International Migrants Day – December 18

International Migrants Day – December 18
8.5"x11" & 11"x17"
The flight of the Monarch Butterfly symbolizes one of the most enduring migrations in North America, with a journey of more than 3,000 kilometers between Canada and Mexico each season.

Toronto – December 16, 2015 – It is incredible what can happen in a few short months, as the tone regarding newcomers to Canada has changed quite dramatically for the better. For example, Canada is now in the midst of embracing 25,000 Syrian refugees fleeing from a very dire situation. In what is increasingly a cross-Canada effort to help the refugees, Canada seems to be moving away from the rhetoric of intolerance and division of the Harper Conservative regime. From our perspective as labour, social justice, and human rights advocates, this new focus of inclusion is welcome and refreshing.

While migrant workers are typically not in the same acute situation as refugees, they are also newcomers and, in many situations, in desperate need of a welcoming country to work in and possibly call home. Over the more than two decades that we have worked with migrant worker communities in Canada, we have seen some deplorable conditions. UFCW Canada and Local Unions have advocated for migrant workers who were forced to work outside of their work visas, who have faced detention and deportation, or were victims of wage theft from disreputable employers, and terminated with little or no notice. 

At UFCW Canada, International Migrants Day is an exceptionally important day. It is an opportunity to reaffirm our support and advocacy for migrant workers’ rights. Fundamental to the dilemma often faced by migrant workers in Canada is their precarious immigration status.  This precariousness has been used as a tool to economically exploit and socially undermine migrant workers. Without a pathway to permanent residency for migrant workers, their situation will remain one that allows for abuse and vulnerability.

International Migrants Daycommemorates the adoption of the International Convention on the Protection of Rights of All Migrant Workers and their Families by the United Nations on December 18, 1990. The Convention promotes respect for the human rights of migrant workers and their families, and calls for equality of treatment and working conditions for migrants.

We are hopeful that the Trudeau government will embrace the norms of the Convention, and finally make Canada a signatory; something previous Conservative and Liberal governments declined to do. Ratifying the Convention would be a positive first step towards a more sustainable and practical immigration system in Canada; one that is contemporary, inclusive, and supportive of both newcomers and Canadians. That is, after all, the country we want to be.

In solidarity,


Paul R. Meinema,
National President