In August 2012 we began talking to you about Just Work? A Solidarity Tour in Support of Migrant Workers Rights, and many of you took us up on our invitation to give your money and time to join the movement for migrant workers’ rights in Canada.
Thank you for your solidarity! We are so proud of what we were able to accomplish this fall in collaboration with many activists and organizers in Ontario and Quebec, working on this important issue.
In their 14 day tour, José, Diego and Father Juan Luis visited 9 Canadian cities, held 20 meetings and reached over 500 people with their message.
As the trip was wrapping up, Inter Pares’ own Bill Fairbairn asked our visitors how they thought it went. José said he learned how to do advocacy work in a country like Canada and also felt he was now well practiced at finding different ways to advocate for workers rights, for different kinds of people and communities.
Diego felt that they now knew many of the main actors in the movement for migrant workers rights in the country - connections that they will be able to draw on in the future.
Juan Luis was appreciative that Canadians had contributed time and money towards the tour, knowing that they were investing in a long-term struggle.
Here are some of the key messages we heard and shared throughout the tour:
Immigration policy reform should ensure that workers of all skill levels have a pathway to permanent resident status in Canada; work permits should be sector specific and workers should have the right to a fair appeal process.
As we learned from our allies at the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, changes since The House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration tabled the report Temporary Foreign Workers and Non-Status Workers in May 2009 provided new protection for live in care givers, but more reform is necessary to extend basic rights to all migrant workers.
Governments can reduce migrant workers insecurity through legislation. The lack of political will among governments will continue to compromise migrant workers’ rights.
As Fay Faraday says in her report:
(Migrant workers) have fewer effective legal protections than Canadian workers. They are vulnerable to abuse by recruiters, immigration consultants and employers…they face tremendous barriers to enforcing the rights they do have.
There is need for more oversight of temporary workers programs in sending countries, and Canada. José, Diego and Juan Luis’ visit offered a rare opportunity for people in Canada to become aware of the challenges facing workers not only while they are here in Canada, but before and after their stay.
Groups across Canada are doing great work, offering essential, community based services and advocacy support to migrant workers. Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, Students against Migrant Exploitation, Workers Action Centre, Justicia 4 Migrant Workers, Horizons of Friendship, No One is Illegal, Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA) workers’ support centre, UFCW Canada, Ontario Federation of Labour, Waterloo Region Migrant Workers Interest Group,The International Migration Research Centre (IMRC), New Canadians Centre, Migrante Canada, Canadian Council for Refugees, KAIROS, Windsor Worker’s Action Centre, Immigrant Workers Centre and the Coalition pour l’abolition de la discrimination systémique des travailleurs migrants are but a few of the amazing groups Inter Pares and the delegates got to know throughout the tour.
We look forward to continuing our work together.
If you have questions about Inter Pares and our work in Latin America, feel free to contact Bill Fairbairn at Bilito@interpares.ca.