Report from the National Migrant Worker Event in November 2023, Edmonton:

“The closed work permit system sets us up for exploitation the moment we sign the work contract with the employer. It restricts our freedom of movement and takes away our freedom of choice. We are reclaiming our dignity and respect back and calling on the government for unconditional open work permits with realistic and straightforward pathways to permanent residency.


“Currently, the requirements in the limited options for permanent residency are too farfetched and discriminate against workers based on their language ability and field of work, among others. We are the backbone of the Canadian economy and should have barrier-free pathways to permanent residency.


“We also demand a regularization now for those of us who are undocumented and continuously mistreated because of the lack of basic human rights.”

This is the collective statement that concluded the National Migrant Workers Event, “Migrant Workers Fight Back: Solutions for Migrant Justice,” which was held in Edmonton on November 12, 2023, at the Providence Renewal Centre. It brought together more than 60 people. Half of them were migrant workers from Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec. Migrant workers’ advocates, faith-based members, settlement workers, and community organizers also
attended the event.

The gathering took place on Sunday to increase the likelihood that migrant workers would be able to attend. Breakfast and lunch were provided to make the event more accessible. Whispering translation in Spanish was available for those who needed it.

Migrant workers continue to be subjected to inhumane working and living conditions. Immigration and other policies aiming at protecting workers are informed by labour exploitation discourse, focused on the culpability of single employers instead of addressing fundamental gaps preventing migrant workers from accessing basic rights. Workers continue to organize and fight back against colonial and racist policies and bring forward solutions designed by and for them. Building on CCR Migrant Worker Subcommittee work, this national meeting was an opportunity for migrant workers, advocates, and grassroots supporters to gather together and discuss strategies for a united response.

Click here to read the report