KAIROS Wish List 2023
KAIROS 2023 WISH LIST
As we emerge from a year of mounting crises, we are encouraged by the growing calls to center the leadership of Indigenous peoples, women, and youth in decisions related to transitioning to a just and sustainable global community.
In 2022, we saw some movement in the advancement of our Wishes, including the adoption of the National Action Plan to fully implement the 231 Calls for Justice of the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. We were also pleased to see the introduction of three private members bills to address environmental racism and corporate accountability.
However, many of our Wishes have not been fulfilled, and they remain on our list. Please join KAIROS in advocating for the following Wishes.
That the Canadian government, provinces, and territories:
- Works with Indigenous family members and Survivors, gender-diverse people, and Indigenous nations and organizations – in particular, the Native Women’s Association of Canada – to ensure that the National Action Plan successfully implements as quickly as possible the 231 Calls for Justice of the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
- Fully implements the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s (TRC) Call to Action 62.i, that urges provinces and territories to make mandatory from kindergarten to grade 12 “curriculum on residential schools, Treaties, and Aboriginal peoples’ historical and contemporary contributions to Canada….” There can be no backsliding.
That the Canadian government:
On Indigenous Rights:
- Fully implements TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada) Call to Action 93, which calls on the government, in collaboration with national Indigenous organizations, “to revise the information kit for newcomers to Canada and its citizenship test to reflect a more inclusive history of the diverse Aboriginal peoples of Canada, including information about the Treaties and the history of residential schools.”
- Works with Indigenous peoples and organizations to ensure the $40-billion settlement with Indigenous groups regarding the systemic underfunding of child welfare services is implemented as quickly and effectively as possible upon approval and finalization.
- Works with Indigenous communities and organizations to fulfill its 2015 promise to end all drinking water advisories on First Nations reserves by 2021. While progress over the past seven years has been encouraging, it is unacceptable that in 2023 there are 29 First Nations communities in Canada with long-term drinking advisories still in effect.
On Ecological Justice:
- Upholds the rights, knowledge, and sovereignty of Indigenous Peoples in all climate- and water-related policy decision-making. Develops environmental policies rooted in Indigenous self-determination and consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
- Centres Indigenous rights in partnerships with Indigenous-led conservation initiatives to which Canada committed at the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP 15), with sufficient funding and governance structures that put Indigenous peoples in the primary leadership roles of a fully formed and effective system of Indigenous-led Protection and Conservation Areas (IPCAs).
- Participates in negotiations to develop and implement a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.
- Ends all foreign and domestic subsidies to the fossil fuel industry and bans all new fossil fuel development projects, including pipelines, liquefied natural gas terminals, offshore drilling, and fracking wells.
- Develops a comprehensive decarbonization plan.
- Passes just transition legislation that is developed in consultation with workers, unions, Indigenous peoples, and communities, and creates more opportunities in the clean energy economy for workers from historically marginalized groups, including women, Indigenous peoples, and racialized Canadians.
- Expedites the passage of Bill C-226 to address environmental racism and develop a national strategy on environmental justice.
- Passes legislation to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and recognize the right to a healthy environment.
- Shifts the focus of climate financing from a predominantly technical approach to an equity-based approach that addresses and funds both mitigation and adaptation equally and supports countries and communities that are most impacted by climate change, including support for loss and damages.
- Increases climate finance commitments from $5.3 billion over five years to at least $1.8 billion annually to the Global South that is gender-responsive and supports racial justice, addresses both mitigation and adaptation, responds to the pandemic, supports the leadership of women in climate decision-making, and prioritizes funding for grassroots organizations and Indigenous organizations through grants-based, non-multilateral funding mechanisms.
- Creates a dedicated, debt-free finance facility to fund loss and damage, ensuring that those most impacted by the climate crisis, particularly women, Indigenous peoples, and youth, are involved in decisions about these funds.
- Fully and quickly funds Canada’s new COP 15 commitments to the Global South – including new pledges of $255 million to protect nature and improve climate resilience and $355 million to support biodiversity conservation, all of which are in addition to existing commitments of $5.3 billion in climate finance – and that this financing takes the form of grants rather than loans.
On Gender Justice – Corporate Accountability
- Supports and expedites the passage of Bill C-263 and grants the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) powers to investigate allegations of environmental and human rights violations by Canadian companies and their subsidiaries.
- Supports and expedites Bill C-262: An Act respecting the corporate responsibility to prevent, address, and remedy adverse impacts on human rights occurring in relation to business activities conducted abroad.
- Ensure this legislation requires Canadian companies to undergo mandatory human rights due diligence and addresses the gendered impact of resource extraction, including violence against women and girls and
- facilitates access to Canadian courts for overseas plaintiffs claiming harm by the actions of Canadian mining companies, with recognition of and sensitivity towards the gendered impacts of extractivism including violence against women and girls’ bodies and livelihoods.
- Adopts and fully implements a legal framework requiring extractive corporations to conduct consultations according to local traditional practices. These processes must fully engage women and guarantee that communities near extractive project sites determine if and how a project will move forward.
On Gender Justice – Women, Peace, and Security
- Fully funds and implements the Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP), increases official development assistance to the international standard of 0.7 percent, and ensures this funding reaches grassroots women’s rights and peacebuilding organizations, including to support their recovery and transformation efforts in response to the pandemic. This funding must be flexible, predictable, and long-term.
- Develops with the full and meaningful representation of Black, Indigenous, and people of colour, particularly women and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people, a Feminist Foreign Policy that is grounded in Indigenous and racial justice, is human rights-based and intersectional, and does not allow economic and corporate interests to obstruct these principles.
- Creates space and resources for the development of policy and mechanisms that shift power imbalances in international cooperation to address inherent colonial structure and systemic racism.
- Invites and supports women peacebuilders and women-led human rights organizations to consult on all policy development and peace processes.
- Targets funding at initiatives led by women human rights defenders and women’s rights organizations that strengthen the women, peace, and security agenda, economically empower women, girls, and women’s rights organizations, and address the climate crisis. This includes funding grassroots women’s organizations to monitor and reduce conflict at the local level.
- Advocates with governments of countries in conflict and at the UN to increase space for women to participate in peace processes at local, national, and international levels and ensure that the lives and rights of these women are protected.
- Speaks out in support of international human rights and against military occupation, and champions efforts at the International criminal Court and the International Court of Justice seeking justice for victims of alleged war crimes against humanity committed during armed conflict.
On Global Climate Justice and Women, Peace, and Security Nexus
- Strengthens its feminist foreign policy and understanding of security by allocating resources to the nexus between the climate, peace and security, gender equity and environmental justice.
- Commits to grants-based climate funding that builds capacity and expands the influence of Global South grassroots women’s organizations and movements in an integrated, feminist global approach to the climate crisis, peace, and security.
On Migrant Justice
- Ends the Temporary Foreign Workers Program and returns to permanent residency as the strategy to address labour shortages and to strengthen and build a welcoming and inclusive country.
- Regularizes all undocumented people in Canada. Issues them work and study authorizations as they await processing of their permanent residency applications and stops detentions and deportations so that people who lost status may apply and be processed for permanent residency. This regularization must be ongoing so that no one becomes undocumented in the future.
- Expands its support and protection of foreign temporary workers travelling to Canada and those in the country during the pandemic, ensuring access to benefits and services such as – but not limited to – COVID-19 testing upon arrival, vaccination on-site at all ports of entry, and income supplements when adhering to mandatory isolation.
- Works with relevant departments, other governments, migrant workers, and migrant support organizations to develop a national housing strategy in support of an essential worker immigration policy.
- Improves collaboration and communication between Employment and Social Development Canada and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada for better service delivery and to close gaps and loopholes in initiatives designed to support temporary foreign workers. Ensures that temporary foreign workers and migrant justice organizations are fully consulted in the development of policies that affect them.
- Takes the lead in drafting an International Protocol to recognize and protect the rights of climate affected and forced migrants and lobbies the United Nations for its adoption and ratification. Recognizes migrant workers who escape climate-related emergencies in their home countries as climate refugees rather than “economic migrants.”
2022 Wish Assessment
In 2022, we expected the federal government to move forward on just and sustainable transition legislation that would help us move toward a cleaner and greener energy system and away from fossil fuels. Such legislation has not yet materialized. However, the government began consultations on the matter, in accord with the wish that consultation occur with workers, unions, Indigenous Peoples and communities. Results were expected to be compiled and released in Fall 2022, but that did not happen. And recently, western politicians such as Alberta’s Environment minister Sonya Savage have stepped up the temperature on the issue, calling the term “just transition” polarizing and “extremely harmful.”
The end of the year was a tale of two COPs. KAIROS and For the Love of Creation’s delegation to COP27 on climate highlighted partners in the Global South, Indigenous peoples, and youth. COP27 concluded with an historic agreement on climate financing, specifically loss and damage, but still with little attention to fossil fuels. KAIROS will pay further attention to this latter issue as COP28 unfolds in the United Arab Emirates with an industry CEO in charge. From some reports, COP27 was a year of greater participation by Global South activists, youth, Indigenous peoples, and women. KAIROS welcomes this trend
KAIROS praises Canada’s early support for including loss and damage in the COP27 agenda. For the first time, an agreement to set up a fund and process was achieved. This is an important step towards climate justice, whereby nations that have historically contributed emissions that have caused climate change are paying nations that have contributed far less. Now, Canada must commit funding and ensure the fund is led by and responds to the needs of the most vulnerable countries.
Canada stepped in to host COP15 on biodiversity when China, the original host country, faced pandemic uncertainties. An historic agreement, the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, was reached with numerous target indicators for conservation, especially highlighting the importance of conservation for many nature-based climate solutions. Canada pledged $255 million to protect nature and improve climate resilience and $355 million to support biodiversity conservation, all of which are in addition to existing commitments of $5.3 billion in climate finance. The federal government also promoted the value of Indigenous-led conservation such as Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) and pledged $800 million to support IPCAs. KAIROS will keep an eye on these pledges and advocate that they be implemented with funding in the 2023 budget and necessary legislation.
KAIROS welcomes the attention to Indigenous rights, but history has shown that federal engagement often has strings attached. KAIROS will monitor these programs and support Indigenous organizations in their engagement. In other ecological justice concerns involving Indigenous peoples in 2022, Canada has not performed well. KAIROS continues to support Wet’suwet’en efforts to protect their lands in the face of increased corporate pressure and policing of the protests.
KAIROS welcomed Bill C-226 (“National Strategy Respecting Environmental Racism and Environmental Justice Act”) which is based on another private member’s bill (C-230) and studied in the last Parliament but died on the order paper when the election was called. Bill C-266 awaits third reading in the House of Commons. KAIROS will continue to call on the government to expedite this bill and address environmental racism nationally and abroad.
Another major environmental action by the federal government was the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan, which laid out a plan for the existing target of 40-45 percent below 2005 levels, which is less than the 60 percent reduction that KAIROS has advocated.
The discussion of fossil fuels gained more traction in 2022, even if COP27 failed to expand the COP26 reference of a “phasedown” of coal to all fossil fuels. The Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty has opened wider discussion. The Treaty has been promoted by the Vatican and supported by the leaders of several nation-states as well as a growing number of parliamentarians, faith organizations, municipalities, and other sectors around the world, including in Canada.
We saw some movement in reducing federal fossil fuel subsidies and applaud the government for doing so. The 2022 federal budget included the elimination of some tax deductions for expenses related to oil, gas, and coal activities, but notably not for carbon capture and sequestration which KAIROS sees as an industry subsidy. The budget also indicated plans to reduce or phase out other support although it is unclear their status or the status of other fossil fuel subsidies amidst the complicated nature of direct and indirect financial support. Subsidies for clean, green energy technologies have not benefited to the same degree. At the end of the year, the government made a further step to eliminate governmental funding for new fossil fuel development overseas, which is also worthy of credit. This needs to be extended to fossil fuel developments inCanada. Furthermore, KAIROS will continue to work with organizations that are producing the analyses that support further campaigning on effectively eliminating all fossil fuel subsidies. Similarly, campaigns against fossil financing by Canadian banks accelerated in 2022 and are often aligned with Indigenous rights.
Regrettably, the federal government approved the controversial Bay du Nord project shortly after the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) released yet another report strenuously arguing for emissions cuts to prevent escalating climate crisis. The approval is another indicator that Canada is trying to do two contradictory things at once – increase fossil fuel development while claiming to be acting on climate change.
TRC Calls to Action
December 2022 marked seven years since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) released its Final Report and 94 Calls to Action, and 14 years since the TRC was formed in 2008 with the mandate to inform all Canadians of the Indian Residential School system and its impact on Indigenous peoples and communities.
According to the Yellowhead Institute’s Call to Action Accountability: A 2022 Status Update on Reconciliation, to date only 13 of 94 Calls to Action have been completed.
Calls to Action 62.i and 93
Led by Douglas Sinclair, Indigenous Watchdog is a non-profit, charitable organization that monitors and reports on the progress towards reconciliation, including the Calls to Action. Its mission is “to deliver relevant quality information on Indigenous issues to educate, inform and ultimately transform the dialogue between Indigenous and non–Indigenous Canadians into ACTION.”
According to Indigenous Watchdog, implementation of both Calls to Action 62.i and 93 is “stalled.”
Regarding Call to Action 62.i, while initiatives on mandatory K-12 curriculum have been launched in most, but not all jurisdictions, and funding has been established for teacher training, funding to Indigenous schools is inconsistent and there is minimal commitment to appointing senior-level positions in government to Indigenous education. Encouragingly, the federal government is working with the Council of Ministers of Education to enhance knowledge and awareness of First Nations, Inuit and Métis history and culture and to enhance the knowledge and awareness of teachers, students and school leaders on the history and culture of Indigenous peoples. Background Content – Indigenous Watchdog
Regarding Call to Action 93, according to Indigenous Watchdog, there has been no news since the federal government announced in June 2021 that it was revising the new citizenship guide to make it more inclusive and to add a chapter on residential schools. This announcement came almost four years after the federal government reported in July 2017 that its draft version of the new study guide contained content from discussions with the National Indigenous organizations and Indigenous historians.
According to Indigenous Watchdog, there are four reasons for the lack of progress on the Calls to Action:
1. The absence of political will to tackle the hardest Indigenous issues.
2. Structural, legislative, and institutional barriers embedded in the federal, provincial and territory colonial governance systems.
3. Systemic racism and discrimination entrenched within multiple sectors of society.
4. Failure to collect and disseminate quality data makes it difficult to report on statistical measures.
$40 billion settlement for underfunding of child welfare
In 2016, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) found that Canada was discriminating against First Nations children and families on reserve by failing to properly fund child welfare services. In 2019, the CHRT ordered Canada to pay $40,000 in compensation to each eligible person.
In January 2022, the federal government, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), and lawyers for two related class-action lawsuits announced a $40 billion package to pay that compensation in two parts: $20 billion to compensate First Nations families for harms caused and $20 billion to make long-term reforms to the current system.
In October, the CHRT rejected the deal, expressing concerns about the timeline for claimants to opt out of the compensation program and whether all children would indeed receive the full $40,000.
First Nations Child and Family Caring Society Executive Director Cindy Blackstock, who filed the original human rights complaint in 2007 with the AFN , stressed that while there are good things in the final settlement agreement, it falls short in some places. For example, the deal excludes children removed from their homes and into non-federally funded placements and provides less money than the tribunal ordered Canada to pay to some victims.
In December, Cindy Blackstock was invited to speak at the AFN General Assembly before a vote on conflicting resolutions – one to appeal to the government to accept the final settlement agreement and another to not appeal the CHRT’s decision and renegotiate the deal. She welcomed the debate and the opportunity to make sure the agreement didn’t exclude anyone. In the end, the AFN voted against re-entering negotiations and supported compensation for victims as outlined in the agreement. The AFN also agreed to “seek direction” from chiefs on implementing the final agreement, including on the long-term reform part of the deal.
Applauded by the AFN afterward, Cindy Blackstock said she was honoured to see people come together for children harmed by the Government of Canada’s discrimination. “We have had too many apologies, we’ve had too many compensation deals, we’ve had too many kids hurt. And this has got to be it,” she said.
Calls for Justice of the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
In June 2021, the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) wrote to the Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) Minister to say the government’s National Action Plan to address the 231 calls for justice was “fundamentally flawed,” with “no funding, timelines, or measurable goals,” and that it was unveiling its own national action plan, one that prioritized families, not politics.
In June 2022, NWAC re-assessed the federal government’s plan and concluded that while some progress has been made on some of the actions since June 2021, little or none has been made on others. In contrast, NWAC noted that its own national plan, “Our Calls, Our Actions,” had completed 40 of 66 actions, and made some progress on another 18. Over the past year, NWAC had introduced 16 projects or programs aimed at reducing violence against Indigenous women, girls, and gender diverse people, and established three accountability mechanisms to oversee achievements and to highlight what was left to do.
NWAC urged the government to work with them “on this journey now, today, before many more lives are lost.”
NWAC has produced an Annual Scorecard of the National Action Plan and an Annual Scorecard of Our Calls, Our Actions.
In January 2023, in response to calls from organizations for more action on Call for Justice 1.7, the federal government announced that Jennifer Moore Rattray had been appointed as a ministerial special representative to provide advice and recommendations on the creation of an Indigenous and human rights ombudsperson. Jennifer Moore Rattray is the former executive director of the MMIWG (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls) national inquiry. Call for Justice 1.7 calls for federal, provincial, and territorial governments, in partnership with Indigenous Peoples, to establish a national Indigenous and human rights ombudsperson with authority in all jurisdictions to receive complaints from Indigenous people and communities and to conduct independent evaluations of government services for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. It also calls for a national Indigenous and human rights tribunal. Both the ombudsperson and the tribunal must be permanent and have sufficient resources to fulfil their mandates.
Regarding Call for Justice 1.10 – the creation of an independent mechanism to report on the implementation of the Calls – the government also announced that Innovation 7, a Pikwakanagan, Ontario-based First Nations organization, was chosen to develop recommendations for an oversight mechanism to enhance accountability and progress in ending violence toward Indigenous women, girls, and gender-diverse people.
Clean Drinking Water
As of January 5, 2023, the federal government has failed to keep its 2015 promise to end all drinking water advisories on First Nations reserves by 2021, with long-term drinking advisories still in effect in 29 communities.
KAIROS welcomed Bill C-262 for the adoption of mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence legislation (mHREDD) and Bill C-263 to empower the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE), tabled in March 2022. In 2022, that’s as far as they went. We urge the government to support and expedite these bills and ensure that they result in mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence and a CORE with investigative powers.
Despite the Canadian government’s promotion of Canadian mining in the green energy transition, there is still little in place to improve corporate accountability oversight of Canadian mining companies. For many communities in the Global South, where much of the necessary materials for green and clean energy in the Global North are obtained, this represents more environmental degradation, violence, and dispossession –predominantly affecting women and girls. In 2022 we saw the social and environmental impacts of this push for green energy transition where there is a lack of accountability for Canadian mining corporations and their subsidiaries. In 2023 we will continue to call for federal legislation where Canadian enterprises and their subsidiaries are held accountable, and affected communities can obtain justice and reparations.
Gender Justice and Women, Peace, and Security
For years KAIROS has joined hundreds of civil society organizations and countless Canadians in urging the government to increase its overseas development assistance to match the international standard of 0.7 percent of national wealth by 2030. That is less than one penny for every dollar. The government increased international assistance funding in its 2022/2023 budget from $7.6 billion in 2021/2022 to $8.2 billion with a focus on global COVID-19 efforts and strengthening global health security.
However, funding also needs to reach grassroots women’s rights and peacebuilding organizations. As we have seen, women are often the ones leading the charge on community-based regenerative farming and tree planting, critical in sequestering carbon and restoring resilient local ecologies. They are also the glue that binds families and communities, and the ones who creatively resist authoritarian regimes. They are at the heart of building back better.
In addition to being compromised by limited funding, Canada’s feminist foreign policy is further undermined by Canada’s diplomatic and financial support for the profit-driven extractive economy which, in the absence of corporate accountability legislation, has a track record of violating ecosystems and women. To be truly feminist, Canada must fully consult women — particularly land and water defenders — to lay the groundwork for community-driven and inclusive clean energy economies and must fully invest in these efforts.
In 2022, KAIROS welcomed the Government of Canada’s engagement and consultations for input from civil society organizations, including KAIROS, on the development of a third Canada Women, Peace, and Security National Action Plan (CNAP3). The scope of the CNAP3 consultations reflected Canada’s leadership in feminist foreign policy. Submissions to the government for CNAP3 included prioritizing, through a feminist lens, the prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls, including widening the definition of security to include emerging security threats such as climate justice. A better understanding of the climate, WPS (Women, Peace, and Security) and gender equality nexus is needed, as is the strengthening of links and support of women, peacebuilders, and human rights defenders in Canada and abroad.
Finally, Canada is well positioned to play a lead role in advancing feminist foreign policies, but has not yet announced its Feminist Foreign Policy, promised last year. KAIROS continues to call for a policy that is grounded in Indigenous and racial justice, is human rights based and intersectional, and demands corporate accountability.
In December 2021, the Auditor General issued a scathing report regarding the state of housing for temporary foreign workers in the agricultural sector. Among its conclusions, it found that “Employment and Social Development Canada did little to meet the commitments to improve living conditions for agricultural temporary foreign workers that it had made in previous years.”
The federal government allocated $16.2 million to improve inspections, yet the Auditor General found problems with 88 percent of quarantine inspections in 2021, an increase of 73 percent since 2020.
ESDC (Employment and Social Development Canada) was quick to respond to the report and agreed with its recommendations. However, in April 2022, the department released its Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program Workforce Solutions Road Map, which broadened the cap on the number of migrant workers who can work in Canada from 10 percent to 20. For certain sectors such as accommodation and food services, construction and nursing, employers can use the TFW to fulfill up to 30 percent of their labour needs. Employers jumped on this opportunity. In the first half of 2022 alone, approvals to hire temporary foreign workers increased by more than 60 percent, according to the Toronto Star.
KAIROS and its partners fear that this increase will only exasperate poor living conditions, including low wages and limited rights, and lead to overcrowding. Regarding the latter, pandemic regulations reduced occupancy in bunkhouses, which improved living conditions for workers. As pandemic restrictions loosen, protocols are required to prevent the return to overcrowding, and housing must be found or built to accommodate additional employees from overseas.
Housing conditions are important for sanitation, in addition to mental health determinants, as has been documented in a recent report (Huesca et al., 2022 p. 38) for a project funded by OMAFRA.
The expansion of the TFWP (Temporary Foreign Workers Program) also broadens a two-tiered workforce where certain people have limited rights in Canada.
“In many ways that’s what [the TFWP] is designed to do… to have this temporary workforce where people are treated simply as workers as opposed to full human beings,” said Fay Faraday, a labour and human rights lawyer and professor at Osgoode Hall Law School.
While the government has made several changes to try to improve the lives of migrant workers in Canada, they amount to window dressing.
In late September, ESDC announced new regulations to protect temporary foreign workers, including prohibiting employers from charging recruitment fees, mandating employers provide migrant workers with information about their rights and prohibiting reprisals against workers who speak out when their rights are violated. The government has a terrible track record in investigating employers, however. And more concerning, these regulations attempt to soften the edges of what boils down to indentured labour in Canada, where an employer has the power to deport an employee. While a worker who is tied to an employer can now leave an abusive job and find work elsewhere, they face formidable logistic challenges – particularly in navigating Canada’s byzantine bureaucracy. Often workers who flee abuse end up undocumented.
It is estimated that 500,000 people lost their status in Canada. In his December 2021 Mandate Letter, the Prime Minister instructs the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to “build on existing pilot programs to further explore ways of regularizing status for undocumented workers who are contributing to Canadian communities.”
A year later, KAIROS joined the Migrant Rights Network and other civil society organizations, in writing a letter to the Prime Minister and Members of Cabinet Committee on Economy, Inclusion and Climate “B,” which was tasked to weigh in on a regularization program. We urged their support for a program that is uncapped, includes all undocumented people and their families, and is a one-step program where all undocumented people apply for permanent residency. We pray that such a program comes to pass in 2023.
In the same Mandate Letter, the Prime Minister instructs the Minister to “expand pathways to Permanent Residence for international students and temporary foreign workers through the Express Entry system.”
In May, Parliament unanimously passed a motion (M-44 Permanent Residency for Temporary Foreign Workers) asking the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to create a plan by September 8 to give permanent residency to low-waged migrants, including work and study permit holders.
Later that month, the minister tabled a plan to expand pathways to permanent residency. However, the plan was dismissed as the recycling of current policies.
After 50 years of existence there is nothing temporary about the Temporary Foreign Workers Program. Canada continues to maintain a racist and colonial program that treats people who are Black, Brown, and Hispanic as disposable. Its retirement is long overdue, particularly for a country like Canada that prides itself on upholding human rights at home and abroad.
For decades, KAIROS and other migrant justice advocates have urged the federal government to grant all migrant and undocumented workers permanent residency as an effective and efficient solution to address racism within the system and to help safeguard the wellbeing of workers and communities.
Permanent residency would empower workers to leave abusive employers and dangerous workplaces; and facilitate access to health and other benefits such as Employment Insurance, which they contribute to but cannot access if they work less than 12 months in a calendar year.
Permanent residency does not mean that working and living conditions for workers will automatically improve, but it will provide them with more options when applying for legal protection. It is also immensely important in limiting the dangerous practice of human trafficking.
More people will want to come to Canada, either fleeing conflict and extreme weather events caused by global heating or needing to support their families back home. Canada must welcome them, identifying those escaping extreme climate change as climate refugees, while drafting an International Protocol to recognize and protect their rights. Canada must desist from its practice of taking advantage of people in need.