A new avenue to permanent resident status is in the works for undocumented workers in Canada, as a program under the federal government continues developing. This new program is meant to tackle the “underground economy” of undocumented workers living in Canada, many of whom are former legal residents who have since lost their status. There are as many as 500 000 undocumented workers currently living in Canada, often working exploitive jobs in construction, cleaning, caregiving, and agriculture. This new immigration pathway would allow them to regain their status, allowing them to continue to build their lives in Canada. Continue reading to learn more about what this new program could mean for undocumented workers.

Development of the program follows a letter to the immigration minister directing them to explore more ways to regularize undocumented residents. While it is too early to know exactly how many undocumented workers would be granted PR status in this new program, it will build on previous small-scale initiatives that have helped undocumented construction workers obtain PR status in Canada. The introduction of this program would also follow similar programs allowing international students to regain status after their credentials expired during the pandemic. While the new program is also likely to focus on workers in specific sectors, versus a broader, over-arching approach, it is set to assist many people in regaining or achieving legal status. 

Research and consultations on the program took place this summer, with advocates urging Ottawa to adopt a more extensive program to meet the needs of migrants, as well as those of the Canadian economy. Regularization of undocumented workers could greatly benefit the Canadian economy, potentially bringing in an additional $1 billion dollars in income tax, as well as increase contributions to EI and CPP. Addressing this “shadow economy” would help to address record-high job vacancies currently being experienced in many industries throughout Canada, a major benefit to the economy and local businesses. 

Not only would this program benefit the economy, but it would also greatly improve the lives of undocumented workers themselves. Most undocumented workers came to Canada legally but lost their status due to issues with student visas, temporary work permits, or asylum claims. Currently, undocumented workers in Canada face a range of vulnerabilities, including poor mental and physical health due to social isolation, abusive working conditions, and reduced access to care. Allowing these workers to gain legal status would bring workers out of situations where wage theft and abuse are common, while making healthcare and social services more accessible. 

While the program is still in development, it is clear that strides are being made towards a more easily navigated, accessible system for undocumented workers in Canada. If you are an undocumented worker who is looking to gain permanent resident status in Canada, the immigration lawyers at Brace Law can help. Contact us at 905.815.6555 for a consultation, and Consider It Handled. 

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