Canada, July 6, 2016 — Migrant worker organizations are ringing alarm bells about closed-door meetings on immigration policy across the country that do not include migrant workers’ concerns. These invitation-only ‘Townhalls’ began last week, while an online consultation form was launched on a government website without much notice Tuesday. Over 50 national organizations have joined the Coalition for Migrant Worker Rights Canada, the representative body of migrant workers, in calling for open meetings with migrant workers at a time and place where they can participate, and comprehensive immigration reform to ensure permanent resident status for low-waged, racialized workers.
“Migrant workers are critical to Canada’s economy. However, they are denied basic rights and are unable to participate in decisions that affect their lives. Permanent immigration status for migrant workers is the most pressing change needed in immigration policy in Canada today” says Josie Baker from the Cooper Institute in Prince Edward Island and a member of the Coalition for Migrant Worker Rights Canada. “I had to call MPs in my area to find out about the meeting. I was told that one was happening in my town right away. They hadn’t told anyone about it, and migrant workers aren’t invited. Where is the transparency?”
A review of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program and the Caregiver Program was just completed by a parliamentary committee but the final recommendations will not be released until the Fall. Migrant workers are one of the only groups of immigrants that can’t come to Canada with permanent resident status, a change that must be made through the Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.
“First and foremost, we need to change immigration law to ensure that migrant workers have permanent resident immigration rights like everyone else. These immigration consultations should be a time to ensure real conversation and transparency where Parliamentarians listen to migrant workers where they are and move towards comprehensive reforms, not backroom conversations with a few insiders,” says Marco Luciano from Migrante Canada, based in Edmonton.
Migrant workers recently spoke to Parliamentarians at the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities. Audio and transcripts can be found here. Dozens of national organizations have called for permanent immigration status for migrant workers, see some of them here. Migrant worker organizations across the country are available to comment.
- Coalition for Migrant Worker Rights Canada – Syed Hussan – Migrant Workers Alliance for Change – 1-416-453-3632
- Alberta – Edmonton – Marco Luciano – Migrante Canada – 1-780-966-5908
- Atlantic Canada – Josie Baker – Cooper Institute- 1-902-894-4573
- British Columbia – Vancouver – Natalie Drolet – West Coast Domestic Workers Association –1-604-669-6452
- British Columbia – Okanagan – Elise Hjalmarson — RAMA – 250-212-2620.
- Ontario – Chris Ramsaroop – Justicia for Migrant Workers / Harvesting Freedom Campaign –1-647-834-4932