OTTAWA, June 20, 2014 /CNW/ - Migrant workers and supporters are calling
today's announced changes to the Temporary Foreign Workers Program a
'mass deportation order' which will forcibly remove and cut-short
thousands of workers' stay in the country. These changes will also
lock-in workers with bad employers, and fail to ensure expanded
protections or permanent immigration status.
"Today's announcements are bad news for migrant workers. Migrant workers
are still employed under an indentured system where they work without
voice, without rights and without protections. In fact, today that
system has been further entrenched. Genuine reforms would be permanent
immigration status, anti-reprisal measures and equal access to social
entitlements. Instead, we are reinforcing a revolving door system where
we are creating a permanent group of temporary workers that are denied
rights that Canadians enjoy."
--- Chris Ramsaroop, Justicia for Migrant Workers, Member of the Migrant
Workers Alliance for Change
"Today's announcements underscore a two-tiered system. Low-waged and
racialized people are being removed from the Immigration Ministry
entirely, and with that many hopes for permanency are dashed. It's a
knee-jerk reaction that adds fuel to anti-immigrant fire. These changes
also don't deal with Canada's jobless economic recovery since 2009. Not
only will there be more abuse, more suffering, and fewer rights for
migrant workers, there are no mechanisms for higher wages or decent
working conditions for any worker in the country.
-- Syed Hussan, Coordinator, Member of the Migrant Workers Alliance for
"Kenney confirmed today that migrants make up a small proportion of the
labour force. The issue isn't migrants taking jobs from citizen
workers, its migrant workers being exploited and abused. That's what
migrant workers and their allies have raised for over a decade. Its
obvious that the Federal government refused to listen to the voices of
-- Winston Morrison - Migrant Worker and Member of Justicia for Migrant
Workers, Member of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change
Preliminary Analysis: Impact of today's changes on migrant workers
On more temporariness for migrant workers
Entrenching temporariness by reducing the length of time LMIAs will be
issued and the cumulative period during which general low-wage
temporary foreign workers will be allowed to remain in Canada will set
an expiry limit on migrants' lives, sever relationships and force
thousands of workers to either leave the country or live here without
rights as undocumented workers.
A further reduction in the number of years a migrant worker can stay in
Canada will reinforce our current 'revolving door' immigration system
where employers simply bring in a new group of more exploitable workers
every few years.
A limit on the number of migrant workers that an employer can hire (10%
for employers with more than 10 workers) will further reduce the
ability of workers to switch jobs in sectors that are 'at capacity',
forcing them to stay with abusive employers.
Higher LMO (now LMIA) fees will be downloaded to workers as there is no national recruiter regulation framework.
Replacing the NOC system with wage levels does not account for the fact
that many migrant workers do not actually receive the wages they are
promised in their employment contracts.
None of these changes speak to the government's general push to
temporary, precarious, and conditional status across all immigrant and
refugee programs, with huge discretion given to employers under both
federal programs and provincial nominee programs.
A crackdown on employers abusing the program is not possible in the context of a complaints-driven enforcement system, which requires migrant workers to speak out against employers they are
tied to. There are no systems to ensure that migrant workers will
actually assert their rights, as complaining to MoL can lead to
deportation and is therefore simply not an option.
The increased number, scope and reviewable federal program requirements
of inspections will not affect the temporariness of the program, the
lack of worker voice, or the lack of permanent resident status.
Reducing worker mobility and length of maximum stay in the country will
only increase the likelihood that complaints will not be made.
The expanded and improved Tip Line also risks failing to respond to
situations where workers are experiencing violations in working
conditions or housing in situations of debt bondage.
If increased inspections, tips, complaints, and public blacklisting of
employers are successful, the government has made no indication what
the impact will be on migrant workers. Will they be free to stay, to
change employers, to pay off recruitment fees and placement debts, and
support and sponsor their families?
The additional funding for CBSA criminal investigations risks further
criminalizing migrant workers, or painting them ultimately as victims
without a say in whether they can go or stay here.
Apart from promised information-sharing that's been demanded for a
decade, there are no investments in partnering with provinces for
proactive enforcement of labour and employment standards.
If the government were interested in genuine reforms to the program, it
would not ignore the long-standing abuse of migrant farm workers and
live-in caregivers. These sectors have been exempted from protections
Migrant Workers Alliance for Change is Canada's largest migrant worker
rights coalition. It includes Alliance of South Asian Aid Prevention,
Asian Community Aids Services, Caregivers Action Centre, Industrial
Accident Victims' Group of Ontario, Justicia for Migrant
Workers,KAIROS, Legal Aid Windsor, Migrante Ontario, No One Is Illegal
- Toronto, Parkdale Community Legal Services, Social Planning
Toronto,UNIFOR, United Food and Commercial Workers and the Workers'
Action Centre. www.migrantworkersalliance.org
SOURCE: Migrant Workers Alliance for Change
For further information:
Media Contacts: Syed Hussan 416 453 3632, firstname.lastname@example.org