Justice for Migrant Workers (J4MW) strongly condemns the federal government for repatriation of whistleblowers and simultaneous introduction of ‘Recognized Employer Pilot’

TORONTO, Aug. 28, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Grassroots activist group Justice for Migrant Workers (J4MW) writes today to strongly condemn the recent repatriation of seven migrant farm workers whistleblowers who raised issues regarding alleged workplace harassment and deplorable housing conditions. According to a group of workers, seven workers were terminated after organizing a workplace stoppage regarding working and living conditions. The terminations occurred on the weekend that people across Canada celebrated Emancipation Day.

Videos were widely circulated on social media depicting the issues faced by the workers and how the employer responded to the issues. As several workers involved in the stoppage were sent home, other workers are raising concerns that they could be next. At the same time as workers were being repatriated, the employer was permitted to employ a new group of workers from another source country. Both the premature repatriation and the employment of new workers are attempts by the employer to suppress workplace resistance.

The firings take place at the same time as the Canadian government introduces the new “Recognized Employers Pilot” to cut so-called red tape for employers who “have a history of compliance” with the Temporary Foreign Worker Program’s (“TFWP”) policies, to facilitate an easier process for the importation of foreign labour to Canada. Rather than apply for a new LMIA every 18 months, recognized employers would have LMIAs that would be valid for three years with simplified LMIAs for any additional workers.

In addition to the removal of restrictions on the LMIA, J4MW questions the oft-cited claim of a “labour shortage.” Multiple workers have reached out to J4MW expressing their concerns and frustrations regarding premature repatriations. A group of asparagus workers, for example, were repatriated and were not provided with a transfer to continue to work in Canada. Other workers have raised concerns regarding the lack of work during this season. The only changes taking place are in the interests of employers and the governnment, not workers.

While the changes have been heralded by both the federal government and employer-based organizations, the changes continue the pattern of addressing the needs of employers not workers. A cursory review of announcements by Employment and Social Development Canada (“ESDC”) illustrates how the federal government has created, and continues to ensure, the TFWP is employer-driven. It is also no surprise that the agricultural industry, which has been under public scrutiny for systemic employment and workplace violations, would be the first industry where the REP would be introduced.

Through J4MW’s more than twenty years of experience organizing with migrant agricultural workers, we know that the TFWP’s compliance mechanisms are wholly ineffective at protecting migrant workers, due to the lack of anti-reprisal mechanisms and assurance to workers that they will not be penalized for reporting their living and working conditions. Workers have reported that employers cherry-pick individuals to speak with federal inspectors; sit in and observe conversations with inspectors and workers; and discipline and terminate workers who speak.

The federal government has demonstrated time and time again that they are not interested in protecting workers; instead, they are focused on placating the needs of employers and “removing administrative burdens,” as their own backgrounder on the REP states.

J4MW is demanding the following steps are undertaken:

  • Permanent status for all current and former migrant workers
  • An end to the tied work permit system
  • An end to unilateral repatriations and disbarment from employment in Canada
  • Full inclusion in programs such as Employment Insurance, Healthcare and Canada Pension Plan
  • Sectoral bargaining for all workers employed under the Temporary Foreign Worker program
  • Access to healthcare
  • Access to education
  • Family reunification for migrant workers

To view the full letter in PDF format, visit http://ml.globenewswire.com/Resource/Download/cf5d03e3-aeda-4a7d-b8d5-94f44d80697e 

Taneeta Doma (Justicia for Migrant Workers & Migrant Farmworker Clinic) Tel 519-903-7376 / Email: [email protected] 

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Originally published at https://www.einpresswire.com/article/652393120/justice-for-migrant-workers-j4mw-strongly-condemns-the-federal-government-for-repatriation-of-whistleblowers-and-simultaneous-introduction-of