Migrant workers asking Liberal government for permanent residency upon arrival

January 25, 2016
Article Source

Nothing short of permanent residency will cure the ills of Canada's exploitative migrant worker programs, an advocacy group representing those workers argued in Ottawa Monday morning.

With 2016 marking 50 years since the federal government started bringing in foreign workers to help the Canadian agriculture sector deal with a labour shortage that's never ended — officially the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) — representatives from Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW) held a press conference on Parliament Hill to draw attention to the failings of it and other labour programs.

And to demand action from the Liberal government.

"Low-wage workers like myself, coming to Canada in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program, the Caregiver Program — are tied to single employers — which means closed work permits," Bahiwal Gregorgina (Gina), a Filipina temporary worker, told reporters.

"This means that we are subject to abuse, exploitation, and separation from our families. I lost my first job because I tried to speak up. I tried to fight for my rights and recruitment fees, I helped other coworkers to speak up and they were threatened (with) deportation."

Alberto Moreno, a Mexican worker who says he was harassed out of his job in a Leamington, Ontario greenhouse after suffering a workplace accident and taking it up with the Ontario Ministry of Labour, spoke about being screamed at and ridiculed during 17-hour work days that didn't include overtime pay.

"You just can't stop it, because you can't change your employer or job. And later you can't go back home, because there are too many things at stake. Your family depends on you, and you just can't let it down. Is that part of what Canada is?"

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