Canadian Council for Refugees
For immediate release
30 April 2013
More Changes needed to Protect Migrant Workers
The Canadian Council for Refugees welcomed some of the changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program announced yesterday by the federal government, notably the withdrawal of the rule allowing migrant workers to be paid 15% less than Canadians.
However, the CCR regrets that the announcement did not address the rights abuses suffered by migrant workers, who are vulnerable to exploitation because of their precarious status.
“There is widespread mistreatment of migrant workers in the low-skilled streams,” said Loly Rico, CCR President. “The Canadian Council for Refugees has deep concerns over the government’s approach to migrant workers as disposable, short-term labour with fewer rights and protections than Canadian workers.”
The number of migrant workers in Canada has increased by 70% in the last five years, as Canada has shifted towards a reliance on migrant labour to fill non-temporary jobs in sectors such as food processing and hospitality.
Factors that make Temporary Foreign Workers particularly vulnerable include closed work permits, lack of information on their rights and recourses, and a lack of monitoring. In some cases, Temporary Foreign Workers have become victims of human trafficking.
Some of the changes announced yesterday could have negative impacts on workers – the CCR will be closely following these. The new power to revoke work permits could result in the deportation of workers through no fault of their own. Without adequate monitoring and enforcement, the new user fee for employers may simply be downloaded to workers (as happens currently in some cases with recruitment fees).
The Canadian Council for Refugees is calling for protection of migrant workers’ rights, access to permanent residence, and access to services, including newcomer settlement services.
Colleen French. Communication and Networking Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org, 514-277-7223, ext. 1, 514-476-3971 (cell)
For more information about migrant workers’ vulnerability to exploitation, abuse and even trafficking in persons, see Used and Abused: Migrant Workers in Canada at: http://ccrweb.ca/sites/ccrweb.ca/files/migrantworkers4pager.pdf