Justice for Migrant Workers

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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.

Celebrate International Migrants Day with J4MW

On December 18, 2013 Justicia 4 Migrant Workers (J4MW) invites you to our annual vigil in recognition of International Migrant Workers Day. On this day, we will pause, joining migrant workers and allies around the world in reflection.

 

This short vigil will bring some of the experiences and actions that were part of our work this past year, into focus.

 

In 2013, we saw horrific injustices: debilitating accidents, sexual violence, and racial profiling perpetrated against migrant workers – all of which we would like to commemorate, because they have become catalysts for action, and have deepened our organizing efforts.

 

In this spirit, please join us.

 

INTERNATIONAL MIGRANT WORKERS DAY
Wednesday, December 18, 2013 (5:00 – 6:00pm)
Chinese Railroad Monument
Location: Blue Jays Way / Navy Wharf Court. This is one street south of Front St., east off of Spadina Avenue.

For more information, please contact J4MW
j4mw.on@gmail.com
www.justiceformigrantworkers.org

Recent titles on the SAWP/TFWPs in Canada

Compiled by Sam Mensah for J4MW
1) Binford, Leigh. “Tomorrow we’re all going to the harvest: Temporary Foreign Worker programs and neoliberal political economy”. University of Texas, 2013. 
2) Read, Jodi, Zell, Sarah, Fernandez, Lynne. “Migrant Voices: Stories of Agricultural Migrant Workers in Manitoba”. Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 2013. 
3) Aguiar, Luis, Shneider, J. Christopher. “Researching Amongst the Elites: Challenges and Opportunities in studying up” 
Last Chapter—> “Methodological challenges faced when researching in hostile environments: The SAWP in a Canadian hinterland”. Ashgate, 2012. 
4) Lowe, J. Sophie. “Transitioning Temporary Foreign Workers to Peramanent Residents: A case for better foreign credential recognition”. Ebrary-CEL, York University, 2012. 
5) Hari, Amrita, McGrath, Susan, Preston, Valerie. “Temporariness in Canada: Establishing a Research Agenda”. CERIS, Ontario Metropolis Centre, 2013. 
6) Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. “Evaluation of the Labour Market Opinion Streams of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. 2012. 
7) Lenard, Patti, Straehle, Christine. “Legislated Inequality: Temporary Labour Migration in Canada”. McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2012.

Dear Mr. Patterson by Hannah Brutin

Dear Mr. Patterson,

It brings me great sadness to be writing this letter to you today.

I feel frustrated with the way you are deciding to engage with what happened to your daughter. As a woman, who has experienced first-hand having lewd remarks made at me about my body, I feel the way you are responding is fundamentally wrong. I think you need to take into consideration the divide that happens with workers in your community and what you seem to identify as the community. Jamaican workers are community members who contribute to your community and your economy in positive ways.

One interaction does not justify lumping a group of people together or responding to them in a negative way. I have had sexual comments/advances made to me from people from a variety of backgrounds and cultures and none of these interactions has led me to believe that any of these groups are ‘a problem’. I think sometimes it is harder to see these things within our own cultural context, but I would like to remind you that sexual harassment is perpetrated by white men in Canada on a regular basis and that Jamaican workers are not solely perpetrators of these behaviors.

Tackling sexual assault and violence should not be something directed at one specific group of men. All men need to learn and take this work on within their own cultural contexts. I would challenge you to begin addressing sexism within your community (not toward anyone in particular) and on a second count challenge the racism inherent in these comments, perceptions and responses. Many workers have very little rights and I also challenge you to listen to workers voices and allow those voices to infuse all of these conversations. If anyone is being affected they should be able to engage in dialogue about how these things affect them. Instead of pushing these people away from your community and perpetuating hatred, I encourage you to involve them in your community and these conversations. 

Please consider these challenges.

Sincerely,

Hannah Brutin

Dear Mr. Mayor by Carly Forbes

Dear Mr. Mayor;

I am very sorry to hear about the sexual harassment experienced by your daughter.  As a young woman I know that these interactions can be very scary.

At the same time I am alarmed by your reaction to this.  You have used this incident to demonize an black men in your community.  Would you have had the same reaction if it was a white “citizen” of Leamington who made those comments towards your daughter?  In this society men from all backgrounds sexually harass women all the time.  The way you have responded to this incident will only serve to exacerbate racial tensions in your community.


Migrant farm workers are in very precarious circumstances as it is.  They also experience harassment and abuse at the hands of their employers.


Earlier this year Adrian Monrose won a settlement but I can only assume that there are hundreds of other workers with similar experiences that don’t have the support and the means to take it to court.  Your lack of response to this sends a message to employers that this is ok.  

Please seriously consider the harm that your reaction and lack of reaction are causing to migrant farm labourers.  Remember that they are an important part of the economy and community.


Thank you for your time and consideration,


Sincerely,

Carly Forbes