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Uprooting migrants is bad for workers and economy
Originally published at CNW
Migrant workers and advocates across Canada have formed a joint campaign to urge the Federal government and opposition parties to change course on the Temporary Foreign Workers Program and the so-called “4 and 4 rule”, and to give permanent resident status to workers in the country. Over 3,000 people have also signed a petition calling for permanent immigration status on landing for low-waged migrant workers.
“Many of the people who are being forcibly uprooted on April 1st have lived in the country for longer than 4 years. They have families, friends, and relationships,” says Liza Draman from the Caregivers Action Centre. “Workers already face abuse from employers and recruiters because of bad provincial and federal laws, Pulling them away from their communities on top of that is unjust, inhumane and arbitrary.”
Approximately 70,000 low-waged workers in the Temporary Foreign Workers Program and Live-In Caregiver program are impacted by the 4 and 4 regulations, which bars the renewal of work permits past four years. The clock on the first 4 years started on April 01, 2011, but many workers have been in Canada for years prior to that.
“These laws aren’t good for workers or employers,” says Syed Hussan of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change. “It doesn’t serve anyone’s purpose to remove a trained workforce, and replace it with new workers that are less aware of their rights. Why does holding down a job for four years result in deportation? Our communities need migrant workers to have permanent status. This mass deportation is classic economic mismanagement and is frankly irrational.”
People working low-wage jobs in service, retail, caregiving, manufacturing and agriculture among others are not able to immigrate to Canada permanently under existing federal law. At the same time, the Parliamentary Budget Officer recently noted that the number of Canadian citizens in “low-skilled” jobs has dropped by 26% between 2002 and 2013, highlighting the need for permanents immigrants in these sectors.
“These changes are part of a smoke-and-mirrors campaign by the Tories to distract from their dismal economic record and the massive rates of unemployment in the country,” adds Marco Luciano with Migrante Alberta. “We need full immigration status for migrant workers, and a jobs and social entitlements strategy for everyone. Instead, the Conservatives are fear-mongering and just blaming migrants.”
“No matter what happens on April 1st, we support migrant workers that may make the difficult decision to stay in Canada without status,” adds Caitlin Craven of Sanctuary City Hamilton. “Many cities across Canada are passing Sanctuary City policies and many of us are urging the province to do the same to ensure that undocumented people have basic rights. The tide is turning on Harper’s anti-immigrant agenda. ”
The Campaign Against the 4 Year Limit on Migrant Workers is made up of 19 organizations across Canada, and demands have been endorsed by nearly a dozen major national groups.
- Toronto: Collective planting of seedlings to insist that migrant workers are rooted in our communities. March 29th, 2pmat Citizenship and Immigration Canada Toronto headquarters, 55 St. Clair East.
- Edmonton: Press Conference, March 31, 1pm. For location, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Guelph: Picket and information sharing. March 29th, 9am, Guelph Farmers Market, 2 Gordon Street.
- Hamilton: Rally. April 1, 4pm, Federal Building, 55 Bay Street North
- Montreal: Press Conference. March 28th. 5:30pm. 4755 Van Horne, Bureau 110.
- Peterborough: Rally. March 29, 12:30pm, Peterborough City Hall, 500 George Street North.
- St. Catharines/Niagara: Rally. March 30, 12pm, MP Rick Dykstra’s Office. 61 Geneva Street.
For further information: National Media Contact: Syed Hussan, Cell: 416 453 3632, Email: email@example.com; Media Contacts across Canada: Edmonton, Alberta (Migrante AB): firstname.lastname@example.org; 780-966-5908; Guelph: Fuerza Puwersa email: email@example.com or Mobile: 519-328-8835; Hamilton: Hamilton Sanctuary City Coalition: firstname.lastname@example.org; Montreal: Immigrant Workers Centre, Joey Calugay, 1 514 342-2111; Peterborough: Emma Warner Chee, 778-967-1740; Okanagan Valley, BC (RAMA): E-mail: email@example.com or Mobile: 250-212-4740