In the News
Defence of Migrant Workers as Important as Ever
Migrant Workers’ Family Day Action Demands Status for All and Family Reunification
Migrant workers held an action at Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland’s Toronto office on Family Day, February 21, to demand full status and an end to the racist and brutal conditions that separate tens of thousands of migrants and refugees from their loved ones, at a time when in Ontario and other parts of Canada, families are spending time together.
The action organized by Migrant Rights Network (MRN) also included a message sent to all MPs which read: “You love your family, so do we. Families belong together. Speak up for full and permanent immigration status for all. Let us love our loved ones.”
The participants in the action brought with them posters with photographs of some 200 migrant and refugee families from across Canada to show how deeply this separation is felt by migrant workers who have come to Canada from around the world, part of the international working class who are enticed to come to Canada through a campaign of false advertising and end up as cheap and vulnerable labour, shackled as modern slaves to do work essential to Canada’s economy and society.
The action highlighted the experiences of migrant workers such as Celia, who has been coming to Canada for 23 years with long periods of time separated from her children: “As a migrant mother, it is agonizing to be so far away, without being able to touch them, without being able to hug them, without hearing their voices looking for mom, looking for a hug. I had a very sick girl, and sometimes I wanted to fly to see her. It broke my heart not being able to do so.”
Queen, a non-status Caribbean long-term care worker, has been in Canada for over ten years. During this time, she has lost her husband, brother, father and her aunt. She said, “I will never hold them again, share their laughter over a meal or talk about future plans. My last conversation with my dad was via video. I couldn’t hug him, comfort him in any way as he departed this earth. How is this fair?”
Tina Weeska, a migrant care worker who has been waiting for permanent residency since August 2018, says, “I miss my family so much! It is my dream to bring them here to Canada as soon as possible so we can work, study, live together and be settled. But I cannot sponsor my son because he is considered too old. This is the saddest thing for me. This long separation is ridiculous; why does it take so long to process a PR [Permanent Resident] application?”
MRN also points out that tens of thousands of applications for permanent status have been delayed in a backlog. Despite recent announcements made to address this problem, the Trudeau Liberals have taken little action, while more and more migrants are brought to Canada under the demand for temporary workers to fill the “labour shortage” identified by Canadian private interests.
It is unacceptable to continue to abuse workers who are our neighbours, co-workers and friends who deserve status and dignity the moment they arrive in Canada and start contributing to society. Canadian workers and people want an end to the exploitation and abuse of migrant workers, including the inhumane separation from their families. Together we demand — Full status and rights for all the 1.6 million migrant workers and their families in Canada now!
(Workers’ Forum, posted March 1, 2022. Photos: Migrant Rights Network.)