Migrant Worker Policy Priorities – May 2019

DOWNLOAD OUR POLICY POSITION HERE.

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 Submissions: Open Work Permit Program for Migrant Workers Facing Risk

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

 

MWAC support to expand the Human Rights Code

MWAC support to expand the Human Rights Code

A Private Members Bill is proceeding through the Ontario legislature which aims to add ‘immigration status’ as grounds for protection in the Human Rights code.

Here is our letter in support.

If you organization is sending in a letter, please email us at info@migrantworkersalliance.org