Montréal – The Canadian Council for Refugees today expressed disappointment with Bill C-57, tabled in Parliament on 16 May by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.
“This bill does nothing to protect the rights of trafficked persons already here in Canada,” said Loly Rico, chair of the CCR’s Anti-Trafficking Committee. “Worse, the bill takes a condescending, moralistic approach, empowering visa officers to decide which women should be kept out of Canada for their own good.”
The CCR is deeply concerned about the exploitation of non-citizens in Canada, and the lack of adequate measures to protect them. The CCR has prepared a proposal to protect trafficked persons, available at http://www.ccrweb.ca/traffickingproposal.html.
The CCR finds Bill C-57 problematic in a number of ways:
- The bill fails to address the root problem of the existence in Canada of jobs that humiliate and degrade workers. Work permits can only be issued by visa officers after the employer’s job offer has been validated by Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC). Why is such work available in Canada if it humiliates and degrades workers?
- Only a handful of work permits have been issued to “exotic dancers” in recent years. Parliamentary time would be better used to address the broader problem of the exploitation of non-citizens in Canada.
- The bill proposes to address the problem of exploitation by excluding people, mostly women, from Canada. It is demeaning for women to have a visa officer decide that they should be kept out of Canada for their own protection.
- The bill fails to address the situation of the most vulnerable of exploited non-citizens: those who have no valid work permit. In fact, closing the door on valid work permits may expose women to greater vulnerability by forcing them underground.
- The government’s focus on “strippers” betrays a moralistic approach. Instead of passing moral judgment, the government should work on ensuring that non-citizens’ rights are protected and that they have the freedom to make informed choices about their own lives.
The Minister’s announcement of Bill C-57 is available at http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/department/media/releases/2007/2007-05-16.asp
Janet Dench, CCR Executive Director, (514) 277-7223 (ext. 2) or cell. (514) 835-2046
Colleen French, CCR Communications and Networking Coordinator, (514) 277-7223 (ext. 1)