May 6, 2020 — Thus far, 56 elected provincial and municipal representatives, including 3 from Nova Scotia, have issued a statement calling on the federal government to extend income supports to all migrant and undocumented workers, in support of a proposal by Migrant Rights Network – Canada’s migrant coalition. Claudia Chender (MLA Dartmouth South), Gary Burrill (MLA Halifax Chebucto) and Lisa Roberts (MLA Halifax Needham) are among the signatories to the letter which calls for “emergency income supports as well as all other social programs and rights ” for all essential workers regardless of immigration status. See full list of signatories and the statement at www.MigrantRights.ca/RepsLetter.
“My family is expecting a baby any day now, but we do not have the money to pay for healthcare or rent,” says Cesar Paredes, an undocumented father-to-be and construction worker in Toronto who lost his job due to COVID-19. “We live here, we do essential work, we deserve to be treated as human beings and given a chance to make it through the pandemic.” Cesar is one of thousands of members of organizations that make up the Migrant Rights Network.
Karen Cocq, Campaigns Coordinator for Migrant Rights Network notes, “Migrants, our organizations, and now elected representatives from many of the same ridings as the COVID-19 Cabinet Committee are all raising their voices calling for income supports, healthcare, and permanent resident status for migrant and undocumented people. As the conversation turns to reopening the economy, many hundreds of thousands of people are still in abject crisis, facing irreversible changes to their lives because they can’t make rent, or keep up with car or tuition payments – extending emergency supports and permanent resident status to them is a matter of utmost priority.”
“I represent a riding where many migrant workers are engaged in building our economy, I could not, in good conscience, leave them unrepresented, says Kevin Arseneau, MLA for Kent-North in New Brunswick where the provincial government has closed the border to migrant workers. “Migrant and undocumented workers are essential in New Brunswick: they grow our food, take care of children, sick and the elderly, clean homes and hospitals, prepare and deliver food and work in construction. They deserve the same income support as everyone else.”
There are over 1.8 million non-permanent residents in Canada. In addition, thousands of migrant workers remain outside the country unable to enter because of border closures or health concerns. Many migrants are excluded from emergency income supports because they don’t have a valid Social Insurance Numbers (SIN), or are outside the country despite paying rent or having contracts in Canada. Other migrants are excluded because they did not earn the required amount for CERB. The Canada Emergency Student Benefit explicitly excludes study permit holders. Migrant Rights Network is calling for emergency supports to be extended to people with an invalid SIN, and the issuing of Individual Tax Numbers to workers with no SIN. Migrant Rights Network is also calling for healthcare, worker protections, community supports and permanent resident status for all.
MRN member organization No One is Illegal-Halifax/K’jipuktuk echoes these calls and has an ongoing campaign calling on provincial officials to ensure immediate healthcare access for all migrants who are uninsured.
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National Coordination, interviews with workers, elected reps signatories: Karen Cocq, Migrant Rights Network
Nova Scotia: No One is Illegal-Halifax/K’jipuktuk, email@example.com
Migrant Rights Network is Canada’s migrant coalition made up of over 50 organizations in eight provinces. See full membership list and MRN’s call for just crisis response here: www.MigrantRights.ca/COVID19.