Ending immigration raids

Justicia for Migrant Workers  (J4MW) strongly condemns the immigration raid that occurred near Leamington on May 1st, International Workers’ Day. This workplace raid serves to criminalize migrant farm workers and create a chilling effect throughout the community. While details are still emerging about the specifics of the raid, previous workplace raids have predominantly targeted temporary foreign workers and non-status residents of the Windsor Essex community.

This most recent workplace raid should not be seen as an isolated incident but part of a broader immigration strategy undertaken by Canada’s Liberal government to attack working-class migrants and deny them the dignity to work free from state intimidation and harassment.

By enabling employers to use Canada’s immigration laws to divide workers based on immigration status, gender, race, and nationality, the government itself is complicit in creating the conditions that enable employers, recruiters and contractors to exploit migrant workers. By poisoning water through resource extraction, filing the atmosphere with carbon dioxide, and violating Indigenous sovereignty, Canadian business interests are also complicit in creating the conditions that displace communities in the Global South. Canadian foreign policies work in tandem with state immigration policies to create a mobile yet indentured workforce in which migrants have neither the freedom to stay or the freedom the move on their own terms.

While the federal Liberals proclaim the rhetoric of an open, inclusive and tolerant approach to immigration, immigration raids dispel this myth. J4MW strongly denounces immigration raids as an insidious capitalist strategy to divide and rule. We call on all allies to support an end to draconian immigration raids.

Things you can do to take action:

  1. Call or write Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen (phone: 613-995-0777 or  613-954-1064  and 416-656-2526; email: Ahmed.Hussen@parl.gc.ca and minister@cic.gc.ca) and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale (phone: 613-947-1153; 306-585-2202, and 613-991-2924; email: ralph.goodale@parl.gc.ca and Hon.ralph.goodale@canada.ca):
    1. Ask them to take action on the points listed below.
  2. Call, email or text your friends, asking them to join you in demanding an end to workplace raids.
  3. Share a solidarity image with the migrant workers on social media using the hashtags #statusnow and #endtheraids and tag Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.

    1. On Twitter: @AhmedDHussen & @RalphGoodale
    2. On Facebook: @AhmedHussenLib & @ralphgoodale.

Urge them to take immediate steps to ensure:

  • Permanent status on arrival for migrant workers

  • An end to deportations and repatriations

  • Equal access to social entitlements

  • An end to the power that contractors and recruiters exert over migrant workers.

Take action for the international broadcast of Migrant Dreams!

LANDING-PAGE-CROPED

The reality of Canada’s labour apartheid enters the world stage with the international broadcast of Migrant Dreams on Al Jazeera for May 2nd.  Throughout the month of May, Al Jazeera will stream the documentary for free worldwide.

 

The documentary Migrant Dreams tears a rupture in the myth of ‘Canada the Good’.

Migrant Dreams foregrounds the voices of migrant workers who work in farms in Canada through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. The film opens a conversation about the relationship between labour, race, class, gender and settlement — otherwise known as immigration — to Canada viewed through the prism of the Canada’s migrant worker programs.

In the film, workers from Indonesia battle an exploitative recruiter who extorts them for money under the threat of deportation if they don’t pay up.  Other workers struggle with crowded substandard housing, unsafe exposures to pesticides and unsafe conditions.  Workers in Canada’s migrant program are told to pay up, shut up or get out.

Under Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program, thousands of racialized workers are employed under a system of low-wage indentured labour. Their visas are ‘tied’ to an employer, and they are vulnerable to abuse because of the control employers exert over working and living conditions in Canada. Workers deserve freedom from discrimination and exploitation.

Let’s use this international spotlight to pressure the Canadian government to take action on migrant worker justice. Workers in Canada are standing up, fighting back and resisting systemic oppression. Speaking out in the documentary is an act of courage.  We ask you to support these workers – stand in solidarity with their demands for fairness and justice.

Let’s send a strong message that this isn’t simply about one ‘bad apple’ employer abusing the program. The Temporary Foreign Worker Program is rotten to the core. And it’s time the Canadian government addressed the rights of low wage, racialized workers who are treated like disposable commodities.

Phone and/or email your Member of Parliament (find them by postal code), and CC j4mw.on@gmail.com. You can also tweet @JustinTrudeau, @AhmedDHussen and @PattyHajdu.

Ask them to support:

  • Landed status on arrival for all migrant workers;
  • Equal access to all social programs (including Employment Insurance)
  • Ending the unilateral repatriations of migrant workers, and implementing an appeals process so migrant workers aren’t simply deported because an employer says so.
  • Taking steps to end recruitment fees

Here’s a sample letter you can copy & paste into an email:

Dear [MP/Minister/Prime Minister],

Migrant Dreams, a documentary about Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program, just launched its international premiere. I am shocked and angered by the systemic injustice depicted in this crucial documentary. Canada claims to be a global leader on human rights, but Migrant Dreams tells a very different story of what is occurring in Canadian fields, greenhouses and packing plants.

This isn’t a story about a few bad apples: the entire Temporary Foreign Worker Program is rotten to the core. To end these injustices, I urge you and your government to take steps immediately to support the following:

  • Landed status on arrival for all migrant workers;
  • Equal access to all social programs (including Employment Insurance)
  • Ending the unilateral repatriations of migrant workers, and implementing an appeals process so migrant workers aren’t simply deported because an employer says so.
  • Taking steps to end recruitment fees

Sincerely,

[Your name and mailing address, so they know you’re a real person]

Honouring comrades on Workers’ Memorial Day

April 28 marks the Day of Mourning, and workers across the world are taking the time to honour our comrades killed at work.

Migrant workers and their allies join today to demand an end to dangerous, demeaning and dehumanizing work, and an end to unsafe practices that result in injury and death. Justicia for Migrant Workers wants to highlight the particular vulnerabilities faced by migrants employed under temporary foreign worker programs in Canada.

Being tied to an employer and under constant threat of repatriation means that migrant workers are at particular risk of being employed under unsafe conditions. If migrant workers are injured on the job in Canada, they are often treated as disposable, denied access to the health care and workplace compensation to which they’re entitled, and sent home. Despite our consistent calls for changes to our labour laws, there has never been a Coroner’s inquest to investigate the death of a migrant farm worker who died on the job in Canada.

Ontario, for example, has continued to exempt farm workers from protections available to most other workers in the province. Current regulations place workers at the risk of exposure to pesticides and other agro-chemicals, confined spaces, heat stress, and working at dangerous heights.

While we mourn the deaths of our friends, comrades and loved ones, today is a call to action to recognize one workplace death as one death too many. Let’s organize together to build power, to build strength, and to build our resistance against dangerous and deadly working conditions. We owe it to those who have passed, to their loved ones, and to future generations to ensure farm workplaces uphold the highest standards of safety and dignity for all.

Show solidarity with Leon! Seeking donations for an injured migrant worker

Migrant worker Leon Ferguson at a rally in Ottawa as part of J4MW's Harvesting Freedom caravan.

Migrant worker Leon Ferguson at a rally in Ottawa in 2016 as part of J4MW’s Harvesting Freedom caravan.

We are writing with an urgent financial appeal to cover the costs of a MRI for an injured migrant farm worker from Jamaica. We are seeking to raise $1500. All monies donated will be used to cover the costs of the MRI and travel to medical appointments.

Continue reading

Take action: Justice for migrant temple workers

Four workers from India who were working at a temple in Toronto

Indian migrant workers have filed a complaint with the Ontario Ministry of Labour after working at a Toronto temple. Photo: Tamil Workers Network.

Last week, migrant temple workers from India filed a complaint with Ontario’s Ministry of Labour alleging they were owed tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid wages, along with concerns over substandard housing and workplace harassment. Their case echoes the exploitation and indignities courageously raised by many migrant farm workers, adding to a long list of systemic exploitation. Under Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program, thousands of racialized workers are employed under a system of low-wage indentured labour. Their visas are ‘tied’ to an employer, and they are vulnerable to abuse because of the control employers exert over working and living conditions in Canada.
Workers deserve freedom from discrimination and exploitation. Please stand in solidarity with these workers’ demands for fairness and justice. Let’s send a strong message that this isn’t simply about one ‘bad apple’ employer abusing the program. The Temporary Foreign Worker Program is rotten to the core.

TAKE ACTION

Phone and/or email your Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) (find their contact info here). Please CC j4mw.on@gmail.com. Ask them to ensure:
  1. Both occupational health & safety and employment standards are modernized to protect the rights of low-wage migrant workers;
  2. Random spot-checks at work sites and employer-provided accommodations;
  3. Access to provincial health insurance on arrival, stopping the practice of medical repatriations whereby sick and injured migrants are sent home, and ending discriminatory workers compensation practices that deny migrant workers equal access to benefits
Phone and/or email your Member of Parliament (click here to find them by postal code), and CC j4mw.on@gmail.com. You can also tweet @AhmedDHussen and @PattyHajdu. Ask them to support:
  1. Landed status on arrival for all migrant workers;
  2. Equal access to all social programs (including Employment Insurance)
  3. Ending the unilateral repatriations of migrant workers, and implementing an appeals process so migrant workers aren’t simply deported because an employer says so.

Sample letters

Please copy the text below and use PASTE AS TEXT to remove formatting:

Dear MPP,

I was outraged to learn the recent news about exploitative working and living conditions that a group of migrant temple workers endured while working in Toronto. Unfortunately, this fits a wider pattern of exploitation and injustice that migrant activists have been raising for decades. Whether it is in the service sector, construction, agriculture or a host of other industries that employ migrant workers, there are systemic issues that the provincial government must undertake to end the injustices faced by migrant workers.

I respectfully urge you to ensure:

  • Both occupational health & safety and employment standards are modernized to protect the rights of low-wage migrant workers.
  • Random spot-checks at work sites and employer-provided accommodations.
  • Access to provincial health insurance on arrival, stopping the practice of medical repatriations whereby sick and injured  migrants are sent home, and ending discriminatory workers compensation practices that deny migrant workers equal access to benefits.

Sincerely,

[Your name and address, so they know you’re a real person]

Dear MP,

I was outraged to learn the recent news regarding exploitative working and living conditions that a group of migrant temple workers endured while working in Toronto. Unfortunately, this fits a wider pattern of exploitation and injustice that migrant activists have been raising for decades. Whether it is in the service sector, construction, agriculture or a host of other industries that employ migrant workers, there are systemic issues that the federal government must undertake to end the injustices faced by migrant workers.

I respectfully urge you to ensure:
  • Landed status on arrival for all migrant workers;
  • Equal access to all social programs (including Employment Insurance)
  • Ending the unilateral repatriations of migrant workers, and implementing an appeals process so migrant workers aren’t simply deported because an employer
[Your name and address, so they know you’re a real person]

Media coverage

Financial Solidarity Needed for Injured Migrant Worker

Dear Friends,
We are writing to ask for your solidarity and support for an injured migrant worker who desperately needs some assistance to stay in his home.

In 2014, this gentleman seriously injured his back and leg while working on a farm in Ontario. His employer repatriated him to Jamaica with no notice, waking him up at 1 am and giving him 10 minutes to pack his things before sending him on a flight back home. The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) then cut off his compensation, as they do regularly to migrant workers, forcing him to fend for himself.

He has lost so much since his workplace injury. His financial situation prevents him from getting the health care treatment he needs, and he struggles to put food on the table. Now, his landlord is trying to evict him and he needs some financial support in order to fend off the eviction.

The hope is that the WSIB will step up and provide some support, but this will take time. For right now, he needs some help to stay in his home and get him through this tough period.

Justicia for Migrant Workers is making this urgent appeal:

  1. If you can, please DONATE ONLINE at https://harvestingfreedom.org/donations/
  2. Click “special instructions to seller
  3. Write in “support for JT”.

We will be checking the instructions until February 15, 2018. If you would like to make a donation for this worker after this, please email us at j4mw.on@gmail.com so we can watch for it.

In solidarity,

Justicia for Migrant Workers

Justice for Migrant Workers

End Canada’s legal discrimination against people with disabilities

Image of Josarie Danieles and quote from her on what it has been like to spend years away from her daughter.

Josarie Danieles has been separated from her daughter Precious Ann for seven years. Seven painful years of missed birthdays, family holidays, and touching screens rather than hugging her child.

Josarie came to Canada and worked as a Caregiver. She has fulfilled all the requirements, and should have been granted permanent residency. But she is being denied because Immigration Canada believes her daughter would cause an ‘excessive demand’ on the health care system.

Many Caregivers provide highly-skilled support for Canadians with disabilities, and yet they cannot bring their own children with disabilities to join them in Canada. Likewise, Caregivers who become ill or injured on the job in Canada while they are in the qualification period to become permanent residency can be denied permanent residency under the ‘excessive demand’ clause.

A Federal Parliamentary Committee is currently looking into this issue. Add your name right now to an Open Letter from the Coalition for Migrant Worker Rights Canada and urge them to end ableist laws. When you add your name, the letter below will be emailed the appropriate Members of Parliament.

Organizations and individuals can also make written submissions to the committee via email cimm@parl.gc.ca by November 15th. 

Join us at the Niagara Wine Fest 23 Sept and take action

grapeandwinefest

Niagara’s billion-dollar wine and grape industry relies heavily on the skill and sacrifices of migrant workers, who are mainly from the Caribbean and Mexico. Their economic and social impact is far reaching, yet they remain invisible and excluded from today’s celebration.

Since 1966, thousands of migrant workers have been employed in Ontario’s fields and greenhouses. Migrant workers are tied to an employer, are denied labour and social mobility and must return home when their contracts end. Even though they pay into Canada’s social safety net, migrant workers are denied many of the basic entitlements Canadians enjoy. If we peel back the veil, we can see the wealth of local wineries and vineyards occurs on the backs of unfree workers.

When migrant workers are injured or sick they are often sent home, thus downloading healthcare costs to the families of the sick and injured. Many of these workers are no longer able to work after sustaining injuries and sicknesses while working in Canada. Between 2001-11, 787 migrant farm workers were returned to their countries of origin due to illness or injury — 98% of these repatriations were not based on workers’ requests.

Dozens of migrants have died as a result of working conditions on farms. These include the deaths of migrant farm workers such as Ned Livingston Peart, Sheldon McKenzie, Omar Graham and  Ezequiel Cervantes-Nava, all of whom died from preventable workplace accidents. To date, there has never been a coroner’s inquest into the death of a migrant farm worker anywhere in Canada.

Farm workers are not entitled to overtime pay, holiday pay or many other protections under Ontario’s Employment Standard Act. Few protections exist for farm workers from pesticides, chemicals or dangerous working conditions.

TAKE ACTION:

Phone and/or email your Member of Parliament (click here to find them by your postal code), and CC J4mw.on@gmail.com. You can also tweet @AhmedDHussen and @PattyHajdu.
Ask them to support:

  1. Landed status on arrival for all migrant workers;
  2. Equal access to all social programs (including Employment Insurance)
  3. Ending the unilateral repatriations of migrant workers, and implementing an appeals process so migrant workers aren’t simply deported because an employer says so.

Phone and or email your MPP. Ask them to ensure:

  1. Both occupational health & safety and employment standards are modernized to protect the rights of low-wage migrant workers.
  2. Random spot-checks at farm sites and employer-provided accommodations.
  3. Access to provincial health insurance on arrival, stopping the practice of medical repatriations whereby sick and injured  migrants are sent home, and ending discriminatory workers compensation practises that deny migrant workers equal access to benefits.

UPDATE and call-to-action with Kevon Smith:

SMITH-1

Thanks to the 45 people who donated in solidarity with injured migrant worker Kevon Smith over the past three days, the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB) felt intense pressure to re-examine Kevon’s case. They have now allowed full compensation while he waits for his surgery. Kevon is grateful for everyone’s show of solidarity and generosity. The fundraiser is now closed.

But helping injured workers should never be a matter of charity.

Kevon should never have been obligated to make a desperate and public appeal for funds. The WSIB should have done the right thing before this public pressure. Beyond Kevon’s case, the WSIB continues to deny hundreds of injured workers the support they critically need and deserve.

Please email the office of the President of WSIB. Tell him:

  •  Workers are not disposable;
  • The WSIB should ensure they give injured migrant workers like Kevon the choice and the financial means to stay in Ontario for health care for their workplace injuries.

Please send emails to Tom Teahen, President and CEO, via Steve Jackson: Steve_jackson@wsib.on.ca. Please feel free to CC us: j4mw.on@gmail.com.

URGENT call for solidarity with injured apple worker Kevon Smith

SMITH-1

We are calling on supporters of Justice for Migrant Workers to please show solidarity through your material resources through the following Go Fund Me campaign: https://www.gofundme.com/helpforkevon

Kevon Smith, a migrant worker and father of five, suffered serious injuries while working on a apple farm near Simcoe, Ontario.

After his workplace injury, Kevon’s employer attempted to send him back to Trinidad and Tobago. Kevon knew this was not right, resisted and remained in Canada to access health care for his injuries and fight for  workers’ compensation from the WSIB.

Kevon’s doctors told him he will likely need surgery, but WSIB still refuses to provide him the financial support that would enable him to get it.

IAVGO Community Legal Clinic is helping Kevon challenge this unfair decision, but his status as a migrant worker excludes him from accessing other forms of income support programs. This means that at the moment he is far from home, severely injured and virtually penniless.

We are asking if you can provide some financial support as soon as possible to help Kevon with living costs through this crisis. He needs the funds now and will be able to access it within days of your donation.

Kevon is the sole breadwinner for himself and his young family.  This crisis has made them destitute. Your support is greatly appreciated.