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Journal article

"Silence Means Yes Here in Canada": Precarious Migrants, Work and the Law




Sarah Marsden


A growing number of workers in the Canadian labour force have precarious
migration status as participants in authorized temporary work programs, or
have no status at all. This article reports the findings of a study that interviewed
precarious migrants in British Columbia, and employees of agencies which
provided services to them, with a view to assessing the impact of migration
status on their conditions of work and on the practical availability to them of
legal protections set out in provincial legislation on employment standards,
occupational health and safety, and workers' compensation. Data gathered from
the interviews indicate that precarious migration status was associated with
deskilling, decreased job security and mobility, illegally low pay and long hours,
and various health and safety risks. Provincial laws and policies regulating
the workplace do not exclude anyone from protection on the basis of migration
status. However, federal law gives employers a great deal of employer discretion
over the status of temporary foreign workers, aggravating the employer-employee
power imbalance and making those workers fearful of seeking redress
for violations of their rights under provincial law. The author suggests that
local initiatives emphasizing the provision of access to services "without fear"
for workers with precarious migration status, or with no status, can help to
overcome their marginalization and recognize their place in Canadian society.

Journal title

Canadian Labour and Employment Law Journal





Page numbers


File Attachments

Economic sectors

General relevance - all sectors

Content types

Policy analysis and Systemic/state violation of right/freedom

Target groups

Policymakers and Researchers

Geographical focuses

British Columbia and Federal

Spheres of activity