Community members gather at City Hall in solidarity with migrant workers

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Activists, poets, youth, and seniors gathered at City Hall on Sunday, March 29 to protest the federal government’s “4 and 4” policy, coming into effect on April 1.

The policy, which was written in 2011, prevents temporary migrant workers from renewing their work permits after four years, and simultaneously prevents them from reapplying for another four years. This coming April 1 will be the end of the first four years of the policy.

Migrant justice advocate Alecia Golding says this will have a negative impact on the Peterborough community, as well on communities across Canada.

“This will be a mass deportation. Tens of thousands of people across Canada will be torn away from friends, families, and communities. The government is trying to tell these migrant workers that those who are considered citizens of this country won’t notice their deportation or that we won’t care, but there are rallies happening in Toronto, Hamilton, Guelph, Niagara, Edmonton, and the Okanagan Valley today. Today proves that we do care, and that we will stand in solidarity with them.”

Two farm workers who will be affected by the 4 and 4 policy were in attendance but chose to remain anonymous, and as activist Sasha Patterson pointed out, many people who come under the temporary foreign workers program are unable to voice their dissent.

“There are many voices we are not hearing today. Many workers face risks from employers and the government if they speak out against rules and policies that abuse them. Migrant workers in Canada work low wage, undesirable, and sometimes dangerous jobs. They are not given the right to stand up for their rights.”

Golding and Patterson were among the speakers who addressed the crowd at city hall. They encouraged attendees to sign a petition calling for an end to the policy, and calling on the government to grant migrant workers status upon arrival.

The activists say they chose to meet at City Hall because they want to unite the Peterborough community in building a sanctuary city. They describe a sanctuary city as a city that which protects all inhabitants from immigration laws that violate their human rights and allows anyone, regardless of their status, to access basic services within their community without the threat of deportation.

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