Toronto

Advocates rally in Toronto to call for permanent immigration status for migrant workers

Dozens of people rallied in Toronto's Yonge-Dundas Square on Sunday to demand permanent status for all migrant workers in Canada.

Federal COVID-19 recovery efforts should provide migrant workers with basic rights, speaker says

Dozens of people rallied in Toronto's Yonge-Dundas Square on Sunday to demand permanent status for all migrant workers in Canada. (CBC)

Dozens of people rallied in Toronto's Yonge-Dundas Square on Sunday to demand permanent status for all migrant workers in Canada.

The rally, organized by the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, comes days before the Sept. 23 throne speech, in which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to outline how the federal government will continue to help people and parts of the economy still affected by COVID-19.

The group said it wants federal COVID-19 recovery efforts to include full and permanent immigration status for all.

Similar rallies were expected to take place in Hamilton, St. Catharines, Sudbury, Montreal and St. John's on Sunday.

Syed Hussan, executive director of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, told reporters that the pandemic has made it more difficult for migrant workers in Canada and they do not enjoy essential rights.

"We believe that a fair society is one with equal rights. And equal rights is only possible if all of us have full and permanent immigration status," Hussan said.

"We don't want a society in which some people are treated like second class citizens."

According to the group:

  • At least 1 in 23 people in Canada, or more than 1.6 million people are non-permanent residents. 
  • Migrants are in Canada on various study, work or humanitarian permits, or without documentation at all. 
  • Many migrants are excluded from universal healthcare, access to emergency income supports and decent work. Many are separated from their families. 
  • Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers, refugees, students and undocumented people have lost their lives and livelihoods during the pandemic.
  • Migrants are unable to fully protect themselves during the pandemic because of lack of emergency support, and because speaking out about unsafe work and housing conditions can result in deportation, homelessness, or not being able to return.  
  • The federal government announced a "pathway to permanent residency for some asylum claimants working in the health-care sector during the COVID-19 pandemic" on Aug. 14.

"COVID-19 does not differentiate between people, and neither should the government response," the group says.

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