UFCW calls for further action to protect migrant workers in new submission to federal government

3.	UFCW Canada submission on occupation-specific work permits

Toronto – July 24, 2019 – In the wake of the federal government’s introduction of open work permits for migrant workers experiencing abuse, UFCW Canada has released a new submission calling on the government to pursue additional reforms that could help strengthen migrant workers’ rights and provide options for permanent residency.

“While the government has made some encouraging progress on protecting migrant workers from abusive employers and creating new opportunities for temporary foreign workers to immigrate to Canada, more work needs to be done to move our economy away from temporary foreign labour and allow migrant workers to stay in Canada,” says Paul Meinema, the national president of UFCW Canada.

To achieve these goals, the UFCW submission recommends that the government introduce occupation-specific work permits to give migrant workers greater labour mobility; create union operated hiring halls that would enable UFCW Canada to work with employers and temporary foreign workers to help fill job openings; and reform our Employment Insurance (EI) system to ensure that migrant workers can access the EI benefits that they pay into.

The eight-page submission also calls on the government to reform our immigration system to reduce Canada’s reliance on foreign labour and allow more migrant and temporary foreign workers to permanently reside and work in Canada.

"Canada desperately needs a more inclusive, protective, and robust immigration system, and an expanded Temporary Foreign Worker Program should never be viewed as a solution to labour challenges in Canada’s agri‐food system,” Meinema continues.

“That is why our union is calling on the federal government to pursue occupation-specific work permits, union operated hiring halls, and immigration and EI reforms that could help protect migrant workers and provide them with a path to permanent residency.”

Full copies of the “Introducing Occupation-Specific Work Permits Under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program” submission can be downloaded here.

UFCW Canada is the country's leading and most progressive union, representing more than 250,000 union members in Canada’s fastest-growing industries, including the Food Retail and Processing, Hospitality, Health Care, Security, Industrial, Agricultural, and Office & Professional sectors.