For the first time foreign workers in Canada are uniting to form a common front and fighting for higher wages, better treatment and working conditions by Canadian employers. Whereas Canada’s temporary foreign worker programs were largely targeted at foreign farm workers and foreign live-in caregivers now foreign workers make up a significant percentage of the Canadian labor market. Foreign workers are now working in the food and service, hospitality, tourism and restaurant industries across Canada, this is a shift to higher paying and more prestigious jobs.

The new advocacy group, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change is committed to fighting for better working conditions and ensuring that Canadian employers are paying salaries consistent with those offered to foreign workers in their application for a Labor Market Opinion (LMO). This alliance is made up of 17 separate foreign worker groups in different industries coming together to fight for more rights.

Canada, like the rest of the world recently experienced an economic downturn, nonetheless Canada issued work permits to 283,096 foreign workers. This number is nearly double the number of foreign workers issued work permits in 2006. Foreign workers are often at the mercy of Canadian employers so that they will be able to renew their work permit or apply for a Canada permanent resident visa. Most employer-based Canada permanent resident programs require that a person have some work experience in Canada on a valid work permit and that their work permit remain valid for the duration of the processing of their application. This means that in some cases a foreign worker will be required to remain in a job that does not meet certain standards until they obtain a Canada permanent resident visa.

Foreign workers need not only work about the Canadian employer listed on their work permit. Many foreign nationals obtain a job offer in Canada through an employment or recruitment agency. Many of these agencies either require fees for finding jobs for the foreign workers, which is illegal according to Canadian immigration law.

The specific goals of the alliance are to change the law so that foreign workers become immediately eligible for Canada permanent residency upon arrival, access to the same social programs available to Canada permanent residents and are better protected under provincial labor laws. 

For more information about immigrating to Canada, contact FWCanada – Canadian Immigration Law Firm

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