Contact: Sarom Rho, Migrant Students United Organizer, 647-858-2854, sarom@migrantworkersalliance.org

A million students potentially excluded from emergency income support 

Toronto, April 22, 2020 – Migrant Students United is calling on the federal government to expand Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) and Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to migrant students. Already, CERB is inaccessible to migrants without a valid Social Insurance Number, which impacts hundreds of thousands of students who cannot renew their work or study permits because of COVID-19 related delays. Now CESB seems to excludes migrant students on a study permit. Over 7,000 migrant students have signed a petition for income supports, worker protections, healthcare and permanent resident status on arrival. 

“Approximately 1 in 5 postsecondary students in Canada are migrants. Excluding them from emergency income supports is unfair. In a pandemic, it is a public health imperative to ensure everyone can stay at home safely, but if migrant students are left out, they are forced to work or face hunger and homelessness. Migrant students pay incredibly high tuition fees and are in the country without their families – they need more support, not less. Everyone, regardless of immigration status must get income supports!” – Sarom Rho, Organizer, Migrant Students United!

BACKGROUND

  • There are nearly 1 million study and post-graduate work permit holders in Canada. Their SIN begins with ‘9’ and expires along with their immigration permits. To renew SIN, immigration permits must be renewed. COVID-19 has created enormous delays in permit processing, and hundreds of thousands of workers are without income supports. 
  • Migrant students in public institutions are allowed to only work 20 hours off campus during the school term, private institution students can’t work off campus without a new work permit.
  • Migrants students are over-represented in essential industries. They work in construction, cleaning, grocery stores, restaurants, warehouses, domestic work and as truck drivers and delivery workers. 
  • Migrant students pay retail tax on purchases, and property taxes through rent as well as income tax, EI and CPP. 
  • 42.9% of non-permanent residents are low-income (as compared to 12.5% of non-immigrants, and 17.9% of immigrants). They are therefore extremely vulnerable to economic crises – a single missed paycheque causes irreversible harm to health, safety, and future life possibilities.
  • Like other low-wage workers, migrant students spend the majority of their income on rent, basic necessities, food and transportation. As such, they play a critical role in sustaining and growing local economies. When income disappears for the poorest, the effects are amplified across the entire economy. 
  • In a global pandemic and economic downturn, many students have families back home that are struggling to make ends meet – migrant students need emergency income, as well as access to lower fees.
  • Over 7,000 students have signed a petition calling for healthcare for all, enhanced workers protections, open work permits and permanent resident status for all, an end to detentions and deportations, and community supports for migrant students: www.MigrantRights.ca/MigrantStudents

JOIN US: Migrant Students United!

We are organizing for decent jobs, open work permits, full access to social services, and permanent status upon arrival for migrant students. 

Migrant Worker Policy Priorities – May 2019

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There are a number of issues of key concern to migrant workers and their support organizations across Canada at this moment. These include:

  1. Employment and Social Development Canada proposals for an occupation specific work permit;
  2. Interim Pathway for Caregivers, set to expire on June 4th, 2019;
  3. Proposal for the creation of permanent residency pilot program for non-seasonal agricultural workers and a permanent residency program for Caregivers; and
  4. Regulations for the creation of an Open Work Permit Program for temporary foreign workers at risk of abuse.

For migrant workers at the receiving end of these programs and proposals, these issues are interconnected. To engage in separate consultations on each matter, and only speak to a part of an issue rather than the whole further fragments the ability of migrant workers to give meaningful input. For these reasons, we are submitting one document that addresses all four issues.

As elaborated below, migrant workers in Canada continue to demand:

  1. Permanent resident status on arrival for all migrant workers in Canada through the creation of a Federal Workers Program for care workers, and in consultation with migrant workers in other streams;
  2. In the interim, creation of open or occupation specific work permits that are not reliant on employers that would allow workers to move freely between jobs and workplaces and work for any employer in a sector;
  3. The extension and then grandparenting of the Interim Pathway for care workers to ensure that no worker is left behind;
  4. Immediate implementation of an Open Work Permit Program for workers facing risk of abuse or being abused.

In this policy memo, the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change*, Association for the Rights of Household & Farm Workers (ARHW)- Montreal, Caregiver Connections Education and Support Organization (CCESO) – Toronto, Caregivers Action Centre – Toronto, Cooper Institute – PEI, FCJ Refugee Centre – Toronto, Immigrant Workers Centre (IWC) Montreal, Income Security Advocacy Centre – Toronto, Migrant Worker Solidarity Network – Manitoba, Migrant Workers Centre (BC), Migrante Alberta, Migrante BC, Migrante Canada, Migrante Manitoba, Migrante Ontario, Migrante Ottawa, Migrante Quebec, Migrants Resource Centre Canada – Toronto, PINAY – Quebec, RAMA – Okanagan, Sanctuary Health – Vancouver and Vancouver Committee for Domestic Workers and Caregivers Rights (CDWCR) propose a joint position on all these matters.

* The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change includes individuals as well as Asian Community Aids Services, Butterfly (Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Support), Caregiver Connections Education and Support Organization, Caregivers Action Centre, Durham Region Migrant Solidarity Network, FCJ Refugee House, GABRIELA Ontario, IAVGO Community Legal Clinic, Income Security Advocacy Centre, Migrante Ontario, No One Is Illegal – Toronto, Northumberland Community Legal Centre, OCASI – Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, OHIP For All, PCLS Community Legal Clinic, SALCO Community Legal Clinic, Students Against Migrant Exploitation, UFCW, UNIFOR, Workers Action Centre and Workers United.  

DOWNLOAD OUR POLICY POSITION HERE. 

Time to respond: Proposed Open Work Permits for Workers Facing Abuse or Risk of Abuse

On Friday, December 15th, the Federal Government proposed in the Canada Gazette the creation of an Open Work Permit Program for Workers Facing Abuse or Risk of Abuse. This Open Permit is in line with our proposed permits and are a step in the right direction. Click here to see our original submissions calling for this permit in December 2017.

The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change has made specific submissions on ways to ensure that the proposed Open Work Permits actually ensure migrant worker protections – Read them here

The rproposed egulatory changes are promising in terms of interim protections for migrant workers as we continue our call for a system of permanent resident status on landing for low-waged migrants. However, they can and must be strengthened. Current gaps include:

  • Wide range of discretionary powers for the officers to define abuse, determine the length of permits or to issue the permit at all, and lack of a robust appeals process to maintain a check on these powers;
  • Lack of specific provisions for Care Workers who need to complete 24 months of service within 48 months and need the work experience on these permits to be counted; and lack of protections from blacklisting for Seasonal Agricultural Workers;
  • Lack of guaranteed access to healthcare; and
  • Lack of specific investigative mechanisms to ensure workers are compensated for harms.

Take Action Now! Send a letter to the Federal Government right now calling for changes. Use this template letter to draft your own submissions Please share this with your colleagues.

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: http://migrantrights.ca/en/take-action/#email.

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.”

Policy Submission: Permanent Status on Landing – Real reform for Caregivers

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A century of experience has demonstrated that caregiving labour is an ongoing permanent need in the economy. More than 60 years of caregivers’ experience with temporary labour migration to Canada has demonstrated consistent, well-documented, widespread problems of exploitation and abuse by employers and recruiters. Repeated reviews by Parliamentary Committees (most recently the 2016 HUMA Committee hearings), as well as academic and community-based research have demonstrated that this exploitation is rooted in the vulnerability that is created by the terms of Canada’s temporary labour migration program itself.

In addition, caregivers over the past four decades of the program have suffered from the ‘two-step’ immigration system that requires them to finish their employment contracts before being allowed to apply for permanent residency. This has led to profoundly damaging and lasting impacts on the physical and mental health of caregivers and their families. Years of family separation can cause intergenerational conflicts between caregivers and their children as well as family breakdown.

The time has come to make real, meaningful reforms that ensure decent work and security in this core area of the labour market. Caregivers are united in demanding:

  1.  A comprehensive and transparent consultation process to reform the Caregiver Program.
  2.  A new Federal Workers Program – Caregiver Stream that provides caregivers with permanent status on entry and family unity.
  3. Reforms to protect caregivers who are already in Canada and in the backlog to ensure that no one is left behind.

These interim reforms will involve allowing caregivers to come to Canada with their families; eliminating the backlog in caregivers’ permanent residency applications; removing the ‘excessive demand’ provision in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA); regularizing the status of caregivers who have become undocumented; developing immigration criteria that are consistent with what is needed to do the job; and putting an end to the second medical and to excessive educational and language requirements re-introduced in 2014. We particularly urge the creation of an open work permit program as an interim measure.