Help On Way For Illegal Workers?
Union Seeks End To Deportations
By TOM GODFREY,
SUN MEDIA (The Toronto Sun)
January 12, 2008
Members of the Labourers International Union say they'll work with a federal immigration committee to help up to 10,000 of their workers here illegally to stay in Canada.
Union Local 183 officials yesterday called for a halt of the deportation of construction workers they claim are badly needed in Toronto, oil-rich Alberta and for the 2010 winter Olympics in B.C.
They said the undocumented workers can be used to keep Canada humming rather than construction firms spending time and money to import untrained workers from China and European countries.
Cosmo Mannella, the union's director of government relations, said members who are here illegally are given health and dental benefits.
“We are always advocating on behalf of these workers,” Mannella said yesterday. “We place tremendous resources in trying to regularize the status of these workers.”
Immigration and construction industry officials estimate there are as many as 25,000 undocumented workers in the Toronto area. Most are hired by small non-union contractors.
Mannella said his 70 business agents never report any undocumented workers.
“We would go to jail rather than betray them,” he said.
Mannella said Local 183 has provided hundreds of letters in support for undocumented workers seeking landed immigrant status.
NDP MP Olivia Chow said help may soon be coming for the badly needed workers, many who came to Canada from Portugal, South America and other countries and overstayed.
Chow said an all-party standing committee will begin holding meetings next month in cities across Canada on immigration issues, including undocumented workers.
“Many of these undocumented workers are being exploited by employers,” Chow said.