TORONTO, April 30, 2014 /CNW/ - The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change
(MWAC), Canada's largest coalition of migrant worker groups and allies,
is calling for immediate changes to the moratorium imposed on temporary
foreign workers (TFW) in the food industry. A moratorium is not the
solution. Migrant workers need a just transition to a permanent
immigration system in 'low-skilled' industries rather than being blamed
for government mistakes. MWAC calls on the Federal government to:
Process pending and in-country Labour Market Opinions and Work Permit
applications for migrant workers; and
Develop a just transition mechanism into permanent residency for
migrants already in Canada, along with future immigrants in the
low-wage, 'low-skilled' sectors
"The media is full of stories of migrant worker exploitation, but this
moratorium won't end the abuse it will just make workers more
precarious," insists Senthil Thevar, who came to Canada as a Temporary
Foreign Worker in the food sector and was forced to switch jobs because
of workers rights violations.
"A moratorium on TFWs is the wrong way to go. Migrant workers in Canada
awaiting a decision on their LMOs and work permits will suffer
immensely. Those trying to leave abusive employers will be locked in,"
says migrant worker advocate Chris Ramsaroop from Justicia for Migrant
Workers. "Those who have paid thousands of dollars to recruiters abroad
to apply for jobs here risk losing their life savings. They should not
have to pay the price of long-standing flaws in the immigration system.
That's basic fairness."
Vinay Sharma, Human Rights Director for UNIFOR, Canada's largest private
sector labour union adds, "We can't just get rid of workers that are
already here. Migrant workers in Canada need full immigration status.
That's the critical step. Right now the moratorium should exclude
in-country and pending applications."
"Recent reports expose how provincial and federal laws exclude migrants
from basic workplace protections. The solution is to change those
two-tiered laws that create conditions of lowered wages and working
conditions and that pit migrant workers against unemployed or
under-employed citizens," adds Syed Hussan of the Migrant Workers
Alliance for Change. "In the long-run, we need to return to an
immigration system that gives access to permanent status to migrants in
"Workers across Canada are facing precarious, low-wage jobs and tough
economic times," added Deena Ladd from the Workers Action Centre.
"Let's not repeat history's mistakes of blaming immigrants for
unemployment in times of economic downturn. We need a decent job agenda
that raises standards for all workers, not an arbitrary exclusion of
44,000 migrant workers entered Canada in the food and accommodation
sector in 2012.
The actual number of migrant workers in Canada in the food sector is not
currently known - but all of those workers are now unable to switch
jobs within the sector leaving them vulnerable to employer abuse.
Canada has no pathway for low-skilled immigrants to come here
permanently. A moratorium on the TFWP should only happen after such a
pathway has been developed - otherwise it will result in mass
There is no inter-provincial or Canada wide ban on charging migrant
workers recruitment fees. Thus recruiters charge migrant workers
upwards of two-years' of salaries in home countries to find jobs in
Canada. See http://metcalffoundation.com/publications-resources/view/profiting-from-the-precarious-how-recruitment-practices-exploit-migrant-workers/ for more.
Migrant Workers Alliance for Change includes Asian Community AIDS
Services, Caregivers Action Centre, Justicia for Migrant Workers, Legal
Assistance of Windsor, Migrante-Ontario, No One Is Illegal-Toronto,
Parkdale Community Legal Services, Social Planning Toronto, South Asian
Legal Clinic of Ontario, UNIFOR, United Food and Commercial Workers,
and Workers Action Centre. www.migrantworkersalliance.org
SOURCE: Migrant Workers Alliance for Change
For further information:
Media Contact: Syed Hussan, Coordinator, 416 453 3632, firstname.lastname@example.org