How to get Legal Help during COVID-19
The Migrant Workers Centre provides free (pro bono) legal services to migrant workers.
Due to COVID-19, we have suspended in-person appointments and our drop-in legal clinic on Saturdays. Our services are available by appointment over the telephone, Zoom, or WhatsApp.
Please call our office during intake hours – Tuesday to Saturday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm at
604-669-4482 or 1-888-669-4482, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to book an appointment.
If you are a newcomer to Canada who has faced sexual harassment in the workplace, please call our Respect at Work hotline (604-404-1932) to request legal advice over the telephone.
Access to the Medical Services Plan (MSP) during COVID-19
This fact sheet explains what the MSP is, eligibility requirements for enrolment for migrant workers in BC, and the BC government’s policy on MSP coverage during COVID-19. This information was last updated on 1 December 2020.
Automatic Extension of Status
This fact sheet explains a new policy issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on 20 October 2020. The new policy provides migrant workers on implied status with a document to prove their legal status in Canada during the transitional period. This information was last updated on 1 December 2020.
COVID-19 Safety Measures at Work
This fact sheet explains COVID-19 risks at the workplace, your employers’ responsibility to manage these risks, and safety measures that can be implemented in the workplace to protect workers from contracting COVID-19. This information was last updated on 1 December 2020.
Giving Biometrics during COVID-19
Biometrics are measurements of unique biological characteristics that are collected as a part of a visa application. Migrant workers may be required to provide biometrics for a work permit or work permit extension application. This fact sheet explains what biometrics are, when biometrics are required as part of an application, and temporary COVID-19 exemptions for certain applicants. This information was last updated on 1 December 2020.
Income Support Benefits for Migrant Workers during COVID-19
This fact sheet explains the different income support benefits available to workers from both the federal and provincial governments. This information was last updated on 1 December 2020.
Loss of Status and Options for Renewing or Restoring your Status during COVID-19
This fact sheet explains what loss of status means and options for migrant workers in Canada to renew or restore their status during COVID-19. This information was last updated on 5 January 2021.
Vulnerable Worker Open Work Permit (VWOWP)
This fact sheet explains what VWOWP is, its eligibility requirements, and other general questions related to VWOWP applications. This information was last updated on 1 December 2020.
Who Can Enter Canada during COVID-19
Canada has implemented temporary travel restrictions that may affect migrant workers. This fact sheet explains the current COVID-19 travel restrictions, the mandatory quarantine requirement, and the relevant exemptions. This information was last updated on 8 January 2021.
Your Right to PPE
This fact sheet explains what PPE is, who provides and pays for PPE required for your job, and your PPE-related rights and responsibilities as a worker, including during COVID-19. This information was last updated on 1 December 2020.
Your Obligation to Report Health and Safety Hazards during COVID-19
This fact sheet explains workers’ health and safety obligations in the workplace, and in particular, the obligation to report and its applicability in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. This information was last updated on 1 December 2020.
Your Right to Refuse Unsafe Work
This fact sheet explains what unsafe work is, how you can exercise your right to refuse unsafe work, and your right to not be punished by your employer for refusing unsafe work. This information was last updated on 1 December 2020.
For more fact sheets related to immigration and employment matters, click here.
Applying to Extend Your Work Permit in Canada
Date: 5 December 2020
Description: MWC Legal Advocates Rubia Pivetta and Ravneet Riar hosted a webinar on the process of extending your work permit, including creating a GCKey account, required documentation, and policy changes related to COVID-19, followed by a brief Q&A session.
Changes to Immigration Law for Migrant Workers During Covid-19
Date: 18 November 2020
Description: MWC Staff Lawyers Natalie Drolet and Amanda Aziz hosted a webinar on border changes relating to who can enter Canada, changes to processing work permits and PR applications, the impacts on PR applicants who have reduced hours of work or who lost their jobs, and changes to CBSA involvement , including detention and removals.
The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) – Agricultural Stream
Date: 26 September 2020
Description: MWC Legal Advocate Lucy Sun delivered a webinar with information pertaining to the TFWP – Agricultural Stream. Lucy covered the application requirements and application process, followed by a Q&A session. Spanish interpretation was provided.
BC Provincial Nominee Program: Part III
Date: 12 August 2020
Description: MWC Summer Law Student Karen Jantzen hosted the last webinar in a series of three about the BC Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). This part covered the invitation to apply, the application, and what happens post-nomination, followed by a Q&A session.
Applying for Permanent Residency for Caregivers under the Home Child Care Provider and Home Support Worker Pilots
Date: 18 July 2020
Description: MWC Staff Lawyer Natalie Drolet hosted a webinar that provided an overview of the Home Child Care Provider and Home Support Worker Pilots for permanent residency for caregivers. This webinar covered the eligibility requirements for applicants and their dependents, and the work permit options available to applicants. The webinar also covered the documents required and discussed common immigration issues.
Agri-Food Pilot Program – Pathway to Permanent Residency for TFWs
Date: 18 July 2020
Description: MWC Staff Lawyer Natalie Drolet and Legal Advocates Jeanne Robert and Lucy Sun hosted a webinar on the the Agri-Food Pilot, a new pathway to permanent residency for some migrant agricultural workers. This webinar provided an overview of the eligible occupations, application requirements, and the application forms and process, followed by a brief Q&A session. Spanish interpretation was provided.
BC Provincial Nominee Program: Skills Immigration and Express Entry: Part II
Date: 8 July 2020
Description: MWC Summer Law Student Karen Jantzen hosted the second webinar in a series of three on the BC Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). This webinar covered the registration process and scoring, which was followed by a Q&A session.
BC Provincial Nominee Program Overview: Part I
Date: 10 June 2020
Description: MWC Summer Law Student Karen Jantzen hosted the first webinar in a series of three on the BC Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). This webinar provided an overview of the program, the eligibility requirements for each of its categories, followed by a Q&A session.
The Right to Refuse Unsafe Work during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Date: 28 May 2020
Description: MWC Staff Lawyer Natalie Drolet and Legal Advocate Jeanne Robert partnered with RAMA Okanagan’s Amy Cohen to present a webinar on the right to refuse unsafe work during COVID-19. This webinar featured speaker Wendy Mah of the BC Government and Service Employees Union, Brian Campbell of the BC Federation of Labour Health and Safety Centre, and Tom Brocklehurst of WorkSafeBC.
Changes for Immigration and Refugee Law During COVID-19
Date: 28 April 2020
Description: MWC Staff Lawyer Juliana Dalley and Senior Counsel Lobat Sadrehashemi of the Immigration and Refugee Legal Clinic provided a webinar on the following topics: who can enter Canada, processing of refugee claims, appeals, and Federal Court, detention and removals, and applications for permanent residence, temporary residence, and citizenship.
Access to Health Care for Migrant Workers during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Date: 23 April 2020
Description: This webinar discussed the temporary MSP coverage offered in BC during COVID-19. It provided information on who is eligible for coverage, how to enroll, and what to do if your application to enroll is refused. Speakers included MWC Staff Lawyer Juliana Dalley and Omar Chu of Sanctuary Health.
Income Support Benefits for Migrant Workers during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Date: 7 April 2020
Description: MWC Staff Lawyer Juliana Dalley and Staff Lawyer Kevin Love of Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS) delivered a webinar on income support benefits available to migrant workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The webinar provided an overview of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), Employment Insurance (E.I.), provincial benefits, and immigration implications. The speakers addressed questions on eligibility for the different benefits, how to apply, and the application process.
For a full list of MWC webinars, click here.
Migrant Work in the Time of COVID-19 Research Project
Migrant Workers Centre is partnering with researchers at the University of British Columbia to better understand and document the experiences of migrant and undocumented workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that the pandemic has made the lives of migrant and undocumented workers more precarious, and it is important that the Canadian government understands and responds accordingly. The research will raise awareness of the issues among Canadians and the Canadian government and further support MWC in our ongoing campaign for Amnesty for Undocumented Workers.
If you are a migrant or undocumented worker, we would like to hear from you. Tell us how the pandemic has affected your life through a confidential interview. The interview will be approximately one hour, which can take place either physically-distanced in-person or online. Please note that your name, interview, workplace and work status will be kept confidential. All participants will receive an honorarium of $50.
If you would like to know more and/or would like to participate in the research, please contact Vanessa Banta (email@example.com) or Geraldine Pratt (firstname.lastname@example.org). There is no need to share your actual name: the confidentiality of your name, your interview, your workplace and your work status will be strictly maintained.
Amnesty For Undocumented Workers Campaign
On 29 April 2020, MWC launched the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers campaign in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The campaign calls on the Government of Canada to regularize the status of undocumented workers by immediately:
- Creating a new permanent residency program for all essential migrant workers, including undocumented workers
- Allowing migrant workers in Canada to apply for a 12-month open (unrestricted) work permit to maintain or regularize their status while their application for permanent residency is in process.
These measures are urgently needed in light of COVID-19, which has exposed the extent to which the Canadian economy and society depend on migrant workers who lack permanent resident status and, as a result, lack access basic rights and services that Canadians expect.
Show your support for the campaign by sending an email to Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino and your Member of Parliament! Click here to access the easy email campaign tool.
For more information on the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign, click here.
MWC in the News during COVID-19
During the pandemic, MWC has advocated on behalf of its members for policies and programs that respond to the needs of migrant workers during these unprecedented times. In addition to launching the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers campaign, MWC has advocated for:
- The CERB and other income support benefits to be available to migrant and undocumented workers regardless of whether they hold a valid Social Insurance Number
- BC’s temporary health care policy allowing migrant workers on implied to renew their MSP coverage to become permanent
MWC also worked with the Migrant Worker Expert Health Working Group to provide recommendations to Employment and Social Development with respect to ensuring the health and safety of migrant agricultural workers during the pandemic.
For news coverage on MWC’s advocacy, please click here.