Open Letter to Premier Legault

Mr. Premier,

In this period of pandemic, we wish to draw your attention to the plight of undocumented people. This is with respect to essential workers who have been ignored and for whom we are demanding:

1. Access to an income for the duration of the pandemic.

2. A health care card with all the benefits provided to citizens.

3. A Quebec Selection Certificate that enables them to apply to the federal government for permanent residency.

Undocumented people are found in many of society's essential service sectors: planting and harvesting of fruits and vegetables, food labelling and wrapping, food preparation, caring for children, seniors and the sick, cleaning restaurants, offices and residences, etc. However, they do their jobs with a marked disadvantage: no documentation. More often than not, that means they must accept an hourly wage of $9-$10, while knowing that as of May 1, the minimum wage is $13.10. Sometimes, they're not paid at all. Further, when there's an accident at work, these workers are excluded from the compensation provided for in the Act respecting industrial accidents and occupational diseases and are also unable avail themselves of health care. Women who are without status are often sexually and psychologically harassed without being able to lodge a complaint with the Labour Standards, Pay Equity and Workplace Health and Safety Board. Like other immigrant and racialized women, they are overrepresented in care and domestic work, which is very physically and psychologically demanding, besides being poorly remunerated despite the great value of the work they do.

Undocumented workers participate in struggles to increase the minimum wage to $15 within the Temporary Agency Workers Association (TAWA), the Migrant Workers Association of Quebec (ATTMQ), and the Coalition Against Precarious Work. The leadership provided by these undocumented workers was a determining factor in the adoption of the new Quebec regulation on placement agencies that better protects agency workers. Despite their professional and social commitment to Quebec society, they do not receive fair compensation. Despite the stress and fear caused by the risk of detention and deportation for strictly administrative reasons, these people have proven themselves to be strong and worthy of staying, working and fighting.

Just like many workers, they have lost their job, however unlike the rest of the population, they have no access to income replacement programs. They now have access to Covid-19 testing but despite the Health Minister's announcement, exorbitant health care fees are not covered in all hospitals. This places the lives of these people at risk, and defies all logic of health care. People without status must have the same rights as the rest of the population! Decisive government intervention is required now so that these undocumented workers can take care of their health, well-being and families.[1]


1. Le Devoir, May 9-10, 2020

(Translated from original French by TML. photo: J4MW)

This article was published in

Volume 50 Number 17 - May 16, 2020

Article Link:
Open Letter to Premier Legault >


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