Regularization Program for Undocumented Migrants in Canada

September 6, 2022

When the now appointed Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) Sean Fraser
received the Immigration Mandate Letter from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in
December 2021, he was tasked with strengthening Canada’s immigration and refugee system
by bringing in more newcomers across Canada, post-pandemic. Part of these objectives based
on Minister Fraser’s ability to act on several commitments, including the ability to: “Build on
existing pilot programs to further explore ways of regularizing status for undocumented
workers who are contributing to Canadian communities”.

Although Minister Fraser has been working on designing a regularization program to address
the issue of undocumented workers, the plan has yet to be implemented in its entirety. In fact,
many advocacy groups, such as Solidarity Across Borders are calling on the federal
government to do more to protect foreign workers and undocumented migrants. In a July
12, 2022 interview with Global News, Hady Anne, of Solidarity Across Borders, emphasized
that undocumented migrants should be able to work normally like everybody else, pay
taxes and have access to health care. But unfortunately, according to the Globe and Mail,
advocates argue these people have no access to basic services like health care and
education and they’re often targets of abuse or discrimination with few resources to
protect them.

Following this, in Montreal on July 17, 2022, there was a rally of Migrants and their supporters
to hold the federal government to its promise of a regularization program for undocumented
migrants in Canada, calling for a “fully inclusive, ongoing regularization programme that leaves
no one behind”.

In an August 10, 2022, letter written by Bert Blundon, President of the National Union of
Public and General Employees (NUPGE) to Minister Fraser, urging him to stop the
deportation of one of his employees who has been working in Canada for 13 years and has
also been an advocate for migrant rights.

According to a September 2, 2022, article by Toronto Star, there are 500,000 undocumented
residents live in Canada, often working exploitative jobs in construction, cleaning, caregiving
and agriculture. But now, the Federal Government has plans to develop a new avenue for
undocumented migrants. Part of that will be Minister Fraser designing a regularization program
for undocumented workers, which will assist the 1.7 million out of status individuals in Canada.
While regularization programs may have positive benefits, such as family reunification and
employment rights, it can also provide many pitfalls if they are not inclusive and comprehensive
and favorable to only a select few. While Minister Fraser has repeatedly stated that even
though undocumented, the contributions of these migrants to communities are fully recognized
by the Federal Government and therefore, pathways to address regularizations are his top

In the next few months, we will see whether the Federal Government and Minister Fraser will
work together to use this policy tool to its full potential or limit it to a small, tailored program
that will fail to bring about long-term structural change.