Temporary workers rally for faster track to permanent status in Canada
MONTREAL – Immigration rights organizations on Saturday, April 10 rallied to demand an easier and faster track to permanent work status in Canada.
Temporary foreign workers, asylum seekers and international students who want permanent status in Canada joined the demonstration. They believe there is too much red tape and that the process is discriminatory.
Government placement agencies have put them in essential work that are high-risk in the pandemic, but their immigration status limits their access to public services including health care. Their contracts also prevent them from finding other jobs even if they are laid off, a common occurrence during the pandemic.
“They work in health sectors, nursing homes and also the warehouses and food and transportation,” Cheolki Yoon, a volunteer organizer at the Immigrant Workers Centre, told Global News.
“All these are considered essential work during the pandemic, but it’s as though the government doesn’t recognize that.”
Evelyn Calugay, a coordinator at PINAY Quebec, an organization for Filipino women, says women are especially affected even though their experiences may differ. Many have care-giver jobs and are asked to handle multiple families, which she says is putting them at high-risk.
“We don’t see other Canadians working in their conditions,” Calugay told Global News. She said the government should evaluate placement agencies and look at “what’s happening on the ground.”
Canada’s federal and provincial governments have different standards for issuing permanent work status, and a fast track to permanent work status is limited. Immigrant rights groups are asking for more standardization, “equal treatment for everyone” and making the fast track more inclusive.
They’re also asking Quebec’s government for a more realistic French language proficiency requirement, standardization of private work placement agencies, and better access to social assistance programs and emergency benefits during the pandemic.