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Migrant workers testify on Parliament Hill today, call for permanent immigration status, open work permits, and real reforms

May 16, 2016

Ottawa, May 16, 2016 - Four migrant workers will testify at the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA) today between 4:30pm and 6:30pm calling for permanent immigration status, open work permits and comprehensive reforms. Migrant worker leaders from across Canada are joining them to call for permanent immigration status on landing. The Coalition for Migrant Worker Rights Canada which is helping to coordinate these testimonies continues to insist that more needs to be done to ensure migrant worker participation in laws that primarily affect their lives. The hearing can be watched - audio only - as of 3:30pm.

Gina Bahiwal, has been a Temporary Foreign Worker in Ontario and BC since 2008 and has worked at a warehouse, Holiday Inn and Mcdonalds. She will testify to HUMA today.

“I think migrant workers should all get permanent status upon arrival because we came here to Canada to work, and our work is skilled work. If you come to Canada and your work is called high-skilled, you get permanent immigration status, why don't we? In addition, those workers who are being abused on closed work permits, can’t find another job because their work permit is tied to a job. Many workers, vulnerable workers, who worked in Canada for four years are being told to go home, but they have no life to go back to.”

Gabriel Alahuda is a Seasonal Agricultural Worker in Ontario. He will testify to HUMA today.

“A migrant farmworker, named Sheldon McKenzie, died in 2005 in a work related accident - a fact that is news across Canada today. What safety net is available for the young family he've left behind after 13 years of service on the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program? These questions must be answered. Migrant workers spend years working in a developed country like Canada, where we consistently make our contributions, like all working citizens, only to be denied the benefits which only citizens can access and enjoy. We need rights, we need permanent residency and need it now.”

Francisco Mootoo a temporary foreign worker from Mauritius. He arrived in Quebec in 2012. He will testify to HUMA this week.

"We were lucky, but we had to fight for our right to stay, knowing full well that we have done everything required of us as working people contributing to Canada's economy here in Quebec. These immigration policies have to change for the better, reflecting a program that does not seek to exploit the desperation of hardworking people who merely wish to make this country their home. In that light, we fully support the demands of the Coalition for Migrant Worker Rights Canada and hope that the HUMA committee seriously listens to our collective voice when reviewing the TFWP."

Ericson Santos De Leon, Caregiver from Montreal, Quebec who will testify to the committee
“My agency charged me $4,300 placement fee. They said that I had to pay such a high fee because it was harder to place male caregivers. When I got here, I found out that the agency that hired me paid a friend to pretend to be my employer for my papers. For three months, I was stranded. After three months, I was getting desperate so I went to the agency and asked, what was going on? I’ve been waiting for so long. They made me work under the table for a family for a year. After a year, I told them I would report them to the authorities. I said, “you’ve been abusing me. I have a family to support.” They got scared and finally fixed my papers so I was legally employed. What they did was very wrong. They took advantage of me because they know that I wanted to come to Canada."

Hessed Torres, Temporary Foreign Worker from Vancouver, British Columbia
"As a live-in caregiver, I experienced working between 12-16 hours a days despite my contract stating that I would work 8 hours a day. I also worked beyond the job duties that were stated in my contract. I felt that I needed to stay with my employer despite my working conditions being unjust because I didn't have mobility to work for a different employer that would treat me fairly. When I asserted my rights, I was terminated. I was left jobless and homeless. I'm very fortunate to be part of MIGRANTE BC because they gave me shelter, a home, a community, and helped to empower me to assert my rights and to talk about my experience as a migrant worker."

Dhon Mojica, Migrant Worker from Alberta
“Temporary foreign workers like myself are people, we are workers were not rags that can be thrown away when you don’t need us anymore, We were invited to come and many made money off us, we deserve the right to stay in Canada.”

Coalition for Migrant Worker Rights Canada

Please see:


Coalition for Migrant Worker Rights Canada
Syed Hussan
Migrant Workers Alliance for Change

Chris Ramsaroop
Justicia for Migrant Workers / Harvesting Freedom Campaign

Pour le francais/Quebec:
Lucio Castracani
Centre des travailleurs et travailleuses immigrant-e-s, (514) 885-4014

Marco Luciano
Migrante Canada

British Columbia
Natalie Drolet
West Coast Domestic Workers Association ““ 1-604-669-6452

Atlantic Canada
Josie Baker
Cooper Institute

Diwa Marcelino
Migrante Canada

For more information contact:
Chris Ramsaroop
Justicia for Migrant Workers / Harvesting Freedom Campaign
Phone: 1-647-834-4932

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