Migrant Rights Network: Hundreds of migrants make pre-election demands in Ottawa

Full and permanent immigration status for all migrants will ensure equal rights and protections

Ottawa – As a federal election looms, hundreds of migrants are converging in Ottawa to demand equal rights and fair treatment from the Trudeau government. While Canada recovers from COVID-19, the migrants who grow food, care for loved ones and provided essential services to our communities during the pandemic are being left behind. Without permanent resident status, 1.6 million people (1 in 23 residents) are denied access to the same rights that protect others in Canada. Migrants are marching to the Prime Minister’s Office to challenge Trudeau to end unfair treatment and exploitation. At the start of his time in office, Trudeau promised to welcome migrants and refugees. As Canadians prepare to go to the polls, the demand for status for all from migrants is a litmus test of Trudeau’s sincerity in building a fair post-pandemic society that benefits all people in the country. 

Starting at 2pm on Sunday, July 25, 2021, hundreds of migrants from Montreal, Toronto and beyond will be marching through downtown Ottawa. They will be carrying photographs of 14 farmworkers who have died in Canada this year, and a massive Humanitarian and Compassionate application. Migrants – including undocumented people, farm workers, refugees, international students, and care workers – will call on Prime Minister Trudeau to create a comprehensive regularization program for non-status residents, and re-open and expand the Essential Workers stream of the Temporary Resident to Permanent Resident program to include everyone by removing unfair language, immigration status, and work exclusions. 

  • WHEN: 2pm, Sunday, July 25, 2021
  • WHERE: Rally will begin at Major’s Hill Park in Ottawa, and migrants will march to the Prime Minister’s Office and Parliament. 
  • WHO: Migrant spokespeople including undocumented people, farm workers, care workers, students, and refugees will be available to speak to media. 
  • VISUALS: Photos of farm workers that have died this year, a massive “Humanitarian and Compassionate” application, colorful flags and balloons in front of PMO and Parliament Hill. 


  • There are over 1.6 million migrants (residents without permanent resident status) in Canada, equivalent to 1 in 23 residents. 
  • As a result many are excluded from healthcare and social services and cannot unite with their families. Lack of permanent resident status makes it difficult, and often impossible, for migrants to speak up for their rights or access services, including those they may be eligible for, because of a well-founded fear of reprisals, termination, eviction and deportation.
  • Permanent resident status for all is about equal rights, which is necessary in a fair society. 
  • In 2020, Canada saw a historic shortfall in permanent immigration due to COVID-19 related border closures. As a result, Prime Minister Trudeau’s government has turned to short-term, piecemeal programs including the Temporary to Permanent Resident program, and the so-called Guardian Angels healthcare worker program. Less than a 100,000 people will be able to access these “pathways”, which exclude primarily racialized and low-waged migrants. The Essential Workers stream of the TR to PR program closed last week. See more: https://migrantrights.ca/prclosed/
  • Migrant Rights Network is calling for full and permanent immiigration status for all migrants including:
    • Undocumented residents: Despite the border being closed, Canada deported more people in 2020 than any of the previous 5 years. Canada also doubled the rejections of Humanitarian and Compassionate applications in 2020, which is the only opportunity for most undocumented residents to access permanent resident status. See: https://migrantrights.ca/hc202rejections/
    • Migrant food and farm workers: At least 14 farm workers have died in 2021. COVID-19 outbreaks on farms have revealed the intense labour exploitation, inhumane housing conditions and health and safety risks that farm workers face. See more: https://twitter.com/MWACCanada/status/1399130840928505861 
    • Migrant care workers: 1 in 3 migrant care workers lost their jobs during COVID-19, and many were not able to access income support. Immigration pathways for migrant childcare workers have been closed arbitrarily for the rest of the year, while over 12,000 care workers with pending applications are stuck in the backlog, in some cases for over 5 years. See: https://migrantrights.ca/bcdrelease/
    • Refugees: Canada closed its borders to refugees in 2020, and significantly reduced processing of asylum applications in the country. See more: https://www.globenewswire.com/en/news-release/2021/06/20/2249890/0/en/Migrants-call-on-PM-Trudeau-to-Unite-Families-Welcome-Migrants-Refugees-on-World-Refugee-Day-Fathers-Day.html 
    • Migrant students and workers: Migrant students have seen their tuition fees increase dramatically which, accompanied by high unemployment, has caused immense stress and at least six suicides this year, and is resulting in students losing their status in the country.  
  • The July 25th action follows a week of protests in Montreal led by Solidarity Across Borders. 
  • Every migrant-led organization in Canada, as well as over 400 civil society organizations, are jointly calling for full and permanent immigration status for all migrants in the country, as well as permanent resident status for all on arrival

Karen Cocq
Migrant Rights Network Secretariat, Ottawa
647-970-8464 | karen@migrantworkersalliance.org