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17 Sep 2023

By Nicholas Keung, Toronto Star (Canada)

Ottawa faces class action alleging rules around migrant workers are discriminatory

…“What we’re trying to do is challenge all the provisions of the immigration regulations that allow the federal government to bind these workers and to restrict their rights to change employers,” said Eugénie Depatie-Pelletier, executive director of the Association for the Rights of Household and Farm Workers, which filed the court case on behalf of closed work permit holders.

“It’s time to put an end to nonfree work, a system that treats the worker as the quasi-property of her employer.”

The plaintiffs are asking the court to declare the provisions of the immigration law that allow such practice unconstitutional, and to award damages to migrant workers who have been subjected to “employer-tying measures” on or after April 17, 1982, when the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms took effect.

None of the claims have been proven in court.

As opposed to an “open” work permit, foreign workers on a “closed” or “employer-specific” work permit can only work here according to the specific conditions on the work permit, such as working for the named employer. Migrant workers in low-wage, low-skill jobs are generally issued a closed work permit.

The lawsuit alleged that “employer-tying measures” were rooted in direct discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin and colour…