TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 4, 2013) - An international campaign has been launched to support Juan Ariza's application to stay in Canada and rebuild a life that was shattered a year ago when he was recruited to come to Canada as a migrant agriculture worker.
On February 6, 2012, a horrific collision near Hampstead, Ontario killed eleven men, and left three others critically injured. Juan Ariza, 36, was one of those survivors. The Peruvian native had only been in Canada three days when the Hampstead tragedy changed his life forever. Ever since the tragic collision, Juan has been recuperating in a nursing home in London, Ontario but unless his application is granted by the Harper government, Ariza could soon be deported.
Juan Ariza is one of almost 300,000 temporary foreign or migrant workers who are recruited to Canada each year, working under often inhumane conditions, and then sent home when their visas expire.
"Juan would like to build a productive life in Canada for himself and his family, and he should have the right to do so," says Naveen Mehta, the general counsel and director of human rights, equity and diversity for UFCW Canada (United Food and Commercial Workers union). Along with a network of community activists, lawyers, advocates, friends, and labor allies, UFCW Canada has joined in a campaign to support Ariza's application for permanent residency and his Right to Stay in Canada based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
"The Right to Stay (R2S) campaign is about fairness and accountability," says Mehta. "Juan was recruited by Canada to do hard and dangerous work that many others refuse to do. It is unjust and unconscionable for Canada to now dispose of him like some used up commodity because he was injured."
But Juan's application to stay in Canada has so far gone unanswered. To support Juan's request, the Right to Stay campaign has launched a public campaign, as well as a petition calling on Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship & Immigration to do what is right and fair, and allow Juan's request for permanent residency (to find out more about the petition, go to www.ufcw.ca/right2stay or www.change.org/right2stay).
"For the Harper government to deport Juan would result in inhumane hardship for Juan and his family, particularly given his medical condition and the lack of supports available to them in Peru," says the UFCW Canada human rights director. "The supports that he needs are in Canada and with these supports Juan would clearly be able to lead a productive life in Canada."
As well as its solidarity through the Right to Stay campaign, UFCW Canada set up the Migrant Workers Family Support Fund last February to help the survivors and families of the victims of the Hampstead collision. The fund raised over $226,000 from individuals, labour allies and community groups across Canada. One hundred per cent of the fund was distributed in equal shares to all of the 14 families of the deceased and survivors of the Hampstead tragedy.