In Canada, thousands of migrant workers, mainly racialized workers, harvest the food we eat, care for our children and our elders, and clean our homes and offices, all while separated from their children and families. They work in isolation for low wages, under dangerous conditions. CUPE supports migrant workers and allies seeking justice and organizing to end precarious living and working conditions.

Migrant workers in Canada faced racism, exploitation, and abuse before COVID-19. The pandemic has shone a harsh spotlight on the ways Canadian immigration policy endangers the lives of migrant workers and denies them basic labour rights. With precarious working and living conditions, migrant workers have been among the hardest hit. They have endured COVID-19 outbreaks because of dangerous work environments and weren’t covered by federal income support programs. Hundreds and possibly thousands of workers have lost their immigration status and are now “undocumented,” and at least 20 migrant farmworkers have died of COVID-19.

Around the world, 280 million people, including over 26 million refugees, have left their home countries and are migrants. These growing numbers reflect the many injustices at the root of the global migration crisis. These include growing inequality, poverty, unemployment, corruption and foreign intervention, climate change, and war.

International Migrants Day is a day to renew our collective work to build a better world, a world where everyone has dignity and respect at work and in all aspects of their lives, and where migrants do not face exploitation as workers because of their precarious immigration status.

CUPE calls on the Canadian government to ensure a living wage and income security for all migrant workers. Canada must also invest in programs that migrant workers can count on, including skills training, apprenticeships, strong public services, and robust social programs.

Canada should welcome more immigrants as future citizens, rather than temporary migrant workers. All foreign workers should be granted permanent resident status when they arrive, as part of a strong and progressive immigration program.