After listening to a radio interview at CBC radio this morning, I feel that we need to address the issue of illegal migrant workers who have no protection against COVID-19.
Illegal migrant workers are most likely working under the table in jobs such as cleaning, construction etc. Most of these are employed by sub-contractors and based on the information from the interview they have no sick days nor do they get paid over time. In our current reality with COVID-19, these workers also are essential service workers who need to show up to work. Their reality is that they cannot take sick time because they will not get paid. They also cannot apply for emergency benefits because they don’t have a social insurance number.
According to Professor Showler of the Refugee Forum at the University of Ottawa, the estimates for the total number of illegals in Canada range prior to this past year between 30,000 and 120,000. Former Auditor General Sheila Fraser once admitted that the government has lost track of over 40,000 illegals whose paperwork had expired or was never in order. While that may seem like a lot, it is a far smaller percentage of the population than the estimated 13 million plus illegals in the USA. Canada would have to have over a million illegals for the proportions between the two countries to be the same. That means illegals do not have the same network of support among fellow “indocumentados” that exists in the USA. You will find it harder to be an anonymous illegal in Canada, as all the asylum seekers arriving at the border are finding as they head to detention centres. (Source: https://www.immigroup.com/news/illegal-immigration-canada)
How are they protected?
One may argue that they should not be here in the first place but we cannot afford to make this an issue right now. These workers are providing an essential service to our country. From a practical point of view, if they are deported back to their home countries it will require travel arrangements. Right now, airports and borders are closed so it is not a real option for them.
Migrants across the world usually move from one country to another for safety, education or better opportunities. Whether we want to admit it or not, we all benefit somehow from the services which they provide even though we don’t often think about it. In times like this, from a humanitarian perspective, we cannot afford to overlook them. As human beings, they should be entitled to being protected like everyone else – to ensure that they are safe and have access to medical services, food and shelter.
What are your thoughts?
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