B.C. migrant, undocumented staff rally for everlasting residency program

VANCOUVER — Migrant staff and advocates referred to as for a “simply restoration” from the COVID-19 pandemic throughout a digital rally on Saturday.

The pandemic has proven how closely Canada depends on migrant and undocumented staff to carry out important jobs, stated Chit Arma, who chairs the Migrant Employees Centre’s board of administrators in Vancouver.


“The pandemic has additionally uncovered the extent to which these important staff don’t take pleasure in important rights, and the long-standing systemic issues with the short-term overseas work program that places staff in a particularly precarious place,” she stated throughout the video convention.

The rally is a part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Employees Marketing campaign led by the Migrant Employees Centre.

The marketing campaign calls the federal authorities to create a brand new everlasting residency program for all important migrant and undocumented staff, and to permit the employees to use for an openwork allow whereas ready for his or her purposes to course of.


Nobody on the Division of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada may instantly be reached for remark.

On July 31, the federal authorities introduced $58.6 million in funding that it stated would enhance protections for short-term overseas staff and tackle COVID-19 outbreaks on farms.

Of that, $35 million was earmarked to enhance well being and security on farms and in worker residing quarters to stop the unfold of COVID-19. About $7.four million would assist the employees, together with $6 million for direct outreach delivered via migrant assist organizations, the federal government stated.


The federal government additionally stated it was working to develop obligatory necessities to enhance residing circumstances in employer-provided lodging.

In August, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino introduced a brief measure to offer a pathway to everlasting residency for asylum claimants working in health-care throughout the pandemic.


Below the measure, the front-line staff would be capable of apply for everlasting residency in the event that they met sure standards, together with having made a an asylum declare earlier than March 13 and having been issued a piece allow after their declare.

“This strategy acknowledges these with precarious immigration standing who’re filling an pressing want and placing their very own lives in danger to look after others in Canada,” the federal government stated in a information launch.

Natalie Drolet, govt director of the Migrant Employees Centre, stated the measure excludes different front-line staff like grocery retailer clerks, truckers and care staff.


“Whereas this can be a constructive step, it leaves too many migrant staff and undocumented staff behind who’ve additionally been on the entrance strains within the pandemic,” Drolet stated.

Migrants and undocumented staff play key roles as health-care staff, grocery retailer clerks, cleaners, care staff, truckers and agricultural staff, Arma stated.

Greater than 1,300 migrant staff in Ontario alone have been contaminated with COVID-19 she stated. Three have died, together with one undocumented employee, she stated.


Arma got here to Canada in 2005 to work as a caregiver. Her short-term standing in Canada gave her stress and nervousness, she stated.

“I had papers, I had paperwork, and but I had that worry of being eliminated, a worry of talking up as a result of I could be deported,” she stated.

“I can think about how undocumented staff are experiencing even worse due to the dearth of paperwork they’ve.”


Maria Cano arrived to work as a caregiver in 2017 via the short-term overseas employee program. She stated the expertise confirmed how disempowering the expertise may very well be, even earlier than the pandemic struck.

Cano labored for 4 completely different households and moved to 3 completely different cities in her first few years. They anticipated to work lengthy hours with out compensation, she stated.


“After I spoke up, I misplaced my job,” she stated. “That whole course of was very hectic and financially draining.”

She lastly discovered a “good Canadian household” who handled her with respect and sponsored her however stated others shouldn’t hope for a similar luck, they need to be protected with acknowledged rights as an alternative.




“The COVID-19 pandemic makes it harder and hectic for all of the undocumented and migrant staff in Canada,” she stated.

Starting Dec. 15, the B.C. authorities would require employers wishing to excessive overseas staff via federal packages to register with the province.


The federal government stated in a information launch Saturday that the measures would guarantee the employees are paid for the hours they work, have correct job descriptions and guarantee their rights and security are protected on the job.