27,000 migrants were invited to apply for permanent residency through the Express Entry system earlier this month. That’s a 440% increase from the previous round. Some of our members and friends can hope to qualify for PR now. Clearly, our calls for full and permanent immigration status are being heard.
But this is not a simple good news story.
Canada’s Express Entry system assigns points for age, language, education, work experience and more. While the points required for this latest invitation are the lowest ever, migrants in these large numbers were invited to apply for permanent residency in the ‘Canadian Experience Class’ (CEC). To qualify for CEC, applicants must, among other requirements, have 12 months of high waged work in Canada in managerial or technical jobs. Migrants in low waged work are not allowed to apply.
Farm workers, care workers, those working in food processing, retail, delivery, warehouse, cleaning, construction, and workers in all those other jobs Canadians have come to call ‘essential’, are deemed “low-skilled” by the immigration system.
Few avenues exist for them to get rights and permanent residence under current rules. The ‘pathways to status’ for low-waged farm workers and care workers require high language and education scores that effectively shut them out.
Meanwhile, the government has increased detentions and deportations. 2020 saw the highest number of deportations since 2015. Undocumented migrants are supposed to be able to apply to stay through a ‘Humanitarian and Compassionate’ application. But those applications are being denied at record high rates right now.
The truth is this: Canadian immigration policy has always discriminated based on race, class and disability. Poor and working class racialized migrants continue to be denied stability, security and equality because the immigration system keeps them temporary or undocumented.
Clearly the government can easily grant people PR, but chooses to cherry-pick and discriminate instead. The federal government is scrambling to meet its immigration targets by granting status to some, while deporting and denying others. This is a divide and conquer strategy that pits “deserving” migrants against “undeserving” migrants. But permanent status is not a gift for the deserving – it is about equality. It is a means to access healthcare, education, labour protections, family reunification and other basic rights. And all of us deserve the same rights.
Full and permanent immigration status for ALL. We are all essential. Add your voice to ours, sign now!