“When the rights of migrants are denied, the rights of citizens are at risk.”
The Migrant Manifesto, produced by the Immigrant Movement International.
If we take this quote to heart, we should all be very, very worried.
December 18 was identified 12 years ago by the United Nations to recognize and respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of all migrants.
Ban Ki-moon’s message for Migrants Day on the UN website reads:
“As budgets tighten, we are seeing austerity measures that discriminate against migrant workers, xenophobic rhetoric that encourages violence against irregular migrants, and proposed immigration laws that allow the police to profile migrants with impunity.
During economic downturns, it is worth remembering that whole sectors of the economy depend on migrant workers and migrant entrepreneurs help to create jobs.””
Here in Canada, migrant workers’ rights were further eroded this month. As reported by Nicholas Keung in the Toronto Star, the federal government “quietly eliminated the special parental benefits for foreign migrant workers who contribute an estimated $3.4 million annually to Canada’s Employment Insurance system.” Earlier this year, new regulations were introduced to allow migrant workers in Canada to be paid 15% less.
These changes represent a further assault against a community that is already among the most vulnerable in Canada. Moreover, it is paving the way for a two-tiered society, with a growing population of workers being used exclusively for their labour, possessing fewer rights than others.
If you are in Toronto today, December 18, join Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW) from 5:30-6:30pm for a vigil in honour of the International Day of Migrant Workers at the monument dedicated to the Chinese Railroad Workers in Toronto, located at Blue Jays Way / Navy Wharf Court, one street south of Front St., east off of Spadina:
This year’s vigil will highlight the litany of injustices experienced by migrant workers and the numerous forms of resistance that workers have undertaken against conditions under Canada’s migrant worker schemes.
Inter Pares continues to work with counterparts in Canada and abroad, to shed light on the realities facing migrant workers, and to advocate for positive policy reform. Keep in touch with us via our e-newsletter, or make a contribution to our efforts today.