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B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Last Updated Sep 19, 2020 at 7:38 pm EDT

Protesters attend a rally in support of migrant worker rights in front of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, in Toronto, on Sunday, Aug., 23, 2020. Migrant workers and advocates are planning to hold a digital rally in Vancouver today to draw attention to what they say is needed for a "just recovery" from the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

VANCOUVER — Migrant workers and advocates called for a “just recovery” from the COVID-19 pandemic during a digital rally on Saturday.

Chit Arma, who chairs the Migrant Workers Centre in Vancouver, says the pandemic has shown how heavily Canada relies on migrant and undocumented workers to perform essential jobs.

Yet she says it has also revealed how those same workers do not enjoy essential rights and have been placed in precarious situations through the temporary foreign worker program.

The rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre.

The campaign calls the federal government to create a new permanent residency program for all essential migrant and undocumented workers, and to allow the workers to apply for an open-work permit while waiting for their applications to process.

No one at the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada could immediately be reached for comment.

Arma says migrant and undocumented workers play key roles as health-care workers, grocery store clerks, cleaners, care workers, truckers and agricultural workers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 19, 2020.

The Canadian Press