Urge Canada to protect all migrant workers with residency status now!

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With COVID-19 exposing and enhancing the vulnerability of migrant workers, your help is needed now more than ever.   

Migrant workers deserve our deepest respect for the work they do. They have a right to be safe and secure both in their workplaces and at home. They should not have to face the risks and hardships that confront them daily.  

Recently, Portugal granted migrants resident status during the pandemic, providing them with full access to health care and social services to help safeguard everyone in the country. 

We want Canada to do the same and to take it one step further by granting permanent residency for all migrant workers and ensuring safe working environments. These workers have been fully vetted prior to coming to Canada and fill vital jobs that too few Canadians want.  

On May 2, the Globe and Mail printed a letter by Connie Sorio, KAIROS’ Migrant Justice Program Coordinator, advocating these two points. 

Take Action! Please write to your Member of Parliament and urge the government to give all migrants in Canada immediate residence status with a pathway to permanent residency. Cite the Globe and Mail letter.  

Here is a sample letter. Simply copy and paste into your email. You may also want to include Connie’s Globe and Mail letter, which is posted below.


Foreign migrant workers play a vital role in Canada’s food and care sectors, filling the jobs that too few Canadians want. 

COVID-19 exposes and enhances the vulnerability of these vital workers. The overcrowded and often unhygienic living quarters of field workers, limited access to benefits, workplace abuse, and the dangers posed by COVID-19 are only a few examples.  

The federal government recently addressed some of the problems exacerbated by the pandemic by lowering eligibility requirements for EI benefits and introducing new criteria for employers to help safeguard worker safety. While this response is encouraging, workers still face barriers accessing benefits, there is still no support for workers who lose their status due to program changes, and there is no guarantee of compliance to public health directives on farms, in meat processing facilities, and at other workplaces. 

An effective and efficient solution is for Canada to follow Portugal’s example and grant all foreign migrants in Canada residency status so they can quickly access health care and other benefits. This will help keep them and all Canadians safe. The government of Canada also should monitor workplaces to ensure employers are meeting public health directives.  

Moving forward, the government of Canada must give all foreign migrant workers access to permanent residency upon arrival as part of building a fair and inclusive country. In 2019, the federal government took steps in this direction by strengthening the caregivers’ pathway to permanent residency conditional to having completed two years of work in Canada. It must extend this program to workers in all sectors.  



Letter to the Editor, Globe and Mail, May 2, 2020 

Re:  Alberta Meat Plant To Reopen Despite Outbreak  

(April 30): The COVID-19 outbreak at two beef-processing plants in southern Alberta highlights vulnerabilities faced by foreign migrant workers in Canada. It also reveals how much they contribute to the economy and society by doing jobs too few Canadians want. Despite this, they are neither protected nor given access to services and benefits available to Canadians affected by the pandemic. 

Recently, Portugal took unprecedented steps to grant foreigners, including migrants, resident status and full access to health care and social services during the pandemic. Canada should do the same. In fact, Canada should go further and grant overseas workers permanent-resident status, as it did more than 50 years ago. 

Granting residency to migrant workers would demonstrate genuine appreciation for their services, while creating a pathway to citizenship and eliminating the systemic barriers in Canada’s temporary foreign worker programs. 

Connie Sorio,  Migrant Justice Program Coordinator, KAIROS Canada 

Send an email to your Member of Parliament 

Identify your MP and get their contact details

In your email, please copy the following: 

Hon. Marco E. L. Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)

Soraya Martinez Ferrada, Parliamentary Secretary, IRCC

Hon. Peter Kent, IRCC Critic (Conservative Party of Canada)

Jenny Kwan, IRCC Critic (NDP)

And for tracking purposes, also copy Connie Sorio at csorio@kairoscanada.org

For further information, please refer to KAIROS’ letter to federal ministers with direct oversight of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

Thank you for taking action! 

Filed in: Migrant Justice


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