International Migrants Day: OFL Statement for December 18, 2016

 

This December 18, the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) is recognizing International Migrants Day by calling on both Federal and Ontario governments to implement legislative reforms to put an end to exploitation and abuse of migrant workers.

Canada’s unions believe that no matter where you’re from, if you work in Canada, you should be treated fairly. For migrant workers, that means legislation to ensure the same basic labour and human rights as other Canadian workers. It means a system to protect those rights. It means a pathway to permanent residency for those who want to stay.

International Migrants Day, December 18, was established in 1990 through the United Nations International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. This day is an important opportunity to promote the labour rights, human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrants, many of whom are working internationally to overcome poverty, social conflict, human rights abuses and other forms of adversity to create a better life for their families.

This month saw the repeal of the “4 and 4” rule which prohibits temporary foreign workers from obtaining visas after 4 years of work. This is a positive change but Canada could do much more for migrant workers.

While working in Canada, migrant workers are vulnerable to exploitation. They face control of their traveling documents, restrictions on their physical mobility, employment tied to one employer and one contract, arbitrary repatriations and termination.

For women working in the domestic sphere, exposure to violence, abuse and sexual exploitation may also be a daily reality. Migrant workers are too often exposed to long hours of work outside of the Employment Standards Act, precarious or unsafe working conditions, high levels of occupational accidents, discrimination, marginalization, isolation and social exclusion.

This December 18, the OFL is celebrating the valuable contribution that migrant workers and their families make to Canadian society. Ontario’s labour movement is demanding respect for the rights of migrant workers, including the adoption, monitoring and enforcement of strong labour law protections and human rights legislation.

It is time that Ontario put an end to exploitation. The OFL is calling on the Government of Ontario to entrench labour protections and human rights for all migrant workers, union protection, health care benefits and a ban on recruitment fees and exploitation. The OFL continues to work with community partners and build solidarity with other social movements in a common struggle for a more humane and inclusive Canada.

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