December 18, 2014/Toronto – OCASI is calling on the Government of Canada to mark International Migrants Day 2014 by adopting and ratifying the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.
The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on December 18, 1990 and in 2000 proclaimed 18 December as International Migrants Day.
Migrant workers have been an integral part of Canada's development and prosperity for many decades. The number of migrant workers in this country has grown exponentially in the last several years at a rate that is much higher than the number of migrants allowed to stay as permanent residents.
Many migrant workers in Canada are low-waged, have little or no access to services or rights, and face an uncertain future because they have no access to permanent immigration status. Despite these realities, the governments of Canada and Ontario have failed to act decisively to stop the exploitation, abuses and violation of rights of migrant workers.
On International Migrants Day 2014 OCASI calls on the Government of Canada to
- ratify the international migrant workers Convention;
- create pathways to permanent residency for all migrant workers who want to stay; and
- regularize the status of undocumented migrant workers in Canada.
OCASI calls on the Government of Ontario to:
- protect the employment, and occupational health and safety rights of all migrant workers regardless of status, place of work, or type of occupation;
- allow all migrant workers to organize themselves and bargain collectively; and
- allow all migrant workers access to healthcare, benefits and all other services provided to every Ontarian.
This year, the governments of Canada and Ontario can act to recognize and respect the basic human rights of migrant workers.
- In 2011 the federal government introduced a rule to limit migrant workers in what was then known as the “low-skill pilot project” (now the low-wage stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program) to a maximum of four years of work in Canada. In 2014 the government announced it was reducing the length of time a worker in this stream can work in Canada. Retrieved from: http://www.esdc.gc.ca/eng/jobs/foreign_workers/reform/restrict.shtml
- The first set of the four-year work permits are to expire in April 2015. Many employers have said that they need the workers and want them to stay, and many workers would prefer to stay because they have limited or no opportunities if they return home. If the workers stay they would not have legal immigration status. They will have no access to basic services, will become more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation and will be at risk of deportation.
- In Ontario, the only migrant workers in lower skilled occupations who can access permanent residence are domestic workers in the Live-in Caregiver Program (changed to the ‘Caregiver' Program as of November 30, 2014) – ‘Caring for Children' stream. They can only do so after working for a minimum of 22 months as temporary workers with precarious status, meeting. As a result of recent changes, after November 30 2014 they must also meet higher language requirements and come within the national cap of 2,750 applicants. Retrieved from: http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=898719
- According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, 133,284 migrant workers were present in Ontario as of December 1, 2013 (includes migrant worker in International Mobility Program and Temporary Foreign Worker). Retrieved from:
http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/statistics/facts2013-preliminary/05.asp and http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/statistics/facts2012/temporary/10.asp