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Immigrants take to the streets to oppose Harper Tories

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APRIL 29, 2011

Abeer Majeed, 647 928 5729,
Mohan Mishra, 416 270 8947, | online:

Immigrants take to the streets to oppose Harper Tories
May 1, 2011. 1pm: Rally at Queen W & Jameson, 2pm: March to Dufferin Grove.

Toronto - An immigrant and refugee rights demonstration will take place on the eve of the federal elections, criticizing the Tory immigration policy record and its 'very ethnic' vote strategy. People are marching to protest Harper, to call for status for undocumented and migrant workers and public services for immigrant families. Part of the 125th International Workers Day celebrations across the world, the colorful, festive protest will begin in Parkdale and march to Dufferin Grove with mini-concerts and stops along the way.

"None of the major political parties have promised what Immigrants really need, status for undocumented and migrant workers and public services for all," says Abeer Majeed of No One Is Illegal-Toronto, one of the rally organizers. "At this point, no matter who wins the elections on May 2nd, Immigrants are losing."

"Harper has robbed women in our community of the services we need to survive. In a time of recession, when we're jobless or working for peanuts, we count on public services to get us by. Now even these are being taken away," says Sultana Jehangir, executive director of the Scarborough based South Asian Women's Rights Organization who is bringing a bus of newcomer families to the march. "While the government is spending money on fighter planes and jails, immigrant women are forced to stay at home, because we still have no childcare programs."

"Our immigration system allows migrant workers to be treated like disposable commodities, used then thrown out, treated like second-class workers" says Tzazna Miranda-Leal, an organizer with Justice for Migrant Workers who is organizing a delegation of migrant agricultural workers coming to the demonstration.

"Nearly 300,000 temporary migrant workers come to Canada each year, we work in people's houses and in factories, we pay all kinds of taxes, but can't get full health care, social services, education or the right to vote," adds Pura Velasco, organizer with the Caregivers Action Centre, an organization of Live-In Caregivers that will be at the demonstration.

"The Tories want the 'very ethnic vote', but they're showing contempt for Immigrants", says rally organizer Mohan Mishra. "As they dismantle the Immigration system, they consistently lie to people about it - today we take to the streets to show that we will not be fooled."

Highlights of policy decisions under the Harper Tories.

Family Sponsorship, Permanent Residents & Newcomers

  • Plans to cut overall immigration by another 5% in 2011
  • Family class immigrant acceptance has dropped by 10,000 since the Conservatives took power, a 15% decrease.
  • Jason Kenney has slashed the visa category for parents and grandparents by 25%. This means a wait of up to 14 years, while the government collects millions of dollars in sponsorship application fees.
  • Skilled worker visas have decreased by about 20%.
  • Immigrants of color in Ontario earn 40% less than their white counterparts.
  • Harper has cut $53 million from settlement services and promises $11 billion in cuts to public services which immigrants use disproportionately more.

Refugee System

  • The number of asylum applications to Canada has fallen 30 per cent.
  • Under Jason Kenney, the number of refugees granted permanent residence dropped by 25%.
  • According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the approval rate for asylum claims dropped by 56% from 2005 to 2008.
  • In 2010, of the 8,466 Pre-Removal Risk Assessment applications made by asylum-seekers facing removal, only 89 were approved, a rate of 1%.
  • Approximately 200,000 undocumented people live and work in Canada, paying in to services, but living in daily fear of detention and deportation.

    Temporary Work Programs

  • The number of temporary migrant workers is up 30% over the past four years and in 2008 for the first time
  • Canada received more people on temporary work permits than as permanent residents.
  • Temporary workers deemed low-skilled can live in Canada for up to four years, and are then banned for the next four.
  • Migrants pay federal and provincial taxes but are denied access to public health care for their first three months in Canada. Foreign workers must also pay into the employment insurance fund and Canada Pension Plan even though they are not eligible for benefits.
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    For more information, visit or

    Also available for comment
    Karin Baqi, Lawyer, Immigration Legal Cttee of the Law Union: 647 402 4048
    Pura Velasco, Organizer, Caregivers Action Centre: 647 782 6633
    Chris Ramsaroop, Organizer, Justice for Migrant Workers: 647 834 4932
    Sultana Jehangir, Executive, South Asian Women's Rights Organization: 416 882 6952

    External Contingents
    Student Contingent:
    Health Contingent:
    Environmental Justice Contingent:
    Queer/Gender Justice Contingent:
    Palestine Solidarity Contingent:
    Rhythms of Resistance/Dancing Bloc:
    Indigenous/Anti-Colonial Contingent:
    Stop the War Contingent:
    Sex Workers Contingent:
    Disability Rights Contingent:

    This demonstration is supported by: Worker's Action Centre, Canadian Arab Federation, Justicia for Migrant Workers, Caregivers Action Center, Educators for Peace and Justice, Sistering, South Asian Women's Rights Organization, Jane Finch Action Against Poverty, Good Jobs for All Coalition, Migrant Worker's Alliance for Change, Toronto Rape Crisis Center, CUPE - Ontario, Canadian Federation of Students - Ontario, Bolivarian Circle, OCAP, Davenport Neighbours for Peace, Greater Toronto Workers Assembly, Ryerson Students Union, National Council of Latin American and Caribbean Women of Canada - LATIN@S, Health for All, Environmental Justice Toronto, Hassle Free Clinic, Mata Danze, South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario, The Bread and Bricks Social Justice Group, The Toronto New Socialists, Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation District 12 Human Right Committee, CUPE International Solidarity Committee, York Federation of Students, Toronto Immigration Legal Committee, University of Toronto Students Union, The Women's Coordinating Committee for a Free Wallmapu, Toronto Coalition to Stop the War, Women in Solidarity with Palestine, No One Is Illegal - Vancouver, Ontario Public Interest Research Group - York, Ontario Public Interest Research Group - UofT, Students For Medicare, The Centre for Women and Trans People (Toronto), The Trans Inclusion Group, AW@L, Communist Part of Canada - Toronto Committee, Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN), LAL, Medical Reform Group, The Public Health Social Justice Collective, Health Providers Against Poverty, Health Studies Union of U of T, York University Free Press, Toronto Forum on Cuba, Rhythms of Resistance, Student Christian Movement, People's Assembly on Climate Justice, CUPE International Solidarity Committee, Mujeres Al Frente, Social Planning Toronto, Afghans for Peace, Canadian Arab Federaion, Faculty for Palestine, Students Against Israeli Apartheid - York, Social Justice Committee of the Uof T Graduate Students Union, Toronto District of the International Socialists, Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid, The People Project, the Asian Canadian Labour Alliance and more.