Press releases

Historic legal victory for migrant workers’ right to employment insurance

Press release


Immigrant Workers Centre, Mouvement Action-Chômage de Montréal, Association of Progressive Jurists (AJP)


Montreal May 24, 2019


On May 10th, 2019, the Tax Court of Canada made a historic ruling in recognizing that temporary foreign workers can be eligible to receive employment insurance (EI) benefits, even if they have worked without a valid work permit.


Accompanied by the Immigrant Workers Centre, a group of approximately 18 temporary foreign workers from Guatemala appealed a decision by the Tax Court of Canada which refused to recognize that their employment was insurable under Canadian law.


In fact, these workers, recruited through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program were victims of fraud perpetrated by several companies in Quebec. Those companies deceived them by telling them that they could work for different employers than the one which originally hired them. However, this goes against the law.


The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) considered that the hours they had worked were not insurable, since their work permits didn’t allow them to be employed by other companies. The CRA has systematically excluded a considerable number of unemployed migrant workers under the pretext that their employment wasn’t covered by a work permit. This exclusion exacerbates a situation of vulnerability.


In this precedent setting ruling, the Tax Court of Canada concluded that a work can be insurable according to the Employment Insurance Act, even if hours worked were the result of an employment undertaken without a valid work permit. According to the 48 page ruling, the CRA’s practice violates the Employment Insurance Act.


It considers that the prohibition to work without valid permit doesn’t necessarily imply that workers are excluded from EI, given the state’s obligation to guarantee access for all workers to public social services. As a result, the Court considers it in the public interest to recognize the important contribution of migrant workers to the Canadian economy and that it’s unacceptable to systematically exclude them.


The Court noted that the obligation placed on foreign workers to have a work permit in Canada is rooted historically in prioritizing Canadian citizens in labour markets. Nevertheless, in its analysis, the Court found that in the current context, “its obvious that thousands of temporary agricultural workers don’t represent a threat or obstacle to the rights of Canadian workers.”


The Immigrant Workers Centre, Mouvement Action-Chômage de Montréal and the Association of Progressive Jurists (AJP) want to seize this opportunity to highlight this important step forward for migrant worker rights.


Viviana Medina, an organizer with the IWC, said: “This historic decision doesn’t just mean justice for this group of Guatemalan workers, but also for thousands of temporary workers for whom access to social protection and labour rights is systematically denied. We also hope that this decision which emanates from a federal court obliges the Minister of Public Security to recognize that interdiction measures, which prohibit this group of workers from returning to Canada, because they worked without a work permit, are unfounded, is ridiculous and unacceptable.”


Jérémie Dhavernas, organizer from Mouvement Action-Chômage de Montréal, says: “It’s incredible to have to go to the Tax Court of Canada to establish a right that should already be evident. Since 1990, the Canadian state has systematically violated the rights of workers to EI, including migrants and non-migrants. We are pleased with this victory, which could possibly help in other struggles to reduce abuses suffered by migrant workers.”


Mr Richard-Alexandre Laniel, the workers’ lawyer and director of the AJP, affirms: “All workers, regardless of their immigration status and national origin, should have the right to state services for social protection. This ruling is even more important since it reverses a line of jurisprudence which systematically excludes temporary foreign workers without a valid work permit from EI benefits.”


The people below, as well as one member of the group who participated in this legal process, are available for interviews.




Media contacts:
-Richard-Alexandre Laniel, Association of Progressive Jurists: 514 690 2988
-Viviana Medina, Immigrant Workers Centre: 514 342 2111
-Jérémie Dhavernas, Mouvement Action-Chômage de Montréal : 514 271-4800

“That was a kidnapping”: CBSA cuts fence to deport Lucy Granados with only the clothes on her back

Press Release


Banner on fence of Laval Immigration Detention Centre in Laval, Québec.


Supporters call on Minister Hussen to Bring Lucy Home


Montreal, 16 April — Lucy Francineth Granados arrived in Guatemala late on April 13th with only the clothes on her back after a turbulent final morning in Canada. Prevented from removing Lucy from the Laval Immigration Detention Centre by around 50 community members forming a festive blockade, at around 8am CBSA officers cut their way through a fence behind the detention centre to assure her deportation at 9:15.


“That was a kidnapping, what they did with me. no one saw me leave. At the airport, no one checked my passport. It was unjust.” said Lucy. Lucy was forced to leave all her luggage behind.


“Lucy told us she caught a brief glimpse of the sit-in before officials smuggled her out the back. Surrounded by tense CBSA agents and police crying “vite, vite,” Lucy was frog-marched through snow to a CBSA vehicle waiting on a nearby road. Accompanied by many cars, she was brought to the airport, driven directly onto the tarmac and mounted the plane, which took off 15 minutes later,” said William Van Driel of Solidarity Across Borders.


“Lucy was accompanied by two CBSA agents and a doctor on the long journey. The doctor was a fig leaf to mask the fact that the government did not respect the recommendations of four doctors that she not be deported.  She arrived alive but traumatized and with her arm still partially immobile and numb from a CBSA-inflicted injury during her arrest three weeks earlier.” Van Driel added.


“The question we have to ask is why the government went to the incredible length of cutting a fence to sneak her out in the face of steadfast public opposition? Were they so bent on getting rid of this single mother to silence a campaign that has drawn public attention to CBSA abuse? Or is it the symbol she represents as a voice for the rights of undocumented migrants, a problem the Trudeau government seems determined not to address?” said Van Driel.


“We are calling on Minister Goodale to investigate CBSA abuse and violence in Lucy’s case. We are also demanding that Immigration Minister Hussen accept Lucy’s Humanitarian and Compassionate application immediately, so that she can return to her home and community,” said Viviana Medina, a community organiser with the Immigrant Workers Centre.


Lucy’s application for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds (H&C) was submitted in September 2017. Her case meets the criteria and if the ministers had simply agreed to examine it before deporting her, it would have been accepted. However, it is very unusual for H&Cs to be accepted once the applicant is deported. If it is accepted, she would normally be able to return to Canada.


Lucy, a single mother and a community organizer for the rights of other undocumented women and temporary workers, lived in Montreal for nine years. Since her arrest on March 20th, Lucy received extensive support from across the country. This included visits to MPs across the country, hundreds of phone calls and emails to Minister Hussen’s offices, letters, articles, rallies, vigils, and an 8-day sit-in, as well as a petition with over 14 000 signatures.



Supporters demand justice, proper medical attention for Lucy Granados, who faces deportation Friday, April 13, 2018

Press Release

Montreal, 11 April 2018 – Supporters of Lucy Francineth Granados demand recourse for rights violations as well as appropriate medical attention for the single mother of three, who is facing deportation to Guatemala on April 13th, after living in Montreal for nine years. On Monday, the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) refused to grant an administrative stay of deportation to Lucy; on Tuesday, the agency opposed her motion to be heard by the Federal Court.


“How can we accept a society in which our neighbours are brutalized by the CBSA and then, when they object, rushed out of the country – with injuries inflicted by the CBSA unhealed? Where is the justice, where is the humanity if there is no way to hold the CBSA accountable for its actions towards migrants?” asked William Van Driel, a member of Solidarity Across Borders and a friend of Lucy’s.


“We have filed a human rights complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Commission on behalf of Lucy. We are appalled by the physical and psychological injury inflicted on her by the CBSA, the way that the advice of independent medical experts has been set aside and Lucy’s health treated with cavalier indifference while in CBSA custody. We believe that the CBSA has cruelly violated her human rights,” said Immigrant Workers Centre organizer Viviana Medina.


“The CHRC seems to be the only way Lucy can seek redress against the CBSA. However, legal experts tell us that people like Lucy with precarious status have been excluded in the past. It is also so limited that we were not able to include significant CBSA legal abuse, where a CBSA officer made a false representation to Lucy’s lawyer,” added Van Driel. “We are further concerned that the complaint will not proceed if Lucy is deported, as CBSA seems very intent on.”


“We have 48-hours to stop Lucy’s deportation and we must continue to fight, not only for this member of our community but for her children as well,” said Rehana Hashmi, initiator of the Mothers for Lucy Sit-in outside CBSA offices, which enters its 7th day today.


“So far Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale have failed to show their humanity, or to acknowledge the widespread public support for Lucy, or even to carry out their legal duties by responding to Lucy’s application for permanent residence on humanitarian grounds. But I have hope they still will,” added Hashmi. Over 10,000 Canadians have signed a petition in support of the undocumented Montrealer, and public letters have been launched at several universities with signatures from hundreds of academics and students.


On Tuesday, Granados’ lawyers turned to the Federal Court in a bid to stop the federal government from deporting her and to force Immigration Minister Hussen to respond to Lucy’s application for permanent residence on humanitarian grounds (filed in September 2017). However, the CBSA is asking that Lucy not even be heard by the court.


“We call upon the Canadian government to fulfill its human rights obligations and act on its stated promises to protect the health and well-being of migrants. Lucy’s story shows that the well-being of migrant women like Lucy is not a priority for the Canadian government, and that there is extremely limited legal recourse to challenge this.” added Medina.


Immigrant Workers Centre Tél. 514 342 2111


Let Lucy Stay Campaign page:

Solidarity Across Borders  514-222-0205, 514 894 2455, 514-992-1662

Lucy Granados: Health Professionals and Friends Fear Long-Term Impact of CBSA Abuse


Photo: Jacques Nadeau Le Devoir Un sit-in pour appuyer la cause de Mme Granados a été organisé au début de la semaine, à Montréal.


Press Release


Abuse Human Rights Complaint against CBSA actions at Quebec Commission des droits de la personne in preparation


5 April 2018, Montreal — Friends and health professionals today provided disturbing details of the CBSA’s treatment of Lucy Francineth Granados and its impact on the 42-year old single mother. Lucy is currently in immigration detention and faces deportation to Guatemala on Friday, April 13th. Despite Montreal’s aspirations to be a sanctuary city, Lucy was arrested by the Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) in Montreal on March 20th.


Lucy’s arrest involved “unnecessary and disproportionate physical force – with at least one CBSA agent grabbing her left arm and neck forcefully, resulting in their injury” says a recent psychiatric report citing Lucy. The report continues, “When interviewed, she wore a sling on her left arm and could not move it during the interview. … There is a 10cm diameter bruising and swelling at the back of her neck, evident 5 days after the arrest. Ms Granados stated that she was neither dangerous nor threatening during the arrest but that she was in a significant state of panic. Since then, Ms Granados has been having flashbacks of her arrest.”


The report concludes that Lucy is suffering from Acute Stress Disorder resulting from her arrest. She is at risk of developing PTSD if there are “ongoing life stressors” such as continued detention and deportation.


“Lucy Francineth Granados has suffered the impact of precarity on her physical and psychological health for many years. Since she was arrested, her health has greatly deteriorated. Detention, the stress and fear imposed on her can have long-term negative effects on her health,” corroborated Nazila Bettache, a doctor and specialist in internal medicine at the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal, adding “This must cease immediately, to allow her to regain the stability she needs”.


According to this doctor, after being detained, Lucy has had an incident of loss of consciousness with possible cardiac arrest, and was twice sent for emergency hospitalization. A third time, she was brought to the detention centre infirmary.


In the hospital, Lucy’s feet were shackled together, despite the presence of two CBSA guards at the door. She was not permitted any calls or visitors. The CBSA did not inform her lawyer of Lucy’s hospitalization on either occasion. For several hours, friends were unable to locate her.


“I have seen my friend become so disoriented by the aftershocks of her violent arrest that she could not finish a sentence without breaking into tears. I have seen my friend’s suffering ignored, minimized and exacerbated as if she did not have the capacity to feel pain, loss, humiliation, sadness.” said Alonso Gamarra, a friend who has been regularly visiting her in detention. “In the visiting room, she repeated what she’d been saying to me on the phone since Thursday: ‘I don’t even know what my name is anymore,’” he added.


The psychiatric evaluation states that Lucy’s emotional well-being had suffered since 2012, when her refugee claim was refused. It notes an increase in her symptoms of being “sad, discouraged, persistently anxious” with “recurrent and frequent panic attacks” since a phone call by a CBSA agent to Lucy’s lawyer in late January.


“This agent informed Lucy’s lawyer that her application for permanent residence on humanitarian grounds – her only means of regularizing her status in Canada – would not be opened unless she turned herself in for arrest and deportation. This was not only a false threat (the file had already been opened), but a misrepresentation of the law, which obliges the Minister to review all applications.” explained Amy Darwish of Solidarity Across Borders.


Lucy’s many supporters have spoken out against the treatment of their friend and, with the help of the Immigrant Workers Centre, are currently preparing a human rights complaint at Quebec’s Commission des droits de la personne.


“We don’t want to let this pass in silence, as though it were normal. But, we are concerned that, in order to hide their illegal and abusive behaviour, CBSA will not give fair consideration to Lucy’s application for a stay of deportation, first filed on 23 March. Her lawyer has still received no response to this application. Until she receives a response, Lucy will not be able to go to Federal Court to try to stop the deportation. We fear there won’t be enough time. We want Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale to act.” said Darwish.


Despite support for Lucy across the country, including an on-going Sit-In at Montreal CBSA offices launched Tuesday, federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale have so far failed to show any humanity or compassion.


Lucy has lived in Montreal for nine years where she actively contributes to community groups working for the rights of other undocumented women and workers.




Contact: Immigrant Workers Centre Tél. 514 342 2111


Let Lucy Stay Campaign page:
Source: Solidarity Across Borders 514-992-1662, 438 933 7654, 514 222 0205 &
Immigrant Workers Centre Tél. 514 342 2111

Le regroupement régional se retire du processus gouvernemental

Communiqué de presse — Pour publication immediate


Le regroupement régional chargé des consultations locales sur la discrimination systémique et le racisme annonce qu’il se retire du processus gouvernemental


Saguenay, 3 novembre 2017 – Le regroupement régional d’organismes chargé de mener
les consultations locales dans le cadre de la « Consultation sur la discrimination
systémique et le racisme au Québec », devenue le « Forum sur la valorisation de la
diversité et la lutte contre la discrimination », annonce qu’il se retire du processus dans
la foulée des évènements conduisant au retrait du mandat confié à la Commission des
droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (CDPDJ) par le Gouvernement du
Québec et au changement de cap ayant pour effet de réduire considérablement les
champs de la consultation initiale confiée aux 31 organismes locaux.


En outre, la proposition contractuelle actuelle, qui a tardé à être acheminée aux
organismes et dont les résultats doivent être livrés d’ici le 15 décembre, prévoit
notamment que les données recueillies au cours de la consultation demeurent la
propriété exclusive du ministère. Ceci implique qu’elles ne pourront être utilisées par des
organismes comme les nôtres en vue d’établir des orientations ou de cibler des
interventions appropriées tenant compte des faits observés. Ainsi, il est fort déplorable
qu’un tel travail de cueillette de données ne produirait aucune retombée concrète pour
les partenaires régionaux.


Les organismes partenaires désirent lancer un message aux personnes racisées et aux
personnes issues de l’immigration dans la région du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean à l’effet que
leur témoignage est important et peut servir à changer les choses. Dans le cas où d’autres
formes de consultation seraient envisagées, le regroupement pourrait se montrer
favorable à y participer, dans la mesure où celles-ci respecteraient certaines conditions.
Néanmoins, le regroupement aura permis à cinq organismes de pouvoir collaborer
positivement. Ceux-ci voient dans cette opportunité une incitation à travailler de nouveau
ensemble dans l’avenir sur les sujets liés à la discrimination systémique et au racisme.


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