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Report/Press release

Moratorium on TFWP: Federal Politicians Must Ensure Access to Permanent Status for Workers in Canada

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Montreal – April 30, 2014

MigrantWorkersRights, a Quebec organization that protects temporary foreign workers’ rights and freedoms, today asked Federal members of parliament to adopt an emergency motion allowing immediate access to the permanent residency process for the workers in the food and services sector affected by the moratorium as well as seasonal agricultural workers--in other words all the temporary foreign workers in classes C and D, as opposed to only workers in O, A and B classes.

The moratorium announced by the Conservative government is not an adequate solution to the abuses of the Temporary Foreign Workers program by employers. Rather, it punishes the thousands of migrant workers for abuses perpetrated by their employers and for an archaic system that allows employers to privilege workers whose status of legal servitude renders them incapable of exercising their fundamental rights, minimal standards, and their work contract provisions. Moreover, workers currently awaiting authorization or renewal of their work permit could lose their entire life savings or the possibility of repaying debts contracted to obtain the work permit. Furthermore, workers currently victims of abuse by their employers in the service industry who are looking to change and be sponsored by another employer will be stuck in their abusive situation. Without quick access to permanent status, the moratorium will result in massive deportations in violation of fundamental principles of equality and justice.

To respond to the moratorium, the House of Commons must urgently deal with the questions of, first, access at all times to procedures for requesting legal permanent status for all Canadian workers in ‘unskilled’ jobs. Second, and in the short term given the conditions of captivity currently imposed on migrant workers, the House of Commons must modify the regulations to respect the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by allowing Citizenship and Immigration Canada only to provide open or sectoral work permits in cases of work shortages supported by a LMO. Finally, to automatically provide open work or study permits for all spouses or children of a person admitted to Canada as a TFW. These three conditions are fundamental for ensuring that temporary foreign workers are psychologically and financially able to have their fundamental rights and minimum work standards respected; in other words, so these migrants are no longer unduly prefered by employers over local workers and forced by employers to put downward pressure on local work conditions.

Contact : Eugénie Depatie-Pelletier, Legal and Political Analyst, MigrantWorkersRights, 514-502-9855, eugenie.pelletier@umontreal.ca

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