Migrant employee advocates say the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the necessity for the federal authorities to create a brand new mechanism for international staff to entry vital advantages like employment insurance coverage (EI).
Debbie Douglas, government director of the Ontario Council of Businesses Serving Immigrants, advised the Home human sources committee on Monday that the federal government should discover a means to make sure that non permanent international staff (TFWs) can entry the advantages they’re already paying into, such because the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) and EI advantages.
“What [TFWs] want is access to those benefits when they need them, whether or not they get sick and or there is a shortage of jobs, including if they have to return to their country,” she advised MPs as a part of their research on the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic on migrant staff and people dwelling in Canada with precarious immigration standing.
The assembly comes simply days after a 3rd Mexican migrant employee died from COVID-19 in Ontario.
Regardless of paying into EI packages, migrant farm staff have by no means been eligible for full EI advantages as a result of they’re seasonal. Nevertheless, they did entry to EI’s particular parental, maternal and compassionate advantages up till December 2012 when Stephen Harper’s Conservative authorities eradicated the profit.
In April, the federal government introduced that employers should pay TFWs throughout their 14-day self isolation interval, and pledged $1,500 for every non permanent international employee for eligible employers. As effectively, the feds dedicated to offering these staff with entry to EI advantages and different earnings helps in the event that they develop into ailing, laid-off, or must quarantine as a result of COVID-19.
Syed Hussan, the manager director of the Migrant Employees Alliance for Change, stated many migrant staff have been pressured to threat their lives and are available to Canada or be with out earnings, as CERB and EI weren’t accessible to those staff, despite the fact that many work and pay taxes in Canada 12 months after 12 months. The consequence, he stated, has been the demise of three migrant staff thus far, together with Mexican migrant employee Juan López Chaparro who died from COVID-19 in Norfolk County in Southern Ontario on Saturday.
His demise was preceded by the passing of Mexican farm employee Bonifacio Eugenio Romero, 31, in Could. He was the primary migrant employee to die from COVID-19. Per week later, 24-year-old Rogelio Muñoz Santos additionally died after contracting the virus. Each migrant staff have been employed on farms in Ontario’s Windsor-Essex County.
Hussan stated the three males are only one instance of the “series of injustices” occurring throughout Canada as migrants within the nation don’t have entry to CERB, healthcare, or jobs amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
At his every day press briefing Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated anybody who works in Canada should be ready to take action in a protected setting, saying that has not been the case for a lot of migrant staff. He stated the employees are an necessary a part of Canada’s meals provide chain, and that their safety should be assured.
“I think it’s obvious that we need to do a better job of ensuring that rules are followed for temporary foreign workers in Canada,” he stated.
Hussan stated elevated inspections of circumstances on farms is not going to resolve the issue, saying that farmers are following the legal guidelines, however staff are nonetheless being given insufficient housing, and face reprisal and never being introduced again the following 12 months in the event that they complain. As effectively, he famous that some farmers aren’t offering sufficient meals for staff throughout their 14 day self-isolation interval, whereas staff can’t achieve entry to groceries in their very own,
Hussan stated the answer is to create a single-tier immigration system which provides full immigrations standing for everybody who involves Canada.
“We need a single-step solution,” he stated.
This could resolve the “technical issues” of packages like CPP being deposited into Canadian checking account, and due to this fact not being accessible to migrant staff in Mexico, in addition to points like staff not gaining access to healthcare.
Douglas stated her sense that migrant staff don’t thoughts paying taxes however need entry to the advantages after they want it, resembling in the event that they’re sick or if there’s a scarcity of jobs. However, she agreed with Hussan that staff coming to Canada must be given the choice, noting that some staff need to keep, whereas others need to return to their dwelling nation.
Douglas additionally stated the federal authorities may pull from present undocumented residents, migrant staff, refugees claimants, worldwide college students to assist meet immigration targets already set for 2020 and 2021, noting that they are going to probably not be met due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A latest report from Statistics Canada discovered there have been 550,000 non permanent staff (non permanent residents who acquired a T4 slip in the course of the 12 months) in Canada in 2017, accounting for 15.5 per cent of workers in agriculture, forestry, fishing and searching fields. The report additionally stated international staff made up 41.6 per cent of agricultural staff in Ontario, and over 30 per cent of agricultural staff in Quebec, British Columbia and Nova Scotia in 2017.