‘It’s a dream come true’ as COVID-19 vaccine rollout expands to city’s refugee homes

Brendan Kennedy, Toronto Star

With COVID-19 vaccinations in Toronto’s homeless shelters already underway the vaccine rollout has expanded to refugee homes in the city, with mobile hospital teams operating several pop-up clinics in recent days.

Residents and staff at the FCJ Refugee Centre, Romero House and Adam House all received their vaccines on Tuesday.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Francisco Rico-Martinez, co-director of the FCJ Refugee Centre, where 50 people were vaccinated on Tuesday. “We’re delighted.” […]

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‘I’m living in fear’: Undocumented workers worry that getting the COVID-19 vaccine could lead to unwanted immigration woes

Brendan Kennedy, Toronto Star

As a personal support worker in a long-term-care home, Lily has been eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine since the first shots were administered back in December. But she hasn’t been vaccinated yet because she’s afraid — not of the vaccine itself, but that getting it could lead to losing her job or being deported.

[…]

The City of Toronto has partnered with the FCJ Refugee Centre since the beginning of the pandemic to ensure undocumented residents were able to access a range of services, from income supports to COVID-19 testing, and co-director Francisco Rico-Martinez said that partnership is continuing. He said he has met with city officials regarding vaccine access for undocumented people.

“They understand the issue,” he said. “They’re very open about our ideas, but they didn’t say yes to any of them.” […]

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Interview: Francisco Rico-Martinez on the FCJ Refugee Centre

Pascal Fillipi, CJRU 1280 AM

Since the pandemic, the lives of refugees and asylum claimants has changed. The vast majority of the people that make a claim between November 2020 up to January 2021 are in limbo.

The number of Asylum Claimants processed by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has drop significantly from around 4000 to 1000 between January 2020 to December 2020.

Francisco Rico-Martinez was a refugee himself and now he is the co-director of the FCJ Refugees Centre. He speaks to CJRU about his own trajectory, services offered by FCJ Refugees Centre and how the pandemic is changing operations.

COVID-19 Hitting Canadian Farms: “There had to be one dead for the authorities to react”

Isabel Inclan, New Canadian Media

The spread of COVID-19 in several farms across the country and the death of three Mexican farmworkers in Southwestern Ontario has exposed the overcrowding in which they live on some farms, the lack of official inspection to guarantee distance and protection during the pandemic, and even suspicions of labour exploitation.

Many workers in places surrounded by the risk to get coronavirus are reluctant to be tested for COVID-19. Why? Their temporary immigration status makes them feel afraid to be returned to Mexico if they are positive, as reported by migrant workers´ advocates. […]

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Ottawa ‘remotely’ inspected Ontario farms while COVID-19 infected hundreds of migrant workers

Lisa Xing, CBC News

The federal government has conducted mostly remote inspections of Ontario farms that employ migrant workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, instead of physically entering the properties to make sure the labourers’ living conditions are safe.

Employment and Social Development Canada, the department responsible for the inspections, told CBC News that over the last four months, all the farms it inspected during the initial 14-day mandatory quarantine period complied with the rules as of June 12. […]

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How Canada failed migrant farm workers

Kathryn Blaze Baum and Tavia Grant, The Globe and Mail

When the novel coronavirus pandemic hit in March, the annual flow of farm labour into Canada hung in the balance.

Farmers feared that border closings and grounded planes would prevent agricultural workers, coming from countries such as Mexico, Guatemala and Jamaica, from reaching their fields and greenhouses in time for the seeding season. Knowing this, Ottawa allowed entry of temporary foreign workers critical to the food system.

Conditions – including a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival – were put in place to protect Canadians. But advocates and health officials say not enough was done to protect the workers themselves. […]

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Migrant advocates call on feds to expand EI, CPP to foreign workers

Rachel Emmanuel, iPolitics

Migrant worker advocates say the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the need for the federal government to create a new mechanism for foreign workers to access critical benefits like employment insurance (EI).

Debbie Douglas, executive director of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, told the House human resources committee on Monday that the government must find a way to ensure that temporary foreign workers (TFWs) can access the benefits they’re already paying into, such as the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) and EI benefits. […]

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Migrant Workers Advocates Call for Government Action Against Human Trafficking

Isabel Inclan, New Canadian Media

Migrant workers’ advocates are calling on the federal government to adopt a holistic approach to address human trafficking that encompasses prevention, social protections, accountability, and labour mobility.

Migrant groups said existing government programs and policies fail to protect some migrant workers who are most susceptible to labour trafficking. […]

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85 migrant workers test positive in latest Ontario farm outbreak

CBC News

A farm operation in Norfolk County, south of Simcoe, is the latest agricultural facility in Ontario to declare a COVID-19 outbreak after 85 migrant workers tested positive for the virus.

The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit said Sunday that five workers have been hospitalized and approximately 25 others who tested positive are showing symptoms of the virus.

The migrant workers are employed by Scotlynn Group in Vittoria, a major producer of sweet corn, watermelon, asparagus and pumpkins. Many workers are from Mexico and an official from the Mexican consulate is being made available to speak to those infected. […]

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