A new report concludes that all migrant workers should have access to settlement services and permanent residence. The report, “Migrant Workers: Precarious and Unsupported”, released today by Canada’s nine national, regional and provincial umbrellas of organizations serving newcomers, compiles the responses from 167 organizations on the needs and realities of migrant workers, by province and region.
In the first research of its kind, the Canada-wide study on access to services for migrant workers confirms that lack of access to information, language barriers, isolation and precarious status make these workers vulnerable to abuse and exploitation by those who seek to take advantage of their vulnerability, including some employers and recruiters.
“Access to services is fundamental to ensuring that people in Canada are safe from abuse – yet most migrant workers don’t have this access,” said Loly Rico, President of the Canadian Council for Refugees. “Access to permanent status is also key to protecting basic rights.”
The study findings are based on input and feedback from frontline workers in community organizations and from groups that work directly with migrant workers in communities across the country.
“The fact that ‘abuse and violation of rights’ continues to come up as a major concern with respect to migrant workers is deeply troubling” said Debbie Douglas, Executive Director of OCASI, the Ontario umbrella. “It is past time that migrant workers are allowed access to newcomer settlement as well as other services, but that they are also given the opportunity to access permanent residence if they choose.”
“Year after year in settlement organizations we are seeing a growing demand for support and assistance to migrant workers and we again implore the Quebec government to make all migrant workers eligible for settlement support and language training” said Stephan Reichhold, Executive Director of the TCRI.
Lynn Moran of AMSSA of British Columbia stated: “It is important for migrant workers to have access to much-needed, provincially and federally funded support and resources in their community to create a just and equitable society in which everyone benefits from social, economic and cultural inclusion.”
“SAISIA hopes to see migrant workers become eligible to access federally funded settlement services, as a way to adapt and integrate into their new communities. There is also a need to provide migrant workers with a path to permanent residency at the federal level,” said Beulah Gana, Executive Director of the Saskatchewan settlement umbrella.
“Many who arrive as Temporary Foreign Workers aim to make a long-term home in Manitoba. Offering Temporary Foreign Workers access to settlement services will give them a stronger start in Canada, and they will be better supported as members of our communities,” said Laurie Sawatzky, President of MIRSSA.
Milton Ortega of AAISA said “As Canada’s largest recipient of Temporary Foreign Workers, Alberta must ensure that while it receives the economic benefits of migrant worker programs like the TFWP, it also recognizes the workers’ valuable social and cultural contributions.”
The study found that in many regions, community organizations that serve newcomers can only offer very limited services to migrant workers. While important information, much-needed support and resources are present in the community, they are not available to migrant workers, because of limitations on access placed by funders.
The umbrellas have a combined membership of over 550 organizations with approximately 40 years’ experience and expertise in welcoming newcomers, including refugees.
The umbrellas have a combined membership of over 550 organizations with approximately 40 years’ experience and expertise in welcoming newcomers, including refugees. Click here to read the full report