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Migrant workers ask Ottawa for more protections

Migrant workers ask Ottawa for more protections

Demonstrations took place across several provinces

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

International workers from agriculture and other sectors are calling on the federal government to provide them with more support and protections amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Migrant Rights Network, a group dedicated to ensuring justice for migrant workers, organized demonstrations in Montreal, Que., Toronto and Picton, Ont. and Richmond, B.C. on July 4.

The gatherings took place at the constituency offices of federal members of Parliament.

The Toronto demonstration was held in front of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino’s office. About 100 protestors gathered and the photos of three farm workers who passed away from the coronavirus while working on Ontario farms were hung on the office’s front windows.

The Migrant Rights Network and other groups are lobbying the federal government to provide migrant workers with full immigration status.

Without that status, many international workers aren’t eligible for some supports like the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

“The prime minister of Canada must step in and give everybody the same status so that everyone in the country has the same rights,” Syed Hussan, executive director of Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, told CBC outside of Minister Mendicino’s office.

“We don’t give them rights to health care, we don’t give them rights that they deserve,” Karina Reid, an event organizer, said during the demonstration in B.C., Richmond News reported. “It’s not just farm workers, it’s also care workers. Many women come here to take care of Canadian kids, and are fighting for those rights to status as well.”

In July 2019, then Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmen Hussen announced the launch of a three-year Agri-Food Immigration Pilot to help fill labour gaps in the industry and provide permanent residency for ag workers. has reached out to Minister Mendicino and Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau for comment.


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