International Migrants Day 2018 - OCASI Statement



December 18, 2018 / Toronto – Today, on International Migrants Day, OCASI – Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants celebrates the struggles, accomplishments and contributions of the thousands of migrant workers and migrants in Canada.

We remind ourselves that all migrants have basic rights in Canada, and these rights must be respected and all migrants treated with dignity.

Canada has depended on the labour of migrants to build and sustain the economy and standard of living. The immigration program is primarily based on selecting immigrants to fulfill economic needs, but over the last decade Canada has relied more on temporary rather than permanent immigration to fill labour needs. Migrant workers are vulnerable to systemic abuse and exploitation by employers and recruiters. Women migrants are among the most vulnerable, at work and at home.

“We are delighted that Canada is looking to increase pathways to permanent residence. Such pathways should benefit migrants and their families. We look forward to working with the government on moving forward on this proposal” said Debbie Douglas, Executive Director of OCASI.

OCASI calls on the government of Canada to allow permanent residence for all migrant workers who want to stay, and regularize the status of undocumented migrants in Canada. We hope that new pathways will also allow more inclusive and fast family reunification for migrants in Canada.

Permanent residence would go a long way to improving migrants’ access to basic human rights, and the basic employment and labour protections that all workers have.

OCASI is pleased that the government seeking to expand the British Columbia Open Work permit pilot program for migrant workers experiencing abuse or are at the risk of abuse, to migrant workers across Canada. This is an important start to ensure the safety and security of migrant workers, leading ideally to an economic immigration program that is open to workers at all skill levels and in all sectors and will let workers arrive with permanent resident status.

OCASI also:

Despite more than a century of migration, the arrival of thousands of migrants over that period, and the widely acknowledged benefits of migration to Canada, there is a growing anti-migrant sentiment characterized by xenophobia, racism and anti-Muslim bigotry.

We call on political leaders, civil society, opinion-makers and media to speak out against anti-migrant racism and bigotry and stop the spread of harmful stereotypes and hateful messages. An attack on migrants is an attack on us all.

On this International Migrants Day let us work together to ensure dignity and justice for all migrants.

Related Links:

Health Care for Migrants – Open Letter

Migrant Rights Network