Thank you, Mr. Chair.
The UN rapporteur actually said that Canada's temporary foreign worker program is “a breeding ground for contemporary forms of slavery”. He called on the government to do better to protect workers' rights. He also offered that he was “deeply disturbed by the accounts of exploitation and abuse shared with [him] by migrant workers.” He got that information from the people on the ground with that direct experience.
One thing he highlighted was that “employer-specific work permit regimes...make migrant workers vulnerable to contemporary forms of slavery, [and] they cannot report abuses without fear of deportation.”
Those are his words.
In 2019, the immigration committee actually studied this issue. It issued a report on temporary foreign workers and non-status workers. It recommended that the government discontinue employer-specific work permits.
In 2016, the HUMA committee also did a study and made a report on the temporary foreign worker program. It found that employer-specific work permits “place migrant workers in a vulnerable position with negative implications for their physical and mental well-being.” It recommended that “immediate steps” be taken to eliminate employer-specific work permits.
In 2019, when it implemented the open work permit for vulnerable workers policy, Canada acknowledged that employer-specific work permits create a power imbalance that “favours the employer and can result in a migrant worker enduring situations of misconduct, abuse or other forms of employer retribution.”
We have seen numerous reports and recommendations to the government to take this action. Here we are in the immigration committee in 2023 studying this issue once again.
I think the evidence is there. If the minister talks to the migrant workers and the advocates from that community, he will hear from them that one thing that needs to be done is for the Canadian government to get rid of the closed work permits. Better still, they're calling on the government to give them landed status on arrival and regularize the workers who are here.
As a first step, would the minister actually bring forward the recommendation that has already come from multiple committees to minimize the abuse that migrant workers face, which is to give them an open work permit?