Migrante Alberta Statement on International Migrants Day
The Pandemic of Migrant Workers’ Exploitation
It is indisputable that temporary foreign workers (TFWs) fill the demand gaps for jobs that are not being filled by Canadians or Canadian residents. It is also unquestionably government neglect to allow their exploitation and then dispose of them as it claims no obligation to provide citizenship or other state benefits under the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP).
The Covid-19 pandemic did not only expose but intensified the already deplorable situation of TFWs.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney did not only blame racial aspect of a South Asian community as a driver for virus, but placed foreign workers in a perilous situation by closing the TFW program in the province. In April, Filipino workers were told not to carpool to Cargill meat plant, turning a blind a eye in their plight and looking at the economic conditions and possible shortcomings or abuses of employers. The fact is, TFWs have a high chance of contracting the disease due to socio-economic inequities, be it in workplaces or in their living arrangements.
The economic effects of the pandemic are also hard felt by the TFWs whose jobs have been affected by measures to control the spread of the disease, such as lock-downs, and whose status are now in limbo. The severity of the impact to the migrant workers may depend on their work permit situation and the requirements for the long-awaited permanent residence application.
Many workers are also held “hostage” in their current jobs, in fear of losing their employment and status. Among them are caregivers who could be working more hours and more than their job description for less wages in order to not disrupt the required 24-month work experience needed for their permanent residence application.
Worse, undocumented workers have further plunged into still greater misery, helpless and ever more vulnerable to the effects of a crisis. Unlike other migrant workers who could still avail of the government’s financial assistance once their jobs have been affected, undocumented migrants are left with no choice but to risk their lives continuing to work under the table to survive daily. The lack of assistance to them disregards their immeasurable contribution to the Canadian society for several years they previously worked until they fell through the cracks of the ever-changing Canadian immigration system.
Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, it has proven time and again the irrefutable value of migrant workers in the survival of not just the Canadian economy but even of each Canadian in his/her everyday life.
In this time of pandemic, everyone has witnessed the undeniable value of migrant worker sector as one of the backbones of the Canadian agricultural industry. The agriculture sector’s productivity and produce price inflation has a high correlation to the presence of migrant workers who toil to harvest, pack and process agricultural products for consumption of the Canadian families.
Despite this stark reality, the government hasn’t announced any drastic and substantial changes to future migrant workers’ hiring and immigration policies, much more to uplift the deplorable situations these migrant workers are currently in. The Canadian government only unveiled what they call their “ambitious” three-year immigration plan that targets to bring skilled workers, family members and refugees into Canada. Yet all the same, migrant workers who will be coming into the country will still be under the label “temporary.”
Several jobs have been hiring TFWs for decades. Yet, the government refuses to recognize that these are permanent jobs that require permanent workers.
Meanwhile sending countries have also failed to support migrants. For Filipino migrant workers, the Philippine consulates in Canada fall short in providing the needed financial assistance for these migrants to survive. Many of them, especially the undocumented migrants need food and other assistance. These migrants continue to be milking cows for governments like the Philippines.
We call on the Philippine government and the Canadian government to defend and protect migrants especially in this time of global pandemic. We call on migrants advocates to strengthen our resolve to fight against racism and discrimination against migrants, to stop the deportation and fight for immediate regularization of undocumented migrants,
We must raise the level of awareness to address the root causes of forced migration and build a movement among host working class peoples
Stop the exploitation of migrant workers
End Forced Migration.(Migrante Alberta)