OTTAWA – The Migrant Rights Network, a new cross-Canada alliance to demand pro-migrant, anti-racist laws and policies, including permanent residence status for all, is launching today, the International Day for the Elimination of Racism (March 21). Communities are mobilizing in over a dozen cities from Halifax to Vancouver this week.

The Migrant Rights Network’s formation in advance of the federal elections has been given added urgency after the white supremacist attacks in New Zealand that left at least 50 Muslims dead.

Actions today on the International Day for the Elimination of Racism are taking place in

  • Montreal at 10am, 200 Rene Levesque Blvd.
  • Halifax at 4:30pm, Halifax Convention Centre
  • Toronto at 5:30pm, Toronto City Hall
  • Vancouver at 6:30pm, 350 West Georgia St.

(See events in other cities throughout the week by visiting http://migrantrights.ca/en/march21/.)

“After decades of job loss, wage stagnation and service cuts, people across the country are increasingly worried about the future. Politicians are responding to this fear, not by raising wages or expanding public services, but by demonizing migrants and refugees,” says Syed Hussan from Migrant Workers Alliance for Change in Toronto. “This divisiveness has created a dangerous political environment and must be stopped.”

Since the Quebec City mosque shooting in 2017 that left 6 dead and served as a blueprint for the New Zealand shooter, police-reported hate crimes have increased by 47% in Canada. At least 300 known white-supremacist organizations are currently active across the country.

“CAQ [Coalition Avenir Québec] won a majority after campaigning on an anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim platform. We will not allow federal political parties to repeat this disturbing and dangerous strategy,” says Niel La Dode from Immigrant Workers Centre in Montreal. “At the end of the day, we all want the same things: decent work, the ability to provide for our families, a life with dignity. The politicians and corporations who deny us these basic rights are the real problem – not migrants, not refugees, not undocumented people.”

Under current immigration policies, 700,000 people – over 70% of migrants – who arrive in Canada each year are shut out from basic services, such as health care and education, because of unfair temporary permits. This denial happens despite migrants and refugees paying for public services through municipal, sales and income taxes.

“The social safety net is being pulled away from us while corporations get massive tax cuts. Politicians want us fighting for scraps and blaming immigrants for their economic mess. We can’t be distracted. We must demand the fundamental changes our communities need,” says Marco Luciano, of Migrante Canada from Edmonton.

The Migrant Rights Network is demanding permanent residence status for everyone; decent work and labour protections; universal access to social services; real gender and racial justice; and respect for indigenous self-determination. In addition, practices of displacement and persecution that force people to migrate, including climate change, wars, corporate impunity and economic exploitation, need to be eradicated.

“Indigenous and racialized people suffer at every turn because of the systemic racism reflected in Canadian laws and policies. We do not want piecemeal reforms. It is time for fundamental changes,” says Stacey Gomez from Halifax. “No matter what issue you are concerned about, uniting against racism right now is our most urgent task.”

Women of colour continue to earn far less than white men. Black and Indigenous communities are unfairly targeted by police and imprisonment.

“Decisions made in Canada have directly led to the escalation of the climate crisis, political instability and the global displacement of peoples. We all have a moral responsibility to stop the Canadian government and corporations to continue profiting from unsafe mining, arms exports, and fossil fuel extraction,” says Chris Sorio from Migrante BC in Vancouver. “

Led by grassroots migrant and refugee groups, civil society organizations and labour unions, Migrant Rights Network will counter fake news about Canada’s immigration system and coordinate a national dialogue to create a Platform for Racial and Migrant Justice ahead of the federal election. All social, environmental and labour groups in Canada are invited to participate in this process.

Following March 21’s “Unite Against Racism” mobilization, actions are also called for May 1 (International Workers Day); June 16 (Father’s Day and International Domestic Workers Day); and September 2 (Labour Day).

– 30 –

National Media Contacts:

EN: Syed Hussan, 416-453-3632, [email protected]

FR: Karen Cocq, 647-970-8464, [email protected]

www.MigrantRights.ca

Upcoming #UniteAgainstRacism actions:

More actions are being announced everyday, visit http://migrantrights.ca/en/march21/ for the latest listing.

March 21, 2019

HALIFAX – 4:30pm, Halifax Convention Centre

Stacey Gomez, 902-999-4458

MONTREAL – 10am, 200 Rene Levesque

Niel La Dode, 438-505-4820; Viviana Carol Velazquez, 514-342-2111

TORONTO – 5:30pm, Nathan Phillips Square

Syed Hussan, 416-453-3632

VANCOUVER – 6:30pm, Alma VanDusen Room, 350 West Georgia Street

Chris Perry Sorio, 416-828-0441

March 23, 2019

LETHBRIDGE – 12pm, City Hall

EDMONTON – 6pm, 11834 Kingsway Avenue – Note this event is a fundraiser

Marco Luciano, 780-966-5908

March 24, 2019

MONTREAL – 2pm, Saint-Laurent Station

Safa Chebbi, 438-497-4243

OTTAWA – 2pm, 166 Frank Street

Aimee Beboso, 613-255-1921

THE MIGRANT RIGHTS NETWORK DEMANDS

STATUS FOR ALL, STATUS NOW: Permanent resident status and family unity for all migrants and refugees here, and landed status on arrival for those that arrive in the future. Replace Caregiver “pilot project” with a Federal Care Workers Program that provides landed status upon entry for Care Workers and their families. No detentions, no deportations!

DECENT WORK: $15 minimum wage, full labour rights and no employer specific or time limited work permits.

UNIVERSAL SERVICES: Full access to quality public services including healthcare, education, income security, childcare settlement services, pensions, and more for all residents.

JUST SOCIETY: Indigenous self-determination, gender justice, and an end to racism, particularly anti-Black racism and Islamophobia.

NO DISPLACEMENT: An end to practices of displacement and persecution that force people to migrate including climate change, wars, corporate impunity and economic exploitation.

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