Migrant Workers Alliance for Change
Media contact: Syed Hussan, 416-453-3632
Prime Minister Trudeau promised regularization of undocumented people and permanent resident status for migrant workers and international students one year ago on December 16, 2021
Toronto, December 16, 2022 — Migrant organizations in Toronto joined actions taking place in Vancouver, Montreal, and Shediac to call on Prime Minister Trudeau to keep his promise and ensure permanent resident status for migrants. They delivered petitions on behalf of two people facing deportation despite confirmations from the federal government that a regularization program is on the horizon. Petitions were also delivered in support of comprehensive immigration changes to Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino.
“When the year ends, 2022 will be marked as the year with the largest number of people on temporary immigration permits and therefore without equal rights; it will also be a year with a massive increase in deportations. Why is there an increase in abuse, exploitations and deportations when the Prime Minister promised a year ago today that change is coming?” said Syed Hussan, Executive Director, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change. “Migrants need permanent resident status, without caps and exclusions now, each day’s delay has life-threatening consequences for thousands of people.”
There are an estimated half a million undocumented migrants in Canada, and another 1.2 million people with study and work permits or who are claiming asylum. Many cannot access basic services such as healthcare and education, they are unable to assert rights at work, are exploited by landlords, and are separated from their families. Thousands have been deported or face deportation since Prime Minister Trudeau’s promise.
One such person is Fatumah Najjuma, a Ugandan refugee with multiple health issues and a single mother to a Canadian-born daughter. Fatumah, a personal support worker, attempted to end her life when her deportation was previously scheduled in August and spent a month in a mental health facility; her deportation is now set for January 7th.
Speaking while holding a photo of her daughter, she said, “The federal government a year ago promised regularization, they said they would give permanent resident status to everyone, so why am I being deported, why is the government separating me from my daughter, I am her only living parent and family, that’s not fair, so I am here along with the voices of thousands of people who signed my petition to call on Prime Minister Trudeau to grant permanent resident status to me and all undocumented people.”
Petitions are also being delivered for Abu Hena Mostofa Kamal, a former international student who is facing deportation because he could not pay his international tuition fees at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay. His deportation is scheduled for January 1.
Immigration enforcement seized his passport so he could not travel to Toronto, so speaking via the phone, he said “As a migrant student, I had to take jobs with bad working conditions, but couldn’t speak up because of my status. Employers didn’t pay me my wages and I got unfairly treated at work. Without permanent resident status, I feel like migrants like me are on a leash, like we are disposable human beings with an expired date. I’m speaking up for everyone, I want my deportation stopped, and the Prime Minister must deliver a regularization program like he promised a year ago, without caps and without exclusions, we need status for all, without delay.”
- Migrant Rights Network proposal for regularization: https://migrantrights.ca/resources/regularization-in-canada/
- While statistics have not been released, migrant organizations have all reported a sharp increase in deportations in 2022. In fiscal year 2020-2021, Canada deported an average of 31 people each day.
- 2022 is set to become the year with the highest number of temporary work and study permits, without any increase in access to permanent rights for low-waged migrants. Over 853,000 work and study permits were issued January – September, 2022.
- There are at least 1.2 million people in Canada on temporary work, study or refugee claimant permits issued in Canada each year. Those in low-waged work in particular have no access to permanent residency so eventually they are forced to either leave or stay in the country undocumented. As a result, there are over 500,000 undocumented people in the country.
- That is, there are at least 1.7 million migrants – 1 in 23 residents in Canada – who do not have equal rights.
- Migrants are excluded from healthcare and social services and cannot unite with their families. Lack of permanent resident status makes it difficult, and often impossible, for migrants to speak up for their rights at work or access services, including those they may be eligible for, because of a well-founded fear of reprisals, termination, eviction and deportation.
- Migrants – mostly low-waged, racialized, working class people – are deemed essential but are excluded from rights. Thousands of migrants lost their lives and livelihoods in COVID-19 while working in farms, long-term care homes, construction, cleaning, and delivery work.
- Comprehensive regularization (a program that includes all 500,000 undocumented people without caps or exclusions) will address a historic wrong; improve working conditions by giving migrants the power to protect themselves; guarantee public health; and add at least $1.1 billion dollars to the public purse through contributions by employers who currently don’t pay taxes.
- Every migrant-led organization in Canada, as well as over 480 civil society organizations, are jointly calling for full and permanent immigration status for all migrants in the country, as well as permanent resident status for all on arrival in future.
- Canada recently announced an immigration target of 465,000 for permanent resident status in 2023, but less than 8,000 of those are available for low-waged migrants like seasonal agricultural workers and care workers. In addition to low numbers, program requirements make it impossible for most to apply.
- Over 22,000 people have sent messages to Cabinet in support of permanent resident status for all: www.StatusforAll.ca