A young woman arrived to the Lower Mainland to work as a domestic worker under the Live-In Caregiver migrant worker program. She worked for just over a year in the home of a middle-class family under abusive conditions: working over 14 hours a day, faced verbal abuse from her employers, and was forced to perform domestic chores beyond providing childcare. As in the case of thousands of other migrant domestic workers, she had little to no recourse and endured this until she could no longer and left the employer. The employer filed a police report and she was forced underground in order to stay safe from authorities and the employer. She continued to live and work underground under dismal conditions – including as a dishwasher and in the retail sector – and again, with long hours and less than minimum wage. Last year she filed a refugee claim in order to regularize her status and remain in Canada. However, she was refused by the Immigration and Refugee Board on the basis that she did not face persecution in her country of origin. Furthermore, immigration lawyers accused her of not fulfilling her required commitment under her LCP visa. She now faces deportation from Canada.
A nonstatus low-income father of three died the first week of January 2014. He lived in the Lower Mainland for over twenty years, but deemed ‘illegal’ and without a work permit he was forced to work in the street economy. His three children were born in Canada, and are working and attending university. A few years ago he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition for which he received emergency healthcare, but was prevented from accessing full treatment due to his lack of legal status.
Last year, with the Tory government’s implementation of the drastic Interim Federal Health cuts to refugee healthcare, he faced even greater life-threatening risk. In the words of his daughter, who predicted that “Bill C-31 will kill my father.” No One Is Illegal organized and fought alongside him and his family and he won temporary status which reinstated medical treatment, but it was too late as his health had already deteriorated drastically. He passed away on January 8, 2014 and his service was held on January 25, 2014.