Migrant and undocumented people are at the forefront of the COVID-19 crisis, often working in essential jobs that sustain our communities.
Although undocumented workers contribute to Ontario’s economy and society at large, migrant workers and their families often have no or very limited access to health care and social services as a result of their undocumented status. Additionally, many migrants have not been able to renew their immigration permits or their health cards due to COVID-19 related delays in permit processing or the inability to find full-time employment.
In some cases, employers have already started to threaten migrants with job loss and deportation if they aren’t vaccinated but those who are undocumented are afraid of accessing health care in case their personal information is shared with federal immigration enforcement.
The majority of Canada’s undocumented workers live in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), with current estimates ranging from 200,000 to 500,000. Some of the highest rates of COVID-19 infections are amongst migrants in congregate living and working conditions, like farms, factories, and warehouses, and those that are homeless or incarcerated. Ensuring safe and dignified access to COVID-19 vaccines for migrants and undocumented people is key to Ontario’s recovery and ability to reach herd immunity.
In response to this open letter from Migrant Rights Network and 269 signatories, I gave the following letter to Minister Christine Elliott urging the provincial government to provide clear guarantees that accessing vaccines will be safe, regardless of immigration status.
To add your name in support of Vaccines for All, click here.