Exploitation, abuse, health hazards rise for migrant workers during COVID-19, group says

A bunch representing migrant staff in Canada is demanding higher protections after two males died from COVID-19, a whole bunch extra have been contaminated and complaints mount over harmful work and housing situations.

A brand new report paints a grim snapshot of staff who concern for his or her well being and livelihoods after arriving in Canada to carry out work the federal authorities has described as important to the nation’s meals provide.

The Migrant Staff Alliance for Change heard complaints from greater than a thousand staff on quite a lot of points, together with an absence of entry to protecting gear, crowded situations that do not enable bodily distancing, poor entry to correct meals throughout quarantine and unfair gouging on wages and meal prices.

The group’s government director, Syed Hussan, stated dismal housing and dealing situations have been reported for years, however throughout the pandemic, they’re much more harmful.

“Two staff are already useless, a whole bunch are sick, not less than two are in ICU. And we do not know what tomorrow will deliver,” he instructed CBC Information.

Hussan stated most migrant staff do not report situations out of concern of reprisal, or as a result of they do not have the flexibility to take action. They need the federal authorities to offer them everlasting resident standing to allow them to assert their proper to a protected office.

“In case you depart a job proper now, otherwise you refuse unsafe work, you face termination, homelessness, deportation and you’ll’t come again sooner or later. Everlasting residence standing takes away these limitations on you so you may preserve your self protected,” Hussan stated.

$50M to assist cowl prices

Annually about 60,000 international staff come to Canada.

In April, the federal authorities introduced $50 million to help farmers and fish processors who are bringing in temporary foreign workers throughout the COVID-19 disaster.

Underneath that program, employers are eligible for as much as $1,500 per international employee to assist cowl the prices of complying with a compulsory two-week quarantine upon their arrival in Canada.

Employers should present lodging for the staff throughout the self-isolation interval and pay the employees throughout the 14-day interval.

On the time, Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau stated the funds have been to assist employers perform the “important” work of feeding the nation whereas defending the well being and security of Canadians.

“The women and men who work in our meals provide chain are important to making sure Canadians have entry to quite a lot of prime quality meals at an inexpensive worth. In lots of areas within the nation the manufacturing of meals, significantly contemporary vegetables and fruit, depends on the contribution of skilled non permanent international staff proper from planting season to reap,” she stated on the time.

‘Disaster from inside a disaster’

The alliance will formally launch its report, referred to as “Unheeded Warnings: COVID-19 and Migrant Staff,” at a midday ET information convention right this moment with international staff talking out about their experiences.

Calling the heightened risks “a disaster from inside a disaster,” the report requires instant motion to deal with the “basic discrimination and exploitation constructed into Canada’s non permanent immigration packages.” 

“Till then, there’ll all the time be extra abuses to reveal, indignities to denounce and calls for for change to be made,” it reads. 

The report says the workload for a lot of international hires has intensified throughout COVID-19, and that some employers are forcing staff to go at “breakneck pace.”

“As fewer staff are coming in, or staff’ arrivals are delayed, migrant staff already right here have seen dramatic work intensification: 128 staff reported working for weeks with out a break day, being pressured to work lengthy hours, and struggling elevated strains, accidents and illness as a consequence of elevated tempo of labor,” the report says.

As employment and labour legal guidelines exclude migrant staff, there are not any rights to minimal wage, time beyond regulation pay, hours of labor, breaks, days off, or collective bargaining, the report states.

Staff additionally alleged elevated acts of racism from employers, native outlets and a few group members who handled them like they have been “illness carriers.”

The report says 209 migrant staff reported elevated intimidation, surveillance and threats from employers, “usually below the guise of COVID-19 protocols.”

Reviews of anti-black racism

The report additionally famous the next variety of complaints from Caribbean staff, who’re largely black males.

“Racism, and particularly anti-black racism, underpins staff’ expertise,” the report states.

Different complaints outlined within the report embrace:

  • Staff who couldn’t bodily distance throughout the obligatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival in Canada.
  • Lack of entry to well being care and data.
  • Unfair wage and meal price clawbacks.
  • Crowded housing situations after quarantine with out important sanitization.
  • Misplaced earnings as a consequence of border closures and prolonged journey instances.
  • Lack of capability to ship remittances (funds) to household at house.

CBC Information has not verified the complaints within the report.

NDP MP Jenny Kwan says the federal government should do extra to guard international staff.

“We are saying we worth them and we want them for our economic system, and sure we do. However we additionally want to make sure that we comply with on that once they come to Canada. They need to have the ability to return house protected and sound,” she stated.

NDP requires pathway to residency

Kwan stated the federal authorities should additionally supply a pathway to everlasting resident standing below the precept of “adequate to work, adequate to remain.”

Kwan additionally stated the federal government must step up enforcement to ensure employers are treating staff safely and humanely.

Service Canada can perform inspections, with or with out discover, to confirm and employer’s compliance with this system, together with inside the first 14 days of the non permanent international employee’s arrival.

Between March 1 and Could 29, there have been 585 inspections, based on a spokesperson for Carla Qualtrough, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Improvement and Incapacity Inclusion.

Penalties for not complying with the brand new situations embrace fines of as much as a $1 million and bans on hiring international staff as much as a everlasting ban.

The federal government has not but responded to a request for data on what penalties, if any, have been imposed up to now.

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