International Migrants Day: Canada must do more to help undocumented people secure their rights

December 18, 2022

Canada’s unions are urging the federal government to be ambitious in developing an inclusive and comprehensive regularization program for undocumented people that includes protections to ensure their safety.

An estimated 500,000 undocumented people in Canada live under constant fear and threat of abuse and exploitation due to their immigration status. They frequently face racism, discrimination and wage theft, work in dangerous conditions, and are denied basic human and labour rights and benefits such as job protections, health care and education. Their precarious and vulnerable position leaves them unable to speak up against the maltreatment they experience.

“Migrants, international students, refugees and undocumented people are struggling hard to secure their rights. Canada’s unions stand alongside them in strongly advocating for the rights and protections they deserve,” said Bea Bruske, CLC President. “Migrant workers do the critical work of keeping our communities and families safe and cared for. They provide essential services to Canadians across numerous sectors, yet face precarity and unfair working and living conditions and low wages. Urgent change is needed to help support these workers.”

The CLC also continues to urge the government to make meaningful and substantive changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) to ensure migrant workers have full human and labour rights, including the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining. Migrant workers under the TFWP are subject to work permits that tie them to one employer, which bars them from job mobility and security and makes them highly vulnerable to abuse and exploitation by their employers while offering them no recourse.

Most migrants in low-waged work do not have access to permanent residency. To address this issue, the CLC fully supports creating more opportunities for permanent residency for migrants, especially for low-wage migrants, which would provide them with access to the government supports and labour protections they require. “It’s past time for Canada to remove the barriers to full participation and opportunities for migrants, undocumented people, international students and refugees. We urge the federal government to take bold and progressive action to provide full and permanent immigration status for the 1.7 million migrants living in Canada, including undocumented people,” said Bruske.

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