MWAC Response to Ontario Immigration Act proposed regulations

MWAC Response to Ontario Immigration Act proposed regulations

Proposed Ontario Immigration Act regulations set out prescribed criteria for categories of individuals who may be eligible to receive a certificate of nomination for permanent residence. These regulation exclude migrant workers in occupations deemed low-skilled from access to Permanent Residency. MWAC believes that the Ontario Immigration Act, and future Canada-Ontario Immigration Act regulations must include access to permanent residency for migrant workers. This step should be taken in parallel to ensuring permanent resident immigration status upon arrival for migrant workers.

Read in full HERE

Migrant worker policy submissions to the Changing Workplace Review

Migrant worker policy submissions to the Changing Workplace Review

Across Ontario migrant worker allies issued recommendations to the Special Advisors of the Changing Workplaces Review calling for swift reforms to the Employment Standards Act and the Ontario Labour Relations Act.

Download and read them here.

  • Submissions from the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change HERE
  • Submissions from Justice for Migrant Workers HERE
  • Submissions from the Caregivers Action Centre HERE
  • Submissions from Fuerza Puwersa HERE
  • Submissions from Toronto Workers Health and Safety Legal Clinic HERE
  • Submissions from Dr. Jenna Hennebry, Dr. Janet McLaughlin and Dr. Kerry Preibisch HERE
  • Submissions from Erinn Burke, Northumberland County HERE

Ontario Immigration Act – Submission to Standing Comittee

Ontario Immigration Act - Submission to Standing Comittee

Submission by Migrant Workers Alliance for Change to Standing Committee on Justice Policy of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario

April 16, 2015

A comprehensive recruiter regulation system in Ontario requires legislation that is designed with a view to ending the practice of migrant workers paying fees to work in Ontario. Specific measures to this end include:

  1. Require compulsory licensing of all recruiters working in Ontario with a financial bond: Currently anyone can recruit migrant workers in Canada or abroad, charge them large fees, and either put them in contact with a Canadian employer or walk away without actually providing the job they promised. To counter the abuses inherent in this system, all recruiters in Ontario must be licensed, the list of licensed recruiters should be easily accessible online to migrant workers around the world, and the licensing should include a financial bond.
  2. Require compulsory registration of all migrant worker employers in Ontario: Employers choose which recruiters they work with, and are often aware of the fees being paid by migrant workers overseas or in Ontario. As such, as effective recruitment regulation process requires knowing which employers hire migrant workers in the province. Currently, Ontario depends on the federal government’s willingness to share information about employers that hire migrant workers. A compulsory and robust employer registration system is required for effective recruiter regulation.
  3. Hold recruiters and employers jointly financially liable for violating labour protections: This practice is already the law in Manitoba and other provinces and ensures that responsibility for violations is not passed to recruiters abroad. Instead, employers should be held accountable for working with appropriate recruiters (who should be licensed in Ontario) to ensure that migrant workers do not face abuse. This practice ensures predictability and certainty for employers, recruiters and migrant workers.

Click HERE to read our full submissions.

Healthcare for Migrant Workers

Healthcare for Migrant Workers

Marites Angana died on December 02, 2014. As a domestic worker, she was excluded from the Occupational Health and Safety Act, which means that she did not have the same rights to refuse work, and no Ministry of Labour investigation will take place in to her death. Marites death is not an anomaly. Migrant workers arrive in Ontario having passed multiple health checks, and many return home sick, and injured, sometimes dead. Just last week, the Toronto Star did an in-depth story on Winston Morrisson who worked in Canada as a Seasonal Agricultural Worker. He was sent home with a leg injury, and lack of adequate health care supports means that he was forced to have his leg amputated.

It is time for such tragedies to end. Its time that migrant workers work in healthy jobs, not in those that make them sick. With that in mind, I am outlining some key issues that migrant workers face in accessing health care, and an initial set of recommendations for legislative and regulatory reform. I have focused on some key asks, but am happy to provide supporting research, documentation and worker information that led to the development of these.

The four three areas in reference to health care are:

  1. Occupational Health and Safety Act
  2. Access to Health Services
  3. Workplace Safety Insurance Board
  4. Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program.

Click HERE to download the MWAC’s letter to the Ontario Premier’s Office.

MWAC Submissions on regulatory proposals to enhance the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and International Mobility Program compliance framework.

MWAC Submissions on regulatory proposals to enhance the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and International Mobility Program compliance framework.

The proposed compliance framework may be able to lead to real implementation steps that ensure the principle of equal protections for migrant workers is met. However, three critical changes are needed to ensure that these regulations do not end up doing the opposite:

1. The compliance mechanisms and sanctions must not in any way punish workers for their employers’ abuse. The regulatory mechanism should include open work permits, and access to permanent residency for migrant workers. Failure to do so would make these regulations extremely punitive for migrant workers.

2. There should be no exceptions to workplaces that are being inspected or sanctioned. All migrant worker employers, that is those who are part of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program, Live-In Caregiver Program and the Temporary Foreign Workers Program, should be equally and comprehensively assessed for abuse.

3. These regulations will result in a convergence, and possible confusion between provincial and federal jurisdictions. MOUs on information sharing, and specific protocols to ensure that migrant workers are able to gain lost wages, or have access to other entitlements under provincial jurisdiction, must be developed.

For our full submissions, click HERE.

Law Commission Urges Action

Today’s launch of the LCO commission report highlights the necessity for the government of Ontario to implement proactive steps to protect the over 60,000 temporary foreign workers in Ontario.The report echoes calls from the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change to ban recruitment and placement fees for all temporary foreign workers. The banning of fees is the first step in regulating the run-away recruiter industry that is exploiting thousands of workers in the province. More recommendations from Metcalf Foundation here.

The commission heard first hand from migrant worked who demand an end to recruitment fees and protection from reprisals. It is imperative that the province takes the necessary steps to protect the provinces most vulnerable workers. We owe it to all the migrant workers who build our communities, put food on our tables and take care of our loved ones.

Made in Canada: New report exposes systemic exploitation of migrant workers through temporary worker programs

A groundbreaking report released today by the Metcalf Foundation highlights how Canadian immigration and labour policies are generating systemic exploitation of migrant workers. The report echoes the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change’s (MWAC) call for urgent reform of temporary worker programs to address widespread violations.

Authored by lawyer and professor Fay Faraday, the report “Made in Canada: How the Law Constructs Migrant Workers’ Insecurity” argues that the most critical factor driving workers’ precariousness and exploitation is migrant workers’ temporary immigration status.

“This report reaffirms what migrant workers have been speaking out about for years. Temporary work programs force workers, particularly immigrants of color, into extremely vulnerable positions” said Chris Ramsaroop of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change.  “Faraday hits the nail squarely on the head by arguing that migrant workers need immigration status on arrival and access to basic rights and protections.”

Among the recommendations outlined in the report are:

  • All workers of all skill levels should have access to apply to immigrate and arrive with status
  • Legislation must be extended to ensure all migrant workers have effective protection against recruitment fees
  • Ontario should adopt a proactive system of employer registration and recruiter licensing
  • Workers should be provided with open or sector-specific work permits while a legal dispute about their employment is ongoing

The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC) is a coalition of grassroots migrant worker organizations, community groups, unions, workers and community members that formed in 2009 with the aim of improving working conditions and protections for live-in caregivers, seasonal agricultural workers and other temporary foreign workers.

Recent media coverage of the report

Abuse of migrant workers ‘endemic’ in Canada, new study says
The Toronto Star, September 17, 2012

Ontario Migrant Workers Face Systemic Exploitation, Metcalf Foundation Study Says
Huffington Post, September 17, 2012

Part Of A System
CBC Radio, Metro Morning, Matt Galloway interviews report author Fay Faraday
September 17, 2012

Migrant workers open to abuse, says new report
Toronto Sun, September 17, 2012

FInd out more about MWAC at http://www.migrantworkersalliance.org/