Labour Media release

Press release: Hundreds of groups across Canada call for safe, accessible vaccine strategy for migrants

Photo: Several Nova Scotians participated in a virtual banner calling for immediate healthcare access for all, regardless of immigration status. The solidarity action was co-ordinated by No One is Illegal – Halifax/Kjipuktuk in April 2020. 

WHAT: Press conference on the urgent need for vaccines for all 

WHEN: 12pm Atlantic, Wednesday, February 24, 2021

WHERE: Online, registration required: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_FZ_vStgIT2CL3kVqZWd7nA

WHO: Dr Danyaal Raza (Chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare); Pauline Worsfold, RN (Chair, Canadian Health Coalition & Secretary-Treasurer, Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions); Byron Cruz (Sanctuary Health & Migrant Rights Network) & two migrant and undocumented leaders from Ontario and Quebec. 

Civil society organizations across the country, along with leading doctors, health policy experts, and labour leaders, are sounding the alarm about the possibility of hundreds of thousands of people not being vaccinated against COVID-19 because of their immigration status. Federal and provincial assurances that vaccination will be universal and non-coercive has not been accompanied with any concrete measures to ensure migrant and undocumented people will have safe access. Hundreds of organizations have signed an open letter coordinated by the Migrant Rights Network which outlines the barriers migrants are facing, as well as specific solutions to ensure vaccines are accessible to all. The letter will be released on Wednesday, February 24, 2021. 

No one is illegal – Halifax/Kjipuktuk (NOII-Hfx) is one of the groups which has signed onto the letter and is urging provincial officials to ensure vaccines are available to everyone in Nova Scotia, regardless of immigration status. NOII-Hfx has led a campaign in Nova Scotia calling on the government to ensure healthcare access, as well as full and permanent immigration status for all migrants. 

Media Contacts

Migrant Rights Network: Karen Cocq, 647-970-8464, karen@migrantworkersalliance.org

No one is illegal – Halifax/Kjipuktuk: 902-999-4458, noii.hfx@gmail.com 

Background

  • 1 in 23 people in Canada – over 1.6 million – don’t have permanent resident status. Many are in essential jobs including healthcare, cleaning, construction, delivery and agriculture. 
  • Many migrants in Canada don’t have a health card either because they are undocumented or can’t renew their health cards because their work or study permits are expiring due to government processing delays. Those without health cards are being denied vaccination. 
  • Undocumented people are afraid that their personal information will be shared with federal immigration enforcement if they go to get vaccinated. 
  • Some employers have threatened migrants with job loss and deportation if they aren’t vaccinated. This is so employers don’t lose profits as a result of outbreaks or workers falling ill. 
  • Racialized and migrant communities have faced generations of exploitation and abuse at the hands of health systems and scientific research. No specific public education and outreach to racialized migrants or training for service providers has been developed to ensure safe and dignified access to vaccination. 
  • The only way to ensure equal rights is to ensure everyone has the same immigration status. Migrants continue to raise the call for full and permanent immigration status for all: https://migrantrights.ca/status-for-all/ 

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