OPEN LETTER to Immigration Minister on temporary foreign workers’ short-term policy change

TFWs have faced a number of significant challenges throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and there is still much uncertainty regarding their status and the implications of the delays in the processing of their work permits.
First, according to the IRCC website, for open work permits for vulnerable workers: "Officers are instructed to process work permit applications on an urgent basis (5 business days from the time the application is received at the local IRCC office responsible for processing the application)." At the same time, the website also states: "However, processing times may be affected by fluctuating volumes of applications received at IRCC”. In reality, I have been informed by numerous advocates that within the past months the response time from IRCC has been on average one month for many who have applied. I am deeply concerned that this is far from the 5 business days as stated on the website. Given the precarious situation of these workers, it would be essential that their cases are processed expeditiously. I am therefore asking that you do everything you can to ensure the applications are indeed processed on an urgent basis - within 5 business days.

IN THE NEWS: Make anti-racism part of COVID-19 response, opposition MP tells Ottawa

Anti-racism should be part of Canada’s response to COVID-19 in light of the surge of hate crimes across the country during the pandemic, says an opposition MP.

NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan is calling on the Liberal government to show leadership by hosting a federal-provincial-territorial meeting to discuss the rise in hate incidents and come up with ways to flatten that curve.

OPEN LETTER to Deputy Prime Minister and Cabinet Committee on federal response to COVID-19

In recent weeks cities across the country have seen an increase in hate crimes and racism related to COVID-19, particularly towards those of Asian-descent. In a Vancouver convenience store last month, a man hurled racist remarks related to COVID-19 at a 92- year-old man of Asian descent, before shoving him to the ground. Another assault was reported to the police where a visible minority woman was punched, grabbed by her hair, her face was slammed into the seats of skytrain and pushed out of the train. Similar disturbing incidents took place in Toronto where an Asian woman was hit by an umbrella, told to go back to where she came from and spat at. Most recently, a good samaritan intervened when an individual began to harassed two Asian women wearing protective masks on a bus by telling them to: "Go back to your own country; that's where it all started." The bystander was kicked, punched and wrestled to the ground by the suspect. Her hair was pulled so hard that a clump of hair was ripped from her scalp. Now, Dakota, an indigenous woman out walking her dog was punched in the face repeatedly and told to "go back to Asia".
Aside from such violent individual attacks, the Greater Vancouver Chinese Cultural Centre also saw hate messages written on their windows. The Millennium Gate in Vancouver's historic Chinatown was defaced with racist comments . These are just a few examples of the disturbing trends in the midst of COVID-19.

OPEN LETTER to Deputy Prime Minster, Finance Minister and Health Minister on emergecy support for single parents

The eligibility criteria for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) continue to exclude single parents who have seen their income dramatically lowered because of decreases in their ex-partner’s income due to COIVD-19. Another few weeks have gone by since we first brought this issue to your attention and the situation is becoming more desperate for these families with each passing day.
It is a major source of anxiety not only for the Canadians, predominantly women, who depend upon these support payments to make ends meet, but to their ex-partners as well, who want to see their children and former partners supported financially through the crisis and who also do not want to default on their court orders.

IN THE NEWS: Vancouver's Chinese Cultural Centre defaced with 'hateful' graffiti: police

Vancouver police are asking for help in identifying a male suspect after someone defaced several large windows of the Chinese Cultural Centre with what officers called "hateful" graffiti.

The suspect walked into the courtyard of the centre on Columbia Street on April 2 and wrote "disturbing, racist remarks toward the Asian community on four large glass windows," according to a release Friday.

Const. Tania Visintin said incidents like this are happening more often in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. She described them as "disheartening."

OPEN LETTER to Deputy Prime Minister about concerns on Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance for small businesses

One constituent who co-owns a small commercial gallery wrote to say that he approached his commercial landlord about seeking assistance on their business’ commercial rent through this program. He says that the landlord owns the building outright and does not have a mortgage payment, and therefore will not offer assistance to their commercial tenants.
Another constituent wrote with a similar concern. They own a business providing rental equipment, and say that their landlord “has no mortgage, has no interest in providing relief, doesn’t want paperwork, and for the most part thinks businesses should provide for tough times themselves”. They voiced their concern that, in providing the program through landlords rather than directly to tenants, there are many businesses like theirs who will not be able to access this rent relief.

OPEN LETTER to Deputy Prime Minister and Housing Minister on human rights based national housing strategy needed to house all Canadians

Canada is gripped by an unprecedented pandemic. Every single person across the country is affected by it and those who live in the margins of society are particularly vulnerable and face heightened risks. For the homeless population, the risks are glaringly apparent as they have no ability to engage in any of the safe practices recommended by medical officers.
Notwithstanding the fact that in 2019, Canada recognized that the right to adequate housing is a fundamental human right as affirmed in international human rights laws, it remains that Canada has a wide spread housing and homelessness crisis. The current COVID-19 pandemic brings to light in no uncertain terms the importance of housing for not only an individual's health, but for the overall health and safety of our communities.
The homelessness crisis is not only an affront to human rights, but also poses an enormous national public health risk. The lack of a coordinated, national strategy means that people will inevitably fall through the cracks of the patchwork efforts. This puts the individuals and the communities they live in at risk.

OPEN LETTER to Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Immigration, Minister of Finance and Minister of Employment to address urgent immigration concerns

I write to you today to follow-up on the numerous concerns I have raised in previous letters to your offices regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic for those engaged in the immigration process. To date, I have yet to receive any reply. As time goes by, the situation for those affected are growing increasingly dire and they deserve answers now. Throughout this pandemic it is essential we take care of the migrant population, as they have done for us.
I am therefore writing with a renewed sense of urgency to seek answers for the following questions.

OPEN LETTER to small business minister on support for self-employed individuals and sole-proprietors

….deep concern over the lack of support for self-employed individuals and sole-proprietors across Canada. In my home province of British Columbia, one-third of small businesses don’t believe they’ll qualify for the support that the government has given. This is especially true for businesses with less than 5 employees, of which nearly half don’t qualify for government support.
Several sole-proprietors have reached out to me personally for help because of the lack of assistance available to them. Many do not qualify for the business supports because they do not meet the payroll requirements, they rely on contract workers, are family-owned, or pay themselves in dividends. Your government has designed the current programs to exclude them. They cannot access the loan, wage-subsidy, or work-share programs. The only support they may qualify for is the individual CERB, which is not enough to get by with the overhead costs these businesses must continue to pay.

OPEN LETTER to Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance, Minister of Employment and Minister of Immigration on support emergency support for migrant workers and temporary residents

The Covid 19 pandemic has impacted everyone across Canada. I am writing to you today with my concerns about the desperate need for support for migrant workers and temporary residents during this COVID-19 pandemic. While it is welcomed that the government has put in place the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) as income support for eligible individuals including migrant workers; unfortunately, the reality for many in this country is that they s5ll cannot access it. In particular, I would like to flag to your attention the countless migrant workers and temporary residents across the country who are in dire need.
With the current CERB requirements, those applying must have a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN). This is a problem as many migrants do not have a valid SIN for a variety of reasons. It has come to my attention that the study permit for Alina Przybly, an international student from Toronto expired in January. Notwithstanding the fact that her employer closed the restaurant that she was working at because of the pandemic, due to processing delays at IRCC, she is unable to have her study permit extended. This has caused her SIN to expire. Without a valid SIN number, she is ineligible for CERB. Ms. Przybly is now in a dire situation through no fault of her own.

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