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Home Balitang Migrante <strong>Minister Fraser’s Pathway Announcement: “Disappointing” </strong><strong></strong>

Minister Fraser’s Pathway Announcement: “Disappointing”

<strong>Minister Fraser’s Pathway Announcement: “Disappointing” </strong><strong></strong>
The policy was far from what migrant groups want: a nationwide, fair, inclusive, and just regularisation programme that leaves no undocumented migrant worker behind. (Photo courtesy of Migrante Alberta)

By E Maestro

Migrant organizations, migrant justice advocates, allies, and the thousands of undocumented migrants all across Canada still have to see Prime Minister Justin Trudeau deliver on the  promise he made on December 16, 2021 to create a regularization program that will ensure regularization for undocumented migrants and permanent resident status for all.

The recent announcement of Immigration Minister Sean Fraser of providing a pathway to permanent residency to only just 1,000 undocumented construction workers, and only in the Greater Toronto Area was a big let down. Minister Fraser was quoted in the Toronto Star that the pathway or the pilot program was to “address critical labour shortages for the Greater Toronto Area by supporting stability in the construction industry and bringing workers out of the underground economy.” Under this pilot program, undocumented workers who are potential applicants will have to identify themselves to the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC)  for pre-screening and if qualified would be referred to the Immigration Department for final assessment. Application ends on Jan 2, 2024. The pathway is not a guarantee for regularization, which begs the question of where do workers who have come out from the “underground” but are not deemed qualified to work in the GTA, where will they go? Underground again?

The policy was far from what the migrant groups want — a fair, inclusive and just regularization program that ensures that no undocumented migrant worker is left behind, and one that is done across the country.

Marco Luciano, Director of Migrante Alberta who is based in Edmonton, said that the announcement from Minister Fraser was “disappointing.”  He added that “It does not address the fundamental issue of undocumented migrants. Piecemeal regularization is not the solution. We demand an inclusive regularization program without caps and for all sectors. We must end the inhumane deportation and detention of migrants.”

Apparently, this policy is not new because this is simply an extension of a public policy created in January 2020 which ran for three years, but “only 500 applications were processed because of exclusionary requirements,” according to the Migrants Rights Network.

To be able to apply for PR under this recent policy, the undocumented workers must meet ALL the government requirements. The undocumented worker must have

  • entered Canada as a temporary resident but have lost status;
  • lived in Canada for at least FIVE years;
  • the right work experience as outlined in the National Occupational Classification (NOC): past work experience and “be working in Canada”;
  • family in Canada, i.e., either extended family who are citizens or permanent residents  OR spouse, common law partner or child in Canada;
  • be referred by the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) to Immigration if considered eligible;
  • be admissible to Canada which means overstaying your temporary resident status  and working without a valid work permit are considered admissible in this case. It will be an immigration officer who will determine if you are not admissible.

To liken this “pathway” to a road, it will best be described as a pathway that is narrow, full of potholes, checkpoints, toll fees, and danger, with no assurance that the undocumented worker will successfully reach the end of the path. To walk down that pathway is to go through the grim bureaucracy of documents, such as getting certificates from past employers who may have been the reason for the worker losing status, and securing police certificates from each country where the worker have stayed for six or more months, not only for the worker but for all family members. Don’t forget the application fees of $1,085 processing and right of PR for the undocumented worker which is only the start because there are fees like biometric fees and others for the worker and family members.

The recent announcement is indeed a BIG disappointment because the government could do more than that. Without an inclusive and just regularization program, the arrests and detentions of undocumented migrants will continue, deportations will not stop, and worse, deaths of migrants under the custody of the Canada Border Services Agency will still happen.

One way to address the labour shortage is to get more workers. Canada does not have to look far because an estimated 500,000 of these workers are already in Canada, already working, many of them in essential and frontline work, contributing to the Canadian economy and keeping our communities running, especially under this continuing pandemic.

Migrant workers know the simple logic: Good enough to work, good enough to stay.###