Ontario Migrant Workers Victimized by Labour Trafficking Speak Out

Migrant workers and their supporters are speaking out about the dire situation these workers face when they are recruited to come to Canada, and putting forward their demands to governments.

Leny Simbre, Migrante Ontario Chairperson stated that her organization has three demands: "First, we seek the implementation of a policy that will mandate all foreign recruitment agencies to obtain a licence from Employment Standards. Second, we demand that all employers wanting to recruit foreign workers in Ontario be registered with Employment Standards. Third, we demand for the Province of Ontario to advocate to the Federal Government to provide Permanent Residency on landing for all migrant workers coming to work in Canada."

At an April 10 press conference in Toronto organized by Migrante Ontario, Ontario-based migrant workers Maila Ceguerra, Lourdes De la Pena, Jesse Veneranda and Marisol Bobadilla, spoke out about their exploitation by recruitment agency Link4Staff Inc. and their former employer Sharon Mushroom Farm, and the case they have filed against the agency and the employer at the Ontario Small Claims Court. They were joined by those fighting for the rights of migrant workers to call on the Ontario government to license recruiters, register employers and hold them jointly financially liable for the fees paid by the workers to come to Canada. They also called on the federal government to ensure these workers receive permanent resident status on arrival.

The four migrant workers have launched a petition to regulate foreign recruitment agencies and employers hiring migrant workers. To read and sign the petition, click here.

Since May 2018, these workers have been speaking out and mounting legal complaints against recruitment agencies and their employers. As a result of their organizing, Lily Miranda, a recruiter for the firm A&L Hammer, and Laxman Marsonia, owner of Sharon Mushroom Farm, were charged by the Canada Border Services Agency with human trafficking and misrepresentation-related offences under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. A year later, the Ontario court ordered A&L Hammer to pay back illegally charged recruiter fees to the migrant workers. The recruiter Miranda has not been convicted.

Migrant workers in Ontario face a particular situation, distinct from other provinces, because of non-enforceable provincial laws and federal temporary immigration programs which favour exploitation and human trafficking. Manitoba, Alberta, Nova Scotia and British Columbia have recruiter registries which are said to create an awareness of migrant worker employers. However, employer specific work permits and temporary immigration streams create worker precarity, limiting workers' ability to assert their rights and allowing for labour super-exploitation.

(Migrante Ontario Press Release, April 8, 2019. Photos: Migrante.)

This article was published in

Volume 49 Number 16 - May 4, 2019

Article Link:
Ontario Migrant Workers Victimized by Labour Trafficking Speak Out


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