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PEI chapter demands rights for migrant workers

Council of Canadians activists were at the PEI Action Team for Migrant Workers’ Rights protest in Charlottetown today.

The Council of Canadians PEI chapter called for immediate permanent resident immigration status for Seasonal Agricultural Workers, Caregivers and Temporary Foreign Workers at a protest in front of Province House this afternoon.

CBC reports, “The rally is part of a week of actions to call attention to the federal government’s review of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), and was organized by the PEI Action Team for Migrant Workers’ Rights. …The PEI Action Team includes members of the public as well as representatives of the PEI Food Security Network, the Council of Canadians and the Cooper Institute. Similar events are scheduled in Canadian cities this week by groups calling for ‘a reversal of Harper-era policies; an end to employer-tied work permits, and granting of status on arrival in Canada’.”

On May 11, the federal government began a review of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program.

The Coalition for Migrant Worker Rights Canada (CMWRC) has highlighted, “Migrant workers have largely been excluded from this [review] process. Only four migrant workers have spoken to the Parliamentarians, and one Caregiver leader was turned away on May 18th. CMWRC is calling for a comprehensive multi-Ministry consultation with migrant workers at a time and place they can attend following the current review.” Coalition spokesperson Syed Hussan has previously stated, “We’re not just calling for migrant voices to be central to the review on the TFWP, but for the expansion of human rights, labour rights, social entitlements and most importantly, permanent immigration status for migrant workers as the core guiding principles of such a review.”

In late-March, the Council of Canadians joined with CMWRC and more than 50 organizations in a letter to the federal employment minister that said the planned federal review of the TFWP must be based on the principles of human rights and dignity, lead to comprehensive reforms, and correct historical exclusions faced by migrant workers. The letter highlighted the demand for an end to the discriminatory practice of tying migrant workers to specific employers and to transition towards permanent immigration status upon arrival for all migrant workers.

In addition, the Council of Canadians supports the Leap Manifesto which states, “We demand immigration status and full protection for all workers. Canadians can begin to rebalance the scales of climate justice by welcoming refugees and migrants seeking safety and a better life.”

For more on this issue, please see the Coalition for Migrant Worker Rights Canada website here.