Canada, April 8, 2022 — The 2022 Federal Budget entrenches exploitative migrant worker programs, gives more power to the federal immigration minister, and does not ensure access to equal rights that are only possible through permanent resident status.
Migrant Rights Network – Canada’s largest cross-country coalition of migrant led-organizations – reiterates our call for full and permanent immigration status for all now, and in the future.
The Federal Budget brings in major policy changes that will impact hundreds of thousands of mostly racialized, working class people. This includes:
- The creation of a “new foreign labour program for agriculture and fish processing”.
- Exploitation, and vulnerability is well-documented in temporary foreign worker programs. Migrants must receive permanent resident status on landing to protect themselves in any new program.
- The creation of a “Trusted Employer” program that will make it easier for employers to hire migrants without ensuring protections for migrants.
- With the well-documented reality of reprisals against workers who speak up, and the 2021 Auditor General report that found Canada’s inspections of employers woefully inadequate, there is simply no way to know who is a “trusted employer”.
- Amendments to the “Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to … require the electronic submission of asylum claims.”
- Many refugee claimants do not have access to computers, internet connection, and digital copies of evidence that is required to navigate electronic systems. No resources are being made available to support refugees to apply, which makes it even more difficult for low-waged, racialized people to get rights and protections.
- Reaffirms the Immigration Levels Plan announced in February of this year, which does not ensure full and permanent inclusion of the 1.6 million and growing migrants in the country.
- In particular, thousands of migrant care workers, who have been waiting for years to reunite with their families while taking care of children, the sick and the elderly, and who were left out of the Immigration Levels Plan continue to be excluded. Migrant care workers must get permanent resident status without exclusions immediately.
- Gives new unchecked powers to the Immigration Minister through the “authority to use Ministerial Instructions to help select those candidates who best meet Canada’s labour market needs .. through the Express Entry System”.
- There have been no invitations to apply for permanent residency in the Express Entry system since September 2021, and thousands, particularly graduated international students, have been waiting in limbo. They are on non-renewable post-graduate work permits, which have expired or are expiring, at which point they become undocumented or are forced to leave the country. Now the Minister can pick and choose, instead of processing all the applicants waiting. At minimum, post-graduate work permits must be made permanently renewable.
- The creation of a “special permanent residence stream for immediate and extended Ukrainian family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents”
- This is an important and crucial step to ensure families are united, and it must be expanded to families in conflict zones around the world, including Yemen, Afghanistan, South Sudan, etc. Non-Ukrainian citizens fleeing the conflict in Ukraine, mostly racialized people, must also be provided with the same rights and protections.
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