All the research in this field and all the documentation are in English. All the concepts have been defined in English. It will be very difficult for me to translate into French as we go along. Since most of the parliamentarians are francophone, I'll make an effort. I didn't know there was interpretation. I've brought some copies which, in fact, contain a lot more statistics and details on all the Canadian programs. I'll nevertheless file the copies in French and English for those who want to delve into the issue by reading the article I sent you.
My presentation will consist of three parts. There is the normative framework, the international conventions, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canada's statutes, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. In fact, three-quarters of my presentation and most of the things contained in this article concern administrative directives. The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act is touched upon, but very little in fact. I'm mainly concerned with the directives of Citizenship and Immigration Canada and Human Resources and Social Development Canada.
Canada signed the Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery in 1957. I don't know whether you've had time to read some of the article, but this convention concerns four types of practices similar to slavery: debt bondage, serfdom, abusive marriage and abusive adoption. The convention defines them very clearly. It states that, if someone cannot change status and is, under the law or an agreement, required to reside with and work for a specific person, that person has servile status. These are individuals whose situation is humanly similar to that of slaves, under the UN convention.
As you'll see in the report I'm going to leave with you at the end, there are approximately 60 programs for temporary foreign workers in Canada. This is very complex and very heterogeneous.
I'm concerned more particularly with five of those 60 or so programs. My research shows that there are approximately nine programs in Canada for what are called unskilled jobs. Of those nine programs, five violate the Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery. Everyone is very familiar with three of them: the Live-in Caregiver Program, or LCP, the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program, or SAWP, and the third, which is very much in fashion, the Pilot Project for Occupations Requiring Lower Levels of Formal Training.
In addition, two other programs violate the Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery. They are two programs established by Citizenship and Immigration Canada for foreign workers in unskilled jobs. They are authorized to work without work permits. There are two classes. The first concerns those that are called domestic workers who work for non-Canadians. That means that their employer is a foreign national in Canada, but these women are not subject to the Live-in Caregiver Program. However, they cannot change employers: they are required to live at the home of their employer in Canada. They are not free to change their status. They also have servile status.
The other type of program is for all temporary foreign workers in unskilled jobs who work for a foreign employer. For example, that could be a firm in China that pays them. Foreign workers whose employer is not Canadian can legally work in Canada without a permit. Those who have an unskilled job are not entitled to change status. They are required to work for that employer and, potentially, by contract, they may be required to reside at the home of an employer.
All these factors mean that there may be persons with servile status in Canada.
In Canadian terms, that means that the rights defined in section 2—which concerns the right of association—and section 7—which concerns the right to freedom and security of the person—of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms are vastly limited in the case of these persons in Canada.
In fact, the 25 pages of references are really interesting. You'll have to take a look at that. These programs were started in 1995. At first, they only concerned women from the Caribbean. Subsequently, they only concerned agricultural workers from the Caribbean. Now they concern all economic sectors of all countries. The origin of this program framework for invited workers dates back to 1955, before the Canadian Bill of Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms were passed. So it's a very old framework, and the courts have never been asked to consider the question whether these restrictions of rights and freedoms were justified in a free and democratic society within the meaning of section 1.
Lastly, I have studied this entire question. In the past 50 years, sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists and lawyers have studied the question and noted systematic violations of rights and systematic abuses, especially against domestic workers and agricultural workers. This is now happening in new sectors. There is little documentation, but the Alberta Federation of Labour has gathered data on the subject. The Canadian Labour Congress has also done some work, but this is starting in other sectors. It has been years since sociologists surveyed cases in the agricultural sector.
You must go and look at the references at the end. However, all the newspaper articles are missing. I didn't have the time to insert them, because there are an enormous number of them. The systematic abuses are always typical cases. These involve, for example, individuals confined to the farm for seven months, who must work seven days a week, who do not have 15-minute breaks, who are not entitled to water, and so on.
I know you've heard a lot of presentations on cases involving domestic workers. So I won't dwell on that; I'll move on to the other type of violation. People bring in individuals from so-called “white” countries, such as Australia, United States, New Zealand, Armenia, the Czech Republic, all the European countries and what is called the white Commonwealth. They bring in unskilled workers who work as domestic or agricultural workers, but they aren't given open or semi-open permits; there are administrative restrictions. However, if workers are unfortunate enough to come from a poor country, they are given highly restrictive permits, permits that will subject them to servile status in Canada.
There is also a violation of equality rights among unskilled workers themselves, that is to say the right not to be subjected to discrimination on the basis of country of origin. There may be Australians and Guatemaltecs in agricultural sectors in Alberta, but the Guatemaltecs will have permits reducing them to servile status, whereas the Australians will have open permits and will be able to change employers and employment sectors.
All that to say that there is discrimination based on country of origin. That is illegal under the Charter. Considering, obviously, the scope of the human rights violations, what I'm saying is that these aren't appropriate or even proportionate measures, regardless of the policy objective that might originally justify treating Guatemaltecs and Mexicans in one way and treating French, Australians and Romanians in another way. So there is a form of racialization.
The other thing, obviously, is another type of discrimination, again based on the right to equality, but which more concerns discrimination based on gender; that is to say that we in Canada have decided to give more human rights to individuals who have... In fact, this is a kind of devaluing of female qualifications in sectors such as the care of elderly persons, child care, domestic work and so on. There is a devaluing of these tasks. As a result, we give less, we recognize fewer human rights and we give less protection to the human rights of individuals in that class, who have these kinds of qualifications, and we value other types of qualifications such as, for example, engineering degrees and so on. The rights of those who have engineering degrees, those who come to support our country in that field, not only human rights, such as, for example, the right to be able to change employers, and so on, but also the right to bring in one's family and the right to immigrate upon arrival, that is to say the independent right to seek permanent status.
As regards other types of workers who are as much in demand in Canada, if not more so, such as caregivers and those who provide home care, home care workers, we don't even recognize their human rights, that is to say we don't even allow them to change employers, even in cases where employers often violate their rights every day. But these women obviously won't risk... What's happening is that they technically have the opportunity to leave a job. However, that means jeopardizing the opportunity to work in Canada, to have permanent status in Canada. It's these kinds of things that these women can't really consider as an option.
In the recognition of temporary family reunification rights, that is to say the right to bring in one's family during the worker's stay in Canada, and also with regard to recognition of the right to seek permanent status, we see that there is discrimination based on gender, on sex, and also on the basis of certain countries of origin. For example, Guatemaltecs are commonly labourers, and most Guatemaltecs in Canada are never entitled to immigrate permanently. So there's a correlation between the type of qualifications and the country and type of qualifications and gender, as a result of which, even if these are workers who are increasingly needed in Canada...
I work in demography. We know that the population is aging, that there will be shortages in various employment sectors. In agriculture, the matter isn't complicated. Since 1955, labour shortages have been increasing. The same is true of work in the home, since women now work outside the home. This is a completely new economic step that we're preparing to take, not to mention the aging of the population and the fact that there will now be more home care. This is a sector that will begin to expand.
Instead of granting the right to immigrate based on the needs of the Canadian economy, there is discrimination. So we can keep these workers in place for years. I know of the case of someone who has worked in the fields in Canada for 27 years, but has no rights, no recognition in terms of belonging to Canada.
That was a brief summary of the issue concerning the Canadian Charter, and to tell you in what way these five programs violate the Canadian Charter, that is to say freedom of association, the right to freedom and security of the person and, lastly, the right to equality, that is to say to non-discrimination based on gender and country of origin.
What is happening is that, in addition to the Slavery Convention and the Canadian Charter, there is also another convention, the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. That convention isn't too much to take. We're talking about minimum standards for the protection of human rights. Canada hasn't ratified it for a billion reasons, more or less. I conducted a study for UNESCO and the reasons why Canada hadn't ratified the convention. You can consult it in the references.