On December 18, 2000 the United Nations celebrated the first International Migrants Day (also known as the Global Day of Action Against Racism and for the Rights of Migrants, Refugees and Displaced People). The date was chosen to commemorate the UN's international convention in 1990 which protects the rights of migrants and their families. The day raises awareness about the human and labour rights of migrant workers.
Migrant workers are often recruited as indentured labour by large corporations. They have no rights to residency and are often given temporary work visas. This means they are left at the mercy of their employers to maintain residency, leaving them vulnerable to abuse. Migrant workers pay taxes and EI but don't receive the same benefits as citizens. They are seen as cheap labour by big business and often stigmatized and not afforded the same respect and dignity as other workers. If migrant workers attempt to organize or are suspected of union activity, they are unjustly fired, creating a culture of fear around lobbying for basic labour rights.
More than 175 million workers have been driven from their homelands by conflict, poverty and oppression, left to find work to support themselves and their loved ones elsewhere in the world. In 2011 more than 250,000 of these workers entered Canada, a 30% increase this year alone. Migrant workers can also face continued exploitation by the government, with barriers and red tape barring them from accessing their rights or making labour complaints.
Thanks to Conservative Minister of Immigration/Deportation Jason Kenney, migrants are having a harder time entering, working and having their rights remain intact. The number of refugees granted permanent residency has plummeted 25%, skilled worker's visas have dropped 20%, and the quotas for live-in caregivers to attain permanent residency has also dive bombed by 50%. It's also harder for migrant workers to bring their families to Canada. Kenney has reduced quotas for spouses and children by 4,000 per year and temporarily stopped the sponsorship of parents and grandparents.
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