MRCC: Empowering migrant workers for collective action

Repost from The Philippine Reporter


In December 2019, staff persons from the Migrants Resource Centre Canada (MRCC) had a unique opportunity to present at the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada (NEPMCC) about its services and programs. Managing Director Jesson Reyes, Program Coordinator Mithi Esguerra, and Project Staff person Kota Kimura expounded on the current activities and projects of the institution to the membership of the NEPMCC.

MRCC is a newly form-migrant service institution incorporated in 2017, based in Toronto. The institution commenced operations in 2018 from a shared space with the Centre for Women and Trans People at the University of Toronto, conducting intake and assisting distressed migrant workers. In 2019, the organization opened its new office on Dufferin Street.

To improve the lives of migrant and immigrant workers by advancing their rights and dignity while working in Canada – that is the organization’s mandate. And migrant workers are “crucial and key actors in the pursuit of our goal,” according to Jesson Reyes, Managing Director of MRCC.

MRCC proponents state that the idea of a migrant service institution was born out of necessity. As migrant workers’ organizations and advocates in the past few years have seen a steady increase in the number of workers seeking direct assistance with issues related to employment, immigration and health, they realized the need for an institution that would do the work of service-provision, while grassroots organizations conduct mass campaigns to effect systemic change.

“We see the role of a migrant service institution as complementary, and serves the purpose of strengthening the capacity of grassroots workers organizations”. Reyes added.

Program Coordinator Mithi Esguerra adds, “The issue of labour-trafficking has been a persistent case and topic that staff and volunteers of MRCC have relentlessly pursued.”

The organization is currently engaged in a public information and advocacy campaign in coordination with Migrante Ontario and FCJ Refugee Centre for the protection and defense of migrant workers from predatory recruitment agencies.

MRCC has three major program components:

Through its information and referral program, MRCC works with individual clients to provide free, up-to-date information about labour, immigration and available social services. This component serves to empower individual workers through learning about their rights. Through this program, MRCC aims to establish links between the individual experiences of workers and collective struggles. In the last 2 years, MRCC has partnered with several immigration and labour lawyers and paralegals who provide pro bono services for clients.

Through its education and training series, MRCC provides free workshops on the rights of migrant workers, relevant labour and immigration laws and policies, as well as skill-building workshops such as public speaking, writing, workshop facilitation and grassroots leadership. MRCC believes in empowering workers to become advocates. These workshops provide basic knowledge and skills designed to bring out the leader in each participant.

Through its research and advocacy program, MRCC co-leads mass campaigns, conducts, outreach to various stakeholders, and lobbies government agencies. It also engages in community-based research and collaboration with post-secondary institutions, academic researchers, and other worker-centered agencies to serve our organization’s mandate. MRCC believes meaningful change will come about through collective political action.

MRCC is currently conducting a six-month capacity-building project called Immigrants and Migrants Participating for Collective Transformation (IMPACT), with funding from the Department of Canadian Heritage. The project has engaged more than 60 participants since September 2019, and will continue until the end of March this year. IMPACT is an integrated project which aims to build the organizational capacity of MRCC which in turn contributes to the overall capacity of the migrant communities it serves.

(PRESS RELEASE)

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To learn more about the work of MRCC, contact 1-866-275-4046 or info@migrantsresourcecentre.ca, or visit the website www.migrantsresourcecentre.ca.

Their office is located at 2482 Dufferin St., Unit 207, Toronto.


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