Inclusionary Rights for Temporary Migrants In Canada

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For the past 50 years, under Canada’s Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP), workers from participating countries - Mexico, Jamaica, and other Caribbean countries - are eligible to apply to work in Canada; particularly, work that is strictly related to farm agriculture, for a maximum of 8 months annually (between January 1st to December 15th).  Many have argued that this program is used to employ people from other countries due to the labour intensive and harsh working conditions that many Canadian citizens would not take part in.

Taking that into consideration, it’s no wonder why so many are outraged that these workers are not offered any sort of potential permanent citizenship. SAWP offers beneficial opportunities to those eligible to work through it, but is also equally beneficial to Canada itself as it fills consistent labour shortages.  However, with that said, by keeping workers at arms length with no offers for permanent residency, citizenship, and working rights only accompanied by a fear of deportation, this program becomes much more beneficial to Canada rather than the workers in this bilateral agreement.

The Refugee and Asylum program is a government-sponsored immigration program in Canada that aims to attract fleeing refugees from origin countries that are experiencing war, poverty, political instability and other forms of intense instability.  Those who illegally enter Canada are often subject to danger of persecution, however, through Canada's refugee program, refugees are given an opportunity to seek asylum within Canada.  With that said, although this is a beneficial program, wait and processing times for those seeking refugee status are much longer than expected.

Moreover, those asylum seekers who successfully obtain the refugee status still face the difficulties that follow such as limited access to welfare resources, social services, job opportunities, and education opportunities as compared to their Canadian counterparts. To some extent, although the granting of asylum may be beneficial to these refugees, the limited aid becomes detrimental to their successful integration into their new Canadian communities.  In fact, according to research, the refugees have been documented to have some of the worst mental health and overall health problems in the country as there is a higher prevalence of HIV infection rates as well as significant rates of PTSD.

There are also serious issues that plague the Caregiver program, the foremost of these issues are based around the lack of citizenship status of the migrant workers involved, leaving them without protection from abuse. Although there is a pathway to citizenship built-in, the Caregiver program (formerly known as the live-in caregiver program) places these migrant workers, a majority of whom are Filipino women, into a racial and class-based hierarchy that is structured to marginalize them throughout their time as temporary foreign workers and beyond.The caregiver program employs migrant workers to fulfill Canada's domestic care needs, however the needs of these migrant workers are not met, with participants encountering violence and abuses of all kinds.

We, the unsigned, petition the Canadian government to provide for more inclusionary rights for the temporary migrants of Canada such as access to healthcare, access to employment insurance and other public services, the right to choose their own employer and for the government to recognize the need for improvement in the Canada’s refugee resettlement system and temporary migrant worker programs.



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