Why are they excluded ?

14 August 2020|JRS-Canada

Jesuit Refugee Service-Canada (JRS-Canada) JRS expresses its disappointment at the exclusion of some workers from the new immigration program that will allow “guardian angels” asylum seekers to obtain permanent residence.

The Government of Quebec has just announced a new immigration program that will allow refugee claimants who provided health care during the pandemic to obtain permanent residence.  However, what about security guards, housekeeping staff, cashiers, etc.?  Were they not also on the front lines of the pandemic?  Weren’t they also at risk of catching the virus simply by having to go to work while the majority of us could work from home without being infected?  Were they not also guardian angels who ensured our well-being during the worst of the crisis by providing security for our health care buildings, cleaning them and making sure that we could always get food?

Why does the Government of Quebec not want to recognize the contribution of these asylum seekers in a tangible way by granting them permanent residence?  Initially, it did not want to recognize anyone and only do so on a case-by-case basis.  It was only after pressure from the federal government that the Quebec government made concessions.  Recognizing all asylum seekers who contributed during this pandemic would be the right thing to do, would be the humane thing to do.  But it is not doing it.  Why is it not doing it?  Mr. Legault and his cabinet of ministers are making political calculations.  They believe there is a certain segment of their electorate that does not like the idea of rewarding asylum seekers.  So instead of doing the right thing, they are thinking about their political future.  Unfortunately, that is where we are at with our political leaders.

What about the federal politicians in all this?  The federal government has the power to act unilaterally to grant permanent residence to asylum seekers.  But it hasn’t.  Why hasn’t it?  Because it, too, is making political calculations.  It does not want to appear as if it is interfering with Quebec at the risk of poisoning relations that are not always at their best.

So here we are, our government leaders are playing politics instead of giving concrete thanks to all the people who have helped keep us safe and secure by granting them permanent residence.  Moreover, granting permanent residence to all those people was the least we could have done.

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Jesuit Refugee Service – Canada, seeks to accompany, serve and advocate for refugees and other displaced persons, so that they may heal, learn and define their future for themselves.