The 4-and-4 rule required migrant workers to leave after four years of cumulative employment and banned them from returning for four years. Over 15 cities organized protest and actions in March 2015 as a lead up to the imposition of the 4-and-4 rule which uprooted tens of thousands of migrant workers, and caused mass deportations. Nearly 4,000 people signed petitions. Since October 2015, the Coalition for Migrant Worker Rights Canada (CMWRC) has campaigned for the overturn of this rule and permanent status on landing.
While this is an important step, we need more than repealing and tinkering. We need a total overhaul of the system which begins with ensuring permanent status on landing for migrant workers now and a regularization program for workers who stayed and became undocumented.
In the announcement, the Federal Government promised to expand ‘pathways to citizenship’. The Coalition for Migrant Worker Rights Canada (CMWRC) believes that ‘pathways’ are a euphemism for maintaining unjust temporariness for low-waged and racialized workers. A pathway is a two stage process, where migrant workers must first complete a temporary sentence of abuse and injustice before a few are selected to compete for permanent status. Low-waged and racialized people deemed to be doing ‘low-skilled’ work deserve permanent status on landing, just as much as those deemed to be doing ‘high skilled’ work.
Migrant workers from across Canada called for a repeal of the 4-and-4 rule and most importantly permanent status on landing in the recent review of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program in Ottawa. In the meantime, we continue to fight for open work permits for migrant workers.