MWSN created this infographic to explain how migrants, including temporary workers, become undocumented and the importance of an Access Without Fear Policy for the City of Winnipeg.
Federal government must act for migrant workers
The Canadian Council for Refugees published today its recommendations for next steps to protect the rights of migrant workers in Canada, in the wake of the parliamentary committee report on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
The Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA) recently concluded a review of the program and released its report on 19 September 2016.
“Now that the committee has tabled its recommendations, the government needs to act quickly to address the abuse of migrant workers in Canada by making fundamental changes, guided by the principle of protection of migrant workers’ rights,” said CCR president Loly Rico.
The CCR is calling for action on the following:
- Open work permits without restrictions
- Access to permanent residence for all migrant workers
- End to the cumulative duration (four-in-four-out) rule
- Access to settlement services
- Family reunification
- Increased and more effective monitoring and enforcement
Earlier this year, the MWSN submitted a written brief to a House of Commons committee regarding the federal government’s review of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
The brief discussed our concerns on the structure of the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program, the precarious position it places migrant workers in, and has a series of recommendations that would help to improve the rights, health, and status of migrant workers across Canada.
You can read our written brief to the review here.
The recent public debate over ketchup sold in Canada – and whether the tomatoes used are grown here as well – garnered several headlines earlier this year. Most of the discussion revolved around where those tomatoes were grown, not who was doing the labour required to harvest them, and this article from Maclean’s pulls back the curtain on the issue:
So began the ketchup wars—with Leamington as ground zero, ripe with national pride. It didn’t quite matter that Heinz, cast as the bad guy, remains a huge part of the community, purchasing loads of tomatoes from its old plant (to be used in juices and other products, though not ketchup). Or that good-guy French’s, a U.S. firm, ships a lot of those Ontario tomatoes to Ohio for ketchup production. In the eyes of many, buying Heinz was suddenly akin to treason.
Min Sook Lee read all those headlines in February and March. A documentary filmmaker, she had been busy chronicling another side of the ketchup frenzy, an angle nobody bothered to mention: the migrant, temporary labourers—thousands of them—who toil in the vast greenhouses and sprawling farmers’ fields of Leamington, picking and packaging the vegetables we eat every day, tomatoes included. “I am keenly aware of how Leamington has been drumming up a lot of nationalist fervour,” Lee says. “I think that myopia has to be interrupted.”
MWSN is proud to support Harvesting Freedom, a campaign from Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW). It includes a call on the Canadian government to finally allow migrant farm workers in Canada to access Permanent Immigration Status. From the campaign’s website:
The Campaign starts in January of the 50th year of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers program and will include a Pilgrimage from Leamington to Ottawa in time for Thanksgiving season on October 2nd and 3rd, 2016. The Pilgrimage will highlight the reliance on farm workers across its route as it crosses Southern Ontario and will culminate with a clear message to the Federal Government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: Justice is 50 years overdue.
The campaign was launched January 25, 2016 in Ottawa with a group of farmworkers hand-delivering Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a giant 50th Anniversary party invitation. The Prime Minister is hereby invited to RSVP and bring justice to the thousands of farmworkers who have put food on Canada’s tables for the last 50 years without any chance to lay roots in the country. Justicia for Migrant Workers and the Harvesting Freedom Campaign will be organizing a series of actions throughout the year to raise awareness and put pressure for the government of Canada to do what’s right.
December 18 was International Migrants Day – the Coalition for Migrant Worker Rights Canada (CMWRC) posted this message in commemoration of the day:
The whole world celebrates International Migrants Day today. 25 years ago, on December 18, 1990, the United Nations General Assembly signed and adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.
Today, exactly 25 years later Canada, an active recruiter of migrant workers, has still not signed this covenant. As of 2013, there were over 176, 613 temporary foreign workers; 284, 050 international mobility program workers, and hundreds of thousands of migrants on other work permits living and working here precariously. On this day, and every day, we call upon the new Federal government to address the core issues that migrant workers face. It is time for Mobility, Voice and Equality for Migrant Workers.
You can read their entire statement here.
If you were at the Osborne Village Canada Day celebrations, you might have seen members of the MWSN – we were distributing a short quiz in conjunction with Migrante Manitoba that managed to get some much-needed media attention on Canada’s unfair immigration system.
From the article:
“People used to come here with nothing and be willing to work very hard and they’d prosper, and their children would get an education and make huge contributions to society,” said Thomas Novak with the Migrant Worker Solidarity Network in Winnipeg.
Members of the group advocating for temporary foreign workers and Migrante Manitoba were in Osborne Village on Canada Day quizzing passersby to see if their ancestors would be allowed into Canada today.
Of the dozens who took the test early in the afternoon, only two had ancestors who would now be eligible, Novak said.
“Today, they can only come as temporary workers. We separate them from their families for two years then send them back….
“If they’re good enough to work here, they’re good enough to live here,” he said.
Want to find out if your ancestor would currently be eligible to immigrate to Canada? You can download and complete the quiz yourself and find out if your ancestor would be eligible to immigrate to Canada using today’s rules.
You can download the quiz here.
Photos from the Canada Challenge
Check out some of our fantastic participants below!
The Canadian Council of Refugees released a series of report cards in May summarizing and evaluating the approaches of the provincial and federal governments on protecting the rights of migrant workers in the “low-skilled” streams of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Province by province, they examine progress in introducing protections and supports for migrant workers.
The entire report can be found here on their website, and the Manitoba-specific section can be found here. Note that the report cards were produced prior to the announcement that the provincial government would expand provincial health-care coverage to include workers in the province through the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program.
The Migrant Worker Solidarity Network is happy to have been able to contribute to the report.
The Migrant Worker Solidarity Network released our report, Migrant Voices: Stories of Seasonal Agricultural Workers in Manitoba, in May of 2013. This report, done in conjunction with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, was successful almost before it was even launched – at the official release, provincial Immigration Minister Christine Melnick announced that the government was going to extend provincial health care benefits to all workers coming to Canada as part of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP).
Needless to say, the Migrant Worker Solidarity Network is very pleased at this development, and applauds the governments support for migrant workers in this province.
The Migrant Worker Solidarity Network and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Manitoba are proud to release Migrant Voices: Stories of Seasonal Agricultural Workers in Manitoba. The report was released today, May 15th, at an event at the Manitoba Legislative building.
Migrant Voices is based on interviews conducted with migrant farm workers in Manitoba during the summer of 2011. About 400 workers come to Manitoba every year, mostly from Mexico, to plant and harvest much of the produce grown in Manitoba.
You can download a copy of the report here.