‘No one left behind’: Migrant rights push gains steam in Canada

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Rights groups say the permanent status will help prevent abuse and allow foreign workers in Canada to protect their rights.

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Montreal Canada – Migrant rights advocates in Canada have renewed their pressure for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to provide permanent residency to all foreign workers, students and other undocumented people in the country when parliament reopens next week. .


Speaking to reporters during a virtual news briefing on Wednesday, undocumented activist and rights activist Danilo De Leon said he and others “can’t wait any longer” without the situation.

“My daughters are the reason I continue to give up, staying away from them and fighting for my status. I want to reconnect with them in Canada so that they have a better future… we can’t wait, make everyone a priority now. No one should be singled out,” De Leon said.

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Organized by the Migrant Rights Network, the news conference comes days before rallies are held across Canada to demand permanent status for all – a call that has been gaining momentum among civil rights activists for months.

Regularizing the immigration status of workers and others without permanent status has been a long-standing demand, adding to the urgency as the COVID-19 pandemic exposed systemic problems in many industries employing these laborers .

Rights groups estimate that there are more than one million migrant workers, students, refugees and others in Canada without permanent immigration status, while hundreds of thousands of others remain undocumented.

Supporters tape photos of migrant workers Juan López Chaparro and Bonifacio Eugenio-Romero, who died of COVID-19 during a protest in Toronto in 2020. [File: Chris Helgren/Reuters]

Many work as home caregivers, in health care or custody jobs, or in Canada’s highly profitable agricultural and food processing sector. And activists say a system that links many of these workers to their Canadian employers leaves them vulnerable to abuse and offers little recourse to protect their rights as the threat of removal hangs over their hands. Is.

“These migrants often hold poorly paid, precarious jobs with little or no social security. [They] find themselves at the mercy of placement agencies, which often put them in situations of exploitation,” Amnesty International Canada said in a report.PDF) on Wednesday. “Their rights as employees are generally not respected, but they do not dare to condemn the situation because of the uncertainty of their position.”

Last month, Jamaican farmworkers brought to Canada as part of a special, temporary migration program said in an open letter that they were “treated like mules”, and verbally abused and threatened by their owners. “As it currently stands, [the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program] There is systematic slavery,” he said.

Jamaica has since said it plans to send a special, fact-finding team to Canada to investigate the workers’ claims.

way of residence

The Canadian government has said it is exploring permanent residency avenues for foreign workers and international students.

Canada’s Employment Minister Carla Qualtro’s office also told Al Jazeera in an email last month that the government set aside $38.1m ($49.5m Canadian) over three years to boost support for migrant workers in 2021.

“Over the past year, we have strengthened the workplace inspection process, expanded TFW” [temporary foreign worker] tip line to provide services in multiple languages, and are increasing support for migrant labor organisations,” it said among other measures.

In 2020, Ottawa also announced a regularization program for so-called “guardian angels” – temporary workers who were on the front lines of Canada’s coronavirus response, including those who worked hard in elderly care facilities at the height of the pandemic Was.

But advocates say the measures didn’t go far enough, and they argue that permanent status for all is the best way to help all workers protect their rights and access services.

Temporary migrants can lose their status for a variety of reasons, including “if they leave a job for any reason such as unpaid wages, sexual harassment, or unsafe working conditions”, says Luin Goldring, a professor of sociology at the University of York and the University of Toronto. and Patricia Landolt, respectively, wrote last year In conversation.

“Status for all centers on human rights, mobility rights and good work – for all temporary migrants with precarious legal status and their families, not just workers in certain sectors or occupations,” he said.

Hundreds of civil society groups have supported the demand for status for all (PDF), while the editorial board of Canada’s largest newspaper, the Toronto Star, also recently urged the government to “take a liberal approach and avoid arbitrary limits on who can apply” for permanent status.

“Given the threats they face, these residents are exactly the kind of people that governments should protect,” the board said. wrote Last week.

action day

Days before the reopening of Canada’s parliament in Ottawa, rallies will be held in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and several other cities across the country on Sunday to demand permanent status for all.

Organizers say they hope the government will act now under public pressure.

“We are not asking for donations; We are demanding equality,” Syed Hussain, executive director of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change Advocacy Group, said during Wednesday’s news conference.

He pointed to Ireland, which was launched in early 2022 regularization program For undocumented immigrants who have been living in the country for at least two years, as a recent positive example that Canada should follow.

“Prime Minister Trudeau has shown that he is ready to do the right thing,” Hussain said. “We are all here to emphasize that absolutely every undocumented person should be included – no one left behind.”

Credit: www.aljazeera.com /

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