Toronto – December 17, 2018 – Each year on December 18, citizens around the world recognize International Migrants Day to honour the millions of migrants living across the globe. First recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in 2000, the day also acknowledges the Assembly’s adoption of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families on December 18, 1990.
Today, over 244 million migrants live and work abroad in order to provide for their families, including the thousands of migrants who participate in Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).
Over the last 30 years, UFCW Canada has worked tirelessly to amplify the voices of migrant workers and their families, particularly those working in the agricultural sector. Our latest report, entitled “A Stakeholder Approach to Growing Canada’s Agricultural Industry,” demonstrates how the TFWP could better meet the needs of migrant workers through mandatory health and safety training and proper enforcement of rights. Our advocacy in this area is based on the principle that those who are “good enough to work here” deserve the same rights as domestic workers.
Furthermore, in today’s economy migrant and temporary foreign workers are meeting labour shortages in a wide range of industries. While they are treated as a short-term solution to Canada’s extensive labour shortages, they in fact occupy positions that are in long-term demand. Without permanent immigration status, though, every migrant worker is at risk of being deported if they speak up for their rights, and this vulnerability often leads to abuse.
That is why UFCW Canada consistently advocates for permanent residence for migrant and temporary foreign workers who labour in Canada. Our union believes that migrant workers will be more likely to exercise their rights, and make their voices heard, if they know their rights at work and do not face discipline or deportation for exercising them.
While we continue to advocate for migrant workers’ rights and residency, and work to ensure that these issues remain priorities for governments, we must remind ourselves that every worker deserves equity and rights on the job, regardless of where they come from. And we must reiterate the belief that migrants who have been allowed to work in Canada should have the ability to immigrate here as well. This International Migrants Day, let us remind our friends, family, colleagues, and employers that if “you’re good enough to work here, you’re good enough to stay here.”
Paul R. Meinema