‘We want you to stay’: Canada opens door to permanent residence for 90,000 international graduates and temporary workers with one-time program

One-time or a pilot? Addressing some long-standing equity issues. Doing so during a downturn when some sectors are unlikely to recover soon (e.g.., hospitality, travel, in person retail) is risky. Will be interesting to follow the economic outcomes of Permanent Residents that are admitted under this policy:

Canada is rolling out a one-time special immigration program to grant permanent residence to 90,000 recent international graduates as well as temporary foreign workers with work experience in essential occupations.

International students will qualify for the new program if they have graduated from an eligible post-secondary program within the past four years, after January 2017, and if they are currently employed. They do not need to be in a specific occupation to meet the requirements.

The program is also open to temporary foreign workers with at least one year of work experience in one of the 40 health-care occupations, as well as 95 other essential jobs across a range of fields, such as caregiving and food production and distribution.

This time-limited immigration pathway will take effect on May 5 and remain open until Nov. 5 or until the target is reached.

“The pandemic has shone a bright light on the incredible contributions of newcomers. These new policies will help those with a temporary status to plan their future in Canada, play a key role in our economic recovery and help us build back better,” Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said on Wednesday.

“Our message to them is simple: Your status may be temporary, but your contributions are lasting — and we want you to stay.”

The Liberal government has made immigration a critical part of Canada’s post-COVID-19 economic recovery with plans to welcome 401,000 permanent residents in 2021, after the annual intake of immigrants nosedived by 45.7 per cent last year to just 185,130.

The 90,000 intake under the new program will account for almost a quarter of this year’s overall immigration goal.

With the border remaining closed to non-essential travel, many would-be immigrants who have already been granted permanent residence have been unable to come to Canada. 

It has prompted officials to shift gears and focus more on prospective candidates who are already in Canada and normally would face a lengthier process to qualify.

In February, Ottawa raised eyebrows when it issued 27,332 invitations — five times more than its previous high of 5,000 people — to hopeful candidates already living in this country.

Mendicino said these are unprecedented steps taken to create “the fastest and broadest pathways” for permanent residency and toward achieving the 2021 immigration level plan through a series of “smart choices.”

“We need workers who possess a range of skills in a range of sectors within our economy to keep it going forward and accelerate our economic recovery,” he said.

“We value those who are highly educated, those who are highly skilled, but we also need people who work in the agriculture sector and in trades and construction sector who provide manual labour to build our communities. For too long, we haven’t been able to provide these pathways.”

Among the 90,000 spots of the program, 20,000 will be dedicated for temporary foreign workers in health care; 30,000 for those in other selected essential occupations; and the remaining 40,000 for international students who graduated from a Canadian institution.

All candidates must have proficiency in one of Canada’s official languages, meet general admissibility requirements; be authorized to work and be working in Canada at the time of their application to qualify. Migrants who are already out of legal status won’t be eligible.

To promote Canada’s official languages, three additional streams have also been created for French-speaking or bilingual candidates, with no intake caps.

The business community welcomed the new immigration pathways, saying the newcomers will strengthen Canada’s economy when they are needed most.

“They fill labour-market shortages, offset our aging population and broaden the tax base, thereby helping fund social and public services,” said Goldy Hyder, president and CEO of the Business Council of Canada, whose members represent all major industries in the country.

“COVID-19-related restrictions have hit Canada’s immigration system hard, significantly reducing the number of newcomers entering the country. The (immigration) minister’s plan addresses this challenge by welcoming urgently needed talent.”

Although the program opens up a short-term window for thousands of migrants who are able to meet restrictive criteria, advocates say it still maintains the fundamentals of the temporary immigration system that will continue to keep many migrants in limbo.

“This announcement is a start, but without fundamental change through granting full and permanent immigration status for all, it will simply not be enough,” said Syed Hussan, executive director of Migrant Workers Alliance for Change based in Ontario.

Mendicino said the immigration department has recently hired an additional 62 officers to boost its processing capacity and the new program will only accept applications online to allow remote processing by staff, most of whom are still working from home.

He said processing immigration applicants within and outside of the country are not mutually exclusive, and officials will continue to process applications of those who are abroad because Canada needs immigrants to fill labour market needs and replenish an aging population.

These special public policies, he said, will encourage essential temporary workers and international graduates to put down roots in Canada and help retain the talented workers in need in the country.

“Imagine you’ve been asked to bring in the greatest number of permanent residents in the history of the country. People could’ve said, ‘Put a pause on immigration.’ We said no, because we believed we need to continue to grow our economy through immigration,” said Mendicino.

“Newcomers create jobs. They create growth. They give back to their community. They are rolling up their sleeves and invested in Canada”

Source: https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2021/04/14/we-want-you-to-stay-canada-opens-door-to-permanent-residence-for-90000-international-graduates-and-temporary-workers-with-one-time-program.html

IRCC requirements and eligible occupation list: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/mandate/policies-operational-instructions-agreements/public-policies/trpr-canadian-work-experience.html#annex-b

Migrant workers need priority access to the COVID-19 vaccine

While some of the specific recommendations have merit (e.g., free access to tests and vaccines, not needing a health card to access vaccines), others are either unnecessary or raise broader policy issues.

For example, a cursory search of PHAC and other public health sites indicates COVID information being available in many languages.

Should vaccination be subject to consent for workers in vulnerable settings or not, given the risks to other workers?

While their advocacy for a number of paid sick days makes sense, other advocacy – permanent residency status, full coverage under labour and social protection laws, family reunification and an effective right to collective bargaining – raise broader policy issues that need more reflection and analysis:

Their general points, attentive information in migrant worker languages (some already being done

Last year, in the first COVID-19 wave, 12% of migrant agricultural workers in Ontario were infected with the virus after arriving in Canada, and three men died. Migrant agricultural workers’ incidence of infection exceeded other high risk occupational categories like front line health care workers. But as the 2021 agricultural season quickly approaches, Canada still has no plan to ensure these essential workers receive priority, free and safe access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

As of 31 January, 5,400 migrant agricultural workers were already in Canada. Over 50,000 more will be returning across the country soon. Media attention waned after the fall harvest season, but COVID-19 outbreaks have continued on farms every month since – including 53 since the end of October.

The virus spreads quickly on farms because migrant workers typically live in crowded employer-provided congregate living quarters. Without a plan to give these workers priority access to the COVID-19 vaccines, we stand on the verge of another season where essential workers will risk their lives to feed Canadians.

Governments promised to increase health and safety inspections for agricultural workers. However, a blitz by health and safety officers this month revealed that nearly one-fifth of Ontario farms are not compliant with COVID safety protocols. Action is required urgently to prevent further tragedy.

Agricultural workers are only the most visible of the 85,000 low-wage migrant workers who come to Canada under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program each year. Other migrant workers perform essential jobs delivering in-home care to children, the elderly and people with disabilities as well as working in meat processing plants, warehouses, food preparation, grocery stores, cleaning services, delivery services, construction and many other jobs that keep the economy running. Tens of thousands more workers are undocumented.

Whether they have temporary or undocumented status, migrant workers need priority access to vaccines because most live in congregate settings and work in spaces or roles that preclude physical distancing, putting them at high risk for infection.

Vaccine access must be delivered with keen awareness of the imbalance of power that puts migrant workers at risk of coercion. Access to vaccines must be free, informed, consensual and safe. Migrant agricultural workers from rural Mexico report travelling a day or more into urban centres to take pre-departure COVID-19 tests for which they have been charged up to $350. They must then take another test after arriving in Canada. This is prohibitive for minimum wage workers. It puts them in debt before they start work in Canada which increases the risk of exploitation.

Here are four steps for government to take to protect workers in accessing the vaccine.

First, migrant workers need access to free COVID-19 testing and vaccines. Workers must also be able to receive both of the required vaccine doses while they are in Canada. Unless this is guaranteed, they may return to their home country not fully vaccinated and without access to the same or any vaccine to complete their immunization.

Second, public education about the vaccines must be delivered directly to migrant workers in their own language. Many racialized migrant workers come from communities that distrust the medical system because of longstanding histories of systemic racism in healthcare. Migrant agricultural workers in southern Ontario have particular reasons to be wary after they were subjected to mass DNA testing by police due to racial profiling in 2013.

Third, migrant workers must be able to access vaccines on the basis of informed consent and that consent must be real. Workers must be able to freely agree to or decline a vaccine. Migrant workers’ precarious immigration status and dependence on their employers due to their employer-specific work permits and housing arrangements must not be leveraged to coerce migrant workers into mandatory vaccination.

Fourth, migrant workers must be able to access vaccines in a way that is safe and attentive to their precarious status. Many migrant workers do not have health cards or coverage under provincial healthcare programs due to the nature of their work permit, being between contracts or being on implied status awaiting their permanent residency. Having a health card must not be a precondition for vaccine access.

At the same time, undocumented migrant workers must be able to access vaccines without fear that their immigration status will be disclosed to the Canadian Border Services Agency. Coming forward to protect themselves, their co-workers and the broader community during a global pandemic must not put them at risk of detention or deportation.

But vaccination alone will not eliminate the risks that migrant workers face.

Like 70% of low wage workers, most migrant workers do not have the right to paid sick days. Governments must move immediately to legislate, on a permanent basis, a minimum of 7 paid sick days with an additional 14 paid sick days during a public health crisis. Unless workers can stay home without penalty when they are ill, poverty and the risk of being fired will force them to keep working. At all times, going to work while sick increases the probability of disease spreading. During the pandemic, it means those who are already most marginalized will continue to become ill and die in disproportionate numbers.

Over the past year, the pandemic has laid bare the underlying structures that drive social and economic inequality in our society. While prioritizing migrant worker access to COVID-19 vaccines is of immediate urgency, real security won’t exist until governments address the laws and policies under Canada’s labour migration programs that make migrant workers exploitable. Permanent residency status, full coverage under labour and social protection laws, family reunification and an effective right to collective bargaining would go a long to more lasting security.

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-migrant-workers-need-priority-access-to-the-covid-19-vaccine/

Foreign workers face a lack of safe conditions, abuse and exploitation: Ethnic and mainstream media coverage

Useful summary of ethnic media coverage and contrast with mainstream media:

Temporary foreign workers and undocumented migrants have been one of the most affected groups during the pandemic, as covered by ethnic media from May to December. “The fact that in 2020, people are dying on farms in Ontario in one of the richest and most socially and technologically advanced countries in the world, Canada, is truly cause for reflection,” an Italian outlet wrote in early July, after multiple reports of COVID-19 outbreaks at farms employing seasonal workers from Latin America and the Caribbean, and deaths of three Mexican workers.

Outlets carried stories by migrants who said they were forced to start working right after arrival (without the 14-day quarantine) or had to quarantine in rooms that had no food or inadequate space to allow for physical distancing. The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change was cited as saying that it had received complaints from more than 1,000 people that their working and living conditions were crowded, they were unable to maintain the two-metre distance and lacked personal protection supplies.

One of the prominent cases was that of a Mexican farm worker, Gabriel Flores, who won compensation from his employer, Scotlynn Farms, in front of the Ontario Labour Relations Board. Flores sued Scotlynn Farms after he had been fired for speaking to the media about insufficient protection at the facility, where almost 200 workers had gotten infected with COVID-19.

Live-in care workers were shown to be highly vulnerable as well. A lot of media attention was devoted to a report titled “Behind Closed Doors: Exposing Migrant Care Worker Exploitation During COVID-19,” based on a survey of 201 migrant care workers and released in late October. The report showed that nearly half of the respondents were forced to work longer hours without being paid overtime. Two out of three workers said they weren’t allowed to leave the house, send money back home or even go to the doctor for fearing of breaking family quarantine bubbles.

What clearly transpired in ethnic media coverage was the fact that temporary foreign workers are the backbone of Canada’s food supply and many other essential sectors, but they are not getting basic rights protection.

In fact, as one Filipino outlet observed, Canada has depended on “cheap immigrant labour” from “Chinese railway workers to the Japanese fishermen, to South Asian farmers and loggers, to the Filipino overseas workers.”

Domestic work, health care and hospitality are all sectors that “capitalize on cheap female labour from the Global South,” wrote another, reporting a story of a Filipino woman who was separated from her son for five years as she was working in Kelowna, B.C., as a housekeeper at a hotel and as sanitation staff at a hospital. The pandemic has cost her and her husband their jobs at the hotel, and she still owes a substantial sum to an immigration agency.

“Guardian angels” of Quebec get pathway to permanent residency

Substantial coverage was given to the precarious status of many asylum seekers working or volunteering at long-term senior care homes and in other health-care settings in Quebec, including the price they have paid with their health.

These workers, whom Quebec Premier François Legault called “guardian angels,” are largely Haitians who came to Canada irregularly from the U.S. According to Montreal’s Haitian community advocate Ruth Pierre-Paul, cited in Caribbean media, hundreds of them have sought out jobs in long-term care homes as a quick way to enter the workforce.

After weeks of advocacy, media attention and petitions to the federal government, in August, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino announced a pathway to permanent residency for asylum claimants working in health care during the pandemic. Several media outlets praised the move, but many also stressed that the program is closed to asylum seekers doing other essential jobs. This has left many people disappointed and triggered further protests.

International students treated like “cash cows”

International students have faced a lot of uncertainty, anxiety and financial pressure in the pandemic months, and ethnic media have covered these struggles closely. As reported, the main dilemma faced by students before the start of the new academic year was whether to attempt entering Canada at the risk of being turned back at the border (which happened to many) or stay in their home countries and study online.

Until October 20, only individuals with study permits issued before March 18 were able to travel to Canada, and solely for a “non-discretionary or non-optional purpose.” Other students were subject to a travel ban.

For students from China and India, who account for the bulk of international students in Canada, attending university online in their home countries has meant having to study at odd hours and cope with internet issues. As reported, students also missed exposure to local culture, which they thought might later affect their chances on the job market. Some consolation came with a July announcement that time spent studying online abroad would be counted toward a post-graduation work permit.

There has been no relief in terms of cost, however. Universities not only refused to give rebates to those studying online; some have even raised tuition fees for foreign students, prompting comments in ethnic media that international students were treated like “cash cows” by “shameless Canadian universities.”

International students already in Canada also struggled. According to Chinese outlets, many Chinese students decided to stay in the country despite classes going online, mostly because the flights were very expensive and hard to come by. They also did not want to risk being stranded back home. But with high costs of living, few summer job opportunities, almost no help from the federal government, and no social activities, students were reported to be feeling helpless, frustrated, anxious and homesick. 

Punjabi broadcast media noted that many students were under pressure to find work to support themselves and send money back to their families. Concerns were also expressed over “suicidal incidents among international students.”

Non-permanent residents in mainstream media coverage

Similar to the coverage offered in ethnic media, coverage by Toronto Star broadly reflected two major perspectives—conveying government policy and programs and also offering human interest stories reflecting the lived experiences of the newcomers, migrant workers, refugees and international students. 

The paper quite extensively explored how immigrants and newcomers to Canada have been affected by COVID-19 pandemic from the economic, social and health and well-being angles. Dozens of articles addressed the issue of temporary farm workers, highlighting their precarious situation as well as legal battles. Solid coverage was also devoted to refugees and asylum seekers and the processes related to their status, brought to readers’ attention via a number of human-interest stories.

The issues facing international students, whether stranded in Canada or overseas, also received attention. Among others, the Star carried discussion regarding tuition fees and opportunities for foreign students to change their status.

Among the Postmedia Network titles, the Windsor Star appeared to carry the most coverage relating to migrants and the pandemic — perhaps unsurprisingly, given that more than half of the local COVID-19- cases during the pandemic’s first wave were among the thousands of migrant workers employed in the agri-food sector in Southwestern Ontario’s Essex County. 

Another significant aspect of the coverage was the call on the government to create a new permanent residency program for migrant workers, including undocumented workers, in sectors facing labour shortages. Advocates were asking the government to allow migrant farm workers to apply for a 12-month open work permit that would maintain or regularize their status while their application for permanent residency was in process.

Insight from MIREMS media monitoring

“Ethnic media has been instrumental in reporting on and clarifying government policy, processes and programs. It has also documented the unique challenges different migrant constituencies face and has been part of successful lobbying efforts for concrete solutions,” summed up Silke Reichrath, Editor-in-Chief at MIREMS.

Of particular concern were temporary foreign workers, international students, asylum seekers, and undocumented workers.

In terms of immigration policy, a lot of coverage was devoted to the impact of COVID on immigration levels, border closures and travel restrictions, visa extensions for temporary residents stranded in Canada, work permit regulations, farm worker rights and COVID safety protocols, COVID-related accommodations for international students, modifications to the Express Entry draws, and the “guardian angel” program for front-line care providers. Ethnic media frequently aired interviews with immigration lawyers and consultants as well as with lawmakers.

Another concern reflected in the ethnic media has been around family reunification. The processing of spousal sponsorship cases has stalled, and ethnic media has reported repeatedly on protests organized to ask the government to resume processing sponsorships.

Methodology: This ethnic media analysis is based on a selection of 350 summaries of articles and broadcast segments in radio, TV, print and web sources between May and December, 2020. These summaries were selected from about 6,000 items on these issues found in 450 active ethnic media sources in Canada monitored by MIREMS.

Source: https://newcanadianmedia.ca/ethnic-media-highlight-exploitation-of-temporary-migrant-workers-troubles-of-international-students-during-pandemic/#ethnic-media

Survey shows support for migrant workers getting more benefits and protections, as senators introduce motion for change

Good initiative by Senators Black and Omidvar in commissioning this poll:

Eight in 10 Canadians say temporary foreign workers should be entitled to the same benefits and protection as any other workers in this country, according to a Nanos Research poll.

The survey, commissioned by senators Ratna Omidvar and Rob Black, was released Thursday in the wake of a Star story that highlighted the plight of hundreds of Trinidadian seasonal migrant farm workers, who are stuck in Canada due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and unable to access employment insurance benefits.

The pandemic has shed light on the vulnerability of temporary foreign workers, who pay the same EI premiums as Canadian workers but who have difficulty accessing the benefits due to their precarious immigration status.

Trinidad and Tobago has closed its airports to international flights since March and the estimated 400 stranded workers are on the verge of losing their legal status in Canada as their work permits expire on Dec. 15. Many have been denied EI, with officials saying their “closed” work permit prevents the workers from looking for other employers, resulting in them being declared not “ready or available” for work.

The senators say that in addition to benefits, migrant workers should have “pathways” to obtaining permanent resident status in Canada, something that is currently very limited for these workers.

“The pandemic has highlighted the fact that temporary migrant workers and seasonal agricultural workers are essential to Canada,” said Black. “We are calling on the Government of Canada for pathways to permanency for essential workers, should they so desire.”

The poll of 1,040 Canadians was conducted in late October and independent from the Star story.

It found that 93 per cent of respondents said migrant workers are essential contributors to Canada’s agricultural sector and 81 per cent said they deserved a pathway to permanent residence.

Canada’s agricultural sector depends on the temporary migrant work force, which makes up 17 per cent of the total employment in the sector.

“We need more concrete and equitable improvements to our migrant workers program. Since the workers are essential to our well being and safety, then the safest … and the most human way forward is to provide them with more permanent residency options,” Omidvar said.

Both Black and Omidvar plan to introduce a motion in the Senate on Thursday calling on the Liberal government to create permanent residence pathways for migrant workers.

Source: Survey shows support for migrant workers getting more benefits and protections, as senators introduce motion for change

Advocates rally in Toronto to call for permanent immigration status for migrant workers

Hard to know where their assertion that more than 1.6 million non-permanent residents comes from when 2016 Census shows 506,625, which largely match IRCC operational data.

And important to understand the differences between the various categories of temporary residents, with some (students and higher skilled) having reasonably pathways to permanent residency. Vulnerability issues moe with respect to agriculture workers and caregivers:

Dozens of people rallied in Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square on Sunday to demand permanent status for all migrant workers in Canada.

The rally, organized by the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, comes days before the Sept. 23 throne speech, in which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to outline how the federal government will continue to help people and parts of the economy still affected by COVID-19.

The group said it wants federal COVID-19 recovery efforts to include full and permanent immigration status for all.

Similar rallies were expected to take place in Hamilton, St. Catharines, Sudbury, Montreal and St. John’s on Sunday.

Syed Hussan, executive director of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, told reporters that the pandemic has made it more difficult for migrant workers in Canada and they do not enjoy essential rights.

“We believe that a fair society is one with equal rights. And equal rights is only possible if all of us have full and permanent immigration status,” Hussan said.

“We don’t want a society in which some people are treated like second class citizens.”

According to the group:

  • At least 1 in 23 people in Canada, or more than 1.6 million people are non-permanent residents.
  • Migrants are in Canada on various study, work or humanitarian permits, or without documentation at all.
  • Many migrants are excluded from universal healthcare, access to emergency income supports and decent work. Many are separated from their families.
  • Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers, refugees, students and undocumented people have lost their lives and livelihoods during the pandemic.
  • Migrants are unable to fully protect themselves during the pandemic because of lack of emergency support, and because speaking out about unsafe work and housing conditions can result in deportation, homelessness, or not being able to return.
  • The federal government announced a “pathway to permanent residency for some asylum claimants working in the health-care sector during the COVID-19 pandemic” on Aug. 14.

“COVID-19 does not differentiate between people, and neither should the government response,” the group says.

Source: Advocates rally in Toronto to call for permanent immigration status for migrant workers

StatCan/IRCC Study: Selecting economic immigrants from among temporary foreign workers and labour market outcomes by admission programs

Another insightful data-based analysis by StatCan and IRCC, showing the importance of Canadian work experience from being former temporary foreign workers:

Canada selects economic immigrants through various programs, including the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

Previous research has shown that the last two groups fare better in the labour market than the first one, at least in the initial years after immigration. The difference stems largely from the fact that proportionately more economic immigrants selected from the PNP and the CEC were former temporary foreign workers, according to the first study released today.

The study, titled ‘Two-step immigration selection: Why did immigrant labour market outcomes vary by admission programs?,’ shows that from 2009 to 2016, about two-thirds of immigrants selected from the PNP and essentially all immigrants selected from the CEC were former temporary foreign workers, i.e. had employment earnings in Canada before obtaining their permanent residence.

In contrast, about one-quarter of their counterparts selected from the FSWP were former temporary foreign workers.

Since having worked in Canada before obtaining one’s permanent residence is associated with higher employment incidences and earnings, the fact that a relatively high proportion of immigrants selected from the PNP and the CEC worked in Canada in the past explains to a large extent their better labour market outcomes.

For example, 93% of immigrants selected from the PNP and 95% of immigrants selected from the CEC found employment in the first full year after obtaining permanent residency. The corresponding percentage for their FSWP counterparts was substantially lower, at 80%.

The study shows that the greater propensity to have worked in Canada in the past accounts for about 40% of the 13-percentage-point difference observed between immigrants selected from the PNP and the FSWP. It also accounts for about two-thirds of the 15-percentage-point difference observed between immigrants selected from the CEC and the FSWP.

The relatively high proportion of PNP and CEC immigrants who had previous work experience in Canada also explains why these groups earn more than their FSWP counterparts. It accounts for at least 94% of the earnings differences observed between these groups, on the one hand, and immigrants selected from the FSWP, on the other hand, during the first year after immigration.

Likewise, the greater propensity to have worked in Canada in the past accounts to a large extent for the differences in employment incidences and earnings observed between the three groups, five years after immigration.

The second study, titled ‘Two-step immigration selection: Skilled work experience vs. pre-arranged jobs,’ focuses on the economic immigrants who were selected under Canada’s Express Entry system in 2015 and 2016. It compares the degree to which Canadian work experience before immigration and pre-arranged employment at the time of application predict the initial labour market outcomes of these economic immigrants.

Both Canadian work experience and pre-arranged employment are key criteria underlying Canada’s Express Entry system of economic immigration selection.

The study shows that Canadian work experience appears to be a better predictor of initial labour market outcomes than pre-arranged employment.

Economic immigrants who had pre-arranged employment displayed, in the first two years after immigration, employment incidences that were similar to those of other economic immigrants selected under the Express Entry system.

In contrast, economic immigrants who had worked in Canada before immigrating and who had received relatively high annual earnings while doing so (over $50,000 in 2017 dollars) had employment incidences that were 8 percentage points higher than those of other economic immigrants without Canadian work experience.

Canadian work experience was also a stronger predictor of initial earnings after immigration than pre-arranged employment.

Even after controlling for education, among other factors, immigrants with a pre-arranged job earned 15% more than those without a pre-arranged job in the first two years after immigration. However, immigrants who had received high earnings in Canada before immigrating earned almost twice as much as those who had no Canadian work experience.”

View or download the full reports:

Two-step Immigration Selection: Why Did Immigrant Labour Market Outcomes Vary by Admission Programs?

Two-step Immigration Selection: Skilled Work Experience vs. Pre-arranged Jobs

 

 

COVID-19 Has Separated Those With Real Problems From Those With Mere ‘Snoblems’

Cute phrase, but one that accurately captures inequalities:

There are problems, and then there are “snoblems,” as social media like to call certain first-world personal issues during the pandemic. And almost anyone with a pen and a platform—myself included—has written about the latter, with harrowing tales of everything from long grocery lines during the lockdown to bad hair and awkward Zoom dates. But just as the privileged appear to be moving down the back side of the global coronavirus pandemic, it is those people in the margins, almost always ignored by society, that we need to be most worried about, not only for the sake of compassion, but for self-interest.

“The rigorously managed city-state of Singapore has suffered a recent spike in new cases simply because it wasn’t watching those who are easiest to ignore. ”

The curve has been flattening in most of the hardest hit areas of the global coronavirus crisis, from New York City to northern Italy, where  fewer than 500 deaths in a single day now feels oddly victorious. Wuhan is opening for business and Italy will slowly come out of its own coronavirus hibernation in early May.

But as Singapore has learned, premature celebrations of containment can easily backfire if success is only measured among those being counted. The rigorously managed city-state has suffered a recent spike in new cases simply because it wasn’t watching those who are easiest to ignore.

Migrant workers forced into lockdown in tight dorms are now emerging to help kickstart the Singapore economy, but during the height of the crisis, they were largely untested, and the virus ran wild among them. They now account for a huge increase in cases taxing the health care system and causing leaders to enforce a partial lockdown for the first time in the pandemic.

The same is likely to happen across Europe, where migrant workers and seasonal laborers are desperately needed to harvest winter crops. Special dispensation to cross closed borders is now being considered for Romanian harvest workers to come to Italy, where they will move into barrack-style lodgings and work side by side. In Great Britain, after calls for furloughed workers from non-agricultural sectors to step up and work in the farm industry were largely ignored, the government chartered flights to bring Romanian fruit and vegetable pickers in, despite travel bans.

Romania has had just over 11,000 positive cases, but as of the weekend had carried out only around 115,000 tests, meaning a large part of the population probably is infected without knowing. Italy does not have the capacity to test seasonal farm workers, who could introduce the virus in the southern regions of the country where winter agriculture is based, and which have largely escaped the brunt of the pandemic.

“On Greek islands, where thousands of refugees live in horrific conditions awaiting rulings on their asylum requests, testing is virtually nonexistent.”

The more than 71 million people displaced by war and conflict worldwide, as tallied by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, have also been locked down without the sort of testing carried out on other populations. Human Rights Watch warns that as nations lift restrictions, many of the migrants will start moving again without any proper care during the critical early stages of the pandemic.

On Greek islands where thousands of refugees from the Middle East live in horrific conditions awaiting rulings on their asylum requests, testing is virtually nonexistent. A spokesperson for Doctors Without Borders told The Daily Beast that at the notorious Moria camp on the island of Lesbos, where 19,000 migrants and refugees live in a space meant for just 3,000, there is just one water tap for every 1,300 people and no soap at all.

“Families of five or six have to sleep in spaces of no more than three square meters [about 32 square feet],” Dr. Hilde Vochten, MSF’s Medical Coordinator in Greece, said recently. “This means that recommended measures such as frequent hand-washing and social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus are just impossible.”

As the world has learned from watching COVID-19 tear through cruise ships, aircraft carriers and New York  City, tight living arrangements are the perfect breeding ground for the virus. In so many parts of the marginalized world—from refugee camps to labor farms—social distancing cannot be enforced effectively and blanket testing for the virus is just not a priority.

These also are the environments where other health issues are rampant, from malnutrition to a lack of hygiene, which will complicate even mild cases of COVID-19, and where asymptomatic carriers could easily spread the disease to thousands of people before a single case is confirmed.

Moria, like other camps, is serviced by staff who live on the island and come and go from the camps, making it easy for them to spread the disease, and holes in the fences make it easy for many of the people there to move freely and return.

Writing in The Nation, author and human rights advocate Sasha Abramsky warns of a storm on the horizon. “So preoccupied are we by our own fears and by the U.S. pandemic calamity that we risk forgetting the misfortunes piled on misfortune of the 70 million people around the world currently displaced by war and social collapse,” he writes, warning that in the United States, Donald Trump’s policies on immigration have caused a bottleneck in facilities where those who may be carrying COVID-19 are neither treated nor released.

In the United States, where there are an estimated 11 million people Trump likes to call “illegal aliens,” many work in the sectors that solve the snoblems for the rest of us. A lack of access to health care could be deadly, not just for “them” but for “us,” too. Out of fear of deportation, these vulnerable undocumented workers are likely to avoid hospitals, and instead stay on the job, working in those businesses that are opening up in some states, like restaurants, massage parlors, and bowling alleys.

The stark degrees of suffering and vulnerability to COVID-19 have largely focused on the elderly and unwell in the developed world, the strain on normally well-developed health systems that should have been far better prepared, and the shocking lack of preparedness in the world’s richest economies. But, writing in The Economist, Bill Gates warns that as the pandemic slows in developed nations, it will accelerate in developing ones.

“Their experience, however, will be worse,” says Gates. “In poorer countries, where fewer jobs can be done remotely, distancing measures won’t work as well.” He notes that, “COVID-19 overwhelmed cities like New York, but the data suggest that even a single Manhattan hospital has more intensive-care beds than most African countries. Millions could die.”

Gates goes on to say he hopes wealthy nations include poorer ones as they move to a post-pandemic world. “Even the most self-interested person—or isolationist government—should agree with this by now,” he says. “This pandemic has shown us that viruses don’t obey border laws and that we are all connected biologically by a network of microscopic germs, whether we like it or not.”

But if nothing is done to integrate the needs of those vulnerable populations on the margins—whether at home in the “first world” or abroad in less affluent societies—experts warn they may contribute massively to the second wave of COVID-19. And they won’t be as easy to ignore the next time around.

Source: COVID-19 Has Separated Those With Real Problems From Those With Mere ‘Snoblems’

Trump gambles on immigrant workers during coronavirus

Reality and economic interests at play:

The Trump administration is still soliciting immigrants for specific jobs despite droves of Americans filing for unemployment.

It is urging medical professionals to contact a U.S. embassy to move their application process along, cognizant of the coronavirus pandemic sweeping America.

It is easing requirements for immigrants to get jobs as farm workers, landscapers and crab pickers, aware that industries, including those that fill grocery store shelves, could be hurt if they couldn’t hire foreign employees.

And until facing criticism this week, it had been moving ahead with a 35,000-person increase in the number of seasonal workers in part for expected job openings at resorts and golf courses after the pandemic releases its grip on the economy.

Activists are irate that Trump hasn’t backed down more. But business leaders say it’s needed to stabilize a cratering economy.

Indeed, Trump faces immense pressure to prop up the economy — both during and after the coronavirus outbreak. And he’s adopting an approach the business community has long pushed: Recruit workers for perennially empty jobs, even if they’re not American workers. Business leaders say that even during the coronavirus crisis, foreign workers are critical to companies that might be unable to find enough unemployed Americans willing to take certain jobs, especially if those people can collect more money via jobless benefits.

“There’s still a need for these types of workers,” said one business industry representative in touch with the administration.

But the move poses political risks for the president, with hard-line immigration activists baffled that Trump would choose a moment of financial peril — with unemployment skyrocketing and a reelection campaign around the corner — to turn to foreign workers.

“It’s reprehensible,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates more immigration restrictions. “Specifically importing workers into jobs unemployed Americans would be doing is absurd.”

A Department of Homeland Security official said the administration’s moves were surprising given the “soaring unemployment rate.” A record-shattering 6.6 million people filed for their first unemployment benefits last week, as scores of industries have fully shuttered during the pandemic.

In response to pressure from opponents, the Trump administration did backtrack on some of its plans, pausing the approval of 35,000 more seasonal worker visas, pending further review. But the other moves remain in place for now.

Trump made cracking down on immigration the centerpiece of his 2016 campaign, promising to build a wall on the southern border with Mexico and deport millions of migrants who arrived in the country illegally. In his inaugural address, he promised to rebuild the country with American labor. “We will follow two simple rules: buy American and hire American,” he said.

Since the pandemic began, the administration has restricted foreign visitors from China, Europe, Canada and Mexico, and postponed hearings for immigrants wanting to remain in the U.S. More broadly, it paused visa processing for those that aren’t being granted exemptions.

But it has also begun easing the process for companies looking to hire foreign workers, altering some paperwork requirements, including allowing electronic signatures and waiving the physical inspection of documents.

The administration even talked about boosting the number of visas offered to wealthy immigrants who invest money in the U.S., though interest in that has cooled on Capitol Hill, according to the business leader.

DHS is expected to extend visas that are expiring but can’t be renewed because federal offices are closed, according to the business group representative. Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf confirmed this week that he is considering that, among other changes.

“We’re looking at a … variety of different options that I think we will have soon, and it will be very beneficial,” he said.

The White House and DHS did not respond to requests for comment.

Trump touted the importance of agricultural visas on Wednesday in response to a question at a news conference at the White House.

We want them to come in,” he said. “We’re not closing the border so that we can’t get any of those people to come in. They’ve been there for years and years, and I’ve given the commitment to the farmers: They’re going to continue to come. Or we’re not going to have any farmers.”

NumbersUSA, which supports immigration restrictions, has been railing against the changes for days on social media and in alerts to supporters, specifically calling out Wolf, who once lobbied for an association that wanted to keep a visa program for foreign workers.

“@DHS_Wolf is going to admit tens of thousands of foreign guest workers in the coming month to satisfy the corporate lobby,” it posted on Twitter this week. “These guest workers will be dispersed across the entire U.S. putting Americans out of work and hampering efforts to control the coronavirus.”

The business community, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, had been pushing for temporary slots for immigrants coming to the U.S., saying companies were struggling to fill jobs as unemployment has fallen. It continued lobbying even after the coronavirus, according to the business industry representatives.

“Many immigrant workers are currently helping our nation fight the spread of Covid-19,” said Jon Baselice, the chamber’s executive director of immigration policy, citing medical professionals, scientists and agricultural workers. “Their contributions to our national well-being are critically important to our safety and security until we flatten the curve on this pandemic.”

Immigrant advocates have joined in the call for not restricting foreign labor during the current pandemic.

“It’s never been more clear that the American economy depends on immigrants and immigration,” said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, an immigrant advocacy group. “This is a community that is currently contributing on the front lines and is also able to come in and meet gaps in the labor force.”

Immigrant advocates have cautioned that being on the front line during coronavirus puts these foreign laborers in harm’s way. The issue made headlines after a video surfaced of farm workers laboring close to each other without proper protective gear. María Teresa Kumar, president and CEO of the Latino political organization Voto Latino, said immigrants who don’t speak English well might not understand confusing guidelines about how to protect themselves against the virus.

Despite Trump’s campaign vow to reduce immigration, the number of immigrants with temporary visas has steadily increased during his presidency, reaching 925,000 in 2018, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

While there is no cap for the total number of temporary workers, there are annual limits on several of the dozen-plus visa categories. More than 1 million immigrants are allowed into the United States each year on a permanent basis, but only a fraction — 140,000 — come through employment categories.

Companies also request many more foreign worker visas than are approved. On Thursday, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that companies initially were requesting 275,000 visas in fiscal 2021 for skilled workers in specialty occupations. Those visas, dubbed H-1B, are capped at 85,000 annually.

The Trump administration has also worked to prioritize visa processing for medical workers, given America’s resource-strained health system.

Last Thursday, the State Department encouraged medical professionals seeking a work or exchange visitor visa to contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for a visa appointment. Hours later, after some criticism, the department clarified that the person must already have an approved visa petition.

The State Department later announced it would also waive interviews for some temporary worker visas, saying the program is “essential to the economy and food security of the United States and is a national security priority.”

The prioritization for some workers comes amid a broader suspension of visa services at embassies and consulates around the world. But the Trump administration created a carveout after a push by members of Congress and agriculture groups, who already had been coping with a worker shortage and the fallout from Trump’s trade wars.

Separately, DHS had announced before the pandemic that it planned to allow an additional 35,000 workers into the country on non-agricultural seasonal worker visas as it tried “to strike a careful balance that benefits American businesses and American workers.”

The visas, dubbed H-2B, have been regularly used for workers in the landscaping, housekeeping and construction industries, and had been capped at 66,000. DHS has added additional visas in that category for the past three years.

The administration discussed reversing the decision, according to two people familiar with the situation, but moved forward last week with the plan. Employers expected to be able to hire workers within weeks, according to the business industry representative.

But after criticism, DHS reversed course yet again. “DHS’s rule on the H-2B cap is on hold pending review due to present economic circumstances,” the department tweeted.

Source: Trump gambles on immigrant workers during coronavirus

Paradkar: Migrant worker groups slam new Canadian border restrictions

Not as bizarre as it sounds. Normal triage and expect some further actions by the government to address some of the issues raised. Given the pace of developments and the extent of the pandemic, unrealistic to expect any government to address all aspects, and all those affected, at one time. To say this is “simply racism” is simply silly and simplistic:

The federal government announced drastic border restrictions on Monday, with the prime minister saying only non-sick Canadians, permanent residents and — bizarrely — American citizens would be permitted to enter the country.

That means our doors are closed to residents with work permits and student permits, refugee claimants and anyone in need of humanitarian assistance.

Many migrant workers — farm workers and care workers, who are usually racialized — are on these permits. They cannot enter. Some are separated from their families, others are losing their livelihoods.

“There is no public health reason to shut out non-permanent residents,” the Migrant Rights Network said in a statement on the heels of the announcement. “This is simply racism.”

In these moments of determined calm amid chaos and confusion, it’s worth reflecting that when the comfortable feel vulnerable, the already vulnerable get pushed further into the margins.

Migrant workers are being penalized if they left the country. They’re being excluded from policies to protect Canadians if they did not. And if moral imperatives to do the right thing are insufficient, there’s this: not paying attention to their plight puts us all at risk.

About 37 migrant organizations from across Canada came together Monday demanding that the government support more than 1.5 million non-permanent residents in Canada, who they say “face a potential human rights disaster” when the loss of their livelihoods here leaves their families without food.

They’re asking the government to offer access to health care for all, including undocumented residents; to strengthen labour laws so migrants workers can also get paid sick leave and protection from reprisals for taking that leave; an end to all detentions and deportations; and funds to expand emergency shelters and food banks that are bursting at the seams.

Syed Hussan, executive director of Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, said migrant organizations were flooded with hundreds of calls within an hour of Ottawa’s announcement, “from students abroad not being able to come back and from workers who’ve already bought plane tickets and paid tens of thousands of dollars” in recruitment fees. “There is no clarity if they will be protected.”

This is the start of the agricultural season and Hussan said farm workers who did manage to get in are finding employers refusing to take them to grocery stores.

“They live in rural communities and can’t get to the grocery stores,” Hussan said. “And when they do get to the grocery stores, there are no supplies there. So, we’re literally doing food drops across the country to farms.”

What about the workers who didn’t travel?

They can’t afford to fall sick. There is no Employment Insurance available for those who are paid in cash, Hussan said.

Most migrant workers don’t have access to paid sick leave and risk losing their jobs even if they take unpaid sick days.

Earlier Monday, Premier Doug Ford promised legislation that would remove the requirement for employees to obtain sick notes before taking time off work. But it’s not clear if that protection extends to migrant workers.

Add to that, existing immigration laws allows for workers to be deported if they fall sick, even if their home countries are unsafe.

That threat is a huge barrier to farm workers and care workers from reporting to the health authorities if they do fall sick or are asked to do unsafe work.

“We wanted to hear about labour laws needing to work with federal immigration laws. But we heard nothing from federal government except the closure of borders,” Hussan said. “And that’s creating more shock waves than anything else. People feel excluded rather than protected.”

Social distancing for the usually comfortable means figuring out workarounds: FaceTime! Skype meetings! Pick up the phone (as the prime minister said)! Take walks! Don’t go to the gym! But the usually vulnerable are finding themselves in a deeper, more ominous mess.

“We’re hearing from a lot of people that care workers are not being allowed to leave home because employers are too nervous (that) it’s going to impact them.”

In other words they’re trapped in their workplace without a break. Imagine the uproar if Bay Street did that to its employees.

Also, how would migrant workers who live in bunk houses, sometimes “18 to a house” self-isolate? Or wash their hands? “We know there’s no running water on the fields. People don’t have the ability to wash their hands,” Hussan said.

Labour laws, immigration laws and health and safety laws need to be adapted to ensure that migrant and undocumented workers are protected, Hussan said.

“Instead of dealing with this as a public health crisis, the government is responding to it by dealing with it as a securitization crisis by shutting down the border to racialized migrants and low-wage people.”

Source: OpinionShree Paradkar: Migrant worker groups slam new Canadian border restrictions

As 2020 Olympics Approach, Japan’s Treating Foreign Workers Like Indentured Labor

Frightening comparable to  Qatar with the 2022 FIFA World Cup and other Gulf states where passports and other documentation are held by employers:

As Japan ages and the population declines it needs foreign workers more than ever, but it’s unlikely to get them when employers can snatch your passport and keep it, even after you quit—leaving you in legal limbo.It all seems like something that you’d expect to happen in a dodgy part of the Middle East, but nope, it’s happening in the Land of Omotenashi, where everyone is putting on a friendly face with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on the horizon.

Foreign tourists with money are very welcome. Foreign laborers? Not so much. Yet they are needed. The Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) union published a report last year, The Dark Side of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, claiming that laborers—many of them foreign—already are being overworked and exposed to dangerous conditions. There simply aren’t enough Japanese to do the jobs that need to be done.

Even if all the sporting venues, new hotels, and housing for the Olympics are completed in time for the start of the games in July, staffing those facilities adequately may be a colossal challenge.

There’s even concern there won’t be enough security staff to police the venues, and the Japanese government is considering asking Japan’s Self Defense Forces to do the job. But soldiers can’t take up the slack elsewhere.

Japan’s Cabinet Office announced last year that the nation has a shortage of about 1.2 million workers, primarily in the construction, agriculture, fishing and hotel industries. Teikoku Data Bank lists 10 major industries in Japan that already are short on labor, not only in construction, but in the automobile industry and information technology.

Perhaps that is why Japan is willing to look the other way when laws get bent, as long as empty workbenches are filled. But Japan’s rep among potential recruits is such that many are discouraged from coming here. The abuse of foreign workers often occurs within the antiquated laws of this country, and the Japanese government seems to have no interest in solving the problem.

BRENDA’S STORY

On Thursday, a Filipino woman, with the financial aid and support of the independent nonprofit called POSSE, which supports labor issues here, sued her employer in the Yokohama District Court. She is requesting the return of her confiscated passport and her graduation certificate, as well as financial compensation. Without her passport, she cannot find a new job or leave the country. Her employer, ironically, is an Immigration Law Firm in Yokohama.

According to the lawsuit and her lawyers, “Brenda”—who has asked us not to use her name, lest she be branded a troublemaker when she seeks future employment—arrived in Japan in 2017. After finishing Japanese language school, she began working for the law office in Yokohama in April of 2019.

“If I give you your documents, you’ll run away.”
— Brenda’s Japanese employer

Brenda was asked to give her employer the documents necessary to process her visa paperwork, and she signed a contract that allowed her boss to “manage” these materials. She did interpreting, translating Tagalog into English, and other secretarial work for the firm. However, when she was paid after the first month she discovered her entire salary was under 100,000 yen (about $900), well below the cost of living. That was half of what she had been promised. She tried to quit the firm, but her boss refused to give her back her papers, saying, “If I give you your documents, you’ll run away.”

Eventually, in early July she did resign, but the firm still refused to give her back her passport. She went to POSSE, which is known for helping young workers, students and foreign laborers.

Makoto Iwahashi, a staff member there, says that when they went to the law office with Brenda to talk to her employer, he refused to cooperate and yelled at them to leave.

“This is the tip of the iceberg,” says Iwahashi. “In order to make non-Japanese work long hours for very little pay without quitting, a number of companies confiscate their employees’ passports.” Many foreign workers complain about poor conditions, wage arrears, workplace injuries, and unfair dismissal, he said, but regulations to protect the rights of foreign workers are far behind where they need to be.”

“This is, after all, a country where Karoshi (death by overwork) is a word everybody knows.”
— Shoichi Ibusuki, labor rights lawyer

“Many workers speak little Japanese,” says Iwahashi, which is a major handicap. “They are afraid to speak up or report the harsh conditions.”

Iwahashi notes that in many countries withholding an employee’s passport is against the law. The Immigration Bureau of Japan says there is nothing illegal about an employer keeping the passport of a foreign worker who is not under the technical trainee program. The Labor Ministry of Japan has issued guidelines discouraging employers from holding onto passports, but there are no penalties for violators.

If Japan wants to attract the large number of workers it needs, says Iwahashi, it’s going to have to do a better job protecting their rights.

Brenda told The Daily Beast, “I had heard stories about foreign workers being treated badly in Japan, but I never expected it from an Immigration Law Office. I guess because they know the law, they know they can get away with it.” She said she feels like an untethered kite in the wind, unable to find work because now she doesn’t have the necessary paperwork to apply for a job, and unable to leave Japan because she does not yet have a new passport, or her old one back.

Still, Brenda is a little lucky. POSSE is paying for the lawsuit and soliciting funds for the court case, which may take up to two years. “Even if the embassy reissues my passport, I’m going to fight this. I will stay and I will work and I will fight. I’m surely not the first foreigner in Japan to suffer this treatment, but I would like to be the last one.”

Brenda’s former employer, the Yokohama legal firm, has not yet responded to requests for comment, despite phone calls, letters, and emails.

Shoichi Ibusuki, the noted labor rights lawyer representing Brenda, says that it’s very rare to sue for the return of a passport in Japan. Most employers would simply return the passport rather than go to court. “But then again very few foreigners would ever be able to take their employers to court in the first place.”

The road to restitution and fair treatment for foreign workers is long and hard; the odds of winning are not on their side.

CHICKENS AND EGGS

“In 2015, I was able to gain back wages from one surly employer of a foreign agricultural worker,” says Ibusuki, “but I had to get a court order to seize 1,000 chickens and their eggs, in lieu of compensation.”

At that point the recalcitrant employer chickened out, as it were, and paid up what he owed—after what had been more than a court battle of more than two years.

Partly for cultural reasons, Japan has never been a model nation when it comes to labor laws and worker protections. This is, after all, a country where Karoshi (death by overwork) is a word everybody knows. Japan’s working hours are some of the longest in the world, according to the International Labor Organization, despite numerous attempts at reform.

It may be a lot to expect a country notoriously unfriendly to labor conditions with its own people to integrate foreign labor successfully, and the history is not encouraging.

In the old days, Japan solved labor shortages in part by conquering Korea or parts of China and integrating them into the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. This doesn’t work so well anymore, but the archaic labor laws have not advanced far from this “golden era” when labor was synomous with slavery.

Modern-day servitude in Japan is more subtle, and a prime example of how it works is the Technical Intern Training Program. It started in 1993 and has come under fire repeatedly  as a breeding ground for the exploitation of foreign labor.

“The ultimate virtue of a Japanese worker: endure silently and work long, long, long hours for low pay.”
— Yoshihisa Saito, an associate professor at Kobe University

The Japan Times in an editorial, “Overhaul Foreign Trainee Program”, bluntly stated that a large number of trainees “are in fact used as cheap labor under abusive conditions.”

“Japanese labor laws are deeply flawed and outdated, unfit to protect Japanese workers, much less foreign workers,” says Yoshihisa Saito, an associate professor at Kobe University Graduate School of International Cooperation Studies. He notes that while there appears to have been progress made in integrating foreigners into the workplace, most of these advances are merely cosmetic. Saito emphasizes, “There are a multitude of legal ways that a Japanese company can keep a non-Japanese employee in servitude, other than simply taking their passport.”

In the end, Saito points out, the Japanese system for recruiting “is not about measuring skill but measuring endurance. Japanese companies want people who have gone through and completed spartan training programs, who make no complaints, and can build pleasant relationships at their workplace. This is seen as the ultimate virtue of a Japanese worker—endure silently and work long, long, long hours for low pay.”

Japan is a lovely place to visit as a foreign tourist. But currently if you want to work at Hotel Japan as a foreign laborer, you will need to check your human rights and your passport at the front desk.

You can’t change hotels and, to paraphrase The Eagles, while you can check out anytime you like, you may not be able to leave.

Source: As 2020 Olympics Approach, Japan’s Treating Foreign Workers Like Indentured Labor