Migrant Workers Call For Immediate Family Reunification And Permanent Resident Status for All

Low-waged migrants, agricultural workers and children excluded from open work permit announcement

Toronto, December 2, 2022 — Most migrants in agriculture and carework as well as others in low-waged jobs, have been excluded from Minister Sean Fraser’s confusing family reunification announcement today. Over the last three years, migrants have organized protests and actions every Family Day, Father’s Day and Mother’s Day calling for permanent residence status, so that they can be with their families. On Family Day 2022, migrants sent photos from nearly 200 migrant families that are separated from their loved ones to all MPs

“All families are equal, we all love our families, migrants live here, take care of communities but are missing birthdays, funerals and anniversaries because they are denied immediate permanent resident status,” says Syed Hussan, Executive Director, from the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change. “Excluding non-working age children and shunting off low-waged migrants and agricultural workers to “consultations”, continues the ongoing discrimination against the people who feed us, take care of children, and are essential to our communities. These migrants are not temporary, and their families are just as important as everyone else’s; all migrants need permanent resident status immediately.” 

Minister Fraser announced today a 2 year temporary policy to allow some migrants to bring their spouses and only their working-age children to Canada on open work permits. Without more details, it is unclear who is included in today’s announcement. What is certain is that low-waged migrants, and non-working aged children have been shut out right now. The first phase announced today is restricted to family members of migrants in the “high-wage stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program or the International Mobility Program”. However, most migrants in high-waged streams are already allowed to have their spouses and their children come to Canada, no matter what their age. 

‘Oral’, a Jamaican father of two and a peach harvester for 7 years, was angry and disappointed that farmworkers, and young children have been excluded. He said, “It’s not right that we come to Canada to take care of our families but miss out on our baby’s first steps, their birthdays and graduations. Right now my daughter is sick in Jamaica and I can’t be there to comfort her like a father should. I have a newborn baby too and only get to be with him for a little while before I must leave again. When I go back home I will be like a stranger to them, they need to be here with me.”

Intan Dewi, a mother of 12 and 9 year old children from Indonesia and a migrant child care worker for over 3 years, said “I was excited to hear that there would be an announcement about open work permits today, but I am frustrated now that it is not for care workers like me, it is for families of people who make more money. Life here is very expensive. What good life can we have with $15 an hour? It is not enough. But that doesn’t mean our families should not be with us, it means that we should be paid enough, we take care of children, we should be able to be with our children too whatever their age, we should all have permanent resident status.”