On this International Migrants’ Day, MRCC affirms our commitment to continue serving migrant workers in Canada towards their empowerment throughout the ongoing pandemic.
Migrant workers, especially temporary foreign workers (TFWs), face many vulnerabilities on a daily basis. Lack of permanent status, work permits and housing tied to a specific employer, and many more precarious conditions put migrants at risk of abuse, discrimination and exploitiation. This is the reality for many migrant workers across the country such as live-in caregivers and farmworkers, who sacrifice their mental and physical wellbeing to provide for their families back home.
As the contradictions of global capitalism worsen, workers – in particular migrant workers – bear the brunt of the ensuing crisis. Almost a decade later, it is evident that the world economy has not fully recovered from the 2008 global recession and, coincidentally since then, we have seen countless attacks on the working class. We are witnessing much the implementation of more aggressive neoliberal policies around the world. Thus, an increase in global labor migration, so much so that instead of looking to solve the phenomenon of forced migration, the United Nations boasts of migration as a tool for development. Simply, this means uprooting millions of people across the world. And bluntly put, it means greater dependence on cheap, disposable sources of labor from migrant workers.
Migrant workers see no other choice but to leave their families and communities in search of better socio-economic opportunities abroad – a reality that continues amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. This forced migration from their home country economically benefits both the migrant workers’ home and host country. For example, India received US$83 billion in remittances from overseas workers in 2020, just 0.2% less than the amount sent in 2019. Statistics like this show that even during a global pandemic, migrants were working tirelessly to send money back home to support their family’s livelihood.
This plays out clearly in Canada – a highly developed industrialized nation with a profit-driven economy increasingly reliant on temporary migration schemes to fill labor shortages. Its Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) Program puts migrant workers at the mercy of employers and multinational corporations to satisfy the appetite of big monopoly capitalist states.
TFWs make up 20% of Canada’s agricultural workforce alone. They work in dangerous and difficult jobs to cultivate the food on our tables, yet they are continuously left behind and treated as if disposable by their employers and receiving countries who merely view them as sources of cheap labour. Since the start of the pandemic, TFWs have endured overcrowded housing conditions, and 6 migrants died from COVID-19.
The MRCC was established on the need to provide genuine service while empowering migrant workers to act as agents of change for themselves and their peers. We understand that the struggle for welfare and immediate needs are inextricably linked to the political aims of empowerment. This past year, MRCC showed its commitment in empowering migrant workers through the CARE projects series where basic immediate needs were provided while encouraging clients to mobilise and organize fellow migrant workers to fight for their rights.
On International Migrants’ Day, Migrants Resource Centre Canada lends our support to migrants in the fight for their rights, welfare, and empowerment! We aim for an empowerment that puts the politics of the working class front and centre, an empowerment that looks to challenge the status quo.