On September 20, Canadian citizens will vote for their representatives in government. These representatives, called Members of Parliament, will decide laws that impact the lives of 1.6 million migrants like us who are in Canada without permanent resident status.
Migrant farm workers, care workers, students, refugees and undocumented people cannot vote on September 20. But there are a lot of things we can do and should do.
Between now and September 20, Canadians are debating the future of the country. The news media is focused on what the new government may do differently. This is an opportunity for migrants to raise our demand for full and permanent immigration status for all. Migrants can make sure that our lives are a priority.
Here’s what you can do right now:
- Click here to send an email to all political parties right now. You can add your own story or comments about why fairness is important to you.
- It’s important to get Canadians to challenge politicians to support migrant rights. Download flyers and posters you can distribute in your neighbourhood
- Talk to your neighbours about why Status for All is important right now. Watch this video.
How do Elections Work in Canada?
Every few years, Canadians vote for someone to represent their district, or “riding”, in the national government. There are 338 ridings in Canada.
The candidates who try to get elected in every riding are usually part of a political party that has chosen them to run for election. While the individual candidate’s opinions matter, they must follow the political positions of their party. Political parties do what they think will appeal most to their supporters. That is why it is important to speak to people who can vote to influence what they demand of their elected representatives and the political parties they are a part of.
When a candidate wins, they and their party get one seat in the Canadian parliament. The party that wins the most seats becomes the government. Parliament is in Ottawa, and in July, that’s where the Migrant Rights Network went to demand Status for All (check out these photos).
How are laws and policies made in Canada?
Parliament is where laws are supposed to be debated and voted on by elected representatives. But the majority of the decisions that affect migrant lives – programs like the recent Temporary Resident to Permanent Resident (TR for PR) program – are made outside Parliament, by the Minister of Immigration and by civil servants who are not elected but work in government.
This means there is little accountability or transparency about the decisions that affect our lives.
Who are the political parties in this election and where do they stand on migrant rights?
Only two political parties have ever formed government in Canada – the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party.
Both these political parties say that they represent the interests of working people like us. But the reality is that they almost always defend the interests of employers and the rich. In this election, no party has said it supports Status for All, only ‘pathways’ to PR that will exclude most people through unfair requirements and give more power to bad bosses.
THE LIBERALS: The current government is the Liberal Party, led by Justin Trudeau. The Liberals are well-known for saying the right things, but not always doing the right thing. During COVID-19, the Liberals were in power. Some of the decisions they made include::
- Emergency income support (CERB or CRB) was only available to migrants with a valid Social Insurance Number
- Borders were closed and many families were separated
- Refugee acceptance dropped to an all-time low
- Canada deported more people in 2020 than in any of the previous 5 years
- Post Graduate Workers were able to renew their permit once during a limited time period
- Humanitarian and Compassionate applications were rejected at twice the rate as previous years
- A one-time pathway was created for some temporary residents to apply for permanent residency – 90,000 people were accepted but many people were unable to apply because of unfair requirements.
If elected, the Liberals promise to keep doing what they were doing before. That means small improvements for some, but no real change.
THE CONSERVATIVES: The Conservatives, unlike the Liberals, are more honest about their plans for migrants, and their plans are not good. They want to ensure that most people remain temporary and without rights. While the Conservatives have promised to make some good changes, like making it easier to correct mistakes in applications, and more oversight of immigration officers, they also plan to:
- Cancel the government-assisted refugee system
- Make it easier for employers to hire migrants on tied work permits and with few rights.
- Give employer the power to control access to permanent resident for migrant workers
- Make it harder for parents and grandparents to be sponsored
- Make visas more difficult, and allow rich people to pay to get to the front of the line.
THE NEW DEMOCRATS: The New Democratic Party (NDP) is the third largest party in Canada. In 2021, politicians said that they would support full and permanent immigration status for all. But they have not publicly said that during the election campaign or in their platform.
What happens after the election?
Right now, it does not look like any party will get a majority of seats in Parliament. That means the party who wins the most seats will need to get the support of one of the other parties in order to have the power to pass laws in Parliament. And that means that the first few days after the election, political parties will be negotiating with each other, exchanging policy promises for political support. That’s why it’s crucial now that we send a message to ALL the parties telling them that people in Canada demand nothing less than full and permanent immigration status for all. Send a message now: www.migrantrights.ca/Elxn44
Even though as migrants we cannot vote, we do have the power to make ourselves heard. No matter who forms the government, we must unite together so that no one can treat us unfairly, and so that we can demand the equal rights and protections we deserve.
Get in touch with us, and let us know where you live and what work you do, and we will connect you with a migrant organization closest to you: firstname.lastname@example.org