Hundreds of protesters gathered on Saturday in downtown Montreal to launch a call to regularize all migrants, without exception, in particular to allow better access to health care, which is all the more essential in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic.
“Everyone is essential!This is one of the slogans of the demonstration convened in the morning at Émilie-Gamelin park by various groups of women, as well as defending the rights of tenants and workers, at the initiative of the Solidarity Without Borders network. After a few speeches, the demonstrators moved to La Fontaine park.
In short, the participants argue that it is not just asylum seekers who have worked in the health field that deserve recognition.
At the end of May, François Legault announced that he had asked the then Minister of Immigration, Simon Jolin-Barrette, “of look at the cases one by one to see if we are able to qualify them as immigrants and to welcome them here, not as refugees, but as immigrants”
He then referred to asylum seekers who work in residential and long-term care centers (CHSLDs). This would apply to fewer than 1,000 claimants, according to estimates by the Prime Minister’s Office.
His federal counterpart, Justin Trudeau, said that the Canadian government was already working on this.
Many left behind
The demonstrators gathered on Saturday however believe that beyond these “Guardian Angels Many undocumented migrants, international students, temporary foreign workers and other refugee claimants found themselves on the front lines during the pandemic.
Those that governments are planning to regularize have simply found themselves at “right place, right time “Said Farid, an undocumented migrant from Algeria, who preferred to withhold his last name.
“We are playing with our future, with our lifeExplains the one who has worked in warehouse for nine years, in the food industry. “I’m afraid, but I have no choice but to go to work, he says. They are counting on me.”
According to one of the organizers of the march, several participants took the risk of damaging their immigration procedures by coming to express their “feeling abandoned”
“It’s really a complicated situation that immigrants like me live in, who get no help, like they don’t deserve it or like others deserve it moreArgues the Senegalese asylum seeker, who has been living in Quebec for three years.
Without access to government benefits and with limited health care coverage, those without permanent residence find themselves in a highly vulnerable position in the face of the health crisis.
A similar demonstration also took place on Saturday in Toronto. In Ontario, three temporary foreign workers died after contracting COVID-19.
With information from Jacaudrey Charbonneau