On December 18, we join with migrant workers and their families in Canada and around the world, in observing International Migrants Day. On this day, we again call on the federal government to eliminate this country’s legalized discrimination against migrant workers—because all workers have a right to fair and safe working conditions, and all workers’ basic human rights must be respected. And we join migrant workers and their families in mourning the deaths of migrant workers in Canada, most recently the shocking and tragic deaths of seven workers from the Philippines, killed in two separate Alberta highway crashes in just the past three weeks.
Migrant workers in Canada struggle with discrimination, insecurity, and dangerous work conditions on a daily basis. The single greatest source of this insecurity is the fact that that migrant workers in the low-wage stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) are unfree, structurally dependent on employers and as a consequence, vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.
Recently, the Government of Canada announced changes to the monitoring, inspection, and compliance enforcement associated with the TFWP. In our view, no amount of government oversight will fully compensate for the fact that migrant workers are inherently vulnerable to employer abuse. Until temporary migrant workers are given access to permanent residency and the legal means and support to escape abusive employers, no amount of compliance efforts will be sufficient to safeguard migrant workers’ rights.
Instead of ensuring access to permanent residency for all migrant workers coming to Canada, the government has moved in the opposite direction, restricting access to permanent residency for Live-in Caregivers. The government’s decision is a cruel and frustrating one for migrant caregivers, and the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) calls on the government to reverse this decision and extend access to permanent residency on arrival for caregivers coming to Canada.
On this International Migrants Day, the CLC invites all Canadians to contact their elected representatives and ask for justice and fairness for migrant workers.