Vancouver, BC – The Churches Witnessing With Migrants (CWWM) will hold its Fifth International Consultation on May 11, 2014in Stockholm, Sweden. This parallel consultation will be held prior to the Seventh Global Forum on Migration and Development. The GFMD is a “state-led, informal and non-binding” process that was created during the first High Level Dialogue in September 2006, which has met annually since.
Rev. Stuart Lyster of the United Church of Canada will be participating at the Fifth International Consultation with the support of the BC Conference of the United Church of Canada through its Justice Advocacy Circle. Rev. Lyster will bring the stories, share the struggles and the advocacy work of MIGRANTE BC, one of its grassroots community partners.
Rev. Lyster echoed these words from the 2013 Consultation that he had also attended last year with some 60 churches, ecumenical groups, and migrant organizations: ““Migrants are human beings who cannot be reduced to mere commodities to be traded and exchanged in the global market.” Last year, the consultation was timed with the Second United Nations High Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development.
The CWWM4 rejected the GFMD’s approach and agenda based on development policies that did not take into account “migrants’ stories and narratives and their critique of neoliberal globalization, especially its impact on their lives, livelihoods and social relations. The CWWM4 added, “The magnitude of neoliberal globalization, and attendant deepening of structural inequalities within countries, and between countries and regions, have commodified further both human beings and their labor, unduly privileging profit and unsustainable development practices.”
CWWM takes into account that “migrants are not just neighbours; they are persons equal in rights and dignity like everyone else. Taking migrant concerns as our concerns, and asserting migrant rights as human rights, means we are entertaining angels, no longer unaware, but with full knowledge of who they are and what their aspirations are: bearers of God’s likeness and instruments of God’s compassion and hospitality, justice and peace, abundance and sustainability.”
Rev. Lyster will raise the Migrante’s call for permanent status for temporary foreign workers upon arrival. The Canadian Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP) has been highly criticized recently because of the expose of the many abuses allegedly committed by McDonalds in Victoria Island and Tim Hortons in Fernie, BC.
Migrante has always maintained that the very precarious and temporary nature of the work status of the temporary foreign workers makes them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation and to less than equal access to Canadian labour rights and standards. It also exposes them to actual or threats of deportation or being kicked out of their jobs.
Migrante believes that the main guarantee to protection and acknowledgement of TFWs as skilled workers is allowing immediate permanent residency upon arrival and a path to Canadian citizenship.