Justicia for Migrant Workers strongly condemns the proposed regulations introduced by the Federal Conservatives to ‘protect’ temporary foreign workers. These regulations continue the mean spirited approach of persecuting workers rather than addressing the structural mechanisms that deny migrant workers the ability to exert rights.
While the legislation announces its intention to publicize exploitative employers and to deny them access to temporary foreign workers for a period of two years, J4MW believes migrant workers will disproportionately bear the burden for speaking out against injustices and abuses. Migrant workers are punished by the proposed forced disbarment for a period of six years or more from working in Canada after four years of cumulative employment, and the denial of their entry into Canada if their offer of employment is not deemed to be ‘genuine’.
“The Federal Government is playing with semantics through the adoption of superficial reforms. Abuses and exploitation is inherent in the structures of Canada’s temporary foreign worker programs” says Evelyn Encalada Grez, National Organizer for Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW). “The consequences of these regulations will be far reaching in cementing the status of migrant workers in a perpetual cycle of precariousness. The government and members of the opposition political parties have failed these migrant workers and the community groups who have explicitly described the injustices inherent in the TFWP” continues Encalada Grez.
The Minister of Immigration is engaging in double speak when he alleges that these regulations would address human rights violations faced by migrant workers. The irrational logic of these regulations is testament to the impact these policy changes will have in entrenching a permanent workforce that is disposable and discarded when not needed. While workers are barred after four years, employers however are free to continue to bring workers from different source countries. This approach penalizes workers while perpetuating the working and living conditions that enable the exploitation of Foreign Temporary workers.
Without addressing the power imbalances that exist with the continuation of employer-driven programs; the denial of permanent residency for seasonal agricultural workers and ‘low skilled workers’ and the absence of a legislative framework to address the international scope of recruitment agencies, any proposed changes will work against the interests of those whom these regulations purport to protect. Abuses and violations are endemic and systemic across indentured labour schemes such as the temporary foreign worker programs.
Community and labour groups have expressed their opposition to a meaningless consultation process and a Standing Committee whom also chose to ignore the far and wide reaching recommendations put forth by organizations such as Justicia for Migrant Workers. Collectively with our allies J4MW reiterates the vision that migrant workers have set forth. Workers need real protection, including permanent resident status on arrival, equal access to entitlements, a right to full protection under labour legislation, an end to all fees paid by migrant workers and end to deportations.