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Sisters and Brothers,

March 21st is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. It’s a good day to pursue a very important discussion on the employment challenges facing new Canadians and migrant workers.

We like to believe that we live in a country free from racism. However, our own Prime Minister thinks that there is no need for Employment Equity initiatives geared towards ensuring that our workforce is as diverse as our population. We like to think of Canada as a place to which people from all over the world can move to find the same opportunities as those who were born here. Unfortunately, the numbers tell a different story.

* 70% of new Canadians say they have encountered problems or barriers in the job-finding process.

* Statistics indicate that it now takes more than 10 years in Canada before a new Canadian is as likely to be employed as someone who was born here.

* Recent immigrants experience 45% lower earnings than their Canadian-born counterparts.

* About 20% of immigrants entering Canada during the 1990s found themselves in chronic low income, a rate about 2.5 times higher than among the Canadian born.

* The education level of new Canadians has little positive impact on their employment: Recent immigrants with university education have roughly the same rate of unemployment as those who did not complete high school.

Things are even more difficult for migrant workers, who do not enjoy the benefits of citizenship, but instead have their legal status controlled entirely by their employers. Employers can disregard labour standards and other responsibilities by using the threat of deportation.

We call on CUPE members to show solidarity with new Canadians and migrant workers. This March 21st, contact your Member of Parliament and demand that they make a commitment to ensuring that this country is one of equal opportunity in reality and not just on paper.

Together we can make a difference,

National President

National Secretary-Treasurer