Migrant employees stage multi-city motion for full standing amid COVID-19 dangers

OTTAWA — Migrant employees and different non-permanent residents — lots of whom have been engaged on the entrance strains of the COVID-19 pandemic — took to the streets in cities throughout Canada on Saturday, calling on Ottawa to grant them larger rights and protections.

Non permanent international farm labourers, care employees, worldwide college students and undocumented employees who’ve been working all through the pandemic as “important employees” say they’re being left behind by the Canadian authorities.


“Our individuals are actually ravenous. Persons are dying, not even to develop meals, however to develop flowers and grapes for wine. Home employees are trapped in properties by employers who received’t allow them to out as a result of migrants are seen as carriers of illness,” stated Syed Hussan, govt director of Migrant Employees Alliance for Change.

“COVID-19 has exacerbated an present disaster.”

Many migrant employees have fallen in poor health and can’t entry medical remedy, whereas others haven’t acquired wage top-ups supplied to different important employees.


In the meantime, migrant or undocumented employees and asylum seekers who’ve misplaced employment because of the pandemic are ineligible for emergency earnings helps such because the Canadian Emergency Response Profit, making them much more weak.

All of it stems from their non-permanent standing in Canada.

Canada’s labour legal guidelines, social providers, well being care and training methods provide totally different ranges of entry to non-permanent residents — a actuality that advocates have lengthy decried as intrinsically unjust. The pandemic has now exacerbated these inequities and has positioned migrant employees at important private threat, Hussan stated.


“What we weren’t planning for is absolutely the distress and chaos that will be prompted in a public well being pandemic,” he stated.

Demonstrations organized by the Migrant Rights Community have been held Saturday in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and Halifax in entrance of places of work of members of Parliament, together with the workplace of federal Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino.

Round 100 protesters plastered Mendicino’s Toronto workplace home windows with posters of Juan Lopez Chapparo, Bonifacio Eugenio Romero, and Rogelio Munez Santos — three migrant employees who died from the COVID-19 virus in June whereas engaged on Ontario farms.


Their calls for to Mendicino and to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have been easy: present full immigration standing to all migrants who’re working in Canada.

Alina Przybyl, a member of Migrant College students United, says the struggles migrants face in Canada are broad and range from individual to individual, however that every one migrants in Canada face a two-tier immigration system that favours the rich and privileged.

“I can’t converse for everybody however I believe I can say that everybody (who has migrated to Canada) has a narrative like what we’re listening to right here,” Pryzybyl stated.


Contributors within the Montreal demonstration, which was attended by a number of hundred folks Saturday morning, held indicators that learn, “Standing for all” and “We’re all important,” amongst others.

“It feels very unhappy that individuals who have been offering important providers to our society have been left behind,” stated Elroy Ribas, a migrant employee from Mexico.

“One of many issues that made me really feel very proud about residing in Canada is that folks care. However on this context we haven’t seen that.”


The federal Liberals have stated they’re engaged on a program to grant everlasting residency particularly to asylum-seekers working in well being care in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A lot of their refugee purposes are in limbo resulting from a backlog on the Immigration and Refugee Board and additional delays brought on by the pandemic, that means their standing in Canada stays unsure in the long run.

However Hussan says the federal government ought to decide to regularizing the standing of all non-permanent residents, not only a choose few.


“Everybody will need to have the identical rights, the identical protections. That’s solely potential if everybody has the identical standing,” Hussan stated.

Floriane Payo, an asylum seeker from Cameroon who got here to Canada final yr, joined the rally in Montreal on Saturday to demand standing for herself and others who’ve been working all through the COVID-19 pandemic who usually are not within the health-care sector.

Payo was working in a name centre in Montreal on the peak of the pandemic in March and April, however the firm closed briefly in April, she stated, after a employee examined optimistic for COVID-19.


It might be unfair for the federal government to regularize the standing health-care employees solely, she stated.

“We too are important employees,” stated Payo.