Protesters march through Ottawa demanding permanent status for all migrants and refugees

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Hundreds of migrant workers and their advocates marched from Major’s Hill Park in downtown Ottawa to Parliament Hill on Sunday, calling on the federal government to grant full and permanent immigration status to all migrants.

Organizers of the march said that without permanent immigration status, undocumented people, agricultural workers, refugees and international students may find it difficult to access basic labor rights, health care and employment. education. They said some migrants feel unable to speak out against abuse and exploitation because of their fear of reprisals that could lead to deportation.

The migrants and their supporters came to the capital from many parts of the country, including Toronto and Montreal.

Abdoul is an undocumented migrant from Senegal and a member of the Solidarity Without Borders advocacy group. CBC does not use Abdoul’s last name for his security.

“Our people are suffering a lot in this country, especially during the pandemic. We have the impression of being excluded. We feel that we are not being taken care of,” said Abdoul.

“We know the work we do. We do the hardest work. We sacrifice ourselves, we sacrifice our families… I think these people deserve to be recognized.”

Omar Walcott is a migrant farm worker from Jamaica. He said he feared losing his job if he spoke about his experience. (Frédéric Pépin / CBC)

Omar Walcott, a migrant farm worker from Jamaica who works in the Niagara region, also attended the march.

He said that the life of a migrant worker is very difficult and that he wants to see a permanent status for all workers.

Walcott said he has traveled to Canada for work for the past 10 years. He said he worked seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., lived in a small house with seven other people, and feared he would not be called back for a job next season if he did. ‘expressed.

“The conditions here are not good. I get bad treatment from the bosses and [live in] poor housing conditions … the only thing that can correct that is the status, “said Walcott.

Syed Hussan, spokesperson for the Migrant Rights Network secretariat, says people who live and work in Canada without permanent status may have limited access to labor rights, health care and education. (Krystalle Ramlakhan / CBC)

As Canada recovers from COVID-19, migrants are growing food, caring for loved ones and providing essential services, said Syed Hussan of the Migrant Rights Network, who helped organize the march.

“Migrants are essential to our society, essential to our communities. We work here. We live here. But equal treatment is denied to us. We are treated like second-class citizens, ”Hussan said.

“We want the same rights as everyone.”

New path to permanent residence

In April, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada announced a new path to permanent residence for more than 90,000 temporary essential workers and international graduates. But the march’s organizers said these programs are short-term, piecemeal, and exclude too many people.

The course includes 20,000 places for temporary health workers, 30,000 for temporary workers in the essential jobs category and 40,000 applications for international students.

The essential worker and international graduate streams were closed after the maximum number of applications was filed, but only 2,989 applications for the health care stream were submitted, according to the report. most recent federal data.

A spokesperson for Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said the new path was among the most inclusive and innovative programs ever launched by the Immigration Department.

In his statement, Cohen also highlighted the Guardian Angels program, which targeted a program for undocumented health workers.

“This groundbreaking program was created specifically to provide a pathway for undocumented asylum seekers who have contributed so much to Canada’s fight against COVID-19 in our hospitals and long-term care homes,” said Alexander Cohen in a press release sent by email.

“These bold initiatives represent a paradigm shift in our immigration system, a system more inclusive than ever. We will continue to chart new paths to welcome more newcomers, because we know that immigration is key to Canada’s economic recovery and long-term prosperity. “



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