Release: Migrant Workers Alliance for Change Responds to Changes to Temporary Foreign Workers Rules

Migrant Workers Alliance for Change


Available for comment: Syed Hussan, 416-453-3632,, Executive Director, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change

Response to Changes to Temporary Foreign Workers Rules

Toronto, March 21, 2024 – The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change is responding to Canada’s announcement today – the International Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination – of changes to rules for temporary foreign workers and an upcoming reduction of temporary residents. 

“Migrants grow food, build homes and care for communities – we urge the government to stop fiddling with rules and imposing caps and instead create a fair society where everyone has equal rights, which must start with permanent resident status for all. The urgent problem isn’t the number of migrants or jobs; it’s that migrants are being exploited at work, treated poorly by landlords, and denied vital services like healthcare and education because they are denied permanent residency. Migrants have been some of the worst impacted by the affordability and housing crises, and, at the same time, have been scapegoated for it. Today’s announcement leans into this racist scapegoating, instead of addressing systemic government failures or working to ensure equal rights for all.”

– Syed Hussan, Executive Director, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change

“Migrant workers are overworked by bosses and overlooked by Trudeau. We are on the frontlines to feed this country and grow the economy, we deserve equal rights and justice and permanent resident status for all.”

– Andrew, Caribbean greenhouse vegetable worker in Ontario, Member of Migrant Workers Alliance for Change


Migrant Workers Alliance for Change

Migrant Workers Alliance for Change is Canada’s largest migrant-led organization, uniting migrant farmworkers, care workers, fishery workers, current and former international students, and undocumented individuals to advocate for employment and immigration justice. 

Migrant Welcome UN Slavery Rapporteur Call for Permanent Resident Status for All

Media Contact: Syed Hussan, 416-453-3632, 

Migrant Welcome UN Slavery Rapporteur Call for Permanent Resident Status for All

Toronto, September 6, 2023 – The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC) welcomes the statement in Ottawa from United Nations Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery Professor Tomoya Obokata today in which he called for “paths to longterm or permanent residency be open to all migrant workers”. 

The UN Rapporteur was in Canada on a country mission where he met with migrants including 40 members of (MWAC), Indigenous people, people with disability and incarcerated people, persons of African descent and other groups facing exploitation. In his End of Mission press conference today, Professor Obokata said that  was “disturbed” that “certain categories of migrant workers are made vulnerable to contemporary forms of slavery in Canada by the policies that regulate their immigration status, employment, and housing in Canada, and he is particularly concerned that this workforce is disproportionately racialized, attesting to deep-rooted racism and xenophobia entrenched in Canada’s immigration system”. 

He also reiterated that “Newcomers who enter Canada outside of TFWP experience similar precarity. International students who work in excess of the permitted 20 hours per week, asylum-seekers awaiting their work permits, undocumented migrant workers, and those that have lost status are vulnerable to many of the same abusive practices, as they may not report abuses for fear of deportation. Employers who are aware of their status may exploit them under threat of denouncing them to immigration authorities.”

The UN Rapporteur also echoed a call for regularization of all undocumented people, a call that was also made in June 2023 by the UN Rapporteur on Migration.

“The United Nations Rapporteur has yet again stated what we all know, and migrants have been saying for decades – a two-tier system of immigration where over 1.2 million new temporary permits are being issued each year breeds exploitation, exclusion and violence. All migrants, including undocumented people, migrant students, workers and refugees, must have permanent resident status to protect themselves and ensure a fair society,” said Syed Hussan, executive director, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change.

Prime Minister Trudeau promised regularization of undocumented people and permanent resident status for migrant students, workers and families in a mandate letter commitment in December 2021, 20 months later, migrants continue to suffer. 


Migrant Workers Alliance for Change

Migrant Workers Alliance for Change is a migrant-led, membership based organization of farmworkers, fishery workers, careworkers, undocumented people and current and former international students uniting for immigration and labour justice. 

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.”

New rules makes it easier for employers to hire migrant workers without rights and protections

All migrants require full and permanent immigration status now and in the future to protect themselves. 

Toronto — The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change is responding to today’s announced ‘Workforce Solutions Road Map – further changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to address labour shortages across Canada’.

“Canada keeps making it easier for employers to hire migrant workers without ensuring migrants have basic rights and protections that can only be accessed by those with permanent resident status. We do not have a “crisis” of labour shortage, we have a wages and work conditions crisis; the solution is decent work and full immigration status for all. Where there is a labour shortage, it is clearly for low-waged essential workers, they should be able to come to Canada with permanent resident status instead of on employer controlled permits with few rights.”

– Syed Hussan, executive director, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change

Under the rules announced today: 

  • Employers will be able to hire an unlimited number of low-wage workers in seasonal industries, including agriculture, tourism, fish and seafood processing; 
  • Maximum seasonal work permit length for new work permits will be extended from 6 months to 9 months; 
  • Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIA’s) will be valid for 18 months. The LMIAs are linked to employer dependent (closed) work permits, which is one of the primary mechanisms of temporary foreign worker exploitation. The LMIA process is completely inadequate at either determining labour needs or ensuring migrant worker rights. 
  • High wage work permits will be extended from two to three years. 

In addition, effective April 30

  • Low-wage migrant worker cap for industries with labour shortage has been increased to 30% from 20%
  • Industries without a labour shortage can now hire 20% of their workforce as migrant workers instead of 10%  
  • LMIAs will now be granted in regions with more than 6% unemployment.


For more information, please contact 

Release: Migrant care workers shut out again as federal immigration program closes in 17 days

Toronto – Just 17 days after it was reopened, the Home Child Care Provider Pilot Program (HCCP) closed today. The HCCP is the only pathway for migrant care workers taking care of children to get permanent residency in Canada. The program has an annual cap of 2,750 that keeps being reached faster and faster each year, shutting out migrant care workers who are unable to gather documents and complete requirements in the few days that the program opens. Care workers in Canada must now wait till January 1, 2023 to apply. 

“The HCCP is the only federal pathway to permanent residence for temporary foreign workers taking care of children and it is designed in a way to exclude most migrant women. Many thousands can’t even apply because of unfair language and education requirements. Those that have applied have been waiting in a years-long backlog. We need a complete overhaul of Canada’s immigration system to ensure permanent resident status for all migrants,” says Jhoey Cruz, organizer with the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, and a former migrant care worker. 

June Reyes, a migrant care worker in Eastern Ontario who has been in Canada for 2019 years, was waiting to apply but the program closed before she was able to. She says, “I was waiting for the program to re-open this year and had already gathered most of my documents to apply. What is going to happen to my kids? My daughter is 18 already, will I be able to bring her here to Canada? I’m a single mother and being alone working here is so difficult. The government is not helping us. Permanent immigration status for all is the only solution.”


Media Contact: 647-782-6633 – Migrant Workers Alliance for Change

No justice yet as first charges laid after deadly COVID outbreak

Migrant Workers Alliance for Change demands full and permanent immigration status for all as first ever pandemic charges laid against migrant farmworker employer in Canada

Toronto, September 27, 2021 – Ontario’s Ministry of Labour has laid 20 charges against Scotlynn SweetPac and owner Scott Biddle following last year’s outbreak where 199 workers tested positive for COVID-19, and Juan Lopez Chaparro died. This is the first time charges have been known to be laid for a COVID outbreak, despite thousands of migrant farmworker being infected across the country, and comes only after workers on the farms bravely spoke out and faced reprisals. With over a year since the outbreak, working and living conditions at Scotlynn and farms across Canada remain the same, and migrants continue to be denied rights because they do not have permanent immigration status.

The outbreak at Scotlynn Farms began in May 2020. One of the workers who fell sick at that time is Gabriel Flores. While in quarantine after COVID-19, Mr. Flores spoke about labour exploitation and substandard housing with the Globe & Mail and Toronto Star. He shared details of workers being denied testing despite being sick. One of Mr. Flores’ colleagues called a contact off the farm to send an ambulance when one worker was so ill he was unable to get out of bed. As a result of that ambulance call, 5 workers were hospitalized and testing was finally done at the end of May. A few days after speaking to the media, Mr Flores was fired. 

Responding to the news of charges being laid against Scotlynn, Mr Flores said, “These charges are not enough. There needs to be systemic changes to the laws to make sure workers can safely defend themselves against bad employers. That change begins with permanent status on arrival for all, so that migrants can access the same rights, protections and essential services as anyone else.” 

In November 2020, Mr. Flores won his historic case against Scotlynn for illegal reprisals at the Ontario Labour Relations Board (see details here). 

Mr. Chaparro’s widow, Agustina Galindo Segundo, agrees with Mr Flores. “Migrant workers deserve more attention, to not be forgotten, to work in decent conditions and know they will be reunited with their families,” she says.

Ad-hoc and one-off charges against bad employers is not enough. Without permanent resident status, 1.6 million people (1 in 23 residents) will continue to be denied access to the same rights that protect others in Canada, many will die. While Canada recovers from COVID-19, the migrants who grow food, care for loved ones and provide essential services to our communities during the pandemic continue to be left behind.

In his last government, PM Trudeau promised to ‘do better by migrant workers’. It is time for this new government to act, once and for all, and do the only thing that will prevent these tragedies – and that is ensure full and permanent immigration status for all immediately”, says Karen Cocq of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change.

Read court documents about charges against Scotlynn here.
Read more in the Toronto Star here.

Media Contact:
Karen Cocq

Advisory: International Students Left Out in the Cold As Schools Reopen & Unemployment Remains High

Thousands face deportation, high fees, and lack of healthcare

Toronto and Mississauga, September 10, 2020 — Current and former international students are organizing a weekend of demonstrations in Toronto (Sep 12) and Mississauga (Sep 13) to call for changes to immigration rules to recover from COVID-19. International student tuition fees have increased dramatically during COVID-19 even as students and their families have lost work and wages, and classes have shifted online. Many international graduates on time-restricted work permits are required to complete 12-24 months of continuous high waged work to qualify for permanent resident status. However, with unemployment for racialized workers at 17%, most graduates do not have access to these jobs. Work permits remain non-renewable despite the impact of COVID-19 on the job market, meaning that thousands face deportation in the near future because they cannot fulfill requirements. Delays in permit processing has resulted in thousands without active Social Insurance Numbers. Access to healthcare for former students, even during COVID-19, is tied to having a full-time job, and most students cannot access emergency supports. Over 14,000 people have signed two petitions calling for changes in immigration policy now.

TORONTO – Saturday, September 12, 2:45pm
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland’s office, 344 Bloor Street West

MISSISSAUGA – Sunday, September 13, 2pm 
Westwood Square Mall, 7205 Goreway Drive

There were 572,000 new study permits and 98,470 new post graduate work permits issued in 2019. Many of these permit holders remain in Canada for several years. Over 17,000 one or two-year work permits were issued between September 2019 and June 2020.

Migrant students are calling on the federal and provincial government to:

  • FIX RULES AROUND WORK: Make post-graduate work permits renewable so former students can complete requirements for Permanent Residency (PR) in the COVID-19 job market; Remove time-limits and industry restrictions on work;
  • GIVE REAL ACCESS TO PR: Lower points requirements for PR (CRS); Count work that is part-time, in-school, in any occupation, including with gaps towards PR; and Ensure full and permanent immigration status for all migrants;
  • LOWER TUITION & ENSURE FULL SERVICES: Ensure migrant students pay domestic tuition; Full access to all services including healthcare, housing, jobs, scholarships, pandemic emergency benefits, and in-school support; Immediate access to Social Insurance Numbers
  • UNITE FAMILIES: Allow families to travel, ensure work permits for family members

Migrant worker fired for speaking to journalists calls for full immigration status for all

Toronto, July 30, 2020 — Migrant farmworker, Luis Gabriel Flores Flores, who was fired for speaking to journalists after testing positive for COVID-19, calls on the Minister of Immigration Marco Mendicino today to demand immigration status for all. 

Reading from a letter he had written, Mr Flores said, “What happened to me is what happens to migrants when we try to defend their rights. We have been subjected to a system of temporary immigration where if we stand up for ourselves, we are deported. Today, I am here to say to you that I am not afraid. That I deserve dignity. That all of us deserve dignity. That is why we need permanent resident status now, so workers can have the power to protect ourselves. Our health, our well-being, our families, and our lives depend on it.” See Mr Flores’ full letter to the Minister of Immigration here

Mr Flores first came to Canada in 2014, and is a father of 2 children from Mexico. In 2020, he came to work at Scotlynn Farms. He tested positive for COVID-19 and was quarantined. During that time he spoke to journalists about the poor living conditions and mistreatment at Scotlynn Farms. On June 20th, Juan López Chaparro, who also worked at Scotlynn farm and lived with Mr Flores, died from COVID-19. The following day, Mr Flores was fired by Mr Robert Biddle Jr., founder of Scotlynn Farms.

“For years, we have called on the federal government to stop tipping the scales against migrant workers, to stop giving employers complete control over workers’ lives. All migrants must have the power to protect themselves, to speak up, to leave abusive and dangerous situations, and that means full immigration status for all is essential,” says Syed Hussan, Executive Director of Migrant Workers Alliance for Change. “The federal government needs to send a signal to migrant and undocumented people across the country today that what happened to Mr Flores will not be tolerated, and that migrants who speak out will be protected.”

Over 1,100 migrant farmworkers in Ontario have been infected with COVID-19 because of their housing and working conditions. One in 23 people (over 1.6 million people) in Canada are migrants, refugees, or undocumented. They are unable to access essential services, assert basic rights or access emergency support. Employer reprisals against them are common.

Over 10,000 people have signed a petition calling for permanent resident status for all and other protections for migrants: A visual petition of over 200 migrant workers calling for status was recently posted on Prime Minister Trudeau’s office:

Timeline of Reprisals Against Mr Flores

  • Mr Flores came to Canada on April 18, 2020, and was in quarantine for two weeks at a hotel. 
  • He started work at Scotlynn Farms in Norfolk, Ontario, where housing and working conditions were very poor. It was impossible for workers to physically distance, workers had no Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and they were not allowed to rest. 
  • A couple of weeks later several of Mr Flores’s colleagues started showing COVID-19 symptoms. Mr Flores and others repeatedly requested medical attention for them. 
  • They were told by supervisors that information had been shared with management but no medical attention was provided and no testing was done. 
  • Eventually workers got so sick, that one of Mr Flores’s colleagues called a contact off the farm to send an ambulance. 
  • As a result, testing finally occurred at the end of May and nearly 200 workers at the farm tested positive, including Mr Flores. 
  • While in quarantine, Mr Flores shared the story of labour exploitation and sub-standard housing with Globe & Mail on June 10, 2020 and Toronto Star on June 13, 2020 in tandem with a report released by the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC). He was one of several workers who spoke out. The press conference of the report received coverage on CTV, Global, CBC, Toronto Star, Globe and Mail and many other outlets. 
  • At 11pm on June 20, 2020, Mr Flores and other farmworkers were informed that his roommate Mr Juan Lopez Chaparro had died of COVID-19. 
  • Mr Flores spoke up at that time to supervisors, demanding an explanation from the employer and that the farm take responsibility for what happened. 
  • At 11:00 a.m. on June 21, 2020, Mr. Robert Biddle Jr., founder of Scotlynn Farms, arrived at Mr. Flores’ bunkhouse apartment unit. Mr Biddle showed Mr Flores an image of a video from a press conference by MWAC which featured Mr Flores’ colleague. He told Mr Flores that he would be sent back to Mexico first thing the next morning. Mr Flores insisted that he was not the person in the video. See Mr Biddle’s photo here
  • Mr Biddle left and a foreman reiterated the employer’s decision, and informed Mr Flores that the employer was looking for three other workers they suspected of speaking to the press. 
  • Mr Flores left the farm, and has been housed by a supporter in coordination with Migrant Workers Alliance for Change.
  • On July 30, 2020, Mr Flores filed an anti-reprisals claim to the Ontario Ministry of Labour for $40,401.35 (the maximum possible under existing laws), and visited the office of Federal Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino to call for full and permanent immigration status for all.
  • Mr Flores remains in Canada, on a tied work permit that only allows him to work for Scotlynn, which is set to expire on November 30th. He has no permanent housing, or permanent income and is concerned about how he will support his family back home. 

Release: Migrant Students United & Canadian Federation of Students call on Canada to expand income supports to International Students


Media Contact: Sarom Rho, 647-858-2854, Migrant Students United; Geneviève Charest,, Canadian Federation of Students 

Ottawa & Toronto, April 30, 2020 – Migrant Students United, a cross-Canada organization of international students, and the Canadian Federation of Students, Canada’s largest and oldest national student organization, are calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to expand income supports, including the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) to all students, regardless of immigration status or active Social Insurance Number (SIN). Migrant students have taken to social media today calling for emergency supports, using #MigrantStudentsUnited. Follow students speaking out online by clicking here

“Approximately 1 in 5 postsecondary students in Canada are migrants and excluding them from the CESB is unfair and puts many of these students at risk of hunger and homelessness. We urge the federal government to extend the CESB and CERB to all migrant students, including those without valid SIN or stuck outside the country, and ensure $500 per week in income supports,” says Sarom Rho, Coordinator of Migrant Students United. 

“Welcoming students into Canada must be paired with the necessary support mechanisms to ensure that their health, safety, and income security are being prioritized; that is the responsible thing to do. Most importantly, migrant students are people, just like anyone else, who feel scared at a time of uncertainty and who are being overlooked by the government,” said Sofia Descalzi, National Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students. 


  • On average migrant students pay triple in fees over their domestic counterparts with a national average of $29,714 in tuition fees in 2019. The additional barrier on work restrictions, has placed students in a financial situation where many are struggling to pay for their cost of education, rent, groceries, and other bills. 
  • Migrant students contributed $15.5 billion to the Canadian economy in 2016, making them vital contributors to Canadian society. 
  • Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has lifted the limitation on working hours for international students in essential industries – but this does not resolve problems. Migrant students in public post-secondary institutions start their summer breaks in April, when the limitation on hours of work already does not apply. Many students are engaged in academic research, which has not been deemed essential. Giving the option to work does not comprehensively address the need of migrant students for income support now, and does not take into account migrant students who are immunocompromised or immunosuppressed or are living with people with these conditions. In a decimated job market, it is incredibly hard to find work considering migrant students are not included in the Canada Summer Jobs program. 
  • In a global pandemic and economic downturn, many students have families back home that are struggling to make ends meet and financial support they would normally have is no longer available. 

Release: A million students potentially excluded from emergency income support


Contact: Sarom Rho, Migrant Students United Organizer, 647-858-2854,

A million students potentially excluded from emergency income support 

Toronto, April 22, 2020 – Migrant Students United is calling on the federal government to expand Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) and Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to migrant students. Already, CERB is inaccessible to migrants without a valid Social Insurance Number, which impacts hundreds of thousands of students who cannot renew their work or study permits because of COVID-19 related delays. Now CESB seems to excludes migrant students on a study permit. Over 7,000 migrant students have signed a petition for income supports, worker protections, healthcare and permanent resident status on arrival. 

“Approximately 1 in 5 postsecondary students in Canada are migrants. Excluding them from emergency income supports is unfair. In a pandemic, it is a public health imperative to ensure everyone can stay at home safely, but if migrant students are left out, they are forced to work or face hunger and homelessness. Migrant students pay incredibly high tuition fees and are in the country without their families – they need more support, not less. Everyone, regardless of immigration status must get income supports!” – Sarom Rho, Organizer, Migrant Students United!


  • There are nearly 1 million study and post-graduate work permit holders in Canada. Their SIN begins with ‘9’ and expires along with their immigration permits. To renew SIN, immigration permits must be renewed. COVID-19 has created enormous delays in permit processing, and hundreds of thousands of workers are without income supports. 
  • Migrant students in public institutions are allowed to only work 20 hours off campus during the school term, private institution students can’t work off campus without a new work permit.
  • Migrants students are over-represented in essential industries. They work in construction, cleaning, grocery stores, restaurants, warehouses, domestic work and as truck drivers and delivery workers. 
  • Migrant students pay retail tax on purchases, and property taxes through rent as well as income tax, EI and CPP. 
  • 42.9% of non-permanent residents are low-income (as compared to 12.5% of non-immigrants, and 17.9% of immigrants). They are therefore extremely vulnerable to economic crises – a single missed paycheque causes irreversible harm to health, safety, and future life possibilities.
  • Like other low-wage workers, migrant students spend the majority of their income on rent, basic necessities, food and transportation. As such, they play a critical role in sustaining and growing local economies. When income disappears for the poorest, the effects are amplified across the entire economy. 
  • In a global pandemic and economic downturn, many students have families back home that are struggling to make ends meet – migrant students need emergency income, as well as access to lower fees.
  • Over 7,000 students have signed a petition calling for healthcare for all, enhanced workers protections, open work permits and permanent resident status for all, an end to detentions and deportations, and community supports for migrant students: