Liberals take steps to protect new immigrants and workers from abuse

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Canada is taking action to help protect vulnerable workers, newcomers who face family abuse, and help newcomers sponsor family members that they didn’t initially declare, the federal government announced last Friday.

It said every worker in Canada is entitled to a safe and healthy work environment where their rights are respected. Some migrant workers with employer-specific work permits end up enduring mistreatment, fearful of workplace punishment as well as losing their jobs.

Starting June 4, migrant workers who have an employer-specific work permit and are in an abusive job situation in Canada will be able to apply for an open work permit. This will allow migrant workers to leave that employer immediately, maintain their status and find another job.

The government said that nobody should have to stay in an abusive situation. Some individuals fear jeopardizing their immigration status more than an abusive spouse or partner.

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Starting July 26, newcomers experiencing family violence will be able to apply for a fee-exempt temporary resident permit that will give them legal immigration status in Canada and includes a work permit and health care coverage.

In addition, the government is expediting the process for those in urgent situations of family violence who apply for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

When a person applies to immigrate to Canada, they are required to declare all of their family members. The consequence for failing to declare a family member is a lifetime bar on the principal applicant being able to sponsor that family member in the future.

As of September 9, the government will launch a two-year pilot project where a person (resettled refugee, was conferred refugee protection in Canada or were themselves sponsored as a spouse, partner or dependent child) who came to Canada can now sponsor undeclared immediate family members.

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The government said it is committed to protecting vulnerable people so they can leave abusive work or family relationships or reunite with immediate family members.

Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, said: “Newcomers who failed to declare immediate family members as they first came to Canada were barred to sponsor them. Today, we right that wrong. No worker should fear losing their job when they are being mistreated in their place of work. No partner should be more fearful of losing their immigration status instead of escaping abuse. Today, we say, fear no more.” -CINEWS

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