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Toronto – March 31, 2015 – UFCW Canada activists recently gathered at the Citizenship and Immigration Canada headquarters in Toronto to protest the Harper Conservatives' plan to deport migrant workers who have worked in Canada for at least four years as part of the federal government's Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).
On April 1, 2015 Stephen Harper’s Conservative Government will begin implementing its notorious “4 & 4” rule to the detriment of workers of all stripes. This rule will come into effect and its consequences will be catastrophic. Migrant workers under the so-called “low-skilled” streams of the federal government’s bungled Temporary Foreign Worker Program will be prohibited from working within Canada for four years if they have already worked in Canada for four years.
The April Fools’ joke being played on workers in Canada by the Conservative Government is no laughing matter. Migrant workers who have been in Canada for more than four years could face mass deportation, while others – such as live-in caregivers – could lose access to permanent residency after years of struggle and separation from their families. To make matters worse, it seems that the federal government may also determine that migrant workers can be deported if they were victimized by the TFWP and forced by their employer to pay for the services of a recruitment agency. In short, migrant workers would be victimized twice.
‘‘Contrary to the calls of UFCW Canada and migrant worker organizations across the country to create more roads to permanent residency, including residency upon arrival, the ‘4 & 4’ rule reinforces the existing vulnerabilities of migrant workers and adds new layers of precariousness to their work,’’ says Paul Meinema, UFCW Canada National President.
‘‘Unfortunately, under the ‘4 & 4’ rule this immense investment is lost the moment the migrant worker is returned to their sending country. The same unionized employers are then forced to reinvest in a new cohort of migrant workers,’’ says the UFCW Canada National President. ‘‘By way of analogy, imagine running a business whereby every four years you lose your machinery or your facilities and must rebuild from scratch,’’ Meinema adds. ‘‘From this perspective, the ‘4 & 4’ rule is simply bad business.’’
At the rally, activists planted seedlings at the doorsteps of the Citizenship and Immigration Canada headquarters to symbolize that migrant workers are rooted in our communities. Similar rallies also took place in Edmonton, Guelph, Hamilton, Niagara, Peterborough, and the Okanagan Valley.
UFCW Canada is a member of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC). Working with community partners and allies across the country, MWAC has prepared a petition to Stephen Harper demanding that he put an end to the ‘4 & 4’ rule and establish a progressive and economically viable immigration regime that does not treat workers as disposable commodities.
UFCW Canada encourages all members, staff, and allies to sign the petition and add their voice to the thousands of Canadians who have already signed on to this important initiative. By working together, we can build a Canada that works for everyone.