Media Release: Extend Government Benefits To All Residents



For Immediate Release

March 18, 2020/Toronto


As organizations working with low income people of colour, immigrants, refugees and people with precarious status, we welcome the $82 Billion aid package announced by the Canadian Government to to help Canadians through COVID-19 crisis.

However, as these emergency measures will be delivered primarily though the existing benefits systems such as the Employment Insurance (EI) Benefits and Canada Child Benefits (CCB), people who are already denied EI and CCB because of their immigration status, will continue to be left out of the new stimulus package.

We at Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic (CSALC), Council of Agencies Serving South Asians (CASSA) and South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario (SALCO) typically work with people with precarious immigration status. While many of these individuals pay income tax and contribute into the EI system, they are not eligible to receive any benefits under EI or CCB solely because of their immigration status.

In addition, due to their lack of status, many of these workers work “under the table” in exploitative environments and often find themselves at the mercy of their employer. In times like this, these workers are often the first to let go. For those who still have a job, they may be forced to work in unsafe conditions.

”No worker should be left behind, especially at this time” said Debbie Douglas, Executive Director of OCASI. “We depend on the labour of precarious migrants to keep our lives and the economy running in good times and bad. We must now fulfil our obligations to them as we would for any worker in Canada,” she said.

The Government’s announcement to ease the EI rules to make it more accessible and to enhance CCB is a much welcome first step, and will indeed provide relief for many Canadians.

Our country faces an unprecedented health and economic crisis and Canadians are reaching out to help each other. CSALC, CASSA, OCASI, and SALCO call on the Government of Canada to extend our helping hands to those who are among the most marginalized and are denied basic support for no other reason other than their immigration status. 

To that end, we call on the Government to:

  1. Establish a Special Emergency Fund to provide a living allowance for all workers who do not qualify for EI;
  2. Ensure workers with precarious immigration status can also access the 14 week Emergency Care Benefit;
  3. Amend EI legislation to extend EI benefits to all workers regardless of their immigration status;
  4. Amend the Income Tax Act to remove immigration status as an eligibility requirement for CCB;
  5. Ensure that temporary/migrant workers’ and international students’ immigration status is protected in cases where there is disruption to work and education; and
  6. Put in place through the period of this emergency a general moratorium on removals for all immigration and refugee related matters.

For More Information, contact:

Amy Casipullai, Senior Coordinator Policy and Communication, OCASI: 416.524.4950,
Avvy Go, Clinic Director, Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic: 416.971.9674,
Shalini Konanur, Executive Director, South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario: 416-526-3484,