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NDP Says Conservatives Failing To Protect Migrant Workers

Newton-North Delta MP Jenny Sims grills Immigration Minister Jason Kenney on shocking new report that says migrant workers face systemic exploitation and that federal immigration laws are – in part – to blame.

OTTAWA – A new report issued this week shows the Conservative government’s shocking negligence when it comes to protecting migrant workers in Canada, said NDP Immigration Critic Jinny Sims (Newton – North Delta).

“It says migrant workers are particularly vulnerable to abuse, they have no access to permanent residency and there is little oversight,” said Sims in Question Period. “To make life even more difficult, new government changes mean employers can now pay migrant workers 15% less than the average Canadian worker.”

The report, issued by the Toronto-based Metcalf Foundation, says migrant workers face systemic exploitation and that federal immigration laws are – in part – to blame.

“Why is this government failing to protect migrant workers?” Sims asked Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.

The report echoes the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change’s (MWAC) call for urgent reform of temporary worker programs to address widespread violations.

Authored by lawyer and professor Fay Faraday, the report “Made in Canada: How the Law Constructs Migrant Workers’ Insecurity” argues that the most critical factor driving workers’ precariousness and exploitation is migrant workers’ temporary immigration status.

“This report reaffirms what migrant workers have been speaking out about for years. Temporary work programs force workers, particularly immigrants of color, into extremely vulnerable positions” said Chris Ramsaroop of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change.  “Faraday hits the nail squarely on the head by arguing that migrant workers need immigration status on arrival and access to basic rights and protections.”

The report also makes several recommendations, including stronger legislation to govern worker recruitment like the one introduced by Manitoba’s NDP government and sector- or province-specific work permits that allow migrants freedom to choose employers.

Among the recommendations outlined in the report are:

•             All workers of all skill levels should have access to apply to immigrate and arrive with status

•             Legislation must be extended to ensure all migrant workers have effective protection against recruitment fees

•             Ontario should adopt a proactive system of employer registration and recruiter licensing

•             Workers should be provided with open or sector-specific work permits while a legal dispute about their employment is ongoing

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