Halifax/K’jipuktuk – Saturday, July 4th marks the cross-Canada Day of Action for Status for All, with events taking place in Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia. As part of these actions, the migrant justice group No One is Illegal – Halifax/K’jipuktuk (NOII-Hfx) has launched a local poster campaign calling for full immigration status, as well as access to public healthcare for all migrants.
Since May 22nd, three migrant workers in Ontario have died from COVID-19 and hundreds have become ill. Groups such as the Migrant Rights Network and NOII-Hfx have denounced these deaths as preventable and have emphasized the urgent need for permanent status on arrival for migrants, as well as a regularization program for those in Canada in order to prevent future deaths:
“For undocumented people, migrant workers and others, their precarious migration status places them in a vulnerable situation and this can have devastating consequences. For instance, a migrant worker wanting to speak out about horrible living and work conditions (including ones which would make them vulnerable to COVID-19), risk being fired, deported and blacklisted from the program. These terrible conditions can place them in a life or death situation, as we’ve seen already. We’re calling for status for all so that migrants can be treated with the dignity and respect that they truly merit, and to prevent future deaths. This is necessary, urgent and possible,” said Stacey Gomez, an organizer with NOII-Hfx.
Undocumented residents, migrant workers and others with precarious status are not allotted the same rights as permanent residents or citizens, including access to public health services. Asylum-seekers are also often denied healthcare access. This is something the group is hoping will change through the granting of full immigration status for all migrants.
NOII-Hfx began their Healthcare for All Migrants campaign in April, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has included an open letter to Premier Stephen McNeil, as well as a virtual banner demanding immediate healthcare access for all migrants.
While several provinces announced the temporary expansion of health insurance coverage to include all migrants in response to COVID-19, Nova Scotia has remained silent on this issue.
NOII-Hfx affirms that healthcare is a human right and continues to call for status for all migrants.