Media contact: Syed Hussan, hussan@migrantworkersalliance.
All migrants need permanent resident status now to protect themselves
Toronto, December 9, 2021 — “Since the pandemic hit, we have warned of the crisis facing migrant farm workers because they are denied permanent immigration status and therefore cannot assert the few rights they have, or complain about their crowded housing and dangerous working conditions. We have denounced the billions of dollars the federal government has doled out on employers who don’t protect workers and a sham inspections regime that fails to act on workers’ complaints. Our warnings remained unheeded, and as a result migrant workers lost their livelihoods and lives. The Auditor General’s report only confirms our concerns.
We reiterate our call to ensure full and permanent immigration status for all migrants, as it is the only mechanism through which migrants can protect themselves. When will the federal government finally act?
The problem is the system of temporary labour migration itself that produces the abuses and crises the Auditor General uncovered. It’s not just inspections, under federal policies migrant farmworkers do not have direct enforceable rights, there is no legislation that governs enforcement, no court or legal process to turn to for workers to denounce violations of their rights and there is no meaningful mechanism for ESDC to ensure workers receive reparations for violations of their rights. As a result, workers continue to live and work in unsafe and abusive conditions, and if they try to assert their rights, they face termination, homelessness, deportation and not being called back to work in future years for speaking up. This is not just a COVID-19 crisis, as we see in BC where migrant farmworkers are some of the worst affected and least supported following the floods.”
- Syed Hussan, Executive Director, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change
- Report on conditions facing migrant farmworker that led to COVID-19 outbreaks: https://migrantworkersalliance.org/policy/unheededwarnings/ (June 2020)
- Report by the Migrant Rights Network on the problems with federal government’s national housing consultations: https://migrantworkersalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/MRN-Submission_-Decent-Dignified-Housing-for-Migrant-Farmworkers.pdf (October 2021). The federal government recently chose not to implement its guidelines.
- Letter to Cabinet from migrant farmworkers groups outlining urgent and priority policy changes required to protect food and farm workers’ safety and ensure equal rights: https://migrantrights.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Migrant-Food-and-Farm-Workers-in-Canada-in-2021.pdf (March 2021)
- Presentation to Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration: https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vT_q_jBi-7bnBn2qiKCGieDdyj2wSEVSGpbiekyIMZyMfFt1jOBP5_RcH32ITDlBYNwwBzf3lqjcn_K/pub (April 2021)
- Letter to the newly elected Cabinet by almost all migrant groups in Canada: https://migrantrights.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Letter-to-Cabinet-Migrant-Rights-Network-October-2021.pdf (October 2021)