News / Toronto

Advocates call to stop exploitation of newcomer migrant workers

Toronto-based Migrant Workers Alliance for Change offers ideas for Trudeau's new ministers - including open work permits for migrants "stuck" in low-wage jobs.

(From left to right) Tzazna Miranda Leal, Gabriel Allahdua, Evelyn Encalada Grez, members of the Justicia for Migrant Workers, Carlous Burrell, who stars in the film and director Min Sook Lee stand with protest signs after the screening of the documentary, MIGRANT DREAMS, which explores the dark side of the temporary foreign workers program in Canada.

Torstar News Service file

(From left to right) Tzazna Miranda Leal, Gabriel Allahdua, Evelyn Encalada Grez, members of the Justicia for Migrant Workers, Carlous Burrell, who stars in the film and director Min Sook Lee stand with protest signs after the screening of the documentary, MIGRANT DREAMS, which explores the dark side of the temporary foreign workers program in Canada.

A day after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shuffled the ministers in charge of immigration and employment, immigrant rights groups in Toronto – and across Canada – are calling for greater security and mobility for newcomers.

“The vast majority of new immigrants to Canada are actually either undocumented or have temporary status,” said Syed Hussan, member of the Toronto-based Migrant Workers Alliance for Change.

“That puts them in precarious conditions and the ministers need to immediately turn their attention to these issues.”

Hussan’s group has long been calling for migrant workers to be granted permanent residence status, claiming deporting them could adversely affect the country’s economic growth.

Advocates also want to see the introduction of an open work permit for foreign workers waiting for permanent status. Most of these workers are “stuck” in low-wage jobs with one employer, said Hussan.

“We’ve heard numerous reports of abuse and exploitation in workplaces, unpaid overtime work and poor working conditions,” he said. “The administration needs to protect these people, and it’s important that the new ministers reach out to these workers to hear from them directly.”

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