Media Liaison(EN/FR): Mary Foster, 514-222-0205, email@example.com. Please get in touch for a recording of the briefing.
Trudeau Told to Act Swiftly To Implement Fair Immigration Rules to Ensure Equal Rights for 1.7 Million People
Cross-Country Migrant Coalition & Major Civil Society Groups Organizing Protests in 12 cities on September 18
Ottawa, September 14, 2022 — For the first time in half a century, Canada is moving forward on a regularization programme for undocumented migrants. A cross-country coalition of migrants has united with Canada’s largest human rights, climate, health, legal and labour organizations to call on the government to ensure permanent residency for all 1.7 million migrants with precarious status, including regularization of all 500,000 undocumented migrants. Actions in support of full regularization will take place in 12 cities across the country on Sunday, September 18, 2022 (see below for list of all the actions). Over 480 civil society organizations have already endorsed this call for immigration justice.
Joining an online briefing today, Caroline Michael, an undocumented healthcare worker, Nigerian refugee in Toronto, and member of Migrant Workers Alliance for Change explained, “Undocumented people like me are underpaid and unfairly treated by our employers and we can’t be bold enough to report them to appropriate authorities for fear of being picked up by the police. All of us migrants should be given the right to live a human-like life and shouldn’t be treated like animals, that means permanent resident status for all, no one left out, no exemptions, no conditions. The next Parliament must make our demands their number one priority.”
Lauren Ravon, Executive Director, Oxfam Canada, emphasized that, “A regularization program that provides status to all in Canada is a triple win, it advances gender justice, reduces inequality and has numerous benefits for the economy. Canada benefits so much from the contributions of migrants and undocumented workers. The time is now to provide hundreds of thousands of people in Canada with access to rights and services for a dignified life.”
Caroline Brouillette, National Policy Manager, Climate Action Network – Canada’s largest Climate Coalition – added, “As the climate crisis forces more and more people from their homes, ensuring equal rights for migrants is fundamental to climate justice. Transforming our unequal, exploitative system into one that ensures dignity and safety for all is a key step towards addressing Canada’s climate debt, and we urge the federal government to seize this opportunity.”
Danilo De Leon, an undocumented former temporary foreign worker, and chairperson of Migrante Canada, from Edmonton, said, “We came here to work because you need workers. We are more than just workers that feed your economy. We are human beings who have the right to live in Canada with dignity and we need a regularization program that does not discriminate.”
The Migrant Rights Network estimates that regularizing 500,000 undocumented workers will increase employer contributions by at least $1.1billion per year.
Many undocumented people are unable to afford expensive healthcare, ending up sicker and impacting public health explained Pénélope Boudreault, director of national operations at Doctors of the World. “The Doctors of the World’s Medical Clinic’s team can testify to this. A safe, comprehensive and inclusive regularization program is an essential tool to guarantee the fundamental rights and health of migrants with precarious status and to promote the well-being of society as a whole”.
There are at least 500,000 undocumented people in Canada. The vast majority are racialized. They entered on temporary work and study permits or as refugees but were not able to get permanent residency because of Canadian immigration rules, which favour people with high wages. Most others are turned away.
Nina Gonzalez, coordinator of the Regularization Campaign of the Immigrant Workers Centre (IWC), active member of the IWC’s Women’s Committee, and non-status migrant explains, “The immigration system systematically creates people without immigration status, either as a result of the refugee application being refused or because the employer has refused to extend the work permit and it expires. Loss of status is an administrative problem imposed by the system, it is not a criminal act.”
Without full immigration status, many migrants face exploitation, even as they are deemed essential. This includes farmworkers who characterize their work as “systematic slavery”. Laurence Guénette, Coordinator of the Ligue des droits et libertés joined the call today for fair rights for all reminding Prime Minister Trudeau that, “All human rights are universal: this universality means that all human beings enjoy the same fundamental rights regardless of their status. The Canadian government must put in place a regularization program granting full and permanent status to all persons with precarious immigration status in Quebec and Canada. A universal regularization program that leaves no one behind.”
Syed Hussan from the Migrant Rights Network Secretariat added, “Prime Minister Trudeau has a choice right now: either finally ensure historic equal rights for 1.7 million people who have been oppressed and exploited by bad bosses, institutions and landlords because of Canadian immigration rules by guaranteeing permanent resident status to all, or continue to make partial, temporary changes that continue exploitation for most. Migrants and our supporters are united in our expectations that Prime Minister Trudeau will do what he knows is right”.
Actions across Canada and Media Contacts for Sunday, September 18, 2022
TORONTO, ON: Rally & March for Rights, Regularization & Status For All
Sep 18, 2:00pm, Christie Pits Park, March to Deputy PM’s Office
Contact: Rajean Hoilett, 289-923-3534, Migrant Rights Network – Ontario
MONTREAL, QC: Rally & March – Un Statut pour tous et toutes – on ne laisse personne pour compte / #StatusForAll: No One Left Behind
Sep 18, 2:00pm, Place du Canada (corner of René-Lévesque and Peel)
Media Contact: Hady Anne (En/Fr), 514 358 8836, Solidarity Across Borders
VANCOUVER, BC: Rally – Rights, Regularization, Status For All
Sep 18, 2:30 PM, Grandview Park. 1657 Charles St, Vancouver
Media Contact: Byron Cruz, Sanctuary Health, (604) 315-7725
EDMONTON, AB: Rights, Regularization, Status for All!
Sep 18, 12:00 PM, Sir Winston Churchill Square. 10404 104 Ave NW.
Media Contact: Clarizze Truscott, 780-998-2885, Migrante Alberta
OTTAWA, ON: Migrant Regularization March – Status For All!
Sep 18, 2:00 PM, Confederation Park. Elgin St and Laurier Ave W, Ottawa
Contact: Aimee Beboso, 613-255-1921, Migrante Ottawa
SUDBURY, ON: Sudbury & Region: Status For ALL – Community Gathering
Sep 18, 1:30pm, Flour Mills Community Farm. 736 Bruce Ave.
Contact: Tt Scott, firstname.lastname@example.org, Sudbury Workers Education and Advocacy Centre
CHARLOTTETOWN, PE: Status for All: Reimagining PEI
Sep 18, 1pm, Victoria Park Pavilion, 36 Victoria Park Driveway
Media Contact: Ryan MacRae, email@example.com, Cooper Institute
MIRAMICHI, NB: Rights, Regularization, Status for All
Sep 18, 2pm, Queen Elizabeth Park Town Square. 141 rue Henry Street
Contact: Sonia Aviles, 289 990 1349, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change
FREDERICTON, NB: Status for All Day of Action Fredericton – Madhu Centre Organization Launch
Sep 18, 1pm, 577 Hillcrest Drive
Media Contact: Kalum Ng, firstname.lastname@example.org, Madhu Centre
GUELPH, ON: Public Meeting: Immigration: Who Benefits? Who Suffers?
Sep 18, 3:00 PM, 10C. 42 Carden St. , 3rd Floor, Activity Room.
Media Contact: Susan Rosenthal, Guelph Justice for Workers, guelph@Justice4workers.org
CLARKSBURG, ON: Rights, Regularization, Status for All
Sep 18, 10am, Clark Street and Main Street
Media Contact: Amaris Terner, 416 417 3520
JOHN’S, NL: Status for All Picnic
Sep 18, 1pm, Bannerman Park
Media Contact: Adi Khaitan, 709-693-6032
ANTIGONISH, NS: “United We Call: Status for All!” at Antigonight: Art After Dark Festival
Sep 17, 7pm, Main Street Grounds (Scotiabank)
Media Contact: Stacey Gomez, email@example.com, No one is illegal – Halifax/Kjipuktuk, Migrant Workers Program
- There are at least 1.2 million people in Canada on temporary work, study or refugee claimant permits issued in Canada each year. Most migrants in low-waged work do not have access to permanent residency so eventually they are forced to either leave Canada or stay in the country undocumented. Migrant farm workers recently testified that these temporary migration schemes are “systematic slavery”.
- Many are unable to return to sending countries because of war, discrimination, lack of economic opportunities and/or because they have built relationships in Canada. Today, there are over 500,000 undocumented people in the country.
- As a result, there are at least 1.7 million migrants – 1 in 23 residents in Canada – who do not have equal rights.
- Migrants are excluded from healthcare and social services and cannot unite with their families. Lack of permanent resident status makes it difficult, and often impossible, for migrants to speak up for their rights at work or access services, including those they may be eligible for, because of a well-founded fear of reprisals, termination, eviction and deportation.
- Migrants – mostly low-waged, racialized, working class people – are deemed essential but are excluded from rights. Thousands of migrants lost their lives and livelihoods in COVID-19 while working in farms, long-term care homes, construction, cleaning, and delivery work.
- Comprehensive regularization (a program that includes all 500,000 undocumented people) will address a historic wrong; improve working conditions by giving migrants the power to protects themselvesand; guarantee public health; and add at least $1.1 billion dollars to the public purse per year through contributions by employers who currently don’t pay taxes.
- Canada created the “Guardian Angels” program for some refugee and undocumented healthcare workers, which expired in August 2020. The Temporary Resident to Permanent Resident (TR to PR) program was created in May 2021, and expired in November. These programs excluded the vast majority of racialized, low-waged migrants. No permanent changes have been made to ensure immigration justice.
Nearly 10,000 people have signed a petition in support of these demands: www.StatusforAll.ca