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Migrant Worker Rights in Guelph

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

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Written by Andrew Garvie

Student Support for Migrant Workers (SSMW) will be showing a film and hosting a speaker on January 12 in order to raise awareness about Filipino live-in caregivers in our community. The event is part of Citizenship Awareness Week but hopes to challenge fundamental assumptions surrounding the rights of citizens as opposed to non-citizens.

"It's easy to say why migrant workers are treated differently than Canadian workers. You just say 'well they're not citizens'," said Eddie Huesca, an organizer of the event. SSMW hopes to bring to light the arbitrariness of providing Canadians with employment and human rights that non-Canadians are not granted. The group also feels that students are under-informed about the struggle of a substantial number of Filipino live-in caregivers living and working in Guelph.

Critics believe that the Live-in Caregiver Program enables the Canadian government to reap the benefits of world economic inequality by enticing poor women of colour to come to Canada and work under conditions that leave them extremely vulnerable to exploitation. These workers become totally dependent on their employer since their stay in Canada and their livelihood are threatened if they quit. They face deportation soon after becoming unemployed and are compelled to stay at their jobs even if the conditions are exploitative or abusive.

The film, "When Strangers Re-Unite", will highlight the social isolation and exclusion faced by these women as well as their journey home to be reunited with their families. Connie Sorio, from KAIROS, will be attending in order to discuss the rights of migrant workers and the challenges they face in gaining the full rights granted to Canadian workers.

Citizenship Awareness Week runs from January 12th to 18th and is an initiative of the university's Student Life department. For more information you can email

The event will take place: Monday, Jan. 12 in UC 442, 6-7:30pm
Contact for more info about the event or if you want to get involved.

Check out info on the film When Strangers Re-Unite

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  1. Posted by: UNCLE_RONNIE on Jan 12, 2009 @ 8:28pm

    foolish communists are annoying. And have warped conceptions of the real world. I hope someday the staff of this site get changed with people who are somewhat coherent and in-touch with today's issues.

  2. Posted by: George on Jan 13, 2009 @ 9:11am

    If they don’t like the work conditions in Canada then they shouldn’t come to Canada to work.

  3. Posted by: Anti-Communist on Jan 13, 2009 @ 4:27pm

    Canada must balance security issues with immigration polices; but the security issues must come first otherwise, we'll all wake up one morning and find a nuclear-ravaged country; at that point we won't need to worry about the inequality concerns of migrant workers.

    Canada should be letting fewer people into the country for that very reason.

  4. Posted by: Libertarian_1 on Jan 13, 2009 @ 6:06pm

    i grew up in leamington, ontario- a town which relies heavily upon migrant workers. over the last ten years or so the number of greenhouses in the area has exploded and the increase in the economic activity level has undoubtedly benefited many more people than it has harmed. i can say this with conviction because i have witnessed it with my own eyes. and without the cheap, bountiful supply of immigrant labor none of that would have been possible.

    if you search through the classified ads of the local paper, i estimate that you'll find job offers from 4 different companies hiring for $8.75/hr, 40+ hrs/week at any given time. the industry is constantly hiring! these folks aren't stealing 'our' jobs, they're simply filling labor shortages at jobs that no one else would work in.

    i get the sense, however, people are afraid of change and that their minds instinctively focus on the apocalyptic, end-times-are-near scenario. this served us well throughout evolution, but competition was a major theme throughout evolution anyway.

  5. Posted by: Libertarian_2 on Jan 13, 2009 @ 6:07pm

    personally, i believe these individuals are simply trying to provide a better life for themselves and their family in the same way the majority of our great-great-great-grandparents did when they immigrated here, too.

  6. Posted by: Libertarian_3 on Jan 13, 2009 @ 6:37pm

    re: anti-communist

    we're going to HAVE to let more people into the country if we are to survive economically. the same goes for america. there are far too few doctors, engineers, professors, etc. to fill the gap that canadians face with the labor market in the future.

    there is a shortage of skilled workers in canada and a huge income disparity because of that. income levels will either continue to grow wider, leading to increasing tension between the haves and have-nots of the perceived unjust distribution of wealth created by capitalism or we're going to have to increase the supply of skilled labor to offset the shortage of trained workers. either that, or the economy is going to stagnate.

    anyway, i think there is a difference between what i'm talking about regarding skilled workers and what you are talking about (i.e. non-skilled workers).

    fortunately, in most cases if somebody spends their entire life acquiring a Ph.D or medical license or engineering degree, he/she will probably be less likely to smuggle in a nuclear bomb to blow up the entire country!

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