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Our Declaration

Migrant workers are important members of our communities and perform essential work in many industries. Many of these workers are issued employer-specific work permits, which make it extremely difficult to change jobs, restricting their labour mobility within the country. This is a violation of their fundamental human right to freely change employers.


The widespread abuse and mistreatment of migrant workers in Canada fuelled by this unjust policy is extensively documented. There is a growing consensus that these permits significantly contribute to the heightened vulnerability of migrant workers to violations of their rights.  Migrant workers and their allies have long demanded that the government put an end to the employer-specific work permit and implement policies that would respect workers’ right to freely change employers.

Canada has given repeated assurances that addressing the rampant violations of migrant workers’ rights is a priority. While the federal government has tried to address the harm created by the employer-specific work permit with a variety of different approaches, none have had any substantial impact on the structural vulnerability of migrant workers to the systemic abuse by employers.

Transformative and lasting solutions are needed. Until migrant workers can freely change employers, they will have little choice but to endure exploitative and unsafe working conditions. It is time for the government to abolish the employer-specific work permit and issue open work permits to all migrant workers, regardless of national origin or occupation.

Our Mission

We believe that addressing the rampant violations of migrant workers' rights is a priority. Transformative and lasting solutions are needed.

About Us

This declaration was prepared by the Campaign for Open Work Permits Now. The Campaign is coordinated by the Canadian Council for Refugees and led by its Migrant Workers Committee. It brings together organizations and individuals from across the country committed to advancing the rights of migrant workers in Canada. 


We invite all organizations working with migrant workers, newcomers, and other marginalized populations, labour unions, human rights organizations, employers, faith groups, think tanks, and allies working to address equal access to rights for all workers in Canada to endorse this declaration. 


  • Canadian Council for Refugees

  • Migrante Canada

  • Migrante Alberta

  • Immigrant Workers Centre

  • Association for the Rights of Household and Farm Workers

  • OCASI - Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants

  • National Alliance of Racialized, Refugee and Im/Migrant Women

  • United Food and Commercial Workers Canada

  • Collaborative Network to End Exploitation

  • FCJ Refugee Centre

  • Migrants Resource Centre Canada

  • Legal Assistance of Windsor

  • Cooper Institute

  • PEI Action Team for Migrant Worker Rights

  • Our Lady's Missionaries

  • Clinique pour la justice migrante

  • Centre d'activités populaires et éducatives (CAPE)

  • Réseau d'intervention auprès des personnes ayant subi la violence organisée (RIVO)


  • Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)

  • Table de concertation des organismes au service des personnes réfugiées et immigrantes (TCRI)

  • Alberta Association of Immigrant Serving Agencies

  • International Migration Research Centre


  • Waterloo Region Community Legal Services

  • Becoming Neighbours

  • Comité d'action contre la traite humaine interne et internationale (CATHII)

  • Le Pont

  • Réseau d'aide aux travailleuses et travailleurs migrants agricoles du Québec (RATTMAQ)

  • Office for Systemic Justice, Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph of Canada
  • Ursuline Sisters of Chatham

  • Sexual Assault Centre (Hamilton and Area) SACHA

  • Citizens for Public Justice

  • Comité SNJM Justice et Paix

  • Fédération des maisons d’hébergement pour femmes (FMHF)

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