Thousands of migrants took to the streets to denounce discrimination
Migrant Workers Alliance for Change demands access to basic rights for undocumented people in Canada.
Recently we wrote about the problems faced by Jamaican migrant workers in Ontario: they called their conditions slave-like and asked the Jamaican labour minister for help. Other categories of newcomers are also experiencing difficulties and are taking to the streets to draw attention to themselves.
On Sunday, thousands of migrants and their supporters rallied in Canadian cities, calling on Ottawa to grant permanent status to undocumented people and implement an inclusive regularization program for undocumented migrants.
Syed Hussan, executive director of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, believes it is time for the government to heed the calls for greater access to basic rights for undocumented people in Canada:
"We have a historic opportunity right now to fix a wrong that has been going on for many, many years."
Ottawa launched a regularization program during the COVID-19 pandemic for asylum seekers who worked in the health sector. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has since expressed interest in expanding the initiative. In a December 2021 mandate letter, Trudeau's Minister of Immigration and Citizenship was asked to "use existing pilot programs to further explore ways to regularize undocumented workers who contribute to Canadian communities."
Hussan said the program should cover all undocumented people and said the government should focus on it:
"We believe that equality is equality, any exclusion is discrimination, so each and every migrant worker or refugee, student and undocumented person should be included."
A spokesperson for the Department of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship stated that work on the mandate to regularize undocumented workers continues, and the department is working with experts and stakeholders.
A total of thousands of people are expected to attend rallies and marches planned in 13 cities, including Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton, Vancouver, Fredericton and St. John's, Newfoundland.