We demand Status for All and Landed Status Now – this is essential for a just recovery from COVID-19.
- This means, everyone in the country without permanent resident status must be regularized and given permanent resident status immediately. This includes all low-waged residents including migrant workers, study permit holders, refugee claimants, people who were ordered deported as failed refugees, people who lost their status because of exclusions for criminality, people who overstayed their visas, and who entered Canada without a permit.
- All people who come to Canada in the future must have permanent resident status on arrival. Migrants in low-waged occupations currently coming into Canada through the Temporary Foreign Workers Program, Caregiver Program, Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program and other programs with work authorization permits, as well as refugees and individuals on study permits, should be able to come to Canada as permanent residents if they so choose, and be able to bring their families with them.
Status for All & Landed Status Now is pragmatic, possible and necessary. Here is why:
(1) Status for All is what migrants want.
Since at least 1968, migrant worker rights groups organizing with domestic workers, caregivers, seasonal agricultural workers, and temporary foreign workers (back then known as the Non-Immigrant Employment Authorization Program) have unified around a single demand: full immigration status on landing for migrant workers. Since at least 2001, groups of undocumented residents already living and working in Canada have been calling for status for all in an ongoing campaign. Today, Migrant Rights Network members are unified around this demand. COVID-19 has shown us that it is migrants and undocumented workers that are essential to sustaining societies and communities, and that denial of permanent resident status excludes us from basic rights and protections even during a pandemic.
(2) Status for All ensures rights for everyone.
Canadian immigration policy divides us into two categories: those who arrive with permanent immigration status, and those who don’t. Those who don’t are largely racialized and low-waged. We are all a part of the community; we are workers, students, refugees and families. Sometimes we are disabled, or face risk if we leave Canada. Many of us aren’t able to maintain our temporary status, and as a result, hundred of thousands of us have become undocumented. Without full immigration status, we are denied healthcare, decent work, and emergency supports. We are separated from our families for many years. Full Immigration Status for All is our campaign to call for equal rights for ourselves.
Many low-waged migrants are tied to a single employer. Others are not allowed to work, or are restricted to certain industries or hours of work. Migrants in sex work are criminalized. These policies allow bad bosses to pay migrants less, make us work harder and in more dangerous jobs. Migrants are either directly excluded from labour protections, or labour laws are not responsive to our specific vulnerability to abuse under threat of deportation. Full access to healthcare, education, pensions, employment insurance and other social entitlements is denied to those without permanent resident status.
These inequalities, which are built into the system, have been fully exposed during the COVID-19 crisis – some of the people most vulnerable to COVID-19 and most often denied government support are migrant and undocumented people.
Full Immigration Status for All is a comprehensive and effective solution to ending the differential treatment of migrants, ensuring we all get basic social entitlements. Status for All will protect wages and working conditions for all workers. Status for All ensures equal access to healthcare, services and social protections for everyone, and therefore ensures better public health for all residents.
Making Status for All a reality.
There is a long history of regularization programs around the world, including in Canada. Canada has created programs to grant undocumented or migrant people permanent residency multiple times in recent decades. In fact, there is currently a regularization program underway for undocumented construction workers in the GTA.
As we respond to COVID-19, we propose the following steps towards Full Immigration Status for All:
- First, the federal government should meet with migrant organizations like ours in order to develop an effective and appropriate plan;
- Second, a moratorium on detentions and deportations should be instituted to ensure undocumented people applying for status are protected;
- Third, a regularization process should be created where all migrants in the country get permanent residence status or citizenship, without any exclusions by work history, previous immigration status, health status, previous access to social assistance, criminality, or any other language, education or personal history reasons
- During this time, all undocumented and migrant residents in Canada should get immediate and open work authorization and full access to basic entitlements;
- Fourth, all low-waged workers arriving in Canada in the future should arrive with Permanent Resident status if they so choose.
A regularization program is extremely urgent. Our communities cannot wait. We simultaneously demand comprehensive social entitlements, rights and protections that permanent residency guarantees including:
- Healthcare for all;
- Family unity;
- Full labour rights and protections for all, including open work authorization without any employer, hours of work or industry restrictions (such as essential sectors or ban on working in businesses related to sex-trade);
- Equal access without restriction, differential fees or fear to Employment Insurance, pensions, social assistance, workers’ compensation, emergency income supports, settlement services and all other social services, and workers’ compensation, and education at all levels.
- End to racism, xenophobia and discrimination.
We also call for changes to the existing immigration programs in the interim and a removal of all educational, language, age employer job letter, medical or other admissibility requirements that restrict access to permanent residency.
Status for All is not the same as ‘Pathway to Permanent Residence’. A ‘pathway’ already exists for some temporary residents (care workers, students, refugees, etc), and these are not pathways but minefields of abuse. ‘Pathways’ are multi-step processes in which migrants must remain temporary for years while jumping through hoops to try to meet limited and restrictive criteria, and only then they may have the chance to access permanent residency. Migrant care workers and farmworkers have a pathway – but it includes educational and language requirements that are impossible to meet. These programs retain all the problems inherent in temporary immigration status. They divide migrants between those considered deserving and not deserving. They discriminate against poor migrants. We do not need more temporariness. We need permanent resident Status for All.
Status for All envisions Just Recovery for All.
Many people around the world are forced to leave their homes because of war and conflict, climate change, economic uncertainty, or mega-industrial projects that displace communities. Therefore, our campaign for Status for All includes a call to end wars, climate change, economic injustices and all other policies and practices that force people to migrate. We strongly support the right of people to stay in their own communities, and the right of people to return home without fear. Status for All is based in respect for Indigenous self-determination here and around the world. Status for All calls for decent work, universal access to services for all people, regardless of immigration status.
Today, many high-wage workers and rich people have the option of coming to Canada permanently and quickly. Status for All will give low-waged, racialized, workers – many of them women, all of them essential – access to stability and dignity.