This Canada Day we are participating with Amnesty International Winnipeg, the Canadian Labour Congress, Migrante Manitoba, and Reaching Out Winnipeg to help educate Winnipeggers about what refugees face on their journey to Canada.

Carol Sanders of the Winnipeg Free Press wrote about our Refugee Tent outreach:

Want to feel extra lucky to be a Canadian this Canada Day? Visit the Refugee Tent in Osborne Village on Sunday.

The digital simulation, hosted by non-profit groups, lets visitors experience some of the challenges refugees face on their journey to Canada. Participants put on virtual reality goggles for an interactive experience simulating the global displacement crisis.

The multi-media Refugee Tent was developed for the Canadian Labour Congress to help the public gain a better understanding of why Canada is being asked to welcome desperate people seeking refuge.

CCPA Manitoba recently published “Our City’s Undocumented: A Case for Access Without Fear” by two MWSN members, Karen Hamilton and Krista Johnston. From that Fast Facts:

Reports about refugees walking across the Canada-US border beginning in the spring of 2017 renewed concerns about immigration policy and undocumented migrants in Winnipeg. In fact, the vast majority of migrants to Canada enter legally, through official ports of entry, and with documentation that is presented to and checked by border officials. Although walking across an international border is irregular, those who did so in 2017 were met by RCMP or Canada Border Services Agency officials, and their status as refugee claimants was both verified and documented. In short, these migrants did not enter illegally, their status as refugee claimants is legal, they are documented and their movement in Canada is tracked by border officials. But this does not mean that they have walked into all of the rights and entitlements of full Canadian citizenship. On the contrary: their status is legal but precarious, just as is the case for many of those who enter through Canada’s temporary work, student, and other immigration avenues.

You can find the entire report here.

The Canadian Council for Refugees recently released their new report cards on migrant worker rights in Canada. This project focuses on the approaches taken by provincial and federal governments to address problems with the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. The report cards are intended to identify areas for improvement for provincial and federal governments and to inform those concerned with migrant workers and the public.

From their press release:

“Migrant workers are taking on tough jobs here in Canada, but they are denied basic protections and are too often subject to abuse,” said Claire Roque, CCR President. “We hope these report cards will be a useful tool for decision makers to identify areas for improvement, and to learn about best practices from other jurisdictions.”

This series is an update to the original Migrant Worker Report Cards published in May 2013. Since 2013, some jurisdictions have taken laudable steps to improve protections and access to permanent status for migrant workers, while some have not. The project allows us to measure progress and change.

The report card for Manitoba looks at a number of different areas, detailing some successes and some areas where migrant worker rights could be improved.

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.

From the Canadian Council for Refugees / Conseil canadien pour les réfugiés:

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

For more information, please read their full news release here, or the CCR response to the HUMA report here.

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.”

poster_harvesting_freedom_J4MW_january2016_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.

They are calling for support via a petition and donations; we encourage you to check out their website and support this important campaign.

 

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.

MWSN Immigration Quiz 2014_Page_1Take the quiz!

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!

 

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