“We all want to live in a fair society, and a fair society is one in which all of us have the same rights, and that's only possible with full and permanent immigration status,” said Sarome Rho, an activist with the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change during a rally in downtown Toronto on March 19. Supported by hundreds of community members, allies and other undocumented migrants, a group of roughly 1,000 people marched from Christie Pits Park to the office of Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland at Bloor Street West and Spadina Avenue demanding the government live up to its promises.
In a December 2021 mandate letter to Sean Fraser, the incoming Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated he wanted to “build on existing pilot programs to further explore ways of regularizing status for undocumented workers who are contributing to Canadian communities.” After 15 months and no significant changes migrant communities, undocumented workers and their allies across Canada are calling on Prime Minister Trudeau to fulfill his commitments.
With the end of the current parliamentary session 10 weeks away, migrants seeking permanent residence don’t have any time to spare. In 2017 Jane, a health care worker, fled Uganda because of her sexual orientation. She has been working in long-term care without documentation for the last three years. “We are in a dilemma. We don't know what is next,” she explained. “It's really devastating to see, not only for me, but so many different people facing the same problems.”
If the government fails to act on the mandate letter to the Minister before the end of the current session of Parliament, hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees across Canada will continue to be denied equal treatment and access to rights and services.
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