Ministry of Labour employees charged fees to work

Ministry of Labour employees charged fees to work

MEDIA ADVISORY
March 20, 2013

Media Contact: Syed Hussan, Coordinator, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, 416 453 3632,coordinator@migrantworkersalliance.org

Ministry of Labour employees charged fees to work

Toronto — Pretend recruiters will be outside Ontario’s Ministry of Labour on Friday (March 22nd) charging employees up to 2 years’ salary or CAD$100,000 to go into their own workplace drawing attention to Ontario labour laws that allow migrant workers to be charged fees to work.

WHAT: Wannabe recruiters charging fees from Ontario Ministry of Labour employees
WHEN: 7: 45am. March 22, 2013, three-year anniversary of Employment Protections for Foreign National Act, EPFNA
WHERE: Ministry of Labour, 400 University Avenue
VISUALS: Recruiters in suits and top hats charging fees from Ministry of Labour employees.

“If recruiters can make a quick buck off migrant workers, we can make a quick buck off the people who allow it,” the organizers of the fee-charging drive said in an email call-out earlier this week.”Recruiters aren’t licensed in Ontario, so anyone can do it! What’s even better is that recruiters can’t be held liable for what happens at work, so if their bosses mistreat them, its no skin off our back.”

Though it’s been three years since EPFNA was implemented, Caregivers continue to be charged fees to work. In a survey by Caregivers Action Centre, two-thirds of live-in caregivers arriving after EPFNA was implemented, paid fees averaging $3725. EPFNA does not include protections for agricultural workers or temporary foreign workers.

“By our guessestimation (its pretty hard to get the facts) at least half off Ontario’s 120,000 migrant workers are paying between $3,000 and $10,000 to recruiters or about two years of their annual salary in their home countries. That could be as high as 600 million dollars a year. Imagine how much more money could be made by the rich if we started charging non-migrant workers too. Its an untapped opportunity and we need to take matters in to our own hands,” the email announcement calling for recruiters continued.

The organizers insisted that they weren’t exploiting the Ministry of Labour employees.”With few real ways to get into Canada permanently, migrants are forced to pay recruiters to come to Canada on a temporary basis. To do so, entire families get into debt. Here, they pay in to E.I., and CPP, but face insurmountable barriers into accessing these benefits. Health and safety protections are non-existent. Documents are seized and bosses are often abusive. All of this is allowed by provincial and federal laws. We won’t be treating the Ministry of Labour employees that badly.”

 

Source
www.migrantworkersalliance.org

Creative Action at Ministry of Labour: Make ’em pay to work!

Join us as we charge Ontario Ministry of Labour employees fees to go to work. Strange? Not at all. Migrant workers have to pay thousands of dollars to work in Ontario, and its legal. If recruiters can make a quick buck off migrant workers, we can make a quick buck off the people who allow it. All you need is suit and a tie. Show up bright and early on March 22nd, around 7:30 or so in the morning.

Please fill out this form so we can send you all the details (its the shortest job application you’ll ever do): http://bit.ly/FeesfromMoL

Still unsure? Don’t worry. Recruiters aren’t licensed in Ontario, so anyone can do it! What’s even better is that recruiters can’t be held liable for what happens at work. So if these Ministry of Labour employees boss turns on them, its no skin off your back.

By our guessestimation (its pretty hard to get the facts) at least half off Ontario’s 120,000 migrant workers are paying between $3,000 and $10,000 to unscrupulous recruiters*. That’s could be as high as 1.2 billion dollars a year. Imagine how much more money could be made by the rich if we started charging the non-migrant workers too. Its an untapped opportunity and we need to take matters in to our own hands.

With few real ways to get into Canada permanently, migrants are forced to pay recruiters to come to Canada on a temporary basis. To do so, entire families get into debt. Here. they pay in to E.I., and CPP, but face insurmountable barriers . Health and safety protections are non-existent. Documents are seized and bosses are often abusive. All of this is allowed by provincial and federal laws. We won’t be treating the Ministry of Labour employees that badly.

** This is the first of many actions, if you can’t make it to this one, please sign up at http://eepurl.com/vFCG1 to hear about future ones**

March 22nd is the three-year anniversary of the passing of the Employment Protections for Foreign National Act (Live-In Caregivers & Others) aka EPFNA. EPFNA banned recruiters fees and seizure of documents from live-in caregivers but left out seasonal agricultural workers, and those in the temporary foreign worker low skilled program. Not only that, EPFNA has not been fully implemented to adequately support live-in caregivers and requires key amendments to ensure that it actually works.

* Two-thirds of caregivers in a survey by Caregivers Action Centre who arrived after EPFNA was enforced paid fees, averaging $3275. Filipino workers that MWAC organizations come in to contact with report paying a base fees of $5,000 while Thai workers report paying a base fees of $10,000.

www.migrantworkersalliance.org | www.facebook.com/MigrantWorkersAlliance | coordinator@migrantworkersalliance.org

Letter to Ministry of Labour

Letter to Ministry of Labour

This is our letter to Yasir Naqvi requesting overhaul of Ontario’s recruiter laws.

MoL_ActiononEPFNA_Feb2013 (1)

What is this about?

Members of our organization have documented numerous cases of migrant workers employed through other Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP) who are also being forced to pay substantial fees and have reported that their passports and other property was seized by recruiters or employers. These abuses increase the precarious status these workers already face while working in Canada and place barriers for workers to speak up about Employment Standards and other labour rights violations.

Ontario should adopt a proactive system of employer registration, recruiter licensing (including the mandatory provision of an irrevocable letter of credit or deposit), mandatory filing of information about  recruitment and employment contracts, and proactive government inspection and investigation in line with the best practices adopted under Manitoba’s Worker Recruitment and Protection Act and Regulations.

The limitation period for filing complaints about improper recruitment fees should be extended to reflect the current four-year period which live-in caregivers have to complete their qualifying work to apply for permanent residence.

Worker Exploitation Is Not Just a Chinese Problem

First published on the Huffington Post on November 2nd, 2012

Stuck as we are in the midst of a U.S. Presidential campaign that has consistently framed China as the “boogey man,” the homogenizing outrage against the Canada-China Investment Agreement focused, it is as if China- and Chinese-bashing is all the rage right now.

If you’ve been following all the flare-up in British Columbia in the last few weeks about migrant workers from China coming to work in B.C.’s coal mines you’d think that migrant workers being charged recruitment fees is something that’s never been done before.

Even the B.C. Federation of Labour listed Chinese migrant workers being charged recruitment feesup to C$ 12,500 as the number one reason to suspend temporary work permits for the B.C. coal mine.

Fact of the matter is that charging recruitment fees is not just a “Chinese” problem; it is a home grown Canadian one.

Fay Faraday wrote recently:

“As labour migration has increased, private recruiters have emerged to facilitate the flow of workers from one country to another. Exploitation in this relationship is able to flourish precisely because of the structural and income inequalities addressed above (i.e. the actual migrant worker laws themselves that deny people immigration status) and migrant workers’ location in that power imbalance.”

Here, in Ontario, member organizations of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC) like Justicia for Migrant Workers, United Food and Commercial Workers Union and the Caregivers Action Centre have repeatedly highlighted stories of migrant workers being charged enormous sums of money yet too little has been done by the provincial labour ministry.

We’ve heard of “Angela” who was charged $5,000, or the 19 workers in Windsor who typically paid between $9,000 to $ 12,000 or the workers in Regina who paid over $5,000 dollars to recruiters. These are just some of the stories that made the mainstream press — countless others never will.

In Ontario, charging recruitment fees from migrant workers is legal unless it is investigated as human trafficking which it rarely is. This needs to change.

In March of 2010, MWAC groups managed to get the Ontario Ministry of Labour to pass the Employment Protection for Foreign National Act (EPFNA). Unfortunately, the bill only covered migrant workers coming in as live-in caregivers, leaving out many other workers coming in on other programs who were also being charged recruitment fees. Many of the provisions of the bill, such as an anonymous enforcement line aren’t active. Since then, migrant workers and their allies have called on Ontario repeatedly to act to amend the EPFNA to ensure real protections for workers.

One model to consider is the Manitoba’s Worker Recruitment and Protection Act (“WRAPA”). WRAPA provides greater protection because it applies to all migrant workers, puts the onus on employers and recruiters to be accountable at the front end, and involves both federal and provincial governments in proactive oversight and enforcement. No employer can recruit a foreign worker without registering with the Ministry of Labour which includes details of the duties, location and time period of the migrant worker’s employment.

In contrast, Ontario’s recruitment protection requires no monitoring by the Ministry and no licensing of recruiters, or registration of employers. It is difficult for the Ministry to enforce the law when they have no idea where recruiters are operating, or where migrant workers are working.

As Canada shifts towards a permanent system of temporary immigration, it’s become critical to change provincial laws so that they protect migrant workers rather than employers and recruiters. The answer is not to shut down temporary work programs as some argue, it is to ensure full immigration status on landing for migrant workers. And alongside this struggle at the Federal level, we need to ensure that provincial and municipal laws and policies change so that migrant workers get access to full protections and services.

Follow Syed Hussan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/hussansk