New report shows Canadian laws allow for exploitation of migrant workers | National Union of Public and General Employees

New report shows Canadian laws allow for exploitation of migrant workers

“It’s a Made in Canada problem – it reflects the way immigration and labour laws and policies fail to adequately regulate Canada’s migrant labour market. But there is a Made in Canada solution.” - Fay Farady, Metcalf Foundation.

cover of report from Metcalf FoundationToronto (24 Sept. 2012) - Canadian laws present barriers to enforcing basic rights to decent work and allow temporary migrant workers to be exploited, says a new report published by the Metcalf Foundation. Made in Canada: How the law constructs migrant workers' insecurity reveals that low-wage migrant workers do not have the protections permanent workers do and therefore experience much more abuse.

The report highlights that the number of temporary foreign workers in Canada has more than tripled in the past decade. The Foundations says that "most low-wage migrant workers in Ontario labour as live-in caregivers; as agricultural workers; and in sectors such as hotels, restaurants, food processing, and construction. They are frequently underpaid, overworked, and denied basic rights like decent housing, and health and safety."

“Since migrant workers don’t enjoy the same legal status and protections as permanent residents, they are at higher risk of abuse by employers who take advantage of their vulnerability,” says the report’s author Fay Faraday, a respected constitutional, labour, and human rights lawyer.

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), the leading trade union working on migrant worker issues, has endorsed the reports' findings saying that "Faraday makes it clear that while the Canadian labour force is in desperate need of additional workers, the supports, programming, and services that are fundamental to a foreign worker program working efficiently are not in place."

"No longer are our governments about nation building by ensuring that immigrants are welcome to come to Canada as permanent residents, pay taxes, have children and continue to build a country. Rather, as the Made in Canada Report points out, our governments are overly concerned with running the country as a corporation and thinking about the next financial quarter, as opposed to where we will be in 20 years from now," says Wayne Hanley, the National President of UFCW Canada.

“It’s time to put an end to this type of exploitation,” says Faraday. “It’s a Made in Canada problem – it reflects the way immigration and labour laws and policies fail to adequately regulate Canada’s migrant labour market. But there is a Made in Canada solution.”

While federal immigration and provincial employment law and policy are typically developed separately, Made in Canada examines the two systems in an integrated way and recommends our federal and provincial governments do the same.

The findings also echo the work of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) and the Canadians for a Modern Industrial Strategy have been doing to reinforce the need to have transparent decision-making about what the country needs in a holistic way rather than a hands-off, or case-by-case approach to economic development and resource management.

More information:

Metcalf Foundation: Made in Canada: How the Law Constructs Migrant Workers’ Insecurity

NUPGE: Canada Needs a Modern Industrial Strategy

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE