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. 

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 

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

RELEASE: Notorious 4-and-4 rule repealed; migrant workers need permanent status, not tinkering


Coalition for Migrant Worker Rights Canada

Notorious 4-and-4 rule repealed; migrant workers need permanent status, not tinkering

Feel free to use pictures and background:

Canada,  December 14, 2016 - Since April 2011, migrant worker groups have organized against the 4-and-4 rule, as part of a broader campaign for open work permits and permanent status on landing. The 4-and-4 rule required
migrant workers to leave after four years of cumulative employment and banned them from returning for four years. 

Over 15 cities organized protest and actions in March 2015 <> as a lead up to the imposition of the 4-and-4 rule which uprooted tens of thousands of migrant workers, and caused mass deportations. Nearly 4,000 people signed petitions
Since October 2015, the Coalition for Migrant Worker Rights Canada (CMWRC) has campaigned for the overturn of this rule
<>. On December 13th, the notorious 4-and-4 rule was repealed.

“This repeal is a first step which came about because migrant workers and their allies organized against an unjust rule that resulted in thousands of deportations and migrants becoming undocumented,” says Syed Hussan of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change. “We need permanent status for migrant workers who stayed here undocumented and for those that were uprooted and forced out, for this change to be really meaningful.”

“There were more than thirty of us who reached our 4 year limit and we fought an uphill battle to stay in Quebec and apply for permanent status,” explains Francisco Mootoo of the Temporary Foreign Workers Association. “Many other migrant workers impacted were unable to do so, so it's essential that all migrant workers get permanent residence upon arrival.”

“Dozens of our members have been forced to become undocumented or leave Canada because of this badly planned, and badly executed law that seems to have been designed by the previous government simply to show that they were
being hard on migrant workers,” adds Anna Malla of the Caregivers’ Action Centre. “Repealing and tinkering is not enough. We need a total overhaul of the system which begins with ensuring permanent status on landing for migrant workers now and a regularization program for workers who have become undocumented.”

In yesterday’s announcement, the Federal Government promised to expand ‘pathways to citizenship’. The Coalition for Migrant Worker Rights Canada (CMWRC) believes that ‘pathways’ are a euphemism for maintaining unjust
temporariness for low-waged and racialized workers. A pathway is a two stage process, where migrant workers must first complete a temporary sentence of abuse and injustice before a few are selected to compete for permanent status. 

Low-waged and racialized people deemed to be doing ‘low-skilled’ work deserve permanent status on landing, just as much as those deemed to be doing ‘high skilled’ work.

Migrant workers from across Canada called for a repeal of the 4-and-4 rule and most importantly permanent status on landing in the recent review of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program in Ottawa.

National Media Contacts
Coalition for Migrant Worker Rights Canada – Syed Hussan – Migrant Workers Alliance for Change – 1-416-453-3632

Pour le français/Québec: Francisco Mootoo, Association des travailleuses et travailleurs étrangers temporaires: (514) 793-2672

Atlantic Canada – Josie Baker – Cooper Institute- 1-902-315-2705

British Columbia – Vancouver – Mildred German – Migrante BC

Ontario – Chris Ramsaroop – Justicia for Migrant Workers / Harvesting Freedom Campaign –1-647-834-4932

Prairies – Manitoba – Diwa Marcelino – Migrante Canada – 204-218-710

Food Sector Ban Punishes Migrant Workers for Employer Abuse and Government Failure


Toronto – The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC), Canada’s largest coalition of migrant worker groups and allies, is calling for immediate changes to the moratorium imposed on temporary foreign workers (TFW) in the food industry. A moratorium is not the solution. Migrant workers need a just transition to a permanent immigration system in ‘low-skilled’ industries rather than being blamed for government mistakes. MWAC calls on the Federal government to:

  • Process pending and in-country Labour Market Opinions and Work Permit applications for migrant workers; and
  • Develop a just transition mechanism into permanent residency for migrants already in Canada, along with future immigrants in the low-wage, ‘low-skilled’ sectors

“The media is full of stories of migrant worker exploitation, but this moratorium won’t end the abuse it will just make workers more precarious,” insists Senthil Thevar, who came to Canada as a Temporary Foreign Worker in the food sector and was forced to switch jobs because of workers rights violations.

“A moratorium on TFWs is the wrong way to go. Migrant workers in Canada awaiting a decision on their LMOs and work permits will suffer immensely. Those trying to leave abusive employers will be locked in,” says migrant worker advocate Chris Ramsaroop from Justicia for Migrant Workers. “Those who have paid thousands of dollars to recruiters abroad to apply for jobs here risk losing their life savings.  They should not have to pay the price of long-standing flaws in the immigration system. That’s basic fairness.”

Vinay Sharma, Human Rights Director for UNIFOR, Canada’s largest private sector labour union adds, “We can’t just get rid of workers that are already here. Migrant workers in Canada need full immigration status. That’s the critical step. Right now the moratorium should exclude in-country and pending applications.”

“Recent reports expose how provincial and federal laws exclude migrants from basic workplace protections. The solution is to change those two-tiered laws that create conditions of lowered wages and working conditions and that pit migrant workers against unemployed or under-employed citizens,” adds Syed Hussan of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change. “In the long-run, we need to return to an immigration system that gives access to permanent status to migrants in low-skilled industries.”

“Workers across Canada are facing precarious, low-wage jobs and tough economic times,” added Deena Ladd from the Workers Action Centre. “Let’s not repeat history’s mistakes of blaming immigrants for unemployment in times of economic downturn. We need a decent job agenda that raises standards for all workers, not an arbitrary exclusion of migrant workers.”

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

Key facts

  • 44,000 migrant workers entered Canada in the food and accommodation sector in 2012.
  • The actual number of migrant workers in Canada in the food sector is not currently known – but all of those workers are now unable to switch jobs within the sector leaving them vulnerable to employer abuse.
  • Canada has no pathway for low-skilled immigrants to come here permanently. A moratorium on the TFWP should only happen after such a pathway has been developed – otherwise it will result in mass deportation.
  • There is no inter-provincial or Canada wide ban on charging migrant workers recruitment fees. Thus recruiters charge migrant workers upwards of two-years’ of salaries in home countries to find jobs in Canada. See for more.

Migrant Workers Alliance for Change includes Asian Community AIDS Services, Caregivers Action Centre, Justicia for Migrant Workers, Legal Assistance of Windsor, Migrante-Ontario, No One Is Illegal-Toronto, Parkdale Community Legal Services, Social Planning Toronto, South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario, UNIFOR, United Food and Commercial Workers, and Workers Action Centre.

Recruitment Fees Banned for All Migrant Workers; Comprehensive Changes Still Needed

TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwired – Dec. 4, 2013) – Banning recruitment fees for all migrant workers; removing the arbitrary monetary cap on reclaiming unpaid wages and tougher penalties for employment standards violations means that migrant workers gain a few more protections today, but comprehensive changes are still needed says the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC), Canada’s largest migrant worker advocacy coalition.

“After migrant workers exposed abuses by recruiters in 2009, we won protections for live-in caregivers but other migrant workers were unnecessarily excluded,” explains Liza Draman, spokesperson for the Caregivers Action Centre, member organization of MWAC. “Today after four years of migrant workers speaking out about their experiences, recruitment fees have finally been banned for all migrant workers.”

“Unfortunately over two-thirds of the caregivers we surveyed after the law came into effect in 2009 still paid fees,” adds Draman. “That’s because these protections rely on complaints and not proactive enforcement. For there to be meaningful protections, Ontario must follow provinces like Manitoba and implement employer and recruiter registration, licensing and regulation including joint and several financial liability.”

“I paid $1500 in Honduras to come work here in Canada. Here I worked in an unsafe job at a mushroom farm for a year to be able to pay back that debt,” stated Juan Miguel, a temporary foreign worker leader with Justicia for Migrant Workers, member organization of the MWAC. “On top of that, my employer regularly stole my wages and I couldn’t file a claim with the Ministry or I would have been fired and sent back home. I had to wait until I finished my contract, went home and came back with another employer but by then I had exceeded the current 6 month limit on claims. Today’s changes are an important step, but migrant workers need much stronger protections to ensure we have equal rights on the job.”

“Getting rid of the unfair $10,000 limit for employment standards claims and giving workers 2 years to file claims is a significant victory for Ontario workers, especially migrant workers” says Senthil Thevar, a former migrant worker and a spokesperson of MWAC member organization Workers Action Centre who is owed thousands of dollars in unpaid wages. “If these laws had existed a few years ago, I could have claimed the thousands of dollars of my unpaid wages immediately rather than being forced to go to court.”

“Migrant workers are not inherently vulnerable, its provincial laws that exclude us from basic protections that make us so,” insists Draman. “Many migrant workers are women and racialized people who are being denied immigration status by the Federal Government. Ontario must step up. We are urging Ontario’s government to sit down with migrant workers and update labour laws and other legislation. It is high time that migrant worker achieve the same protections and benefits as other Ontarians.”

Kyla Hernandez, a Filipino migrant worker who paid $5,000 to work in a vegetable packaging company in Windsor, ON, and spoke out against recruitment fees in 2008 adds, “Today’s labour reforms are a result of the advocacy efforts of migrant workers who took to the streets and held politicians accountable for the 19th century working and living conditions that we face in 21st century Ontario. However this victory is bittersweet. Many of our friends who fought for this have been terminated or deported for standing up for their rights. They will not enjoy the fruits of their labour. We owe it to them to continue the struggle and ensure that we are no longer treated as second class citizens.”


The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change includes Alliance of South Asian Aid Prevention, Asian Community Aids Services, Caregivers Action Centre, Industrial Accident Victims’ Group of Ontario, Justicia for Migrant Workers, KAIROS, Legal Aid Windsor, Migrante Ontario, No One Is Illegal – Toronto, Parkdale Community Legal Services, Social Planning Toronto, Unifor, United Food and Commercial Workers and the Workers’ Action Centre.

Media Liaison
Migrant Workers Alliance for Change
Syed Hussan, Coordinator
416 453 3632