Migrant Rights Network – Letter re Income Supports for Migrants

Letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Members of Canada’s Federal Cabinet Re: Regulatory changes to ensure Canada Emergency Response Benefit is available to migrants and undocumented residents

As you discuss developing regulations to implement the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), we urge you to ensure that all residents of Canada, regardless of immigration status or previous work entitlements, are able to get income supports.

  1. The benefit is currently defined as available to “residents”. ‘Resident’ must be broadly defined to include any resident of Canada, regardless of immigration status, including undocumented residents, refugee claimants, temporary foreign workers, study permit holders and others.
    • There were 874,770 new temporary work, study or humanitarian permits issued in 2019. In addition, there are at least 500,000 undocumented residents in Canada.
  2. The benefit is limited to residents who have earned at least $5,000 in the previous 12 months. Specific measures need to be enacted to ensure workers who have not earned as much, have not been able to report their earnings and/or have not been in Canada that long, are protected.
    • An average of 48,000 new residents arrived each month in the first quarter of 2019. The numbers are similar in Canada for January and February 2020.
    • Many temporary foreign workers have been laid off from their jobs or seen their hours reduced in care work, retail, and tourism industries. Study permit holders have lost on-campus jobs, and seen hours reduced.
  3. Workers who have seen their hours of work or wages reduced – which is many of our members – must be able to get income supports.
  4. Specific tools should be developed to ensure that undocumented residents and other informal economy workers are able to access income supports.
    • There should be no requirement for Social Insurance Numbers.
    • Guarantees should be created so that information is not shared with immigration enforcement.
    • Proof of income should be interpreted widely, as cash economy workers do not receivepaystubs, have bank accounts or pay regular taxes.
  5. A dedicated delivery mechanism must be created in coordination with our groups to ensure that migrants are aware of and able to apply for income supports.
  6. All workers who are facing job loss or a cut to hours of work should receive $2000/month whetherthrough CERB or Employment Insurance, including workers outside Canada, who are unable to come because of health concerns or border closures, and those in quarantine.
  7. Benefits should be available to those who due to disability or other reason are unable to work.