Sister Georgette Gregory, our Congregational Leader, has sent the following letter to the Prime Minister of Canada calling for an end to our country's unjust system for undocumented migrants.
Dear Prime Minister and Members of Cabinet Committee on Economy, Inclusion and Climate “B,”
The Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto is a community of Roman Catholic sisters who strive to answer God’s call to help others, especially those who are targets of oppression.
Those living in Canada without permanent resident status, including undocumented people, students, and migrant workers, make significant contributions to Canada’s society and economy.
They are indispensable members of our communities. In return, Canada enforces rules and regulations that lead to their abuse and exploitation. Those with precarious status dependent on an employer or institution easily fall out of status because of the severe restrictions placed on them. The system is unjust.
Therefore, our community fully supports an uncapped regularization program that includes migrants and their families. This program should ensure:
- All undocumented people in Canada and their families (without exclusions of any kind) are given permanent residency;
- All undocumented people are able to apply for permanent residency, and be issued work and study authorizations as they await processing of their permanent residency applications;
- An immediate stop to detentions and deportations so that migrants are not deported before they can apply;
- Free and accessible applications;
- Ongoing regularization so that those who become undocumented in the future can get permanent resident status. The entire immigration system must be transformed to ensure permanent resident status for all migrants.
We support the proposal developed by Migrant Rights Network in their Regularization in Canada document.
There is unanimous support for this approach to regularization. Almost every major civil society, labour, health and environmental organization has joined our call for full and permanent immigration status for all — nearly 500 organizations. Major organizations from across Canada have also written letters to PM Trudeau supporting this regularization proposal.
Permanent resident status is the mechanism through which all other rights are accessed. By supporting a comprehensive regularization program, you would:
Address a historic wrong
A comprehensive program would ensure that you are remembered for supporting life-altering public policy, which corrects an historic wrong. A fair society with equal rights is only possible if everyone has the same immigration status.
Be part of ending systemic racism and ensuring gender equality
Undocumented people are mostly racialized, low-waged people, often women. Ensuring rights and access for them is part of implementing anti-racist policy and gender equality.
Ensure improved labour conditions
Employers of undocumented workers threaten them with deportations to stop them from asserting their rights. This abuse results in overall worsening of working conditions in the labour market. While bad employers prosper, good employers who may be unable or unwilling to hire workers informally or for cash payments are excluded.
Ensure public health
Undocumented migrants often do not access healthcare until it is absolutely necessary due to the cost. By the time they do, their health conditions are much more complicated, and the burden on the healthcare system is much higher.
Create more effective social policy
Currently, there are no reliable statistics on undocumented people in Canada. An inclusive regularization program will ensure that non-status people enter into everyday life, allowing for more informed and effective social policy to be created.
Grow the economy at greater rates than cost of processing or settlement services
Most non-status people pay taxes but their employers, many of whom are very profitable businesses, do not pay statutory remittances. Regularizing 500,000 undocumented people will increase employer CPP and EI contributions by at least $1.1 billion, just in the first year. As undocumented people achieve stability through permanent residence, they will lay down roots, purchase assets of greater value, and spend more on Main Street.
Create labour mobility to address shortages where they exist
Undocumented people live and work here. Many are in cash-based jobs, or are under or unemployed. Regularizing all undocumented migrants will increase their labour mobility, unlocking their skills and experience enabling them to move and take on whichever jobs have openings.
Build on best practices around the world
Between 1996 and 2008, 24 of the 27 EU Member States implemented regularization programs, and some several times. An estimated 5.5 to 6 million people were regularized in that time. The largest programs were the Italian 2002 program that regularized 634,000 people and the Spanish 2005 program that regularized 578,375 people. Ireland regularized almost all undocumented people in the country this year who met a basic residency requirement.
Thank you in advance for your support and consideration.
Sister Georgette Gregory
Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto
The Hon. François-Philippe Champagne
The Hon. Ahmed D. Hussen
The Hon. Carolyn Bennett
The Hon. Randy Boissonnault
The Hon. Sean Fraser
The Hon. Steven Guilbeault
The Hon. Mark Holland
The Hon. Gudie Hutchings
The Hon. Dominic LeBlanc
The Hon. Diane Lebouthillier
The Hon. Marc Miller
The Hon. Joyce Murray
The Hon. Mary F.Y. Ng
The Hon. Pascale St-Onge