KAIROS responds to federal plan to grant permanent residency to temporary foreign workers
The federal government’s plan to grant permanent residency to more than 90,000 temporary foreign workers and graduated international students is long-awaited welcome news. This move will help safeguard the safety and security of migrant workers who are invaluable to Canada, especially during the pandemic.
Unfortunately, because the plan applies only to individuals with valid work permits, it means thousands of undocumented workers are in limbo, including those who left abusive employers or were laid off due to the pandemic. We are also seeing cases where federal officials refuse work permit renewals for reasons that are unclear.
KAIROS strongly recommends that the government open applications for permanent residency to undocumented workers who have been left stranded due to the challenges cited above and other problems associated with the Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
KAIROS urges the federal government to consult with and fund community-rooted organizations that work directly with migrant workers to help them address challenges and barriers in the application process. We caution the government to avoid creating a situation where the application process benefits unscrupulous immigration consultants and recruiters at the expense of workers.
We also advocate for extending the application deadline beyond November 5, 2021. In our experience, it takes time to meet the requirements, and short application deadlines add stress to essential workers. For example, migrant workers are expected to pass the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 4. Finding time to study and prepare for the language test, in addition to gathering all needed documentation for their application, in a limited timeframe can be an unsurmountable challenge for those working long hours every day.
While extending the application deadline will alleviate pressure, removing it all together would empower workers who have long played a critical role in supporting Canada’s standard of living, building vibrant communities and filling labour market shortages.
KAIROS applauds the federal government’s plan to extend permanent residency to tens of thousands of migrant workers and international students. And we look forward to working with the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to help facilitate the success of its innovative pathway to permanent residence for temporary foreign workers.