The Communist Party of Canada joins the call on the federal government to immediately extend permanent resident status to all non-status and temporary status workers in Canada. On September 18th, demonstrations across Canada will call on the Trudeau government to include all undocumented migrants in their previously announced, although undefined, immigration regularization program. Only through providing status to all can basic workers’ rights truly apply to all workers, raising the floor on wages and living and working conditions for all.
There are half a million undocumented workers in Canada. Because of their lack of status, they are extremely precarious and vulnerable to some of the most exploitative working conditions. In addition to non-status workers, there are 1.2 million workers currently without full permanent resident status, and therefore without full workers’ rights. These residents are on work, study or refugee claimant permits, many of whom also work precarious jobs and who may become undocumented when their current permits expire or their refugee claim is rejected. That’s 1.7 million people residing and working in Canada who do not have full access to the same rights as the rest of Canada’s residents.
While the Liberal government seeks to present an image that is friendly to newcomers, the truth is that they have continued to preside over an immigration system which is increasingly geared towards providing cheap, precarious labour to particular sectors of the economy. The current immigration regime based on economic class and family sponsorships often shuts out working-class immigrants from around the world and who are then forced into precarious situations through temporary permits without access to health care and social programs.
From the year 2000 to 2018, the number of foreign temporary workers increased by 550 per cent. It is now the case that the majority of newcomers only have temporary status, many of whom end up losing status and becoming undocumented because of various issues with work and study permits or having their refugee claims denied. The system is set up for maximum exploitation through xenophobic and racist divisions in the labour market where growing numbers of non-status and temporary status workers have no or less rights, which depresses working conditions across the board. Temporary worker programs must be scrapped and replaced by an immigration system which has a clear path to citizenship for all workers. Canada must allow all workers to join unions, be covered by employment standards legislation and have access to healthcare, education and social services. These are fundamental human rights.
A significant number of undocumented migrants are previously refugee claimants who have had their asylum claims denied. Contrary to the curated image of the current federal government and the xenophobic propaganda of the ultra-right, Canada does not rank in the top 50 countries when it comes to accepting refugees. The federal government itself has been guilty in contributing to instability, death and political persecution around the world as a result of their participation in wars, coups, and other imperialist interventions. The Canadian backed coups in Haiti, Ukraine and Honduras and the Canadian bombing of Syria and Libya are all prime examples. The Canadian government has a moral responsibility to welcome refugees, many of whom are fleeing lethal situations that the government itself helped to create.
While the Trudeau government has said that it is committed to a program providing a path to permanent residency for many, there are indications that the government will only include people in particular sectors, potentially leaving the majority of 1.7 million without full status without rights. Big business is fighting to make sure the program is narrow and only covers workforces where regularization would benefit the bosses through access to more labour. Business wants to maintain temporary immigration statuses in Canada in order to ensure a steady supply of precarious, non-union, low wage workers to tamp down wages and working conditions for all.
The Communist Party joins with the labour movement and immigrant rights groups to demand status for all. Providing status for all residents is only the first step in comprehensive immigration reform which would ensure Canada lives up to its international obligations for asylum seekers and puts people before corporate profit.
Central Executive Committee, Communist Party of Canada
Sign the petition for status for all here: https://migrantrights.ca/
Join actions on September 18th: https://migrantrights.ca/events/sep18/