Workers coming into Canada with temporary immigration status are forced into low quality jobs, without income security or full social benefits. Many have been placed in vulnerable, unsustainable and health-threatening environments. Current legislation undermines migrant workers ability to defend themselves and makes it difficult for migrants to assert their rights. It's time for change.
The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) is joining with a cross-Canada network of groups including Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, Migrante Canada, and L’association des travailleurs et travailleuse étrangère (ATTET) who support caregivers, temporary foreign workers, seasonal agricultural workers and others on work permits.
The CLC represents 3.3 million workers throughout this country. We recognize that many affiliates witness unfair treatment against migrant workers, and how immigration and labour law pits migrant and non-migrant workers against each other.
That's why we are committing to working with migrant worker groups to improve the lives of all workers, through education, awareness, policy change, collective actions and solutions that ensures decent working conditions for all workers.
Together, we are demanding full immigration status on arrival.
Much of our food in Canada is grown, harvested, and packaged by migrant agricultural workers from the Global South. Like other low-wage migrant workers, agricultural workers are tied to their employers. Most of them are unable to change jobs and cannot say no to tasks even when their health is at risk.
Migrant workers are often housed in substandard conditions, and have very limited access to health services. A workplace injury or illness often leads to a one way ticket home. If a migrant worker is injured or becomes ill in Canada, they should be treated in Canada. All workers, including migrant workers, should have equal access to health care and workers’ compensation.
Many migrant workers in the Live-in Caregiver Program take care of elderly Canadians, but they themselves have little access to employment or retirement security. Migrant workers pay into the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS), but can’t fully access them. It’s time to expand the CPP and OAS to ensure that all migrant workers get fair income security in old age.
Knowing that your children are well cared for is essential for peace of mind. A lot of the women taking care of our children are migrant caregivers, but are separated from their own families for years. So, even as migrant workers build our communities they endure the stress of separation from their own families. Most low-wage migrant workers can never bring their families to join them.
A better child care strategy includes a national child care program and permanent residency on arrival for all migrant workers. Migrant workers must be able to reunite with their families.
Migrant workers did not cause Canada’s economic crisis. Government policies and corporate influence have crafted a labour market where many of us face the choice between unemployment or precarious work. As a result, 1.3 million people in Canada are unemployed, while there are less than 200,000 migrant workers in low-wage jobs. Instead of trying to get rid of migrant workers, which would still mean 1.1 million unemployed Canadian citizens, we need to hold the government and corporations accountable.
Let’s not be fooled by misconceptions about migrant workers. All workers need to work together to demand dignified jobs for all and an EI program that protects migrants and Canadian citizens alike. Everyone deserves decent work and full immigration status.
Solidarity with migrant workers
Migrant workers are our friends and neighbours working in Canada without permanent resident immigration status. They pay thousands of dollars in fees to work in precarious jobs in Canada. These workers are racialized and often women who face greater abuses with fewer rights. Dangerous and exploitative work for migrant workers impacts us all. Migrant workers deserve immigration status upon arrival to ensure equal protections in the workplace and in the community. Canadian citizens and migrant workers are stronger when we work together.