Canada’s unions applaud pilot project offering greater protection to migrant workers

July 12, 2019

Canada’s unions welcome a new three-year agri-food pilot program which will provide an additional 2,750 permanent residency opportunities for temporary foreign workers engaged in the sector, particularly in the meat industry. The proposed program, announced today by Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, is open to full-time non-seasonal agricultural migrant workers and will help give them a pathway to permanent residency.

“The agri-food pilot is an important first step toward creating good, stable employment from otherwise precarious and insecure jobs. We have fought hard for more permanent immigration to replace the revolving door of vulnerable migrant workers through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program,” said CLC President Hassan Yussuff.

“Low-waged migrant workers have limited opportunities for permanent residency in Canada, which leaves them vulnerable. A pathway to permanent residency will end the insecure nature of their employment and immigration status,” said Yussuff.

Migrant workers are brought in to fill jobs in the agri-food sector when qualified Canadians or permanent residents are not available. Many migrant workers in this sector return year-after-year under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). Currently, the TFWP leaves migrant workers vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous employers and labour recruiters as it ties the worker to one employer. While this pilot program does provide a pathway to permanent residency, protection and supports for workers must be strengthened so that employers who already control workers’ employment prospects don’t also have control over workers’ immigration status.    

“The agri-food sector is a vital part of the Canadian economy and the growth of the sector depends on the tremendous contribution from all agri-food workers, including migrant workers,” said Yussuff.

“Canada’s unions are committed to seeing this pilot succeed. A tripartite approach with unions, employers and government working together is the best way to ensure that this program is successful,” he added.

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