News and Events

Evaluating Migrant Workers' Rights

2018 Report Card on Migrant Workers' Rights - Just Released

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Migrant workers are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation due to factors such as language barriers, isolation, lack of access to assistance and information about their rights, and employer-specific work permits. It's time for action.

Cooper Institute calls for review of Migrant Workers' Rights Report Card recently released by the Canadian Council for Refugees.

Charlottetown - The Canadian Council for Refugees has published a series of report cards assessing the records of federal and provincial governments on the protection of the rights of migrant workers coming to Canada through the Temporary Foreign Workers Program. This document is an update of the original report cards published in May 2013. Although our province has taken some steps to improve its record since 2013, there are still certain areas where improvements in the protection and status of migrant workers in our province are needed.

You can find the Full Report Card here (it's a large file, with information from across Canada) and the Prince Edward Island Report Card here.

Paola Soto, Migrant Worker Outreach Coordinator from Cooper Institute noted that “each year hundreds of workers come to PEI from different countries. They contribute to our economy and to our communities and yet they don't have the same rights as the rest of the workers”.

“Migrant workers are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation due to factors such as language barriers, isolation, lack of access to assistance and information about their rights, and employer-specific work permits. Our government can reduce these gaps by enhancing services and through the application of specific labour laws to offer equal conditions for all workers in our province”.

Although PEI’s Provincial Nominee Program and the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program in the Maritime provinces have opened an important pathway to permanent residency, a significant proportion of migrant workers, including seasonal agricultural workers, have no access to these programs and thus are denied the possibility of permanent immigration.

There is also still a lot to do to protect workers from recruitment agencies with abusive practices. For example, “some agencies have the power to decide which contracts will be renewed, putting workers in a situation of submission because they fear retaliation from the agency”. Other issues include the lack of inclusion of agricultural workers in the Employment Standards Act and access to public health coverage, increasing their vulnerability and marginalization.

We encourage authorities, and the community at large, to read these reports. They provide a glimpse into the reality of migrant workers in our province and our country and highlight the gaps and challenges we must address to build a more equitable and fair society.

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For further information: Paola Soto Flores, Cooper Institute 902-894-4573 paola@cooperinstitute.ca