Quebec groups press immigration ministry

Community News & Features Jul 25, 2014 at 6:49 pm

tfwTo defend rights of workers

MONTREAL–The Coalition Against Precarious Work, Monday, July 14, delivered a letter to the Quebec Ministry of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion of Quebec Kathleen Weil regarding the recent changes to the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP), in an effort to defend the rights of all workers impacted by them.

The Coalition, composed of the Temporary Agency Workers Association, Temporary Foreign Workers Association, PINAY, Immigrant Workers Centre of Montreal, Dignidad Migrante, Mexican United for the Regularization, and The Spanish Immigrants Collective of Montreal , wanted a response on “how the provincial government will be accountable in reacting positively to better protect migrant workers given that the federal changes to the program will entrench precarity even further for migrants and drive down labour conditions for all,” the statement said.

The Coalition said the changes are ambiguous and with unclear effects upon foreign worker rights and upon other Quebec workers.

“Some of the modifications include that the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is increasing from $275 to $1,000 for every temporary foreign worker position requested by an employer. This measure will decrease possibilities of migrant workers to find employment if they stop working with an employer.

This measure also increases their vulnerability and the pressure to accept work and labour conditions more and more hard and precarious. But also the new LMIA – which replaces the LMO – is more rigorous than their predecessor, then finding a new job or employer for migrant workers will be harder.

“At the same time, the duration of work permits will be reduced from the current two-year standard duration to one-year periods as set out in the Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIA) which means more reduction of migrant workers ́ possibilities to find a job in Canada. But also employers seeking to hire high-wage temporary foreign workers will now be required to submit transition plans to demonstrate how they will increase efforts to hire Canadians, including through higher wages, investments in training, and more active recruitment efforts to recruit Canadians within Canada. This measure obviously is creating worst conditions for foreign workers to compete and access to better paid jobs and with less precarity,” the letter said.

“In this sense, the new regulations worsen the work conditions and labour rights of foreign workers,” the letter added.

As Noé Arteaga says “The debate about the abuses made against foreign workers has been manipulated by the government and the conservative and traditional media. They make the people believe that the ‘abuses’ are committed by employers and enterprises resulting in foreign workers displacing and taking jobs from Canadian citizens. Actually the abuses are those committed by enterprises and employers against foreign workers inside the programs.”

In the case of the Live-in Caregiver Program, there is uncertainty among workers about the possible changes to come.

According to Jasmin Calzada, member of PINAY, “it is unclear which modifications the Live-in Caregiver Program will suffer and how workers of this program will be affected.”

The presentation of the Coalition’s letter was covered by mainstream media, including Global News.