Montreal

Protesters call for legal status for undocumented workers, asylum seekers

The group Solidarity Across Borders says many people without status helped provide essential services during this pandemic and that it's time for their efforts to be recognized.

Many without status did essential jobs during pandemic, says Solidarity Across Borders

Hundreds of Montrealers took to the streets Saturday to call on the government to give legal status to everyone. (Valeria Cori-Manocchio/CBC)

Hundreds of Montrealers took to the streets Saturday afternoon, calling on the government to give full legal status to undocumented workers, international students, temporary workers, and asylum seekers.

The protest was organized by the group Solidarity Across Borders, which says many people without status helped provide essential services during the pandemic and now it's time for their efforts to be recognized.

Hundreds of asylum seekers have been among those working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, working in care institutions and other essential services. 

In May, the Quebec government said it would look into the files of those workers on a case-by-case basis, as a way of saying "thank you."

'We are all essential'

Hector Eloy Rivas Sanchez, a member of Solidarity Across Borders, said Canada needs to offer undocumented or temporary workers a fast-track to legal status. 

"The purpose of today's demonstrations is to demand the government not leave behind our communities — people who work hard in the fields picking up the vegetables that we eat every day and the people who work in construction and so on," said Sanchez.

He says many people without status end up falling through the cracks without access to healthcare and education. 

"We believe that humans have the right to dignity, to be respected, in every corner of the world," he said.

In a statement to CBC News, a spokesperson from the Canadian Ministry of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship said the Trudeau government has "demonstrated how much it values newcomers and Canadians are deeply grateful for the contributions which they've made in recent months."

The CIC said it has introduced "protections ... to ensure workers' safety" but did not address the idea of offering full status to all non-status workers in the country.

With files from Valeria Cori-Mannochio

now