Precarious Status Migrants Should Not Be Left Behind

Signs from caravan organized in support of migrant workers by Justice for Migrant Workers in May 2020.

Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) President Dorota Blumczynska has written a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau to draw attention to the particular situation facing migrant workers in Canada during the pandemic. With or without status, she notes, "migrants in Canada are sometimes in exploitative situations, and are particularly vulnerable to labour violations, gender-based-violence, human rights violations, human trafficking and other types of abuse." Thus, their precarity "is amplified during the pandemic crisis" and they are "in need of urgent support."

In her letter, the CCR's President asks that immediate action be taken in the following areas:


Although the federal government has extended access to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit to migrant residents with a valid Social Insurance Number who earned at least $5,000 in the previous 12 months, she points to the fact that "a number of gaps still remain to address the urgent needs of migrant workers, migrants in trafficking situations, international students, refugee claimants, and other precarious migrants. This, she notes, is "forcing some to work in conditions dangerous to their own and public health, to go 'underground' or to stay in abusive situations in order to make ends meet."


"[I]t is essential that health care be provided to everyone living in Canada, regardless of their immigration status," the letter notes. "We ask all levels of government to provide necessary COVID-related services, including access to testing and necessary treatments in the same manner that all residents of Canada are entitled. Additionally, a person's health status must be kept confidential, particularly in terms of communication with immigration authorities or employers."

Immigration Status

During the pandemic crisis, Blumczynska notes, "the federal government should ensure pathways to permanent residence in Canada are maintained, including pathways for refugee claimants, trafficked persons, migrant workers, and precarious migrants applying on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. No precarious status migrant should fear deportation at this time."

The CCR's president also wants the government to prioritize various existing "short-term remedies to regularize status" and is calling on the government to immediately implement a "clear and standardized application and approval process, taking no longer than ten days," for those "who apply for Victims of Human Trafficking Temporary Resident Permits, Open Work Permits for Vulnerable Workers, Temporary Resident Permits for Victims of Family Violence."

Community Support

The organization's president also wants the federal government to consult with the many community organizations "on the front-line of providing support to migrants at this critical time." The letter stresses, "These organizations should be consulted in the process of developing policy and community level responses to COVID-19. Organizations that support migrants should receive adequate funding to provide the essential outreach, popular education, and case intervention that is necessary at this time." 

"Migrant youth are also particularly affected by the current crisis. Youth-led organizations, and front-line organizations supporting youth, should receive adequate funding to provide outreach, mental health support, and appropriate tools to manage the current crisis."

The CCR president concludes by noting, "Human rights and public health standards must be central to policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic at this time."

(Photos: J4MW)

This article was published in

Volume 50 Number 17 - May 16, 2020

Article Link:
Precarious Status Migrants Should Not Be Left Behind - Dorota Blumczynska, President, Canadian Council for Refugees, May 5, 2020


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