About 100 demonstrators marched from Montreal’s Jarry Park and gathered in front of the Prime Minister’s office in Park-Extension Sunday afternoon to denounce a new program offering permanent residency, saying it does not go far enough.
The new program launched on May 6 offers about 90,000 permanent residency spots for foreigners working in healthcare and some essential jobs, but critics say it leaves too many vulnerable workers out.
“It’s actually quite limited and unfortunately the bulk of people who are essential and who make great sacrifices are going to be left out,” says Mostafa Henaway, a community organizer for the Immigrant Workers Centre.
“They are trapped and left in limbo without any kind of status. They don’t have access to education, people don’t have access to government programs, employee support programs.”
Critics also say many of the workers don’t speak French well and must take on difficult jobs in factories and farms, despite their education.
“They can’t have a good job like us in the office,” says Rose Ndjel, director of women’s center Afrique au Feminin.
“They want to take care for their families so they are doing the job that you and me won’t do. In their country, they were engineers and many things.”
Some have been waiting years for permanent status and say they can’t get their lives together without residency.
“We can’t think about our future, we can’t invite our family,” says Chatam Singh, an organizer with the Refugee Council of Canada.
“I have two daughters and my wife is still in my country. I can’t sponsor them, so each and every day passing is very hard.”
Burrough mayor for Park Extension Giuliana Fumagalli says the Liberal government must do more.
“They are all working here, contributing to the economy, contributing socially, contributing to our city and to our country, so what we owe them is amnesty,” she said.
Organizers say they are planning an eight-day march to Parliament Hill beginning on July 18 and will rally in Ottawa on July 25.