Toronto, March 1, 2016 – OCASI – Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants welcomes the statement to media by Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, that the government plans to reform the federal Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) following a review by the House of Commons Standing Committee.
The number of migrant workers in Canada has increased dramatically over the last few years. In 2008, for the first time, the number of temporary foreign workers in Canada exceeded the total number of permanent residents admitted in the same year. As Canada moved to grow a highly vulnerable, ‘disposable' workforce with few rights and entitlements and little or no access to permanent resident status, we have seen a rise in the number of workers who become ‘out-of-status', and are pushed into more precarious working situations and forced to live in the shadows for fear of reprisals.
While no details are yet available on the proposed reform, OCASI urges the government to undertake a review of the full scope of the TFWP including allowing any migrant worker to access permanent residence and bring family members to Canada. The reform is also an opportunity for Canada to sign and ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.
OCASI member agencies provide services to immigrants and refugees, including migrant workers. The Council has advocated to the government to allow organizations to provide settlement and language training services to migrant workers as well as migrants without immigration status - something they are not currently allowed to do with federally-funded programs.
The review to be undertaken by the House of Commons Standing Committee will give OCASI member agencies the opportunity to provide input, as well as support migrant workers in having their voice heard. OCASI remains strongly committed to the priorities of permanent residence status, family reunification and fair and just working conditions for all migrant workers.