Justice for Migrant Workers

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TFWs needed for research in #TO: $25 for participation

Dear Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) and Permanent Residents (former TFWs)

 A team of researchers from University of Ottawa will be conducting interviews about your work experiences in Canada and becoming (or trying to become) a Permanent Resident in Canada.  The sharing of experiences is open to current TFWs and Permanent Residence who used to be TFWs.  The information you share will be absolutely confidential.

To participate, it is ideal if you currently have or have previously had an Approved Labour Market Opinion (LMO). However, exceptions can be made for participants on different temporary work permits (will be determined on a case-by-case basis).

There are some benefits to participating:

1)      Your work-life experiences will help us to understand TFW issues and to contribute to better policies in the future for this program.

2)      Each person will be given $25.00 for participating.

You are invited to participate in a one-on-one interview which would take approximately 1 – 1 ½ hours.

 Schedules:

 One-on-one Interview (scheduled by participant availability in 1.5 hour timeslots) - 

Thursday, June 19, 1pm-7pm

Friday, June 20, 2014 10am-7pm

Saturday, June 21, 2014 10am-6pm

 Location:        FCJ Refugee Centre

208 Oakwood Ave.
Toronto, ON M6E 2V4

To participate, or for questions about this research, please contact:

Leanne Perera

Email: lpere043@uottawa.ca  telephone: 416.890.2714   

*****(Not including workers in the SAWP or LCP)        

 

Jun 2

Wenford Graham speaks out about poor treatment to injured migrants from Ontario’s workers’ compensation system, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB).

I am a migrant worker.  I worked in Ontario and I got my injury in 2010 while I was harvesting tobacco.  The liaison officer (which is the government agent from Jamaica) took my statement about what happened and talked with the boss. They sent me home on the 28th of September and from there the WSIB left me on my own. 

Since my injury, my life has not been easy.  I’m suffering real bad and I need some help.  I was sent by to my family injured. My wife has to take care of my back daily.  I wake up at night and my wife has to go get ice. I cannot buy my medication for the pain because I’m not working and my wife’s not working.  I cannot do the farming anymore because of my injury, and whatever we have is what my wife and my son can bring in and it’s only a little amount. My farm has died out. The financial problems that I’m having mean I’m not able to pay bills or send my children to school so they can get a proper education. The kids also need shoes and someone else has given them it because I cannot buy it.   My wife cannot go to the supermarket.  We have to rely on family. When I wake up I find it harder and harder.  We don’t know how we are going to survive. 

The law is not justified. There is no money for medication or doctors and the WSIB don’t give me a proper argument about why they won’t do anything for me or my family.  I know a few guys who got injured on the farmworker program and they send them home and they didn’t get any proper treatment also.  The WSIB doesn’t care.  I wish someone who is working in the WSIB would hear what I have to say about my situation and take it under proper consideration.  This type of treatment should not happen to another migrant worker or any one else.

Recent media articles on “Temporary Foreign Workers” with/by J4MW

Ban on hiring foreign workers can’t address crisis

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/04/25/ban_on_hiring_foreign_workers_cant_address_crisis.html

How a little Alberta union helps temporary foreign workers become Canadian

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/how-a-little-alberta-union-helps-temporary-foreign-workers-become-canadian-1.2629710

How Canada became addicted to temporary foreign workers

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/how-canada-became-addicted-to-temporary-foreign-workers-1.2627572

Moratorium imposed on TFW use in food sector

http://www.ohscanada.com/news/moratorium-imposed-on-tfw-use-in-food-sector/1003046161/?&er=NA

How Canada became addicted to temporary foreign workers

https://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/canada-became-addicted-temporary-foreign-workers-090000708.html

Top Filipino diplomat defends Ottawa’s foreign worker program

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/top-filipino-diplomat-defends-ottawas-foreign-worker-program/article18320224/

Temporary foreign workers ban for Windsor on the table: report

http://blogs.windsorstar.com/2014/05/16/temporary-foreign-worker-ban-for-windsor-on-the-table-report/

From the margins

http://fromthemargins.h-a-z.org/podcast/?p=episode&name=2014-05-06_may_5_chris_ramsaroop_tfw_moratorium.mp3

No One is Illegal radio May Day special

http://ckut.ca/c/en/node/864

No One is Illegal radio April 3rd edition

http://ckut.ca/c/en/node/813

Jim Richards Talk Radio 1010- April 29th, 2014 (10 minute mark)

http://www.newstalk1010.com/Hosts/JimRichards.aspx#podcasts

Temporary and Disposable: Foreign Worker revolving door enables abuse

http://www.leveller.ca/2014/03/temporary-and-disposable/

 

Misplaced blame on migrants in temporary foreign worker controversy

http://globalnews.ca/news/1292714/misplaced-blame-on-migrants-in-temporary-foreign-worker-controversy/

The Inherent racism of the temporary foreign worker program

http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2014/05/21/the_inherent_racism_of_the_temporary_foreign_worker_program.html

 

Ban on hiring foreign workers can’t address crisis

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/04/25/ban_on_hiring_foreign_workers_cant_address_crisis.html

How a little Alberta union helps temporary foreign workers become Canadian

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/how-a-little-alberta-union-helps-temporary-foreign-workers-become-canadian-1.2629710

How Canada became addicted to temporary foreign workers

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/how-canada-became-addicted-to-temporary-foreign-workers-1.2627572

Moratorium imposed on TFW use in food sector

http://www.ohscanada.com/news/moratorium-imposed-on-tfw-use-in-food-sector/1003046161/?&er=NA

How Canada became addicted to temporary foreign workers

https://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/canada-became-addicted-temporary-foreign-workers-090000708.html

Top Filipino diplomat defends Ottawa’s foreign worker program

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/top-filipino-diplomat-defends-ottawas-foreign-worker-program/article18320224/

Temporary foreign workers ban for Windsor on the table: report

http://blogs.windsorstar.com/2014/05/16/temporary-foreign-worker-ban-for-windsor-on-the-table-report/

From the margins

http://fromthemargins.h-a-z.org/podcast/?p=episode&name=2014-05-06_may_5_chris_ramsaroop_tfw_moratorium.mp3

No One is Illegal radio May Day special

http://ckut.ca/c/en/node/864

No One is Illegal radio April 3rd edition

http://ckut.ca/c/en/node/813

Jim Richards Talk Radio 1010- April 29th, 2014 (10 minute mark)

http://www.newstalk1010.com/Hosts/JimRichards.aspx#podcasts

Temporary and Disposable: Foreign Worker revolving door enables abuse

http://www.leveller.ca/2014/03/temporary-and-disposable/

 

Misplaced blame on migrants in temporary foreign worker controversy

http://globalnews.ca/news/1292714/misplaced-blame-on-migrants-in-temporary-foreign-worker-controversy/

The Inherent racism of the temporary foreign worker program

http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2014/05/21/the_inherent_racism_of_the_temporary_foreign_worker_program.html

 

May 6

Justicia’s questions for the “House of Labour”: CLC Convention

Justicia for Migrant Workers is a collective of migrant workers, community and labour activists who organize to fight for better working and living conditions for migrant workers here in Canada and in their home countries.

 This upcoming Canadian Labour Congress convention takes place at a critical juncture. Daily issues related to the crisis in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program grab headlines without any real dialogue on how to enact changes to enshrine the rights of migrant workers and to avoid a divide and rule strategy that only wounds the working class. Headlines construct a narrative or migrants taking Canadian jobs, decreasing workplace standards and having a negative impact in our economy.

We write this to challenge the conventional wisdom that migrant workers are the main reason for the crisis in the national and global economy.  Rather, our focus should place the blame squarely on Canada’s broken immigration system and a precarious labour market that denies all workers the ability to work with dignity.   

We encourage that any debate on migrant workers should focus on the following questions:

·   The labour movement has had a tumultuous relationship with grassroots workers and immigrant rights groups on issues relating to “temporary foreign workers”. What steps will you take to address the tensions that exist between the house of labour and grassroots community groups?

·   The labour movement has had a troubled relationship with any community we have defined as ‘foreign’. What lessons from the past can guide us in order that we learn from the past and not repeat the mistakes of history? How do we show solidarity with migrant workers and do not fan the flames of attacking migrant workers employed in our communities?

·   What steps will you take if elected to ensure that all workers including migrant workers have equal access to our social entitlements (including equal access to healthcare, education and Employment Insurance? Recently Federal and provincial governments are restricting migrant workers access to these basic programs. How will you support migrant workers and their efforts to resist these changes?

·   Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers will never be able to apply for residency of Canada because of our restrictive immigration laws. Do you support the ability of both current and previous migrant workers to access residency in Canada? If so what steps will you take to advocate for immigration reform? If you oppose residency for migrant workers please provide reasons. 

·     ”Temporary Foreign Workers” are being arrested, detained, jailed and deported for their desire to seek work - something that is impossible because of closed work permits which indenture workers to their employers. Once workers seek employment outside of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, they are criminalized and discarded simply for their desire to improve their working conditions. The labour movement has been silent on the issue of immigration raids. If you are elected how would you show solidarity for detained migrants? What steps would you undertake to counter how migrants are criminalized through our immigration policies? How would you address this contentious issue with unionized workers to counter how migrant workers are criminalized?

·   When a migrant worker gets injured, often they are repatriated (deported by their employer) almost immediately after an injury.  What concrete steps can rank and file members across Canada undertake to support injured and ill migrant workers and migrants facing deportation for standing up for their rights at work?

·   How will you implement a campaign to raise consciousness amongst unionized workers about the conditions that migrant workers face in Canada, and what would genuine solidarity look like from the labour movement to migrant workers.

Justicia for Migrant Workers, from the grassroots of the labour movement…

http://justicia4migrantworkers.org

 

Defend migrant workers access to healthcare in Ontario: join us this Tuesday!

:we need community support, please forward widely…

 Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW) is asking for court support this Tuesday March 25th, 2014 regarding migrant workers access to healthcare. This hearing will take place at Osgoode Hall [130 Queen Street West- closest main intersection is University Ave & Queen in Toronto] from 10:00am-1:00pm in courtroom #3

The provincial government is appealing a recent decision by the Health Services Appeal and Review board to extend OHIP to two injured migrant workers.  The review board and a subsequent reconsideration panel ruled that the two migrant workers are eligible to access medical care under Ontario’s health care system.

On August 9th, 2012 Kenroy Williams and Denville Clarke were among nine Jamaican migrant workers who were driving to work when their employer’s van swerved to avoid an oncoming car. The van rolled several times killing one passenger and severely injuring several others. Their employer attempted to return both Mr. Williams and Mr. Clarke to Jamaica after the accident despite their serious medical conditions and before they could receive adequate healthcare. Family members, the Industrial Accident Victims Group of Ontario and activists with Justicia for Migrant Workers intervened to help the workers remain in Ontario for their desperately needed medical treatment.

Both Mr. Williams and Mr. Clarke were employed under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP). As with all SAWP workers, Mr. Williams’ and Mr. Clarke’s OHIP coverage expired at the end of the farming season, even though they both remained seriously injured and in need of healthcare in Ontario.

The pair won their landmark appeal, which allowed them to receive extended healthcare in Ontario, at the Health Services Appeal and Review Board on August 16, 2013. The Ontario government challenged the ruling and, as a result, the Appeal Board reconsidered and affirmed the decision on September 26, 2013.

Your solidarity is appreicated. If you require any more information please contact Chris Ramsaroop at j4mw.on@gmail.com or 647 834 4932

Please click on the links below to see media coverage and previous legal decisions on this issue.

Province Challenges OHIP coverage to injured migrant workers
http://www.thestar.com/news/immigration/2013/09/06/province_challenges_ohip_coverage_to_injured_migrant_workers.html


Injured farm workers could lose  OHIP http://thecaribbeancamera.com/?p=1691

Migrant workers win healthcare extension http://www.ohscanada.com/news/ontario-migrant-workers-win-healthcare-extension/1002665473/?&er=NA

Injured migrant farm workers win back OHIP http://www.thestar.com/news/immigration/2013/10/07/injured_migrant_farm_workers_win_back_ohip.html

Government aims to deny injured seasonal workers health carehttp://sharenews.com/govt-aims-to-deny-injured-seasonal-workers-health-care/

Denying health coverage to injured migrant workers is shamefulhttp://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2013/09/18/denying_health_coverage_to_injured_migrant_workers_is_shameful.html

Court decisions

DC v KW https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onhsarb/doc/2013/2013canlii51668/2013canlii51668.html?searchUrlHash=AAAAAQAIbWlncmFudCAAAAAAAQ

DC  v General Manager https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onhsarb/doc/2013/2013canlii68981/2013canlii68981.html?searchUrlHash=AAAAAQAdc2Vhc29uYWwgYWdyaWN1bHR1cmFsIHdvcmtlcnMAAAAAAQ

Mar 4

J4MW welcomes systemic inquiry into racial profiling of migrant workers

Justicia For Migrant Workers

MEDIA RELEASE

Monday March 3, 2014

Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW) welcomes systemic inquiry into racial profiling of migrant workers.

Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW) welcomes today’s announcement by the Office of Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) that it will conduct a systemic review into the DNA sweep of approximately 100 Caribbean migrant workers near Vienna, Ontario. Today’s announcement is a result of a complaint that J4MW filed with the OIPRD on December 12, 2013.

In October and November 2013, the OPP conducted a DNA sweep where samples where taken from Indo-Caribbean and Afro-Caribbean men who did not conform to the suspect description. The men ranged in ages from 21 to 61, heights ranged from 5’0” to 6’5”, and body sizes ranged between 130 lbs to 310lbs. Other identifying features (e.g. hairstyle) were also disregarded. The DNA sweep was part of an investigation into assault against a local woman.

“We welcome the OIPRD’s decision to conduct a systemic review into the OPP’s racial profiling of migrant farm workers. This review has the potential to further expose the egregious police misconduct that was perpetrated during the OPP’s DNA sweep last October,” says Shane Martinez, a lawyer representing Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW).

Justicia for Migrant workers is a not-for-profit collective based both in Vancouver, BC and Toronto, ON that advocates for the rights of migrant workers.

For more information please contact:

Chris Ramsaroop – Tel: (647) 834-4932 E-mail: j4mw.on@gmail.com or Shane Martinez – Tel: (305) 897-8925 /(876) 343-2001 E-mail: shane@martinezlaw.com

 -30-

Film Screening and Reception; Becoming Ourselves: How Immigrant Women Transformed Their World

Becoming Ourselves: How Immigrant Women Transformed Their World

Film screening & Reception

Post-film discussion with Young Shin, Executive Director of Asian Immigrant Women Advocates

 

Becoming Ourselves: How Immigrant Women Transformed Their World is a new documentary film about how a social justice organization based in Oakland, California—Asian Immigrant Women Advocates (AIWA)—focused on building long-term collective leadership of limited-English speaking immigrants, and empowered women and youth to become powerful agents of social change.

 

AIWA has inspired hundreds of low–wage immigrant garment, electronic and healthcare workers in the San Francisco Bay Area. AIWA’s Community Transformational Organizing Strategy (CTOS) has been a model for many immigrant organizations. After 15 years, Young Shin is taking CTOS on the road to foster a broader dialogue with local communities in Canada and the U.S. about the importance of grassroots leadership development in community organizing.

J4MW & Sanctuary Health Statement about the North American Leader’s Summit in Mexico: Migrant and Human Rights not in the Leader’s Agenda

Statement about the North American Leader’s Summit in Mexico

As Canadian, Mexican and representatives of the United States of America met on Feb 19th in Toluca, Mexico, Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW) and the Sanctuary Health Collective want to highlight important issues that should be discussed this week but unfortunately were left outside and ignored.

  • Naming Mexico a Designated Country of Origin and ‘safe country’ under the premise that a democratic country should not produce refugees in order to further prevent Mexicans to claim refugee status while simultaneously publishing alerts of violence and crime on government official websites warning Canadians against visiting Mexico.
  • Poor and inhumane conditions at detention centers under Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) authority and lack of independent investigation of practices of CBSA, as evidenced by the recent death of Mexican migrant Lucia Vega Jimenez while in custody of CBSA.
  •  Lack of accountability of Mexican Consulate to advocate, support and defend the labour and human rights of Mexican Citizens while in Canadá and/or detention centers whether they are migrant workers or undocumented workers.
  • The absence of an international bilateral framework that enshrines Mexican migrant workers access to employment insurance and other social entitlements. Further, the elimination of social benefits such as Employment Insurance Parental Benefits for migrant workers employed under the auspices of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers program.
    • The denial of workers compensation benefits to long term injured migrant workers through the practice of deeming.
    • The disbarment of Mexican workers from participation Canada’s temporary foreign worker programs who exert their rights to organize and bargain collectively.
    • Refusing to address the human rights complaints filed by the British Columbia Public Advocacy Center on behalf of Mexican migrant workers employed by Tim Hortons Canada, who where unilaterally repatriated to Mexico for exerting their rights to work free from discrimination.
    • The refusal of provincial government’s across Canada to conduct a coroner’s inquest into the death of any migrant worker employed under Canada’s temporary foreign worker programs.
    • The problematic, discriminatory, two tiered access to health care faced by migrant workers employed across Canada.
    • The absence of an international framework to eliminate recruitment fees that migrant workers pay to work in Canada.
    • The countless deaths of migrant workers who die in Mexico and/or Canada as a result of injuries or sickness sustained while working in Canada and the systematic refusal of provincial governments across Canada to conduct coroner’s inquest into the death of migrant workers employed under bi-national agreements between Mexico-Canada.
    • The displacement of people mostly indigenous people and peasants from their communities due to extraction of natural resources by Canadian mining companies in México, Central and South America; the pollution of water and land due to open-pit mining without consent of communities living in these areas; and the Canadian and Mexican government’s complicity in the murder and harassment of community leaders opposing Canadian mining projects in their territories.

As activists and community organizers we believe the issues faced by migrant workers should be first and foremost in any tri-lateral talks. Yet to date, the ‘Three Amigos’ have chosen to ignore the violation of human and labour rights while they promote trade and the free movement of capital. It is clear that Harper, Pena Nieto and Obama in this meeting only discussed ways in which good, services; natural resources can be transferred across borders to serve the needs of Canada and the US’s capital accumulation. At the same time, the mobility of displaced population and impoverished people escaping economic scarcity and/or state violence is punished by either denying this population entrance into Canadian borders unless it is in the form of indenture labourers deemed disposable and displaceable.

We are in solidarity and echo the demands presented by our sister migrant rights’ organizations in Mexico and Central America who have manifested against free trade agreements that mean the criminalization and disenfranchisement of migrant population in Mexico, US and Canada. Visit this link to read their Open Letter to Obama, Harper and Pena-Nieto. http://imumi.org/attachments/2014/carta-abierta-obama-pena-al.pdf

Justicia for Migrant Workers – Canada

Sanctuary Health - Canada

Winter clothing donations are needed for migrant workers:

TORONTO PEOPLE: Drop off winter clothes for migrant workers who have arrived unprepared for this brutal cold. See details below—by Min Sook Lee.
"I’m currently shooting a new doc with migrant workers in Canada and many have arrived here unprepared for the blistering cold. Workers from Jamaica, Mexico, Thailand [and Guatemala] are freezing! If you have any extra [decent condition] winter clothes (mens and women’s) - coats, gloves, and sweaters please consider donating them. You can drop items off at 4 Life Natural Foods (257 Augusta Ave) in Kensington Market or the OFL Building (15 Gervais Drive) where Frank Saptel has organized a drop off box." 

Thank You to those who share this message…

Event: “We Are Not Disposable!”

Event: “We Are Not Disposable!”

Migrant farmworkers do some of the most dangerous work in Ontario yet they are heavily precluded from obtaining their rights to workers’ compensation. With limited exceptions, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) “disposes” of injured migrant workers to a life of poverty and ill health even though they were injured as a result of their labour in Ontario.

What:  Panel discussion and workshop with several injured migrant workers who stood up for their right to stay in Ontario for healthcare and workers compensation. 

 

When: Saturday, February 1, 2014; 3:30PM to 5:30PM

 

Where: College Street United Church,452 College Street, Toronto

 

TTC tokens available.  Refreshments will be served.  The space is accessible.  Free to attend.

 

This event is part of the “Better Healthcare” Campaign and is endorsed by Injured Workers Action for Justice, IAVGO Community Legal Clinic and Justicia for Migrant Workers.