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Rogerio died because of Ontario’s laws. Its time they change. Ensure access without fear for undocumented migrants in Ontario.

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Rogerio Marques De Souza died on January 18th. An undocumented father of three, he couldn’t afford medical bills and didn’t go to the hospital for fear they might call immigration enforcement. Left untreated, his colon cancer advanced quickly killing him at the young age of 50. [1]

Denied status in life, Rogerio was denied dignity in death. His family was refused the low-income funeral subsidy, even though they could not afford to put him to rest. Using Ontario’s social assistance laws as an excuse, the City of Toronto offered to burn his body anonymously if the family gave up all rights, but refused to pay for a funeral. For a week his body lay in a morgue, his kids weren’t able to say their final good-byes, while the city and the province inhumanely refused to act. [2] [3]

A private organization stepped up to cover the cost, but too many other families remain in similar conditions. As the federal government unjustly denies full citizenship to mostly racialized and poor migrants, municipal and provincial laws entrench the injustice by denying those immigrants basic services. [4] In February 2010, we worked to make Toronto Canada’s first Sanctuary City. [5] But it’s not enough. Provincial laws and policies exclude migrants without full status from healthcare, housing, social assistance, post-secondary education, labour protections more. This impacts us all.

Like Rogerio, over 250,000 undocumented migrants live and work here, raising families and build relationships. They pay municipal taxes (through rent), and provincial and federal taxes (through HST). Many, like Rogerio, use their friends SINs and pay incomes taxes. Basic services are about basic dignity, they can’t be determined by federal citizenship laws. It is time that all migrants in Ontario are treated fairly. It’s time for Ontario to become a province for all. 

[1] Toronto Star: Ontario denies dignity in death
[2] Toronto Star: City of Toronto refuses to pay for funeral of undocumented immigrant 
[3] No One Is Illegal - Toronto: Rogerio Marques De Souza: His Fight for Status in Life and Struggle for Dignity in Death
[4] Huffington Post: 2013 Immigration Changes in Canada.
[5] No One Is Illegal - Toronto: Access Without Fear policies pass at City Hall!


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