Today is International Migrants Day. Ironically, it also happens to be the day of the World Cup Soccer finals. France and Argentina will face off in one of many stadiums built on the backs of migrant labourers. Countless of migrant workers have died in preparations for this tournament. There has been worldwide outrage at the massive scale of human loss and suffering.
Canada joined this outcry, calling on the Qatari government to treat migrant workers with dignity and respect. Canada’s sports minister Pascale St-Onge went so far as to refuse to attend the tournament as a gesture of solidarity against the human rights abuses of the LGBTQ+ community and migrant workers.
But what is Canada’s own record when it comes to migrant workers?
For years, workers coming to Canada have been abused and mistreated. Temporary Foreign Workers in farms, hospitality, caregiving, construction, and entertainment sectors are legislated into dangerous, exploitative positions. Arriving through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program permits tying them to only one employer means they have little recourse if they discover their working conditions are dangerous or deplorable. Families must be left behind, and there is no access to permanent resident status. Migrant workers lost their lives during COVID because Canada treated their lives as disposable.
Canada needs to see its reflection in the Qatari mirror. A country that wants to champion the human rights of migrant workers abroad must lead by example. Otherwise, these gestures of so-called solidarity are utterly empty and hypocritical.
What can you do?