Ontario Federation of Labour

Ontario Federation of Labour

December 17, 2015 12:24 ET

Trudeau and Wynne Must Act Together to End the Exploitation of Migrant Workers

OFL Statement for December 18, 2015 International Migrants Day

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Dec. 17, 2015) - Ontario Federation of Labour -

"For far too long migrant workers have been denied equal rights in Canada. They have been subjected to government raids, recruiter corruption, employer exploitation, poverty wages, squalid conditions, treacherous work, harassment, intimidation, gender discrimination and threats of deportation," said OFL President Chris Buckley. "It is time for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Kathleen Wynne to take urgent action to protect the migrant workers who help drive our economy and create immediate pathways to citizenship."

Canada's shameful treatment of migrant workers made headlines in 2015 when an estimated 70,000 temporary foreign workers, whose contracts expired on April 1, 2015, faced the largest mass deportation order in Canadian history. Tens of thousands of temporary foreign workers and live-in caregivers were forced to "voluntarily" leave, face deportation or hide underground as the result of a cruel clampdown imposed by the Harper government, dubbed the "4-in/4-out" rule, that limits migrant worker contracts to four years and bars them from returning to Canada for the following four years.

This December 18, the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) is recognizing International Migrants Day by calling on the Canadian government to take immediate action to undo years of damage by removing these restrictions on Labour Market Impact Assessments, untying permits so workers have the mobility to leave employers who exploit them and granting permanent immigration status to migrant workers on arrival in Canada. The OFL is calling on Ontario government to set a national example by extending all labour law protections to migrant workers and implementing the OFL's Migrant Workers' Bill of Rights.

"The Ontario government is in the midst of a historic review of labour laws in the province and it is vital that any new reforms be extended to all workers, including migrant workers," said OFL Executive Vice-President Ahmad Gaied. "It is a gross miscarriage of the law when our most basic standards of workers' rights are not afforded to an entire sub-class of workers and migrant labour is being used as a permanent replacement for meaningful immigration reform. If these workers are good enough to work in Canada, they are good enough to stay."

International Migrants Day commemorates the adoption of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families by the United Nations on December 18, 1990. The Convention promotes respect for the human rights of migrant workers and their families, and calls for equality of treatment and working conditions for migrants.

"We are inspired by the compassion and dedication that the Trudeau government has demonstrated towards restoring Canada's international reputation for humanitarianism and we hope that it will also embrace the norms of the UN Convention on the rights of migrant workers and finally make Canada a signatory," said Buckley. "Both Ontario and Canada have an incredible opportunity to promote the labour rights, human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrants, many of whom are working internationally to overcome poverty, social conflict, human rights abuses and other forms of adversity to create a better life for their families."

The OFL is calling on individuals and organizations to sign the petition of the Coalition for Migrant Worker Rights Canada (http://migrantrights.ca/en/take-action/#email) and to participate in events and vigils held across Ontario to celebrate, support and empower migrant workers. In Toronto, migrant workers, advocates and allies are invited to join a candlelight vigil hosted by Justicia for Migrant Workers at the Chinese Railroad Workers Monument at 5:30 p.m. on December 18 (corner of Blue Jays Way and Navy Wharf court).

The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit www.OFL.ca and follow @OFLabour on Facebook and Twitter.

Contact Information

  • Joel Duff
    OFL Communications Director
    416-707-0349 (cell)
    jduff@ofl.ca
    ENG/FRENCH