They argue that the workers, many of whom live in Montreal North — a COVID-19 hot spot — are putting their lives on the line to protect the population, and are among the hardest hit by the pandemic and therefore should be granted residency.
According to Franz André with the Non-status Action Committee, an organization that supports asylum seekers, many are working two jobs, either as caregivers in CHSLD’s or in other front-line essential service jobs that put them at risk of contracting the virus.
He added that about 50 of the 200 workers and families he helps in Montreal North have been infected so far.
“We also know of a gentleman that died, Marcelin François, and it’s one of the same cases,” he told Global News.
André and others have launched a petition demanding that the federal government grant asylum seekers residency status.
Advocates are also putting pressure on the Quebec government to recognize the work of asylum seekers. On Wednesday, the MNA for Marie-Victorin Catherine Fournier introduced a motion in the National Assembly.
“To recognize all the work done by the asylum seekers right now in our CHSLD’s in Quebec since the beginning of the sanitary crisis that we live now,” Fournier said to Global News.
The motion put forward by Fournier also proposed that the provincial government ask the federal government to grant the refugee applicants residency status.
“The CAQ refused to debate my motion,” she said. “I really don’t understand why.”
One group of Montreal artists has found a way to thank immigrants including asylum seekers by creating a video online about the diversity among caregivers.
“It was important for us to create a piece of art that would recognize these people that contribute to society, but are sometimes undervalued,” explained Fabrice Vil, one of the artists who created the video.
He said the group will launch a second video in a few days with the same theme.
But André wants more and hopes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau does grant the special status to the more than 1,000 refugee applicants he estimates are working on the front lines in Quebec.
“I feel Mr. Trudeau has an obligation to do it,” he insisted. “It’s not an option.
In an email statement, Nancy Caron, spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, said “all eligible asylum claimants receive a full and fair hearing on the individual merits of their claim at the independent quasi-judicial Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada.’
She did not say if they are considering a special status for these asylum seekers.View link »