We are eight months into a pandemic and yet it feels like we are back at the beginning.
Yet again, there are COVID-19 outbreaks affecting migrant workers on farms. Yet again, migrant and undocumented people are losing jobs as regions shut down. And still no action to save lives and livelihoods.
Any day now, the federal government will release its ‘fiscal update’, a sort of mini-budget which will outline the government’s plan to ensure a just recovery. We already know their priorities: all but the Green Party this week voted against an NDP motion to create a 1% tax on individual wealth over $20 million.
It is crucial that decision makers hear from you that there can be no just recovery without full and permanent immigration status for all. Click here to call PM Trudeau’s office to tell them you expect migrant justice to be on the agenda.
But we must also share this same message with our neighbours and friends. A recent poll showed that 40% of respondents in Canada want to reduce permanent immigration numbers. We need to explain to our friends and families that migrants are an essential part of the fabric of communities, and reducing immigration means reducing rights for our friends and neighbours [click here to share on facebook, and twitter. Scroll below to download and share on instagram].
Tens of thousands have lost their jobs as the second wave of COVID-19 ravages migrant and racialized communities. Some that have fallen sick from COVID-19 report not being allowed to return to work even when they have recovered.
Instead of supporting these essential members of our communities and taxing COVID-19 profiteers, federal laws deny migrants without a valid Social Insurance Number, particularly undocumented people, access to the Canada Recovery Benefit.
Undocumented people and those awaiting their immigration permit renewals don’t have healthcare in most provinces and must pay up front. This includes students, workers and refugees numbering in the tens of thousands. Even COVID-19 testing and treatment is exorbitantly expensive.
Migrant farmworkers are again falling sick in new COVID-19 outbreaks, just as the season is ending, preventing workers from returning home. Sick workers are missing flights. Those stuck in Canada are without work, wages or income support, abandoned in unheated housing as winter sets in.
Migrant care workers are either trapped in employers’ homes working longer hours without pay, or being laid off again in this second wave. Instead of supporting them, the federal government just shut down the home care worker path to permanent residency for 2020.
Migrant students continue to pay high tuition fees but don’t have access to essential supports and services. Those that have graduated and are working in essential but low-waged jobs are not allowed to apply for permanent residency. Their permits are expiring but the federal government still hasn’t made them renewable, meaning thousands face deportation before year-end.
Instead of supporting migrants and ensuring permanent immigration status for all, the federal government is devoting resources to detaining and deporting people during a global pandemic. This week, friends and supporters of long-term care home worker Mamadou Konaté rallied to stop his deportation. Ebrahim Toure was detained and released a second time and is facing deportation to Gambia just days after his baby is due, after immigration enforcement used false documents to get him a passport. His crime? Pirating DVDs.
If there is one thing this pandemic has revealed is that there can be no return to the way things were. And that means that the immigration system – and the racism and exploitation on which it is based and which it perpetuates – must be completely overhauled.
Right now, PM Trudeau is working on a plan to recover from COVID-19. He needs to hear from you that this plan must include dollars behind full and permanent immigration status for all. Status for all is the only way to ensure equal access to rights and protections. Make the call. We don’t have a minute to lose.
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