Open Work Permits Now Campaign
For Immediate Release - January 15, 2024
83 academics and 30 Christian faith organizations support the call for Open Work Permits NOW. Two open letters sent to Minister Marc Miller and members of the Standing Committee of Citizenship and Immigration urged the decision-makers to end the closed work permit system directly responsible for the exploitation of migrant workers in Canada. The signatories demanded 1) Unconditional open work permits and 2) Barrier-free pathways for permanent residency for all migrant workers, regardless of wage level or occupation.
"Canada's system of closed work permits for temporary foreign workers is deeply unjust - there is overwhelming evidence for this, from the testimonials of workers and research by migrant justice advocacy groups and academics,” explains Monique Deveaux, a professor at the University of Guelph who spearheaded the open letter initiative with the academics. Workers who hold these permits are made systematically vulnerable to abuse and exploitation by their employers. If they dare to assert their rights to decent housing, work safety protections, or freedom of movement, they risk retaliation and an end to their employment. Ultimately, they can be deported. It's a system that quite plainly perpetuates the structural oppression of temporary foreign workers."
Migrant workers, human rights and labour organizations, advocates for migrant justice and most recently, the UN Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery have condemned closed work permits and lack of access to permanent residency for migrant workers, especially those employed through the low-waged Temporary Foreign Workers Program.
“The closed work permit policy is deeply rooted in racist and colonial systems targeting racialized workers from the Global South,” states Leah Watkiss, Chair of the Collaborative Network to End Exploitation, one of the signatories of the open letter from faith organizations. "It's time Canada put an end to this harmful practice."