June 07, 2023
Local unions, national collaboration turns hardship into dream opportunity for migrant group

Toronto – A group of migrant workers are feeling relieved and secure in their future thanks to the relentless support of UFCW Canada locals and the union’s long-standing advocacy efforts.

Working and living in Canada was their dream opportunity which quickly went sideways when their hospitality employer in Niagara Falls, Ontario terminated their contract without notice.

As members of UFCW 102, their local union made it a priority to forward their concerns to the UFCW Canada national office for further assistance in finding a solution to their precarious immigration status. UFCW 102 also put forward grievances on behalf of these unjustly terminated members and look to challenge the employer’s conduct in arbitration.  

In the meantime, their immigration status was taken up by the UFCW Canada national office which worked closely with NDP MP Jenny Kwan to secure an open work permit for vulnerable migrant workers. This option for migrant victims of employer abuse was secured a few short years ago, following lengthy efforts by UFCW Canada in Ottawa to reform the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP). Since then, the union has helped hundreds of mistreated migrants secure open work permits.

Joining the effort to assist the UFCW 102 group, UFCW Canada Locals 175 & 633 quickly stepped up to support our migrant members by working with Maple Leaf Foods to secure new, full-time jobs at a unionized meat processing facility in Hamilton, Ontario.

The workers are now proud members of UFCW 175 & 633 working out of the Maple Leaf Heritage plant, and thanks to the federal Agri-Food pilot – which, again, is the direct result of UFCW Canada’s political action and legislative efforts – these workers now have a real shot at realizing their dreams. The Agri-Food Pilot provides an additional 2,275 opportunities, every year, for migrant food workers and their families to achieve Permanent Residency (PR) and, in time, Canadian citizenship.  

Picking up on other reforms demanded by UFCW Canada, the federal government recently expanded the Agri-Food Pilot to include new provisions that allow unions to vouch for Canadian work experience of migrant food workers, and help with family reunification efforts by expanding open work permit access to family members of all participants in the pathway program.

UFCW Canada is fully committed to further expanding the Agri-Food Pilot, and assisting as many qualifying members as possible who are currently migrants to access PR through the Agri-Food Pilot.