Access to Justice for Migrant Workers in BC: Research Report by WCDWA

“Access to Justice for Migrant Workers in B.C.”: Research Report


RedLegal Collective congratulates our friends at West Coast Domestic Workers Association (WCDWA) for its excellent research report “Access to Justice for Migrant Workers in B.C.”.   The report was lunched on August 10, 2013 at  SFU Harbour Centre.  We encourage community-based support workers, educators, the public in general to read the report by WCDWA and to use it as a resource for awareness-raising and advocacy on social justice and the impact of government cuts to public legal aid in British Columbia.  The report, its conclusions and recommendations will be followed by WCDWA with roundtables and other dialogues.

The following is a background about “Access to Justice for Migrant Workers in B.C.”– Research Report by WCDWA:

West Coast Domestic Workers’ Association (WCDWA) is a non-profit association in its 27th year of operation. The organization facilitates access to justice for migrant workers who enter Canada through the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) by offering legal assistance, legal information and advocacy to current and former live-in caregivers. Each year the organization handles over 3000 legal matters for live-in caregivers. WCDWA’s legal advocates and staff lawyer provide assistance for issues ranging from loss of immigration status to employment standards complaints before various tribunals and judicial bodies such as Employment Standards Branch, Federal Court and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).

In recent years, the organization has experienced a sharp increase in requests for legal assistance from other migrant workers, often referred to as Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs), who enter Canada through CIC’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). With few exceptions, migrant workers that enter Canada through the TFWP do not have a pathway to permanent residence.

Migrant workers are an integral component of the BC workforce and economy. However, despite their contributions to BC society, they are uniquely vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, largely stemming from the temporary nature of their migrant worker status. Many ‘semi’ and ‘lower-skilled’ workers earning minimum wage are not able to afford legal representation when they encounter legal difficulties. Temporary foreign workers typically do not have access to provincial settlement services and programs because they are not immigrants. Given the growing demand for legal access in migrant work communities, WCDWA engaged in a research project to document the types of problems ‘semi-skilled’ temporary foreign workers encounter with the aim of promoting greater understanding about access to justice issues within migrant worker communities.

The research report is intended to provide guidance to WCDWA and other stakeholders about how to better serve the needs of migrant workers under the TFWP. The report aims to provide a first-hand perspective of the successes and flaws of the TFWP within the British Columbian context.

Source: Adriana Rietzler, Researcher for WCDWA  7 August 2013

Free PDF copies of the Project Report can be downloaded from the WCDWA website  “Access to Justice for Migrant Workers in BC”.

If you need hard copies  of the Project Report, or for your comments and feedback on the Report, contact WCDWA at their office: