The Conservatives hate refugees, immigrants and migrant workers
The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, an alliance of migrant workers, labour unions and community organizations denounces the latest Tory “jobs-strategy”, paying migrant workers 15% less than Canadian citizens.
“In April of 2010, Canada was shocked to hear of the death of 11 migrant workers that died in a car crash when a car driver after working an 11 hour day could no longer pay attention to the road and crashed. Migrant workers allies hoped that this tragedy would force the Conservative government to change its path,” says Kay Manuel, a Live-In Caregiver and member of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change. “Instead, the government has further concertized the race to the bottom by legislating lower wages for migrant workers that are already being exploited by employers and third parties.”
“Paying some people lower wages simply on the basis of their citizenship is fundamentally against human rights and legitimizes further abuse against migrant workers,” says Chris Ramsaroop from Justice for Migrant Workers and a member of Migrant Workers Alliance for Change. “These strategies result in creating a second class tier of workers with few rights and lower wages and go against the Federal Government’s own 2006 Labour Standards Review that called for equal pay for equal work. Have we not learned from our history lessons of how Chinese workers were treated in this country and the resulting trauma it caused?”
“The Conservative decision to legalize exploitation of migrant workers comes in a week of major changes in immigration policy all calculated to force immigrants in to more and more precarious work,” adds Chris Sorio from Migrante, a member of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change. “Bill C-31, cuts to refugee healthcare, changes to the spousal sponsorship and parents and grandparents sponsorship are all part of a strategy to keep immigrants in precarious job, with low wages that benefit no one but employers and corporations.”
Ottawa will strip thousands of refugees of health-care coverage starting in July unless their conditions pose a threat to public health. Critics called the move “mean-spirited” and warned that denial of health care could lead to unnecessary deaths. “If this is what they are doing, there is no question that the application of this will result in people dying,” said lawyer Rick Goldman of the Canadian Council for Refugees. Currently, all refugees are covered by the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP), which provides basic health coverage, sometimes with supplementary services such as pharmaceutical care, dentistry, vision care and devices such as walkers and wheelchairs, if required.
This winter, Jason Kenney introduced Bill C-31, the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, in Parliament. We have been watching the debate around this bill with some concern. It seems that Kenney believes the system needs protection from migrants. We, on the other hand, believe migrants, particularly refugees, need protection from his bill. We are a group of primary care physicians who support our patients, many of whom are refugees, to live proactively healthy lives. This approach is good medical practice, and yes, it even reduces health-care costs. We also recognize that people’s health status is dependent on their social and political realities. We therefore advocate for policies that support healthy living and condemn those that cause harm.