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18 Canadian Lab. & Emp. L.J. 1 (2014-2015)
Silence Means Yes Here in Canada: Precarious Migrants, Work and the Law

handle is hein.journals/canlemj18 and id is 7 raw text is: 






      Silence Means Yes Here in Canada:

    Precarious Migrants, Work and the Law



                           Sarah  Marsden*

      A growing number of workers in the Canadian labour force have precar-
 ious migration status as participants in authorized temporary work programs, or
 have no status at all. This article reports the findings of a study that interviewed
 precarious migrants in British Columbia, and employees of agencies which
 provided services to them, with a view to assessing the impact of migration
 status on their conditions of work and on the practical availability to them of
 legal protections set out in provincial legislation on employment standards,
 occupational health and safety, and workers' compensation. Data gathered from
 the interviews indicate that precarious migration status was associated with
 deskilling, decreased job security and mobility, illegally low pay and long hours,
 and various health and safety risks. Provincial laws and policies regulating
 the workplace do not exclude anyone from protection on the basis of migration
 status. However, federal law gives employers a great deal of employer discretion
 over the status of temporary foreign workers, aggravating the employer-em-
 ployee power imbalance and making those workers fearfid of seeking redress
for violations of their rights under provincial law. The author suggests that
local initiatives emphasizing the provision of access to services without fear
for workers with precarious migration status, or with no status, can help to
overcome  their marginalization and recognize their place in Canadian society.

1. INTRODUCTION

      The  increase in temporary labour migration  into Canada, and the
 working  conditions of temporary  foreign workers, have  been the sub-
 ject of much recent attention and debate in public and policy spheres.
 This article discusses the results of a study conducted with migrants and
 migrant-serving agencies  in Vancouver,  British Columbia,  and which
 focused on the relationship of migration  status to conditions of work
 as reported by migrants and  on the availability of legal protections to
 these workers. Part 2 provides  an overview  of available federal data
 on the numbers  and  types of precarious migrants, and  introduces the


 *  PhD, Supervising Lawyer, Law Students' Legal Advice Program, University
    of British Columbia. I am grateful to the individuals who participated in the
    research study on which this paper is based, and to the peer reviewers and editor-
    ial staff who made the final version possible.

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