Tinig Migrante by E. Maestro
When the federal government announced a review of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in May 2016, whatever public upbeat mood it brought soon dissipated. Simply because the voices of the migrant workers were not really there. It would have made good sense for the government to ensure that the migrant workers’ voices from all around the country were heard, wouldn’t it? More than good sense, you may say, it makes for fairness and justice.
But the government ‘s actions betrayed otherwise. The Committee, working from Ottawa, listened and heard from employers’ groups and very little from the migrant workers themselves, or from the migrant workers’ advocates. The Coalition for Migrants Rights Canada reported that the Chair of the Committee reviewing the program, MP Bryan May, told the Calgary Herald that 80-90 % of his meetings were with employer groups.
In the Review meetings, there were 22 employer organizations and seven (Yes, seven) migrant workers that addressed the Review Committee. It would have been eight if one migrant worker from the Caregivers Action Centre, who took the day off so she could speak to the Committee via video conference link from Toronto, was allowed to speak. She waited and waited, only to be bumped down the list and told that the Committee would resume and have her speak but it never happened.
While the Review was in progress, several events to highlight the workers of migrant workers were organized in Charlottetown, PEI, Kelowna and Vancouver in BC, Toronto and Winnipeg. Over 2000 people all across Canada signed a petition on the key demands of migrant workers and groups. These focused on concerns that included doing away with specific work permits and having open work permits, removing restrictions on migrant workers like the “4 years in, 4 years out” rule; removing the LMIA (Labour Market Impact Assessment) fee of $1000 that is often downloaded onto the workers; restoring portable EI benefits; regulating recruiters, ending the caps on the number of migrant workers on worksites; and restoring the caregivers’ guaranteed right to PR status;
The overarching demand is permanent immigration status upon arrival, a demand that makes economic and social sense (and common sense) for every one and contributes to a robust immigration system. If upheld, this is proof that Canada values the work that migrant workers do and that it has called a stop to the use and disposal of migrant workers.
The Review Committee is expected to vote soon, sometime this week of June 13th. There is still time to tweet, email or phone your MP. Better still, make that three MPs from BC who are in the TFWP Review Committee: Members of Parliament Dan Ruimy of Pitt Meadows, Mike Warawa of Langley and Bob Zimmer of Prince George.
For more information, visit the www.migrantrights.ca
Migrante BC and the West Coast Domestic Workers Association are members of this Canada-wide coalition.