TORONTO, April 8, 2014 /CNW/ - A groundbreaking report released today by the Metcalf Foundation highlights how recruiters are abusing and exploiting migrant workers while Ontario's laws lag shamefully behind. The report echoes the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change's (MWAC) call for the overhaul of the proposed Ontario Immigration Act (Bill 161) and the passing of Bill 146 with amendments. MWAC also continues to call for full immigration status on landing for all migrant workers.
Authored by lawyer Fay Faraday, the report "Profiting from the Precarious" demonstrates that recruiters are central to migrant worker vulnerability in Canada, and that Ontario must follow Manitoba in adopting a comprehensive migrant worker recruiter and registry system including a system of financial bonds for recruiters and proactive enforcement.
"Fay Faraday's report is very important. Like me, many migrant workers have paid thousands of dollars to come work in Canada. With so much money on the line, most of us don't complain no matter how bad things get," says Liza Draman, a member of the Caregivers Action Centre.
"Ontario has the largest number of migrant workers, but provincial laws fail to protect workers from recruiters and include them in the programs through which they can become permanent residents. The proposed Ontario Immigration Act may do more harm than good in terms of protecting workers against recruitment" Draman added.
Under current Ontario laws, recruitment fees are only banned for live-in caregivers. Bill 146 would, if passed, expand these prohibitions to all migrant workers, but does not include any means to actually enforce these protections. Bill 161 gives Ontario the power to create registries but little else in terms of enforcement. There are no measures to protect workers from exploitation by recruiters and employers and even though Bill 161 proposes an increase to our provincial immigration numbers, it fails to clearly include low-wage workers in these immigration pathways. There are no proactive protections like those best practices in the Manitoba Worker Recruitment and Protection Act. Without such measures, Bill 161 may simply create registries to enable employers and recruiters to navigate the federal government's new immigration plan called "Expression of Interest Model".
"The federal government has effectively shut down most of the ways people used to immigrate here. The only option left for many is short-term, difficult, dangerous and low-wage work in the temporary foreign worker programs in industries such as caregiving, farm work and service work. This has led to the growth of recruitment agencies that profit from recruiting workers for jobs here in Canada," explains Tzazná Miranda Leal, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change. "These recruiters are minting money, often using threats that exploit workers' vulnerability to keep workers quiet, and are absolutely outside of government control. We need recruiter regulation and full immigration status on landing for temporary foreign workers."
The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change 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
SOURCE: Migrant Workers Alliance for Change
For further information:
Media Contact: Tzazna Miranda Leal, 647-618-5325; 416531-2411 ext 241; firstname.lastname@example.org