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83 Academics Signed the Open Letter!

Full text of the letter:


The Honourable Marc Miller, P.C., M.P.

Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship of Canada

House of Commons

Ottawa, ON

K1A 0A6


Dear Minister,


In the coming weeks, the Government of Canada will consider changes to the system of closed work permits for temporary foreign workers - permits that "tie" workers to a single employer. These reforms need to be far-reaching, not band-aid solutions to an exploitative and abusive system. As members of the academic community, many of us teach and/or conduct research on issues related to migration justice; we join migrant workers in their condemnation of the current system and their call for open work permits and pathways to permanent residency.


In his visit to Canada in September, the UN Rapporteur condemned our closed work permit system for making migrant workers vulnerable to contemporary forms of slavery. The widespread exploitation and mistreatment experienced by migrant workers in Canada’s temporary foreign workers programs has been extensively documented. Human rights tribunals, labour boards, courts, parliamentary committees, and extensive academic research have all recognized that legal restrictions like closed work permits contribute significantly to workers’ vulnerability and prevent them from asserting their rights.


Successive Canadian governments continue to refuse to address the root of the problem. Superficial reforms, such as the Open Work Permit for Vulnerable Workers Program, are deliberately difficult to access and have failed to protect migrant workers from systemic abuse.


In November, a petition calling on the Government of Canada to eliminate closed work permits was presented to the House of Commons by Jenny Kwan, MP. This petition and the UN Rapporteur’s harsh criticisms of Canada’s temporary foreign worker program prompted Immigration Minister Marc Miller to review the closed work permit system. However, the reforms he has hinted at — merely replacing closed permits with sector-specific or regional-restricted permits — are not acceptable alternatives. Any permit that ties the worker to a specific employer or group of employers places them in a condition of servitude. The Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program, is, in essence, a sectoral work permit, and it is plagued with abuse and exploitation.


At a recent worker-led event in Edmonton, migrant workers spoke loud and clear: “The closed work permit system set us up for exploitation the moment we sign the work contract. It restricts our freedom of movement and takes away our freedom of choice. We are reclaiming our dignity and calling on the government for unconditional open work permits with realistic and straightforward pathways to permanent residency.” The call for open work permits is widely endorsed by migrant justice organizations across Canada and migrant workers themselves.


It is time for Parliament to act decisively and adopt just, transformative, and lasting solutions.


We, the undersigned, therefore, request the adoption of the following legislative changes:

1. Replace closed work permits with unconditional open work permits.

2. Open barrier-free pathways to permanent residency for all migrant workers (regardless of wage level or occupation).


Sincerely,

Monique Deveaux, Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Guelph

Min Sook Lee, Associate Professor, OCAD University

Candace Johnson, Professor, University of Guelph

Kristin Lozanski, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, King's University College at Western University

Stefan Dolgert, Associate Professor, Brock University

Chris Little, PhD Candidate, Department of Politics, York University

Ethel Tungohan, Associate Professor, York University

Jill Hanley, Full Professor, McGill School of Social Work

Vasanthi Venkatesh, Associate Professor, University of Windsor, Law Faculty

Heryka Miranda, Educator, Brock University and McMaster University

Luin Goldring, Professor of Sociology, York University

Laura Macdonald, Professor, Political Science, Carleton University

Eugénie Dépatie-Pelletier, Professeure associée, Université Laval

Edward Dunsworth, Assistant Professor of History, McGill University

Tanya Basok, Professor, University of Windsor

Stephanie Mayell, PhD Candidate, University of Toronto

Anne-Emanuelle Birn, Professor of Global Development Studies, University of Toronto

Tuulia Law, Assistant Professor, York University

Renee Sylvain, Associate Professor, University of Guelph

Susan Spearey, Associate Professor, Brock University

Janet McLaughlin, Associate Professor, Health Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University

Saara Liinamaa, University of Guelph

Leah Levac, Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Critical Community Engagement and Public Policy, University of Guelph

Lori Hanson, Professor Emeritus, University of Saskatchewan

Gavin Smith, Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto

Ben Brisbois, Adjunct Professor, University of Northern British Columbia

Ryan Isakson, Associate Professor of Global Development Studies, University of Toronto

Deborah Cowen, Professor, University of Toronto

Kate Korycki, Assistant Professor, Western University

Fidan Elcioglu, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Toronto

Isabelle Cochelin, Associate Professor, University of Toronto

Atiqa Hachimi, Associate Professor, University of Toronto

Donald Cole, Emeritus Professor, University of Toronto

Daniel Scott Tysdal, Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, Department of English, UTSC

Rachel Goffe, Assistant Professor, Dept of Geography, University of Toronto

Sarah Wakefield, Professor, University of Toronto

Miguel Torrens, Academic librarian and researcher, University of Toronto

Suzanne Sicchia, Associate Professor Teaching, University of Toronto

Kari Dehli, Professor Emerita, University of Toronto

Kiran Mirchandani, Professor, University of Toronto

Gail Super, Associate Professor, University of Toronto

Eva-Lynn Jagoe, Professor, Spanish and Portuguese, University of Toronto

Victor Li, Associate Professor (Emeritus), University of Toronto

E. Natalie Rothman, Professor of History, University of Toronto

Richard Roman, Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto

Peter Fitting, Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto

Martin Klein, Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto

Barbara Evans, York University

Natalie Oswin, Associate Professor, University of Toronto

Ken MacDonald, Professor, University of Toronto

Nicholas Sammond, Professor, University of Toronto

Danny Heap, Associate Professor, Emeritus, University of Toronto

Thy Phu, University of Toronto

Jesook Song, University of Toronto

John P. Portelli, Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto

Luisa Farah Schwartzman, Associate Professor, University of Toronto

Maya Harakawa, University of Toronto

Paul Hamel, Professor, Univeristy of Toronto

James Deutsch, Assistant Professor, Psychiatry, University of Toronto

Andrea A. Cortinois, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto

Dina Georgis, Associate Professor, University of Toronto

Shahrzad Mojab, Professor, University of Toronto

Jayeeta Sharma, Associate Professor, University of Toronto

Abigail Bakan, Professor, University of Toronto

Daniel Bender, Professor, University of Toronto

Ruth Marshall, Associate Professor, University of Toronto

Arsalan Kahnemuyipour, Professor, University of Toronto

Ken Kawashima, Associate professor, University of Toronto

Rosa Sarabia, Professor Emerita, University of Toronto

Adrienne Chambon, Professor Emerita, University of Toronto

Sue Ruddick, Professor Emerita, University of Toronto

Kathy Bickmore, Professor, University of Toronto

Zoë H Wool, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto

Scott Prudham, Professor, University of Toronto

Stephen Rockel, University of Toronto

Uzoma, Associate Professor (Retired), University of Toronto

Michelle Buckley, Associate Professor, University of Toronto

Jason Foster, Associate Professor, Athabasca University

Bob Barnetson, Professor, Athabasca University

Mylène Coderre, University of Ottawa

Peter Vandergeest, Professor Emeritus, York University

C. Susana Caxaj, Associate Professor, Western University

Krizia Paylago, University of Toronto



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