Canadian union demands more inclusive immigration programme

UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers) union Canada, the country’s leading union for migrant and temporary foreign workers, says the federal government’s Temporary Foreign Workers Programme (TFWP) should be replaced with an inclusive immigration system that provides migrant workers the option to permanently settle in Canada.

It is one of a number of recommendations made in UFCW Canada’s submission to the parliamentary committee reviewing the Temporary Foreign Workers Programme last week.

The submission, “A New Vision for a Sustainable Immigration System”, calls on the federal government to allow migrant workers access to permanent immigration status, preferably upon arrival in Canada, to reduce the exploitative nature of the TFWP; provide migrant and TFWP workers equal access to Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance benefits; end employer-specific work permits that can tie a worker to an abusive employer; and provide meaningful legal access for migrant and temporary foreign workers to unionize without fear of reprisal.

UFCW Canada Local Unions represent thousands of members who arrived as Temporary Foreign Workers. They are now permanent residents under Provincial Nominee programmes; the result of collective agreements between UFCW Canada and major employers, which proactively support the nomination program for UFCW Canada members who arrive as foreign workers.

“Throughout our history, Canada was built on the strength of newcomers,” says Paul Meinema, the national president of UFCW Canada. “Today’s migrant workers deserve the same opportunities to seek a new life in Canada. Without permanent immigration status, vulnerability to abuse will remain a tightly woven element of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.”

UFCW Canada’s membership has the largest percentage of migrant and temporary foreign workers of any union in Canada.

Article by David Fuller