Migrant Workers Alliance for Change says roughly 70,000 low-waged workers are impacted by regulations barring renewal of work permits past four years
PETERBOROUGH - Migrant justice advocates in Peterborough plan to rally outside city hall to urge the federal government and opposition parties to change course on the Temporary Foreign Workers Program and the so-called "4 and 4 rule."
That rule, which bars the renewal of work permits past four years for migrant workers, will affect roughly 70,000 low-waged workers, according to the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change. The clock on the first four years started on April 1, 2011, but many workers have been in Canada for years prior to that, the group says. In an effort to give permanent resident status to workers across the country, more than 3,000 people have signed a petition.
"Many of the people who are being forcibly uprooted on April 1 have lived in the country for longer than four years. They have families, friends, and relationships," says Liza Draman from the Caregivers Action Centre. "Workers already face abuse from employers and recruiters because of bad provincial and federal laws, pulling them away from their communities on top of that is unjust, inhumane and arbitrary."
Syed Hussan, with the alliance, agrees.
"These laws aren't good for workers or employers," he says. "It doesn't serve anyone's purpose to remove a trained workforce, and replace it with new workers that are less aware of their rights. Why does holding down a job for four years result in deportation? Our communities need migrant workers to have permanent status. This mass deportation is classic economic mismanagement and is frankly irrational."
People working low-wage jobs in service, retail, caregiving, manufacturing and agriculture among others are not able to immigrate to Canada permanently under existing federal law. At the same time, the Parliamentary Budget Officer recently noted that the number of Canadian citizens in "low-skilled" jobs has dropped by 26 per cent between 2002 and 2013, highlighting the need for permanent immigrants in these sectors.
The Campaign Against the 4 Year Limit on Migrant Workers is made up of 19 organizations across Canada, and demands have been endorsed by nearly a dozen major national groups.
Peterborough's protest begins at 12:30 p.m. at City Hall on March 27.
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