Government must Prioritize Migrants’ Rights in Review of Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Media release

For immediate release
30 May 2016

Government must Prioritize Migrants’ Rights in Review of Temporary Foreign Worker Program 

The Canadian Council for Refugees called today on the federal government to prioritize the human rights of migrant workers in the current review of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

“The workers are temporary, but many of the jobs are permanent. The revolving door of low-skilled workers coming to Canada through these programs, with fewer rights and protections than Canadian workers, creates a two-tiered society. I don’t think the Canadian public wants this”, said Canadian Council for Refugees President Loly Rico. “Canada needs to protect migrant workers’ rights. This means providing open work permits so they are not tied to one employer. It also means providing access to permanent residence and moving back to using permanent immigration as a strategy to address labour needs at all skill levels.”

The federal review of the program is happening at an accelerated pace, apparently in response to requests by employers wanting to have more access to these workers. However, abuse and exploitation of migrant workers participating in the TFWP are well-documented. In the view of CCR and many others, this should be the most urgent concern for revisions to the Program.

The Canadian Council for Refugees has made a submission to the parliamentary committee responsible for the review. The CCR’s key recommendations include:

  • Open work permits for Temporary Foreign Workers, permitting labour mobility and decreasing vulnerability
  • Access to permanent residence for Temporary Foreign Workers
  • Access to federally funded newcomer settlement and support services
  • Meaningful legislative protections for migrant workers, coupled with proactive enforcement
  • Revision of Canada’s economic immigration program to include workers filling low-skilled positions
  • Ratification of the UN’s International Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families
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Janet Dench, Executive Director, 514-277-7223 (ext 2),